Monday, July 25, 2011

#2 Madpea - Kaaos Effect

The machinima gives a hint about how the build works but unfortunately it was done at a time when my computer and internet connection was struggling so it's a bit choppy.

     Madpea is a Second Life company which produces a range of what you might call "games".   Some are quite obviously games while others are more narrative mysteries.  Their focus is in creating a sense of deep interaction.  This post comes at an interesting time for me as, just recently, I have been disagreeing with a few artists about what is art in Second Life.  They both laughed at the notion of Sextan Shepherds work "Nemo" being considered art.  They didn't say it was not their favorite type of art (which would have been fine with me)  but instead claimed it was not art at all.  And it was that statement that I found to be an embarrassing show of elitism and ignorance of this medium. Madpea would fall into the same category for these artists so lets just have a quick look at the mentality involved.

     Part of their argument was that Nemo is based off of Jules Verne's book "20,000 Leagues under the sea".  That it is not his own idea, but that of another.  This is strange because they would then likely say "The garden of earthly delights" by Hieronymus Bosch would be exempt despite coming from he Bible.  (Bosch's work was said not to be art originally.  It was considered titillating trash for the masses).  Or perhaps William Blake's work based off of Dantes Inferno, or the Lord of the Rings movies based off of Tolkien.  I am not going to get into the vast array of artists who were inspired by something when creating their artworks.  Sextan was inspired by a novel and created everything in his build, Nemo, from within his own mind.  He "created" the build using his imagination.  Furthermore he did it with a great deal of technical skill, not just in building but in texturing, scripting, the use of sound and composition.  One of the artists in the dispute claimed that technical skill was irrelevant.  And that, sadly,  is a very post Duchamp mentality.
     Originally artists spent entire lives learning technique.  I would argue that today we have few if any artists who can paint like Leonardo Da Vinci or Caravaggio.  One reason for this is because of Marcel Duchamp and his work "Fountain".  Duchamp put forth a standard porcelain mens urinal in a Salon exhibit.  His thoughts were that he wanted people to attempt to look at the urinal without being influenced by its function, and to rather see it as a sculptural work.   Was its shape beautiful? was it aesthetic and if so does that not make it art?  Did its function prevent it from being considered art?  Duchamp was all about rethinking standards and causing a stir.  And he did exactly that with his "fountain".  However, a enduring result is that virtually everything is now considered art and in many cases technique has fallen to the wayside.  An elephant at my zoo is given a paint brush and is trained to smear paint on a canvas.  Those paintings sell as "art", yet the advanced skill of Sextan Shepherd in creating textures by hand, in scripting, in creating an immersive environment, in pure building skill and efficiency not to mention the composition of the entire environment are not grounds to even be called art?
     I am frustrated by people (especially artists) not having the ability to recognize that the virtual world will create new and initially non recognizable or quantifiable art forms.  For gods sake don't look at an artwork in Second Life then try to find a reference point in real life to justify it.  I am not declaring Nemo to be the greatest work in second life art, and in fact I would like to see it advance further, but I am not so blind as to say it's not art.   I believe that the art which will be remembered from this medium, will be of an immersive variety that allows the viewer to forget for a time their first life surroundings.  Unlike a 2D painting which you stand and observe or a film which you passively watch while being told a story, the art we create here will be more akin to a painting that you enter and explore.  Something you interact with and almost believe yourself to be a part of.  We are at the initial stages of this and works like Nemo recognize the technique in creating an immersive environment.  It is what makes this medium unique, the avatar in a virtual space with others from around the world experiencing something which transports their awareness into a virtual space, and does so far more effectively than mediums of the past have been able to.  Anyway.  That is my perspective. 
     Madpea sits at two for me because they have taken the notion of creating an immersive environment for the viewer, and have used advanced techniques to achieve that immersion.  Is it art? who cares? the term art is a shadow of of what it once meant.  What Madpea does is to attempt to harness some of the unique elements that will, in my mind, define this medium in the future. 

This is the SLURL to Madpea but its not the main hub.  You will have to explore from there to find the games and things.

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