Why not Art?

MoMA is doing it Wrong.

I think in order to determine whether society thinks something is art or not you need to look at the place in which they are displayed. The MoMA has a bunch a people who say they are forward thinkers but simply aren’t doing it right.

“The labyrinth ritual glamorizes the competitive individualism and alienated human relations that characterize contemporary social experience. it reconciles the visitor to pure subjectivity by equation it with ” the human condition.” And in the garden, as in the outside world, that with satisfies material needs appears not as the result of labor but as if by magic-gifts of a great nature goddess. As an institution MOMA appears to be a refuge from materials society: a cultural haven, an ideal world apart. Yet, it exalts precisely the values and experiences it apparently rejects by elevating them to the universal and timeless realm of spirit. MOMA’s ritual is a walk through a hall of mirror in which isolation, fear and numbness appear as eating and desirable states of being.”

Carol Duncan et al. The Museum of Modern Art As Later Capitalist Ritual

Now this quote can be taken with a grain of salt because it comes from a marxist publication but it does illiterate how the MoMA is aligned which in my opinion alludes to their closed minds and inability to accept a new wave of change. They push the same point of view that people have had since the dawn of paint but now have slowly come to adopt the new baby of film into such a prestigious category that the likes of Picasso and Michelangelo reside.Unknown234

If you look at a place like the Smithsonian, where the games are championed and explored for their interactive properties and the context in which they were made, you can clearly see that the MoMA has an pinky in the air view on video games as interactive design. I do think they fall into that category although I do not think it is up for them to make a line in the sand and say that not all of them are art. Antonelli doesn’t think that the feeling that video games brings people is in any way worthy of anything but praise to the code.

Ratchet and Clank: The Game

For this final analysis I chosemaxresdefault to play the game Ratchet and Clank on the PS4. Number one on my list is this little thing called nostalgia. It brings you back to the ‘good ole days’ when you and your buddy were eating pizza beagles on his space bed after 6th grade, and the smell of his mother smoking cigarettes in the back yard while you joyfully took turns conquering this tiny make believe world on your massive 20″ screen. Or it could simply take you back to a time of blissful freedom. Either way nostalgia brings about a feeling deep down that stirs and sits, sometimes relaxes, soothes or breaks you down.

Parallel to Film

I think that we are waiting. In transition is a way I like to think about it, just as film went through this in it’s early development and study. Whenever a new technology comes out

Oh wait, there is Film.

Ratchet and Clank the movie is out and available for you to watch on your Netflix account if you would like to take a look. If you had no idea about the video game and went to watch the movie you would be able to be captivated by it and possibly laugh. Now, it is true that a few of the jokes do cater to the people who are familiar with the past Ratchet and Clank games. Although, this was not enough to keep my roomgiphy534.gifmate intensely watching this movie from start to finish. He is one of those people who doesn’t like cartoons or shows with cartoon characters.
So to have him be so into a movie such as this one was a novelty. He even laughed at some of childish jokes and stupidity of some of the characters, which leads me to believe that video games can reach other people through film. QUOTE!!! Although, I do not believe that is the end game for video games in the art world as seen by the art community. Because let’s face it, we are actually talking about how do we change the mind of these people and make them see it the way I think most younger academics and non-academics see video games. It is extremely similar to the way most of them think of film and film study.  When film first came into existence, no one knew what it was, how to properly use the technology, and what it meant to people until it had been in the popular culture for quite some time.


Nostalgia is an integral part of this whole experience. And that is not to say that games who do not use nostalgia as either a sales tactic or simply the MoMA’s antiquated idea of design and Art. It is not up to the MomA to be to paternal with f11545be0d37b2872412d78911b4f32apeople art form and to let them speak for themselves. Sometimes the more educated or financially lucky forget that most of societal change happens outside of their bubble. But those were the same people who fought for film. If you look at the first discussion we had about how Ebert did not fathom video games ever becoming an art form.

I do think that video games jump into cinema was an important development, although not the only way it could be art. I think of it more as a step to show people that video games are not like the “boob tube” people called the television when it first erupted but instead something that they should take a look at and have an open mind rather than discounting the video games because of outdated misconceptions. In todays American society, video games are seen by the older public as children games because only their children and like minded adults play such things. And that is not their fault, the closed mindedness is. But like anything opinions can be changed through presentation on common ground or over time.

For me art is more than if something has an interactive element or allows you to manipulate it and forge your own path, it is appreciating the aesthetically pleasing visual and auditory inputs. That is when you look upon something and appreciate not only the work that was put into the creating of such a project but also the feelings of experience, knowledge, discovery, excitement, and many more. It is a matter of perspective for each individual what he thinks is art. No one has the right to say this painting is art and this table is not for everyone because it doesn’t have the classic elements of that world. It is much in its own world just as Howard Becker says in Art Worlds. Yet it seems that the art community and even the gaming community is dead set on putting these terms into fine neat boxes for people to start virtually dumping each game into some category of ‘ART’ or ‘Not ART’. I think that in the end video games will be looked back on as a similar art form to film and that it was a derived from film with a strong deviation towards interaction of human with the virtual.


Duncan, Carol, and Alan Wallach. “The Museum of Modern Art As Late Capitalist ritual: An Iconographic Analysis.” Marxist Perspectives (1978): 28-51. Web.


FPS Art?


Call-of-Duty-Modern-Warfare-Remastered-preview-mainFor this weeks game I chose to jump rom a Mac / PC game, to a Playstation 4 game. I ventured from the realm of world domination in Civilization VI, to the deadly strategy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered.

This game came to mind as it stayed in the genre of war and domination games, I not only switched to a Playstation game,  but took on a generational game as this game was first released in 2007 and included three preceding games following the same line. It had been awhile since the last time I had ventured to play a FPS game especially any Call of Duty or Battlefield games. I find that the players tend to be out of my league as a person who devotes no time to improving his COD skills. Although my roommate seemed to be better than me in every way as a man who played almost every COD game and has prestiged several times on all.
So it was to be expected that the other players were like my roommate, so gearing up to play 200.gifwas rough as I was spawn killed at least 65 times before I was able to start forging a counter attack. So I looked like this GIF here for a hot minute.

All jokes aside we must examine this game from two different view points. Each of which has their own take on establishing this game in respect to their requirements. The perspective of the art world and the perspective of the game world.

As a Game:

If we look at COD: Modern Warfare Remastered and try to pull out the aspects of play that make it a game, we begin to see that it is very simple. But of course, what is a game in its essence? Well, Modern Warfare did have player interaction as I used the controller to manipulate the game space within the allowed rules and physics of the game. I quickly became attached to the outcome as my team raced to murder as mamaxresdefaultny soldiers of the opposite team before they outscored us. I have never been so encompassed by a game than I am when I play these games. Many times I will catch myself yelling at the screen or becoming frustrated / aggressive post gameplay due to my lack ability mostly, but the competition almost entices you to continue play. You measure you talents against everyone online and brings the collective / group play into the otherwise single player game.

As Art:

First we must define art to travel any further down this road. But to anyone who knows of the ontology of this word knows defining art is not as easy as 1,2,3. The debate and animosity over the word ‘art’ is toppled only by the debate over the bible as a sacred text. No one really has the answer, we all just call to authority and look at evidence based on highly thought out definitions from really old guys.

“[Ideal] unity can enter the art consciousness only through the unfolding and then the reconciliation of the particularization’s of the Idea, and, through this development, artistic beauty acquires a totality of particular stages and forms.”

The Philosophy of Fine Art George Hegel

This guy Hegel thought of art as a dialectic where each society brought its new perspective as we moved from traditional thinking to different mindsets. Our aesthetic changes and adapts with our culture and society. Indeed one could look at inventions such as film and photography and their impact on the art world. This guy Walter Benjamin was overtly concerned with how photography, film and reproduction took the aura away from the art and transformed it to something new. The authenticity of the production is no longer a concern, instead the message turns political (although he was quite worried about the Nazis so much you can hear it on the pages). Here is a link to his paper on Art and Mechanical Reproduction Walter Benjamin (1986 [1936]) – “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” : pp. 27-52

Modern Warfare can be looked at from an aesthetic point of view, although what were those aesthetics meant to do? They are meant to give the player a live sense of play, more real than the latter. This is brought upon by capitalism and the “next up” culture of the video game market. But at it’s core the people creating these objects and movements within the game are simply trying to bring the best and most realistic FPS game ever created to date. Something every great artist strived to do without saying it, the inspiration by competition to create the most pleasing and popular works. Indeed the form and message are important, but are open to interpretation unless the creator clearly outlined the meaning / feeling intended to be felt.


Here is the real question, is our society ready to accept video games as form of art and to what degree? The current answer by actions taken in the art and gaming communities is no, not yet. They seem to be pushing games into the art world slowly like getting into a frosty uncharted ocean limb by limb. It is a held back, open, but mostly closed, gesture of welcome. Let’s accept some, but not all of the genre due to the overwhelming stigmatism against “gamers” and the “gamer” lifestyle.

Games parallel art in the sense that they are the new form that will enviably be considered an art form or part of art in the future. Just as with film, the definition and form must be examined, explored and fumbled through just as I fumble through the maps of Modern Warfare.

Conquering Authorship

Once the Author is gone, the claim to “decipher” a text becomes quite useless. To give an Author to a text is to impose upon that text a stop clause, to furnish it with a final signification, to close the writing. This conception perfectly suits criticism, which can then take as its major task the discovery of the Author (or his hypostases: society, history, the psyche, freedom) beneath the work: once the Author is discovered, the text is “explained:’ the critic has conquered; hence it is scarcely surprising not only that, historically, the reign of the Author should also have been that of the Critic, but that criticism (even “new criticism”) should be overthrown along with the Author

Roland Barthes- Death of the Author

Stop. Now read the quote again. Barthes is making a point fitting to a T for this blog. He makes the argument that with writing, the Author dies when he then spins his web of words to be read. The Author and the Critic  die as the reader/player is
born.To find the authorship of any work, if not already specifically named, is superfluous, because the interpretation is now simply speculation. I thought this was pertinent to bring to this discovery in order to establish the boundaries of this inquiry. As I have now giphyestablished that this argument a fruitless endeavor, I may now proceed .

Well, lets start with how much of a noob I am. I ordered Civilization VI for the PC on Amazon a couple weeks before we began this choice game. It was only after trying to insert the game into my 2012 Macintosh laptop that I came to a Simpson Homer “dope” moment. If you are ignorant to the fact that PC games do not work on the Mac like myself, then now ya know. Oh, and did I mention that the software update on my Mac needed to play Civ VI crashed my hard drive. So I eventually went to the App Store on the my new stupidly expensive Mac (not happy Apple) and purchased the correct version of Civilization VI and returned the useless PC game, well useless for me.  For those who have yet to play this game, please do. Basically you start in a mysterious spot on a map with a random arrangement of continents and resources such as horses, iron, marble, fish, etc.. You then compete online or against a bunch of AI controlled Political leaders to grow and fight for resources, land, and advancement of your culture. Awesome.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 9.32.41 PM
1a: Screenshot from Wiki

As you can see from the list on the left in photo 1a, it is quite obvious through one Google search who these particular companies/people are. When I tried to look on some forums and such to find individuals contributions, and finally found a video of the artist from before the game was released. What’s that you say, it says  there is specific artist and designer?  Indeed, in the Interview of Brian Bussatti he goes into detail the changes from Civilization V and what specifically they did in in cooperation with the design team , although never specifically mentioning Ed Beach. That leads me to the logical conclusion that this game took many teams of artists and designers, as told by the credits.

So then who is the “author”? Is it the Developer Firaxis games, which orchestrated the creation or Ed Beach and / or Brian Busatti’s teams?  Good question.  Is it right to attribute the authorship of this game to a single perspective, a single person or even a small group of people? Good question. I would answer to the second question, no. It would be a detriment to the entirety of the Civilization VI game to narrow the perspective of the collaborative success. It would be better, in my opinion, to indeed think of the author as a meta-being that encompasses every person that touched the game and furthered it to its end by invoking their personal perspective/style. Because you simply cannot, CANNOT,  claim the specific from that which was created by the general. In that, to name one person/company is simply a lie.

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Now that I have established the “author” of both Civilization and this blog post, it would be wise to partially retract my 1st objection in the name of the dialectic argument of authorship in respect to video games. The creation cannot be treated simply as an author of one essay, but instead as a Collective Activity as described by Howard Becker. The shear amount of work and man power needed to produce the games we see today with all of their aesthetic trimmings and wonderful design.

Art or Not?

Grand Theft Auto. Well, 5 to be exact. A game to which bring a pang a nostalgia to m1429076704_grand-theft-auto-vost men my age, as they reflect on the several preceding games that spanned our youth. As I sat down to begin playing this game, to which I had previously lost interest due to constraints on time, I remembered all the times I had aimlessly created 50 car pile ups on the freeway or went on mass killing sprees. Ahh, my innocent youth. Well, now that we recognize the crude violence and the extremely misogynistic development, production and market, we can get down to what everyone wants to know is this game considered at any point and to what degree, art?

Can we all agree that the shear density of the map is a thing of wonder? I mean seriously, if you look at how at every point on the map you can at some level interact with your surroundings and they are new and changing every time you change vantage points. So, if we look at this from a social perspective and it in its perspective art world (that is that it is question), as Howard Becker describes in his book “Art Worlds, which can be found here,(Art Worlds PDF Link), and how many different people it must have taken to draw every single random person who walks past you on the street or the intricate detail of every part of the map. From the buildings that seem to tower from the ground with a sense of surreal realism to the shimmer of the early sun off the ocean as you ski shooting . I think that Winklemann would approve of the buildings and the men at muscle beach, although he would be in such utter discontent with the other crude absurdities that lurk in plain sight of this game.

Like this.

Such as the obvious entropy that seems to be constantly crowding the mind of the player and has no unity or center it simply would not do for him. Although these are the opinions of an eccentric and overtly old man, so might take them with a grain of salt.

In my opinion, while taking into account all of information I have read to date on this subject, I think that this game could be considered art, but with boundary conditions. I grant that the mere undertaking of creating a game with this much detail in a randomizing environment took a exuberant amount of
time and man power, and to that is due much respect and admiration. So was the Mona Lisa not painted with great time and a great man? If you look cross culturally and overtime many things change in their understanding and appreciation. Let us look at war. War in todays time and over most modern cultures is deemed something of a last resort, and is looked upon with distaste as we begin to designate the importance of every human life.So is it not analogous to art. Did not art in a way gulp in the film or the photography industry as an art form when these technologies came to be known. This idea is captured in part by Walter Benjamin, but in my opinion is tainted by a rational yet overbearing fear of fascism and Nazi Germany.

Now we get down to the whole argument of art in its essence and if it applies to this game at all. I think looking at Grand Theft Auto I would say that if you simply objectively look at the scenery, buildings detail of people and game world, yes it could be art. But as soon as you try to play and start to engage in the behavior intended to keep you playing by gtav4kpc05a developer who wants you to buy the next one, you ar
e not participating in art but parallel a game with an intended purpose and end.  Which is to get you to have the nostalgia feeling after exhausting days,  which brings you right back to letting them rob our pockets. As Howard Becker would say “The idea of an art world forms the backbone of my analysis. “Art world” is commonly used by writers on the arts in a loose and metaphoric way, mostly to refer to the most fashionable people associated with those newsworthy objects and events that command astronomical prices.” (Art World, x).

Works cited.

Becker, Howard Saul. Art worlds. Berkeley, Calif: U of California Press, 2012. PDF.

Winckelmann, Johann Joachim. The history of ancient art. Boston: J.R. Osgood, 1980. PDF.

The “NUF” Factor

As a strapping, young 6th grader swaged out in my Metallica T-shirt, I sat in Mrs. Farrar’s class. My teacher had this notion that smart, little 12 year old boys and girls should not be having fun but conversely “NUF”. “NUF” was a term that she coined in order to create the false image that because we were in an advanced program we should not be having fun, we should be diligently working our little pre-teen butts off. But her approach was quite to the opposite side of the river, in class we did an exuberant number of activities, long board games, story writing/telling, and pajama parties. To everyone else outside of our class room  we were nerdy, well-behaved (except when I shook that standard), little know-it-alls, but in our own separate reality we knew the “truth” about what we really were.

This what we do when we explore the realm of fun.  We escape into a world that is our own or that we share with a finite group of people, that can be sculpted into what you see fit. As I sat there feverishly running away from little colored ghosts, I caught myself floating into this realm. One could say that I entered a state of flow or arousal, because my conscious thought drifted from my normal hum drum life to forgetting about my car payments, rent, friendships and my own body.  As Brian Sutton-Smith put it, “games/play makes life less shitty.” The challenge of PacMan matched my skill having me climb diagonally in Csikszentmihalyi’s optimal experience where I may have entered his flow state until I hit the 4th level where the challenge of dodging the ghosts overtook my skill and caused me to become frustrated and bored with the game.


I have to say that playing games such as PacMan, Space Invaders, Rachet and Clank and many others, are quite ‘fun’ to me. I indulge almost once a day to delight my pleasure in a little free, un-judged learning. In my life, I try to treat every moment as a teachable moment and think that is what makes life so beautiful. Every time you open your door there is a new challenge, shit sometimes opening the door is a challenge. There are many aspects of the word fun. One could derive that fun is specific to the individual because of the always changing case by case bias of personal opinion, although for me fun is freeing and effortless. PacMan was not effortless but it was just the right amount of freedom within a set of rules and boundaries that made the game easy to navigate and advance.

I think for PacMan to be not ‘fun’, it would need to inherently difficult and confusing. Then the game transforms from a bright world of ghosts and gobbling little yellow men and becomes an endless stream of debauchery and discontent in the players patience. Once a game or activity becomes tiresome, boring, confusing or forced (in context), it then enters a realm much to the transverse of fun. Although the point of view of the player that gets bored can be easily altered with a little change from a troubled, hard view of that activity or game to a more open approach where they let the game take them. So ‘fun’ is just the state of mind of the person having fun, the moment his attitude sours, the real world rings his/her name or the game becomes too difficult the fun is ceased. 35632fe500000578-3646254-image-a-17_1466148392000