What is this picture of? A woman reaching for a water pitcher you say? Well, you're absolutely right. This is a very famous art piece by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. Notice how I bolded and underlined "art piece." This, to many, is a form of art. A series of brush strokes and detailing on a large canvas that produces a discernible image to the naked eye, which in this case is a woman reaching for a water pitcher. And what point is there in this piece? She's not doing anything significant to warrant attention, shock value, and there are no glorious colors that pop out to you either. Just a series of browns, and a little blue. Now I'm not one to say this is a bad piece, poorly drawn OR colored. It's actually quite good. But where's the "artistic" value in this?
I bring this all up because of a recent uproar on famed film critic Roger Ebert's blog on how video games cannot be considered art. I know I'm a little behind on the news of this article, but I've followed this debate for quite some time now, and I've heard compelling arguments from both sides, and so far, all I've got to say is:
What's all the bitching about?
I don't see a point in this picture. It seems like it was a waste of time for Johannes to even spend time drawing and coloring this. It's just a woman grabbing a pitcher! Where's the artistic expression here? What kind of feeling and emotion am I supposed to be experiencing from viewing this picture?
And in that lies our main argument. Art is a show of feeling and emotion, whether it be a drawing, a book, poem, movie, music piece AND video game (sorry Roger, gonna have to go against you on this one).The art piece is a show of feeling and emotion from the creator(s), and that showing should evoke some feeling and emotion from the viewer/reader as well. THIS picture, evokes no feelings from me. But maybe I'm missing the point here, as well as Mr. Ebert.
I cannot, however, look at this picture and say "this can't be artistic expression because it doesn't make sense to me!" I am nowhere near an expert in the field of art, and I am not the quissesential poobah of "what is art." Just like you Mr. Ebert. You are simply a film critic, not an expert on what is truly considered art.
I hate country music. Hate it with a passion. Taylor Swift especially (don't tell my girlfriend!). Her music doesn't appeal to me, the guitar tones sound bad, and her lyrics are uninspiring to me. Yet she has millions of loyal fans around the world. Do I dare say she is not a musician because I don't like her music? Do I dare say "Her art in music is not art at all because I don't like it?"
Art is EXPRESSION, no matter what it is you are expressing. To have someone come in to say "Your expressionism is not art" is like someone coming up to Taylor Swift and saying "You're not a musician." No one (not even Mr. Ebert) can pass any sort of judgement like that. Even if they do (and many will) it can only be given as a form of an opinion.
And that is where I say again, "What is all the bitching about!?"
One guy comes on the web and says "Video games will never be art!" and the entire web community is in an uproar. No one can pass judgement about something if they haven't experienced it for themselves. Ebert himself said he hasn't seen a game that was worth his time. How can anyone give his argument validity when he hasn't even picked up a controller and played a game? He's a movie critic!
And let's not forget art is also opinion based. I may not like Johannes' picture of a woman grabbing a water pitcher, but someone else may love it, and evoke a strong emotional response from it. Jenova Chen, in a recent interview with Game Informer, said that one of his games (Cloud) evoked a player to cry because of the fond memories of his childhood he revisited while playing. Art evokes emotion from both the creator AND the viewer. If video games aren't art, what the hell did that guy experience!?
Stop your bitching. We won. Video games are art, whether Ebert likes it or not. I can guarantee his opinion is based on his misunderstanding of the medium. I don't understand why country music is even a genre, because I don't like it at all, but others like it so I am in no place to judge it. Only in opinion form can it be done. On that, let's not forget that Roger Ebert is expressing his "opinion" on video games not being an art form, even though he brashly states that "no game is worthy of comparison to the great poets, filmmakers, novelists, and poets" (yes he stated "poets" twice). To me such a comment is that of a bitter man unable to understand the value of the video game art form.
These kind of arguments are great for opening our eyes to a still relatively young medium. Don't be swayed by naysayers that do not understand. Don't look at Johannes' painting and pass judgement by saying "it can't be art because I don't understand it!" Don't automatically hate Taylor Swift because I don't like her. Make up your own opinion about them. Maybe you won't find video games as an art form, or maybe you will. That is art in itself; a piece of work that displays any sort of work or effort, and evokes different emotions from anyone to witness it, whether it is hate, misunderstanding, or love and affection.
Ask some of the nerds what they were feeling when they played this game!