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Talk Video: Jackson Pollock, Video Games, and Art

Arnox

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Original video creator(s): Arnox - script writer, video maker
Houseman - voiceover, second opinion

Creator's description: Today we'll be talking about the ideas and criticisms of Jackson Pollock's paintings and how they tie into video games and art in general. Also included, me getting wrecked in Unreal Tournament.

Script:
In the 1940s, there was an artist by the name of Jackson Pollock. During this decade, after the end of the second world war, his art, which consisted mainly of dripping paint onto a canvas, was becoming very popular. While sometimes using other implements and techniques to achieve a certain perceived result, his works were made very heavily using a stream of consciousness to direct his movements and the techniques he used.

He had many detractors, but his fans often defended his work, saying that you needed to see beyond any preconceived notions of what the art should be. That if you just let go of that, the work will take on a form or forms you may never have seen before otherwise. Likewise, many developers often use the same basic excuse when a majority of people and even professional reviewers say that the game doesn’t come off right and/or isn’t built well. Maybe it’s more specific in that the complaint or complaints deal with a mechanical or aesthetic or story element in the game.

An example of all this would be Spec Ops: The Line. By the way, there will be spoilers ahead for this game, but if you haven’t played it by now, you probably don’t have any interest in doing so anyway. So, moving on, Spec Ops takes the player through constantly more awful situations that are mostly caused by the main character’s actions. It then wishes to shine a light on the player themselves, condemning them for making such decisions in the game. But there’s a problem as some people don’t feel this is fair. The game doesn’t actually give them a choice NOT to commit these awful actions. So when the time comes to shine that light on the player, the message feels hollow and without weight.

Robert Louis Stevenson once said, "The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean; not to affect your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish." While Robert was talking about writing at the time, this can actually be applied to all kinds of art. The main struggle of art is for the artist to affect their target audience precisely as they wish. When art is created, there is a deep relationship between the artist and their art. While I think many people realize this, people do not realize the very similar but equally important relationship that is had between the art and the consumer of it.

Both relationships are very important, and the artist’s relationship with the art doesn’t overrule or invalidate the consumer’s own relationship with the art, and vice versa. So, going back to Pollock, it is clear what he sees in his art and the intention behind it, and that’s all well and good, but at the same time, his view of the art doesn’t invalidate other people’s view of it, and if a majority of people aren’t hit with any particular emotion but mild bored confusion when they see his art, it’s not the people’s fault that they “just didn’t understand it”.

From the soaring emotional scores of Jeremy Soule in Skyrim to the fatal satisfying blast of a Shock Rifle in Unreal Tournament, the struggle of games is not to affect the player, but to affect them precisely as the developer wants to affect them. Each game is designed to deliver particular experiences to the player, and their success is measured in how effectively they do so, not what the developers may or may not have intended in the first place. And so it is for games, and for music, and for books, and for movies, and for Jackson Pollock paintings.

Game source: Unreal Tournament: Game of the Year Edition

Music source: Sol
by Solar Fields
on Movements
 
Last edited:

andersonnnunes

⚝Future Author of Things✩are✩Looking✩Up v2.0z⚝
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Days ago, I saw a screenshot similar to that of Houseman's signature, it was attached to a comment praising MGS2, saying that after playing the game again after so many years, its story-line finally made sense. Never having heard of this game, I tried to find more reviews and the ones I found mostly trashed the story-line.

Haven't played Spec Ops, but from the reviews of MGS2, I feel like the story they tell may have at least one or two similarities.

If that were the case, I guess Houseman could probably add a paragraph or too of his own, if he so feels like it.
 

Arnox

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EDIT: Replaced the old video with a new one and a host that isn't shit.
 
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