When The Bomb Goes Off (updated)
I had a conversation with Bill the other day about literature. No, it wasn’t about literature as much as it was about artistic expression. We talked about the significance of the medium in which an artist creates, be it painting, literature or film. I’ll sum up the conversation: “With any great piece of art one should be able to ask the question, ‘Why did the artist choose this particular medium?'” Why film this particular story as opposed to write it in the form of a novel? Why write this story in the form of a first person narrative rather than in epistolary form? Under ideal circumstances, the form of a work of art is just as integral to the work as what the work portrays. In other words, the work should be using the medium to express an idea in a way that can only be expressed through that particular medium.
I feel that this is true, that when one looks a painting, a really great painting, a work of art, the fact that the thing before your eyes is a painting should not be ignored. I tried to apply this idea to some of the “standards,” those works that are in the fairly unchanging cannon of art masterpieces, but found that this wasn’t always applicable. Without making this post too long I’ll broadly sum up my conclusion. For example: If you take all the works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to represent all the Art in the world, I would say that a small percentage of those Works represents Art under my definition while the larger percentage represents outstanding examples of Design. Design meaning that the work can be praised for it’s craftsmanship/visual appeal but lacks the ability to use it’s own medium to say something.
This is all very abstract and needs some specific examples, but I wanted to use it as a way of introducing another topic: Video Games as art. If one reads enough video game reviews one might notice a trend, if a game is exceptionally visually beautiful, or if a game challenges pre-conceptions about what constitutes a game, it is usually labeled as artistic. When that game also happens to be entertaining it is often called a work of art. I would say that out of all the games I’ve played only one, perhaps two are real candidates as works of art.
There is a great review of the game I mean to talk about today, a review much more expressive than I could ever write and I suggest anyone interested to read it. Here it is. Though I suggest that before you read it you play the game, it will only take about two minutes to play through once, though I suggest playing it several times because the nature of the games keeps certain goals from being instantly apparent. The game is here. All I really have to add is that the game succeeds in exploring a theme in a way that can only be explored through the medium of a game. Rather than tell you what I think about the game, please experience it for yourself. I believe that the value of any great work of Art is not to be found through teaching it’s meaning, but through interacting with that Art and being stimulated by it. If you play the game I would be interested in knowing your reactions, just post them here.
I imagine that one day a video game will be included in the permanent collection of some museum. My hope is that it happens for When The Bomb Goes Off.