By SgtSphynx 6 Comments
Please do not post any examples of the art or any similar art since the subject matter could be considered pornography; I will not be posting any. Also, I am sorry mods if this requires some special attention and understand if you must lock it.
Yesterday, my art class had a discussion concerning potential censorship of art at the Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art, which is part of UNF, the university I attend. Currently there is an exhibit in the atrium of the museum that consists of 14 photographs. A city councilman viewed one of the photographs, depicting a pregnant woman lying nude on a couch in front of a window, as pornographic and sought to cease the city's funding of the Jacksonville MOCA.
The discussion my class had mainly focused on the line when something goes from art to pornography. We concluded that there is no definite line and that the line is entirely subjective; you know it when you see it, though we all agreed that so called "hardcore" was definitely in the pornography camp. Shortly after class this article was published; I am glad to see the mayor agreed with my class, but does this mean that the councilman was wrong? No, but I made the point that saying something is pornographic says far more about the viewer making the claim than it does about the artwork itself. To an extent at least, and I think this also somewhat applies to games if you view them as art, as I do.
I don't view all games as art, though there is some "art" that goes into the making of games, the same way I can see art in science. Many games are a reflection of society at large and have something to say about that society, though not always overtly. Artworks are the same way, and most are representational in some way. Classical Greek sculpture is an idealistic depiction of the human form following the golden ratio. Religious art from the middle ages attempts to tell how a pious person lives. Many games follow this same principle, everything in them is there for a reason whether that be just to make the world more fleshed out or represent some aspect of society.
Viewing games as art means that we can evaluate them the same way and use the many of the same modes of analysis, though some must be modified slightly. The modes are:
- Biographic (though this really only pertains to those games developed by a single person or small group)
- Psychological (again, mainly for games with single person or small group developers)
The sixth mode Formal Analysis and I am not sure if it is applicable since it deals with the use of the elements and principles of art. I feel that we must determine those elements and principles before formal analysis can be possible; a complete vocabulary I am not versed in. Also, I grant that not every game is trying to make a statement, some games are the equivalent of art for art's sake the same way that Jackson Pollock's paintings are trying to be paint on canvas and nothing more.
Iconographic analysis deals with what the different elements are metaphors for. In analyzing pieces of art this far easier since most times that bed is not simply a bed, but in games that bed is just there because you're in a bed room and that's where beds are.
Biographic and Psychological analysis are related in that they delve into the mind of the creator; this really only works for those games that have a definite single creator or a small group. Neverending Nightmares would be a prime game for psychological analysis, Papo Y Yo is a prime biographic analysis target.
Contextual deals with the context in which an artwork is made, in this case the culture of the time in which a game is released or developed. By analyzing this it can be inferred what the game may be trying to say about society.
Now for the mode that I am sure many will take issue with, feminist analysis. First, there is nothing wrong with applying feminist views when critiquing art. I will not go into my personal views and beliefs other than that I believe in equality for all. This mode of analysis is related to biographical analysis but considers the perspective toward gender of the viewer and the role of women at the time the art, in this case the game, was made. It also covers the depiction of women in art. I may not agree with certain feminist critics, but they are welcome to make their points.
You want to know the best part of art analysis? There is no objectively wrong critique; all views and interpretations are valid. However, along with that, there are no objectively correct critiques, just widely agreed on meanings and interpretations. So what does this last bit have to do with games as art? It means that there is no good reason to be upset when someone says something bad about a game you like, we can have discussions about aspects that people view as troubling.
This started out just about the MOCA controversy and it kinda went stream of consciousness from there and kinda petered out at the end there. So, sorry if I rambled.