Defining Awesome — Objective and subjective art
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  • Objective and subjective art

    Written by . Posted at 6:31 pm on February 16th, 2009

    One of the topics on this blog has been art. Here is what Gurdjieff says about art. This resonates with me because it is exactly how I want my games to work. The experience must be objective! It must be universally awesome. Everyone that encounters a game like this should stand in awe, know and feel that this IS a work of art.

    “I do not call art all that you call art, which is simply mechanical reproduction,
    imitation of nature or other people, or simply fantasy, or an attempt to be original.
    Real art is something quite different. Among works of art, especially works of ancient
    art, you meet with many things you cannot explain and which contain a certain
    something you do not feel in modern works of art. But as you do not realize what this
    difference is you very soon forget it and continue to take everything as one kind of
    art. And yet there is an enormous difference between your art and the art of which I
    speak. In your art everything is subjective—the artist’s perception of this or that
    sensation; the forms in which he tries to express his sensations and the perception of
    these forms by other people. In one and the same phenomenon one artist may feel one
    thing and another artist quite a different thing. One and the same sunset may evoke a
    feeling of joy in one artist and sadness in another. Two artists may strive to express
    exactly the same perceptions by entirely different methods, in different forms; or
    entirely different perceptions in the same forms—according to how they were taught,
    or contrary to it. And the spectators, listeners, or readers will perceive, not what the
    artist wished to convey or what he felt, but what the forms in which he expresses his
    sensations will make them feel by association. Everything is subjective and
    everything is accidental, that is to say, based on accidental associations—the impression
    of the artist and his ‘creation'” (he emphasized the word “creation”), “the
    perceptions of the spectators, listeners, or readers.
    “In real art there is nothing accidental. It is mathematics. Everything in it can be
    calculated, everything can be known beforehand. The artist knows and understands
    what he wants to convey and his work cannot produce one impression on one man
    and another impression on another, presuming, of course, people on one level. It will always, and with mathematical
    certainty, produce one and the same impression.
    “At the same time the same work of art will produce different impressions on
    people of different levels. And people of lower levels will never receive from it what
    people of higher levels receive. This is real, objective art. Imagine some scientific
    work—a book on astronomy or chemistry. It is impossible that one person should
    understand it in one way and another in another way. Everyone who is sufficiently
    prepared and who is able to read this book will understand what the author means, and
    precisely as the author means it. An objective work of art is just such a book, except
    that it affects the emotional and not only the intellectual side of man.”
    “Do such works of objective art exist at the present day?” I asked. “Of course they
    exist,” answered G. “The great Sphinx in Egypt is such a work of art, as well as some
    historically known works of architecture, certain statues of gods, and many other
    things. There are figures of gods and of various mythological beings that can be read
    like books, only not with the mind but with the emotions, provided they are
    sufficiently developed. In the course of our travels in Central Asia we found, in the
    desert at the foot of the Hindu Kush, a strange figure which we thought at first was
    some ancient god or devil. At first it produced upon us simply the impression of being
    a curiosity. But after a while we began to feel that this figure contained many things, a
    big, complete, and complex system of cosmology. And slowly, step by step, we began
    to decipher this system. It was in the body of the figure, in its legs, in its arms, in its
    head, in its eyes, in its ears; everywhere. In the whole statue there was nothing
    accidental, nothing without meaning. And gradually we understood the aim of the
    people who built this statue. We began to feel their thoughts, their feelings. Some of
    us thought that we saw their faces, heard their voices. At all events, we grasped the
    meaning of what they wanted to convey to us across thousands of years, and not only
    the meaning, but all the feelings and the emotions connected with it as well. That
    indeed was art!”

    G.I. Gurdjieff

    Wait for the Sphinx of Games!

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    1. Reading your blog makes me dislike mainstream games.

    2. I’m surprised you only dislike them after reading this blog. I hate them already, especially anything that comes out of EA’s ass.

    3. You want your game to be felt the one and only way? What if someone doesn’t get this exellence? I think that any work of art should give different emotions to different kinds of people. Maybe I just haven’t seen a work of subjective art… But anyway, that’s a great article. Keep it up!

    4. first comment


    6. You want your game to be felt the one and only way? What if someone doesn’t get this exellence?
      Then I have failed and will continue on my path of creating the game of games.

    7. Almightydiot

      Why don’t u just use mechanics of Soldat again to make an adventure game. U could make Soldat 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.. in a couple yrs u culd be rich and pay ppl to make Soldat 9 while u whank on their asses yelling at em not to create anything since new features creates only risk and problems.

      Oh and don’t worry if your games suck much and won’t stand the test of time, since when you’ll be dead your money won’t be of anymore use to u.

    8. Yeah, why don’t you just do what the above said.

      He sounds like he knows what he’s talking about.

    9. i would call it “(primarily) functional art” rather than “objective art”. You know that everything is subjective to the humans :)

      Additionally i would assume that even very abstract art has the ability to have some effect of “function” on a specific degree to the people. Is there a barrier between “objective” and “subjective” art?

    10. kurr** :), i forgot my nickname

    11. To me, a piece can be called “art” depending on the intention of the creator. A man that creates for truly valuable reasons (self-accomplishment, love for an activity, subsistance, ..) will most likely accord to every little detail of his piece, the most attention it can have.

      Of course there’s no such thing as perfection because us humans are limited in time and ressources. A piece made with all of one’s love and attention can still lack technique and (also for various possible reasons) never get to be known. Such a piece won’t generate money but will have been a great experience for the creator. And i do believe such an effort can, by certain people, be percieved in a seemingly not-so-good piece of art. This would, to me, be the most subtle but objective “proof” of art.

      I haven’t read the post twice, but I would also tend to think that art is mathematical. The techniques (ex. for creating a game) are limitless, but as you choose your tools and merge ideas together, there’s always an option you feel is better than the others. That’s because it is logically more compatible with preceding*? ideas. Actually, the type of game you chose to work on in the first place was compatible with your own self “personality”. Then, every idea you get to keep instead of throwing away, is kept because you are sure its nature adds up “mathematicly” and strenghtens your game.

      A good creator will always take the time needed to compare new ideas with the rest of his piece to feel if it has its place.

      So, since it’s possible to create a video game that does not necessarily require that much costly ressources and tools (it’s not like building technology itself), there’s not much risk of being thrown out of the activity for the rest of your life (ex. from lack of money). So if organised you can put all the time you want on a videogame while still generating money on the side. Without imposing a product *expiry date*? to yourself, you could work on the game until it becomes truly ready and make it a video-game piece of art !

      Finaly, I believe you don’t need perfection to have art, but dedication and balance will get you through a path of positive creating experience and result in an undeniable artistic realisation.

    12. Nice said SonOfBeer!

    13. Yes very nice SonOfBeer. There is some kind of mathematics as you call it in the creation process. Every creator knows very well whats adds and what subtracts from his work of art.

      Just please don’t be mislead by the amount of time or effort given into a piece of art. Just because it is incredibly detailed and built in pain over decades with all the heart and dedication does not mean something is real art in my definition. If an artist takes little balls of shit everyday and in a careful process models a big shit. Truly making every detail, doing this for months, doesn’t make it a piece of art. It is still, a piece of shit.

    14. Anonymous


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    18. Love the post and i think what your doing is much more valuable than any multi million dollar game coming down the pipe with no real soul. Just think, In a thousand years do you think people are going to remember a game that caused people to hand lots of pieces of paper to you? or would they remember a game that is a “masterpiece”.

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