I went to the Cleveland Museum of Art over the weekend — it was really fantastic, I highly recommend it. There were a lot of cool things on display, but one thing really caught my eye and made me think of PZ Myers. There was a special display about a jewelry artist named John Paul Miller (no relation). I had originally just skipped it because I don’t have any particular interest in jewelry, but my mother went to look and it was actually pretty cool. There were lots of Cephalopods!
I’ve always cultivated a special love for tentacled beings since seeing The Little Mermaid, and as a regular Pharyngula reader I was super excited to see little jewelry cephalopods because I figured PZ would also think they were pretty cool.
John Paul Miller basically rediscovered a technology of jewelry making that was invented by the Etruscans and had been lost with the fall of the Roman Empire. He was basically a nerdy historian and an artist:
He began a search for information about this ancient art and found that granulation reached its apex in the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. Over the intervening years, however, the technique was virtually lost.
Miller found little else written about granulation. When he asked goldsmiths about it, only one or two even knew the rudiments.
He researched archeological journals and finally discovered one devoted to granulation. The author speculated that certain alloys could form a eutectic bond (at the lowest possible temperature of solidification) when heated in a reducing atmosphere. This would permit the precision fusion of tiny spheres of metal on to a surface just like Miller had seen. Ordinarily, when solder is used, it tends to fill in corners and blend the shapes. However, in the fusion process, the granules are attached at only very small contact points, giving them the effect of floating above the surface like balloons on a quiet lake.
But enough of all that, pictures:
Those are mine. These are other ones from around the web:
Poor Roger Ebert has created some sort of Internet Firestorm by claiming that Video Games aren’t art. Everyone is pissed off at him, which is really quite silly. But it’s interesting. PZ Myers posted in agreement with Ebert, and now there’s extreme craziness over there as well. Seriously, 3000 Comments at Ebert’s page and over 500 at Pharyngula.
It all seems a bit ridiculous to me because obviously art is a subjective experience. One man’s art is another man’s urinal. This hits home with me because I think comedy is an art form but it generally isn’t treated as one. If it makes you cry, it’s art, if it makes you laugh, it’s just entertainment. Video games straddle this line between entertainment and art, much like film does, and it’s why people act as though some films are art and some aren’t. Rather than accepting that some films are just really shitty art made by committee. As though calling something “art” automatically makes it good, worthwhile or insightful. Have you ever been to DeviantArt?
Someone mentioned this in the comments over on Ebert’s page, but it seems like it’s the difference between a chess board and playing chess. A chess board can be a work of art, but a game of chess is a game. The act of playing a video game isn’t artistic, but the game itself is some combination of puzzle and art. Although, playing a game for other people might be considered some kind of performance art…
I think the lines are a bit blurred, because storytelling is generally considered art, though it is also entertainment. Video Games, particularly RPGs, follow specific story lines and develop characters, you can genuinely become emotionally involved with them. This is why the people defending the video games are so defensive, to them the games have real emotional depth and feeling and Ebert and PZ are saying that that isn’t a valid reaction.
I don’t think it makes you old-fashioned not to think of video games as art anymore than it makes someone old-fashioned to think TV or bad films aren’t art. It’s a very difficult line to draw between entertainment and art. Is Blazing Saddles art? Is Die Hard? Is Eddie Izzard?
It’s a subjective question. Some people might say that Uwe Boll is art, and I’m not sure I could disagree with them. Now, if they claimed it was worthwhile, I’d have to laugh derisively in their face. Personally, I think the in-depth narratives, stunning graphics, and emotional investment that a lot of video games provide do make them art. I’d argue for Kingdom Hearts, Prince of Persia, Ocarina of Time or even Katamari Damacy — they present unique visions of the world and stories that have stuck in my mind as much as any film.
But, I think the entire discussion is best encapsulated by a comment by Brownian over at Pharyngula:
You know what this society sorely lacks? More pretentious conversations asking What Is Art? (and then answering with something along the lines of “Whatever it is, kids today aren’t doing it.”)
I look forward to Ebert’s next essay: “Why Lawns Are Important And Why The Kids Should Get The Fuck Off Mine.”
If you want to see something really boring, watch someone else playing a video game.
Complete bullshit. Boring for you maybe, but I spent a great part of my childhood and teenage years watching other people play video games, and found it to be as full of opportunities for socialisation and entertainment as many other activities.
Reminds me of the first time I saw Star Wars, which was when it was re-released in theaters. I went home and cried afterwards because I was overwhelmed with how awesome it was as a film and how tragic and awful it would be to be any of the characters. It was that movie, and my emotional response to it that first really got me interested in film.
I don’t know that many people have found A New Hope to be a heartwrenching experience, but I really did. I guess a lot of things are profound when you’re 13, but as much as I’ve managed to block from my teenage years, that inconsolable sadness is something I think I’ll never shake.
It seems that Tim has a hankering for SLEEPING BEAUTY… but not really… You see, he’s going to tell the story from Maleficent’s point of view. In fact, it’ll be called MALEFICENT. She was always the most interesting character in that story, but we never knew why she hated those three little fairy wenches… or what indignity she suffered at the hands of Aurora’s parents. Yeah, I’m on board… if only it ends with Maleficent with a sword in her heart in dragon form. Cuz that’ll rule. Think about how long this plotline was carried out over. She has quite a tale to tell. – Ain’t it cool
AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!! Sleeping Beauty from Maleficent’s POV as told by Tim Burton. I would just like to say “DISNEY!! I have already written this and it is amaaaaaaazing!!!!” I even have pictures!!!!!!!!!! //end freak out (but not really)
I would show you pictures but apparently all my shit from Geocities got erased without anyone telling me that that was going to happen. I think I have a back up somewhere, but DeviantArt isn’t working, so all I can show you is a tiny thumbnail. ARGH, now I’m angry.
I’m re-posting this here because I think it deserves a wide circulation. I’m really anti-stealing, but to steal a piece of art that someone has spent hours and hours creating is maybe the worst thing you can do.
Artist brute_force; had the following steampunk monocle stolen from him at Dragon*Con. It’s a one of a kind piece, so if you see it, that’s the one. There’s not another one like it.
He is offering a $200 reward for its safe return, no questions asked. He’s offering a $500 reward if it leads to the arrest of the person who stole it.
And, the kicker: if you get the thief arrested, he will make you one of these pieces. Value: a cool $1500.
Please crosspost and repost this, especially if you know lots of SCA, renfaire, gamer, anime, goth, costuming, and steampunk fans. Someone suggested covering furry and filk, too. Not a bad idea. Art theft like this really, really pisses me off. If the bastard won’t send it back, he should at least be afraid to wear it in public.