Category Archives for: Aesthetics

Social Determinism, Travel, and Aesthetics

08 November 2014

a thought soon after moving from Japan to Taiwan:

Consume more locally. You were into games in New York because that is what you consumed. In Taiwan, there are no games. Consume Taiwan — life, travel, people. Do something with that.

When one lives in the city, especially in hostels, where one interacts with the people one lives with, institutions of the city, and the general public, social determinism is likely more influential than media determinism[?].

When I was in college, I thought it would have been great to make films or games, because I loved watching films and playing games. When I was in San Francisco, I was unable to build much interest because I was working most of the time. When I was in New York, I thought it was great to make games, though games played from the suburbs did influence, moreso, there was a scene if independent game developers in New York.

When I began traveling, I kept these influences with me, for a very long period of time. When I travelled through Thailand, I wanted to document the gritty parts of Bangkok. When I was motorcycling slowly through northwest Thailand, I was thinking of game ideas and making small prototypes. When I travelled through Laos, I wanted to document tribal people’s a la Vincent Moon, or just make films with them somehow. When I was in Vadodara, India, I had a friend come, and we were supposed to make a game, but we didn’t. And at that time, I really felt no need to make games.

In India, there was but only a small audience that could afford the leisure or device (iPhone, iPad) to play games, and an even smaller audience that would want to; There was more to life, it seemed. India was no place for the development for video games. Games sure, but not ones associated to expensive devices. How could I make something that a large portion of the world, one I was visibly surrounded by?

Games had loss a bit of interest to me because of this, and I still haven’t quite been able to recover interest to it. The ideal thought nagged: why would I bother making things that only a narrow audience could appreciate? (At the time I was more into pushing aesthetics of games, experimenting with mechanics.) Films made much more sense. Indians love Bollywood.

My question, similar to Kevin Kelly’s, What Does Technology Want, resulted in this conclusion.

At a later point, I arrived to Taiwan. I had already been nearly a year before. At that time I had 9 days to explore Taipei. As I did in previous cities in East Asia, I searched out all forms of contemporary art. I found that the art institutions of Taipei were quite a bit behind Tokyo, and far behind New York, in aesthetics. The Digital Art Center just had a room full of videos playing. The Museum of Contemporary Arts had a mix of traditional medias. After quite an amazing exhibition at Tokyo’s NTT ICC, Taipei disappointed, though I loved Taipei for a billion other reasons, and though far behind in the arts, I still would choose that country over New York as my ideal place to live.

But finding people of similar interests proved difficult. If there aren’t people who experienced new media, how could I pursue it? Should it be pursued?

If it doesn’t exist in the city, how can people experience it? I guess through the internet. But the country is a bit insular, in that people normally use Google in Chinese and likely look at arts in Beijing, which probably isn’t bad.

I believe my greatest failure in continuing the pursuit of arts was this: that I failed to educate others of the ideas that I experienced in New York to the people of Taipei. I didn’t quite realize this at the time; I just didn’t understand why no one else knew about those aesthetics, and my misunderstanding lead me to do other things.

I found interest in Chinese, of course, because I wanted to talk to the people around me. That’s the best example of social determinism one can have.

So, instead of pursuing games and new media, I took Chinese classes and began Humans of Taiwan (a mix of wanting to talk to people and my fascination of the public), and continued with life.

Though the internet exists, there are differences in knowledge of aesthetics. Taiwanese people have a rather high proficiency of English too, but they use their own Google and media world. Perhaps Ai Wei Wei leads them to more modern ideas. As aesthetics get closer to experience, one can’t even experience certain aesthetics without living in proximity to a city of current art. Aesthetics is almost tied to location by social determination, and I frustrated myself in searching for people with similar knowledge and interests of aesthetics without knowing why.

Leave a comment | Categories: Aesthetics, Art, Philosophy, Thoughts, Travel

Learning the Aesthetics of Art

06 November 2014

It is unusual if one grew up learning aesthetics through textbooks.

I grew up with games, then films, then new media, in that order. I learned what made them aesthetically good by experiencing them, always gradually gravitating toward newer (to me) aesthetic ideas. I learned of new media only once I moved to cities because they only exist there. They’re not circulated around the world as films, games, and books are.

Once an aesthetic idea is learned, it sticks. Any later experienced implementation of the same idea is outdated. For example, I read Watchmen first, the rest of comic books (including grpahic novels), seem outdated.

When one creates, the learned aesthetic ideas mingle. That is the wrong way to go about creating.

Leave a comment | Categories: Aesthetics, Art, Essays

Universalism in Art

27 May 2012

I recently saw an elderly person perform stand-up comedy and it triggered the thought of universalism in art.

Humor from elderly people is almost always universal from my experience. Everyone probably has a humorous uncle that’s able to make the whole family laugh.

I personally wouldn’t ever want to create something targeted to a specific audience. For example, I wouldn’t want to create an movie based on a manga, which is likely targeted at the Japanese and Otaku population. I’d want to create a Miyazaki film. I don’t even think of anime when Miyazaki comes to mind. Yet, Miyazaki’s films possess many common characteristics of anime. Why? Because his work is universal; It’s able to reach to everyone.

This thought reminds me of when Jenova Chen mentioned wanting to create an experience that is as universal as Miyazaki.

Another example of universalism in art is Pokemon. Pokemon do not conform to any culture. They are creatures, quite different from real animals, having somewhat unique names (maybe they mean something in Japanese?). My mom doesn’t know anything about the show but when she hears “pikachu” in Ash’s pikachu’s voice, she associates it with the pokemon in her mind. That’s powerful. I believe the reason Pokemon was a success is because it is universal.

The same goes for many Disney films, and other things often revered by the public — The Godfather, Shawshank Redemption, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, etc.

Universalism is achieved by avoiding references, cliches, and things that would limit the audience.

A digression:
Hmm. Perhaps a method to create something universal is to figure out how to introduce something innovative to the broadest audience. Finding something specific in the world that you think is beautiful, and trying to show it to the world by making it more accessible.

Yeah. That sounds like the virtue of commercial art. Fine art doesn’t care for everyone else. It’s a little more pretentious.

I guess it’s a choice. Should one strive to create something universal (commercial) or not (fine)? I guess that’s up to the artist. Sometime’s it’s nice to have positive feedback from the public, instead of that 1% who actually understand the importance of those things in museums.

Leave a comment | Categories: Aesthetics, Art, Film Reviews, Personal, Philosophy

Need a Medium to Express Yourself

15 July 2011

have to find a media [medium] to express myself

You should be able to translate whatever is on your mind in the medium you are most comfortable with. That’s art. Maybe you’re currently into capitalism, then make something about it to express your feelings about capitalism. Maybe you just love the feeling of cooking, make something acorrding to that!

Does the medium and artist works on even matter? Whether he writes books, directs films, or draws, the artist’s expression is still being displayed.

Does the medium require technical experience before the expression is shown? Many artists first work shows characteristics of expression. It may not be polished, but the idea is still there.

People shouldn’t ask, “what do you do?”. That’s limiting. Ideally a person shouldn’t think “I’m going to do these things today”. It should be more free. On the day of, just wander and explore, then perhaps Later you may feel the need to express or test those explored concepts on a medium.

There’s hint of my early ideals here: of wanting people to be able to be able to freely do as they wish. There’s also the ability to distinguish art from mass culture. Not bad! And of course, the artist’s communication through mediums of choice.

Leave a comment | Categories: Aesthetics, Communication, Life, Media, Personal, Philosophy, Thoughts

Newer posts →