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Thread: Smithsonian And National Endowment For The Arts Ends Argument: Video Games ARE Art

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    Default Smithsonian And National Endowment For The Arts Ends Argument: Video Games ARE Art

    Several of us have had the "are games art" argument, but now the greatest art institution in the world steps in to rule in video games favor. The Smithsonian Art Museum will host "Art of Video Games" in 2012, running for six months. Although it won't take place in the actual Smithsonian, the American Art Museum is nearly as prestigious.

    The reason why I put this in modern gaming as opposed to classic gaming was because the press release stated that the exhibit would showcase game art from the Atari VCS to the Playstation 3. Plus, the last two and current generation(in my opinion) have done more for the "are games art" argument than any other time frame.

    I have a feeling that Mr. Ebert might sit this one out. Discuss your opinion about this upcoming groundbreaking exhibit that will showcase one of our favorite hobbies.
    Last edited by The 1 2 P; 05-11-2011 at 02:00 AM.
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    Good to know the Smithsonian has come around to an opinion I've held for about a decade.

    Now if we can just win Hideo Kojima over, we'll be set.
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    I didn't realize the Smithsonian was in charge making those kind of decisions. And not being in the actual Smithsonian is like running a musical off-broadway. Cool, but it's not in the big leagues yet.

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    I'm confused. Are they saying that games themselves are art or that they contain art?

    I don't think it's ever been an argument that they can contain art. If this display is nothing more than a bunch of drawings of Super Mario and some screenshots from Okami I don't think that says all that much about whether or not the entire package fits the bill.
    Last edited by TonyTheTiger; 12-09-2009 at 04:04 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyTheTiger View Post
    I'm confused. Are they saying that games themselves are art or that they contain art?

    I don't think it's ever been an argument that they can contain art. If this display is nothing more than a bunch of drawings of Super Mario and some screenshots from Okami I don't think that says all that much about whether or not the entire package fits the bill.
    That's what I was wondering as well. "Chronicling the development of art in video games" isn't quite the same as calling video games art in and of themselves.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyTheTiger View Post
    I'm confused. Are they saying that games themselves are art or that they contain art?
    Here's what they have initially planned:

    Many museums have explored art inspired by video games, but this exhibition will be the first to examine comprehensively the evolution of video games themselves as an artistic medium. From the Atari VCS to the Playstation 3, The Art of Video Games will show the development of visual effects and aesthetics during four decades, the emergence of games as a means for storytelling, the influence of world events and popular culture on game development, and the impact that the games can have on society. It will include multimedia presentations of game footage, video interviews with developers and artists, large prints of in-game screen shots, historic game consoles, and a selection of working game systems for visitors to play. In addition, the public will be asked to assist with the selection of materials for the show by choosing the games that they feel best represent particular moments in the overall timeline.
    Last edited by The 1 2 P; 12-09-2009 at 04:16 PM.
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    I'm guessing Ebert will not be attending the exhibit...

    While I view some games as having art like qualities, I still can't think of them as "Art". Love and appreciate them as I do. Someone explain to me how Cabela's Billy Big-Mouth Bass and Deercide Fest 08 qualifies as art and I might be on the verge of shifting opinion. Oh, and the Smithsonian... You're not the Louve, get over yourselves.


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    Quote Originally Posted by boatofcar View Post
    I didn't realize the Smithsonian was in charge making those kind of decisions. And not being in the actual Smithsonian is like running a musical off-broadway. Cool, but it's not in the big leagues yet.
    I'm guessing you've never actually visited the Smithsonian. It's a complex of different physical structures, some of which are in different sections of Washington DC and the vast majority of its collections are housed off-site at various storage facilities not open to the public. There isn't some sort of prestige hierarchy associated with which physical building the exhibition is housed in, it's all about the subject matter and the square footage required. The Smithsonian's American art collection has been displayed in the American Art Museum since it opened and contrary to your assertions, it is considered an equal part of the Smithsonian Museum.

    I will never understand the loathing and self-hatred gamers have for the idea that something that now costs millions of dollars to create, involves teams of thousands of artists, sound designers and voice-over talent and generates as much or more revenue than the film industry is somehow not "art". In any event, this exhibition doesn't definitively settle that debate, but it is nice to see that the leading institution in this country is finally recognizing the importance of video games.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Icarus Moonsight View Post
    I'm guessing Ebert will not be attending the exhibit...

    While I view some games as having art like qualities, I still can't think of them as "Art". Love and appreciate them as I do. Someone explain to me how Cabela's Billy Big-Mouth Bass and Deercide Fest 08 qualifies as art and I might be on the verge of shifting opinion. Oh, and the Smithsonian... You're not the Louve, get over yourselves.
    I don't know that any of us want to restart that whole debate, but there are plenty of crappy paintings, movies, sculptures, etc...but that doesn't mean that their existence means that the medium itself is not capable of producing art.

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    True that. It's ungoodness to drudge that old bag up.

    All that crap, postmodern nightmarish regalia... Yeah, that ain't art either I reckon.


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    I always thought the argument simple: art is art when enough (important) people say it's art. And being at the Smithsonian really helps that position. Just gets its foot in the door a bit more.

    Is it on the same level as a Van gogh or even an ice sculpture? Whatever, who cares, comparing apples and oranges and in the end It's still fruit. And not everyone likes all fruit. So maybe Ebert won't like video games as art but that doesn't mean they're not. When it becomes acceptable that they're art, maybe we won't see Yar's Revenge next to The Scream, but it will happen I think.
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    Having lived in the DC area most of my life, I love the Smithsonian museums. It wasn't until I moved to Philadelphia 10 years back that I realized most museums actually CHARGED people admission.

    I like how they're including the public in the selection of the games, should provide for a lot of debate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phreakindee View Post
    I always thought the argument simple: art is art when enough (important) people say it's art. And being at the Smithsonian really helps that position. Just gets its foot in the door a bit more.
    Perception can certainly become reality. But the gamer battlecry has always been a little off on this subject. It shouldn't be so absolute. We shouldn't be screaming "videogames are art," we should be asking "Are games capable of being art?" Are all films, paintings, music etc. art? And just what is art anyway? Is there some strict definition (there are several) we should adhere to, or is there some unique qualifier for art that's very personal?

    And is Britney Spears or Megan Fox really more of an artist than Cliffy B?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bojay1997 View Post
    I will never understand the loathing and self-hatred gamers have for the idea that something that now costs millions of dollars to create, involves teams of thousands of artists, sound designers and voice-over talent and generates as much or more revenue than the film industry is somehow not "art".
    I don't think it's self loathing at all. Whether something is or is not "art" has no bearing whatsoever on its quality and value. The word "art" means nothing in terms of quality or lack thereof. It's just a noun or adjective.

    Besides, I'm not sure what art is let alone if video games qualify.

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    I just hope that if video games are finally being recognized as art that it isn't limited to the "artsy" games.

    But seriously, if this:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...an_CompRYB.jpg

    and even this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fountain_%28Duchamp%29

    are art, then certainly video games can be as well. Both of those are taught in the college art history course I'm currently taking, by the way.

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    I look at the video games as art debate like I look at every other media: just because something's capable of being art doesn't necessarily make it art. I don't think Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen is art. I don't think Twilight is art. I don't think anything Jackson Polluck ever did was art, and I don't think Bubble Bath Babes is art.
    That doesn't mean I can't enjoy things that aren't art. I like Piet Mondrian's paintings (he painted the first link Aussie 2B gave us). I don't think it's art--it's stupid--but I like the way it looks. I don't think it's worth a million dollars. I don't think it's worth twenty. But when I was a kid I was obsessed with geometrical shapes so it resonates with me. I would never hang it up in my house--I don't want to be associated with the kinds of people who would. Those are the kinds of people who like Andy Warhol.
    Hell, look at Gradius IV. It's a wonderful game that does very little to move the genre, but it does what it's trying to do well. Does that make it art? I don't think so, but it's a great game.

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    I'd say games contain aspects of art. I also dont believe that game art has changed over the years so much as the tools that allow the artists the ability to greater represent their original ideals have. Look at the Final Fantasy series for example. Same guy has done the art for each game. As the tech became better and better, so has the visuals of each game. Yoshitaka Amano's work didnt somehow drasticly change with each game, but damned if the games didnt get better looking with each generation. The same could be said of Akira Toriyama with Dragon Quest.

    I'll never consider games to be art itself though. Art can be done for profit and last I knew, always was (atleast, the attempt was made) but something so mass produced without a care how it will be recieved even five years after doesnt feel like it reguardless what anyone else tells me. It's like calling a kia sport art. Or a can of coca-cola art. I can list any number of mass produced products we see on a daily basis that have just as much art as a video game yet no one will ever call it such.

    Art is an over used expresion that has so loose a definition everything and nothing can qualify as such.

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    These "arguments" always remind me of one of my favorite comedy sketches by "The State" - http://www.megavideo.com/?v=SYMMJ3O1

    While I don't think this exhibit, or anything will ever end this debate, I (personally) don't see any reason to disqualify games as a medium capable of supporting the term "art".

    It took centuries for certain "movements" by technicians and crafts-people to be considered "art" by the "schools" who dictate such things. Most recently expanded aspects of graphic design have (mostly) overcome this prejudice (as more educational institutions offer expanded training in the field(s) which most games production/design would fall into.)

    HOWEVER,

    "Art" as a concept is largely a user-defined one, so no single institution will ever be able to empirically define what is or isn't art. (Though that won't stop them from printing $100 textbooks on anything from cave-paintings to post-modernism.)

    As an art teacher with multiple art degrees I can say with impunity (and do so as humbly as possible) that regardless of what's printed on my diplomas or licenses, I know that it's impossible for me to "convince" some people what is or isn't "art" based on the hugely personal/emotional nature of the concept. And that goes WAY beyond just video games. I'm more than happy to teach technique and share my personal opinions ... but in my classroom and in my life people are encouraged to make up their own opinions on what is or isn't art, I'll never argue the concept with them or downplay their opinions.

    I think that the best we can do is make up our own minds about whatever we feel IS art and hold true to those feelings. Because, if you feel that the medium of video games is art ... why should it matter what anybody else thinks? (The medium and the industry certainly has plenty of mainstream success and validation...it doesn't need greater or universal academic acceptance as "art" to soldier on and contiune to elevate itself.)
    Last edited by Frankie_Says_Relax; 12-14-2009 at 07:00 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie_Says_Relax View Post
    As an art teacher
    You're a teacher? Had no idea!

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankie_Says_Relax View Post
    I think that the best we can do is make up our own minds about whatever we feel IS art and hold true to those feelings. Because, if you feel that the medium of video games is art ... why should it matter what anybody else thinks? (The medium and the industry certainly has plenty of mainstream success and validation...it doesn't need greater or universal academic acceptance as "art" to soldier on and contiune to elevate itself.)
    It matters when the powers that be (politicians and the like) continue to attack the medium. Gamers seem to feel (generally) if videogames are universally accepted they'll be left alone. I don't think many of them truly care if games are art or not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RCM View Post
    You're a teacher? Had no idea!
    Yup. High school art. Not currently working full time in that profession, but I did for quite some time, and I'm fully licensed for when a spot in a local department opens up. (Art teachers typically hold on to their tenured positions until they keel over.)

    Quote Originally Posted by RCM View Post
    It matters when the powers that be (politicians and the like) continue to attack the medium. Gamers seem to feel (generally) if videogames are universally accepted they'll be left alone. I don't think many of them truly care if games are art or not.
    Yeah, well, nothing in this life is universally accepted, even less so when you're talking about art and politics.

    I think games are, most importantly, as I stated becoming accepted as a viable profession from an art/design standpoint.

    More universities are opening programs in game design, and that may or may not trickle down into the public school system ... who knows. Graphic design has become far more prominent in standard high school art curriculums in recent years, and those classes typically cover a broad spectrum of commercial art/design.

    It's got a lot to do with generational changes in the art educators in school systems. As young teachers come into the fold, they (typically) bring with them a greater awareness and understanding of modern media. The arts tend to directionally "trend" a lot more than math, science, history, etc.

    Compared to other entertainment mediums, I think games have perhaps come the longest way in the shortest period of time on their path to mainstream acceptance ... there have been some bumps along the way, and there's more than likely to be more, but, give it another 50 years or so and see what happens.
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