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What makes art work

Troodon80Troodon80 Member, Developer Posts: 4,110
This discussion was created from comments split from: Let's talk dwarves.


  • DragonKingDragonKing Member Posts: 1,866
    Finally, I have returned to my den of solitude!

    -throws hands up in celebration.-

    Now let's do this!
    Grum said:

    I understand that you can do that. But strangers are unlikely to accept that because only you know the backstory to your world. For just showing art, using a name that is associated with something else will confuse people.

    Ok, what I'm about to say is going to come off as asshole-ish as possible, even though I don't mean it that way. But, that is their fault, not mine. Now let me explain... I've been drawing since middle school, I've been in college for what is going on 6 years now, I've been in 2 shows, and I've met countless artist of different genre and not once have I come across a artist who will show you their work and not expect the viewer to ask questions! The viewer doesn't have to like the content and they definitely don't have, but if they don't ask the question needed to understand the work then that is the viewers fault. But when one doesn't ask, and then grabs on to preconceived ideas to argue it... Which is what happened I might add... They will just state of self imposed confusion.
    Grum said:

    Mithril is commonly thought of as being incredibly light and hard metal used by dwarves and elves to make armor and weapons of great potency. Mithril is so rare that people can mistake it for being magical.

    I draw a picture of a tree and call it "mithril" because in my setting mithril is a kind of tree. It is very common and can be found anywhere. It is usually used for cheap products and firewood because it breaks easily.

    I'm the only one who knows the backstory of my world. If I took that picture to class, people would say "that's not mithril." Because for everyone else but myself mithril has a set image of what it looks like. It wouldn't be fair of me to expect others to accept my version of mithril. It would also be far easier for me to name the tree something that doesn't carry strong connotations.

    That is their fault, because they asked you no questions. At my current college there is a graduate student teacher who knew my work to either be depressing and sanfbecause he was there when I work on two pieces. One was a little girl alone in a dark environment hanging from a tree. The other was a little cartoon guy sitting against the wall with his heart ripped out, stuck to a targeting board with a woman stand a few feet away behind a console which was aiming everything from bombs to chainguns and arrows at his heart.

    Dealing with mythology and spiritual ideas because he was there when I was working on pieces dealing with the god Anansi from Yoruba myths, the god Thanatos from Greek myths, and the jotunn from Norse mythology.

    And finally, dealing with astronomy and space because he was there when I worked on the outer Frontier.

    So one day, he walks into the studio and sees me drawing, its a female nude figure stand in on a single tree on a island. This is what he says to me, "nice form, anatomy and proportions. So what does she represent, what mythology and culture is she from?" He asked the right questions to understand what I was doing. I told him none, I was just drawing a figure, which is something he had never seen me do without there being some mythological connection to it.

    The bunny brigade, a piece I posted even in this site, when I worked on it at the public library, it was about 70% done a woman walked up to me and told me it looked nice, and the next things out of her mouth was, "do you go to school to draw? What is the idea, story, or mindset behind this piece?" Artist don't always have a conceptual thought behind their work, but if one doesn't ask, you can't blame the artist.
    Grum said:

    If the mithril tree was (a) very rare (b) as hard as steel (c) the knowledge of how to shape it was a guarded secret and (d) it's properties were often mistaken for being magical...then naming it Mithril would make sense. Upon seeing the metallic tree, people would go 'oh, he is using the name to evoke the Tolkien imagery while giving a new spin on an old trope"

    The same goes for elves. If these...tunneling horrors that you created were small fey tricksters that acted like traditional elves in a different geographical location (i.e.: move the faerie doc out of the forest and into the desert) then people might get it more. But even that needs explanation, so the picture would have to show the tunneling horrors doing elven things to get across the concept. Otherwise, how can you expect anyone to accept your naming?

    If you divorce the name from everything elven, why not draw a can of soup and title it "elf"?

    Rene Magritte, The Teachery of Images, 1928-9, magic realism was a painting of a smoke pipe, written in french on that painting is, " this is not a pipe." Purpose, to mess with the viewers perception and it did.he made you question what you were actually was looking at while I didn't try to change anyone's perception. What I did was make a conceptual character for a world where I choose to change a preconceived idea and anyone who asked would've known that, but they didn't. They argued what they already knew instead of letting me bring them into my world.

    Man I'm enjoying the discussion but trying to reply to you all from a cellphone is no phone, I miss my internets!

  • ButtercheeseButtercheese Member Posts: 3,769
    If anything, Magritte is working against you in this argument, because he prooves that the immagination of the common person can only go so far.

    He screwed with the people's expactations knowing *exactly* what they would expect.
    Which was that the painting of a pipe represents a pipe.

    This notion didn't magically change just because he pointed it out. If you want people to understand your work, you need to know what they are able to understand. And if you are going to paint a banana and claim it's an apple, people will not think you are a genius, they will think you are an idiot.

    Sure, art doesn't have to be meant to be understood by the vast majority of people, but you can't be around explaining your work to everyone. It should be able to work without you telling others what it means. Might as well write a book in spanish, publish it in Japan and expect people to still read it.

    Art is like telling a joke:
    If you have to explain it, it's not funny.

  • DragonKingDragonKing Member Posts: 1,866


    Well, yes, but aside from maybe the looks (pretty, slim and pointy ears) they have barely anything in common with what is perceived as elf in modern pop-culture. I am not too familiar with Shadowrun, but from what I've gotten all the other races there are literally human mutants. Are there any personality traits, behaviours or something associated with them? Or are they just literally humans with pointy ears?

    And can live for HUNDREDS of years. Harlequin is an immortal elf and the most powerful individual in the sixth sixth world. He was born in the fourth world during the age of legends.

    "The Fourth World ended when magic diminished, and the island of Thera, enshrined in myth as Atlantis, sank into the ocean on August 12, 3113 BC"

    And shadowrun is currently now in the sixth world, 2011 is when magic returned to the world,nthere are roughly 5,200 years between the world's. The fifth world was a magicaless world where places like Atlantis are just myths.

    IMO a good fantasy race is achieved when you can explain what made them the way they are, where do the stereotypes come from in-universe and not simply by explaining how they look. Why are Elves usually portrait as so condescending towards other races? For the same reasons any older person can appear condescending towards a younger person. With age comes wisdom.

    And cliches happen when the same formula is copied over and over and over. The difference here is unlike abstract expressionism (shots fired) is the explanation given, usually isn't theirs! It's usually taken from Tolken... Shadowrun brought a interesting twist to all the metahuman races, which ywa they are actually races. With their own traits, but they're still modern day people and notthe same cliche seen a thousand times... Plus, I don't think I'm capable of hatiing Cherry bomb.

    Same goes for their love for nature. Unlike for example humans, they are gonna be still around after everything is destroyed. Most humans don't care for the long-term consequences, because they are not effected by them. Elves are.

    Again, Native American culture...that's all that is! They took ideas and concepts from Native American culture and tossed them, because following Eurocentric ideas isn't capable of it. Oh lets give them immortality, boom now they significantly from humans without even trying to put any real thought in the design of their race. We might as well give them a trail of tears walk while we are at itbif they don't already have one in the series.

    One could make the argument that other long-lived races, such as the dwarves, would feel the same, but here is where the crucial distinction comes in place:

    Dwarves live underground for a reason. Rocks don't change unless you make them. Even after a cave-in a rock will still be a rock or at worst several smaller rocks. They like the steady and predictable. Living underground means having no weather, no rain, no storms. Riches give a sense of safety because it means you can buy food and whatever else you need to live and thick stone walls keep outsiders and external threats away. They are grumpy when they have to deal with outsiders because outsiders are unpredictable ergo a threat. Since they don't see the above world change, they are not concerned with it. (Maybe that's also why all dwarves are the same. Because it reflects their sense for tradition.)

    Since neither FR's Drow nor the Shadowrun elves share the above mentioned motivations, they can hardly be counted as elves in that context. There is more than just a low BMI and pointy ears to this package.

    Dont take this sarcastically, because that was a great conceptual thought, a beautiful conceptual thought, because at the end of the day... It's still a CONCEPTUAL thought because unless wizards of the cost, Microsoft (video games), or Wizkids (table top rpg) change what makes a elf an elf in their IP owned and controlled universe; the Drow and the Elves of shadowrun are still Elves. You just like me have your own perception of things, how they work and how they should work, but you can't change what's not within your power to change.You can only believe wat you choose.

    And if I followed you're above description of what a elf is suppose to be the Great Western Dragon Feuerschwinge is an Elf and not a Dragon. Because based on Lofwyr's own words, she was the kindest and most pure hearted of all the dragons and cared heavily for the green (forests and trees.) While every other Dragon belived the world was something to be divided and hoarded, she believed the world was something that needed to be loved and cared for so it wouldn't be destroyed. When she awakened in sixth world Germany, her violent attack was instinctive to the destruction of the environment done by humans. Not realizing The Great Serpents Mujaji and Hualpa had awaken before her and controlled/protected Africa and Brazil from environmental destruction done by humans. Though Mujaji has no love for the Elven Zulu nation lmao...the irony is real there.


  • GrumGrum Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 2,100
    Uhm...what? A dragon who would get along with elves is still a dragon. And what is this about Germany and the Zulus? Or native Americans?

  • Troodon80Troodon80 Member, Developer Posts: 4,110

    By request of the original poster (Buttercheese), off topic posts—but posts still being discussed—have been split from Let's talk dwarves.

    Continue. :-)

  • ButtercheeseButtercheese Member Posts: 3,769
    @Grum I too am having a hard time following this ...

  • DragonKingDragonKing Member Posts: 1,866
    Ok buddy, I'm going to stop us right us right there. We are going to us pull this conversation back and to the left. Don't take it personal but I never want to have a "what is art" discussion on a videogame forum again! Twice I had that, the first time was against someone who didn't want to see anything less then classical IDEALISM art or photorealistic pieces as art. The second time I had left the topic alone until a mod from the forums asked me to comment... It wasn't pretty.

    I will just say this, artis subjective to tastes, opinions, beliefs, and ideas. Something you may view as good art is bad art to someone else and visa versa.

    Now I think you're miss understanding me, I'm not blaming anyone, or at the very least not trying to play the blame game. I'm stating something I've seen many times, and not just with my work, but the work of masters from the spiral jetty, symbolist art, dada and so on. I could've made similar statement using any movement of art.

    It really work against me. I wasn't trying to do what he did, I was actually the opposite of what he did. He played with their perception imagination. I tried to pull people into mine and using see how many would be willing to let go of preconceptions.

    Honestly this whole discussion is resparking that flame...and try something of a similar manner now. Well not bow, once I finish this current illustration I've started.

  • DragonKingDragonKing Member Posts: 1,866
    edited December 2015
    @Buttercheese and @Grum

    Ok , how about this; lets just call it a day. I'm practically hours behind everything that is happening... It take like a hour for me to type this out on my phone anyways -.-
    And now I think this was made while I was replying to another.and its split...

    Like seriously, I'm having one conversation about art with @Grum and about elves and classification with @Buttercheese

  • OlvynChuruOlvynChuru Member Posts: 2,684
    Personally I DON'T like when writers based their made-up cultures on real cultures or stereotypes, especially if they're really heavily based on one. It's quite tiring to go into a fantasy desert and encounter yet another group of scimitar wielding, turban-wearing men with beards. Sometimes I wish that certain writers would be a bit more original.

  • brusbrus Member Posts: 944
    edited December 2015
    @Nonnahswriter , could you present some of your poems or stories?

    You can't control absolutely every little thought that might pop into their heads, and there will always be outliers who misinterpret or interpret too much. But if you reach a general consensus of what your work's supposed to be about, and that same consensus correlates with your intentions, that's when you succeed. It's never ever ever the audience's fault if you fail to deliver.

    You created for yourself and that is sometimes needed for author's growth, minding the reactions of the audience.
    Misinterpretations and new interpretations are sometimes also very valuable and discovery in the art. In some way the reader, while misinterpretating your work, creates an art for himself. And many of them don't know that you have stirred their's understandings. This is one of the art's purpose.

  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member Posts: 14,510
    @Nonnahswriter: I feel very strongly that the reader should be our primary consideration. I think it's usually best to write for oneself, but re-write for the reader. This makes the first draft easier to write, without letting the writer off the hook for making the final version fun and accessible.

    The writer has a much more intensive relationship with a text than the reader, but for a successful book, the readers will have spent a lot more time reading the book than the writer spent writing the books, and so the reader's experience is the most important. Jane Rowling took years to write the Harry Potter novels. At 450 million copies sold with maybe 3 hours of reading time per book, assuming no re-reads, humankind has probably spent over 150,000 years reading her books.

    That's a lot of fun for a single person to create. I consider Rowling to be by far the best storyteller in human history.

  • ButtercheeseButtercheese Member Posts: 3,769
    Basically, first form the idea, then think of how to get it over to the audience.

  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447

    That's a lot of fun for a single person to create. I consider Rowling to be by far the best storyteller in human history.

    Sorry, I know this response is late, but I had to ask: Are we counting Homer, Shakespeare, Aesop, and Hans Christian Andersen in that category? Tolkien? C.S. Lewis? Jane Austen? Stephen Spielberg?

    Don't get me wrong, Harry Potter is great, and JK Rowling is also great for having brought that story to young readers. But if we're going just from how many hours of enjoyment an author's collective body of work have brought to the world, there's a few writers and directors out there that trump Rowling pretty handily.

    I also don't think "how many hours does the world collectively spend reading it" is a good measure of her work. Does JK lose credit for borrowing ideas from other authors? Does Homer get extra credit for not writing any of it down? Does Spielberg get credit for Raiders of the Lost Ark but then lose points for The Crystal Skull? Is Stephanie Meyer in the same category just because Twilight happens to have been popular among teens?

  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member Posts: 14,510
    @Dee: I am counting all of those except for Spielberg and Hans Christian Andersen, because the former is a director (I'm counting writers and oral storytellers) and I don't know who the latter is. I'm also counting Valmiki. There are works that have been read for longer than Harry Potter, but not in the same time frame. More hours have been spent reading the Bible, but the Bible is hundreds and thousands of years old, depending on which part. The earliest Harry Potter book is less than 20 years old.

    The hours do not measure it exactly. But it's the only concrete number we have. There is currently no other objective way to measure how much people enjoy a story than how many people read it and re-read it. After all, people don't normally dedicate much time to things they do not enjoy.

    Stephanie Meyer is indeed a great storyteller. The writing in Twilight may be terrible, the characters may be flat, it might teach some bad lessons, and the book overall may be very weak... but what matters in my view, as a writer, is the reader's experience. And her readers love Twilight--the people who don't like the book by and large aren't reading it. It is by that measure a great book. I don't think Twilight's popularity will last as long as the likes of Harry Potter, and from what I hear, I'd probably hate reading Twilight, but you can't achieve that kind of success without pleasing a lot of people. She struck a powerful nerve in a small section of humanity.

    Rowling struck a powerful nerve, too. But she did so in a much wider audience.

    My sole criterion for the success of a storyteller is how much people enjoy the story. That's the end goal, for me. It's not about the art or the quality of the work or the meaning of the work or the sophistication or depth or what have you, because those things are highly subjective, change radically over time, and are poorly defined anyway (try to evaluate an author by any of those criteria, and you could never reach a conclusion anyone else would accept). It's about the readers and how much they like the story.

    The other storytellers you mention have had huge impacts and are great storytellers in their own right, according to the very same criterion. It's just that Rowling is a lot bigger. Judging by how far her books have spread, and how much devotion they've inspired in the fandom, she has reached more people than any other storyteller ever has before, considering that all of this has happened within a single generation.

  • jjstraka34jjstraka34 Member Posts: 9,236
    I will say that I think JK Rowling has done more for child literacy than any person in human history by leaps and bounds, which is saying quite a bit. As for her being an all-time great storyteller....well, I love Harry Potter, but that's too much at the moment. I wouldn't even give someone like Stephen King that title, and he certainly deserves it more than she. In the realm of fantastical worlds, science fiction and horror, I have to reserve those spots for people like Lovecraft, Poe, Tolkien, Asimov. Not to say their work is any BETTER than anything by your favorite author, but without question more important from a historical point of view.

  • brusbrus Member Posts: 944
    edited January 2016
    I started to read lovecraftian literature recently and stunningly there are elements of Lovecraft in fairly fantasy/horror fiction I've read before which I didn't know.

    Lovecraft in the beggining of 20th century got interpreted as mad through his works. He achieved posthumous attention in fantasy horror genres in all of the art (books, games,comics...)
    But, did he write for his audience ? Never.
    So, I think that the first care when making your work is to think thorugh how will you concieve it but never should anyone fall under the demands of the crowd. Doing that you could miss your unique inscription in the art.
    Theese are different times and my believe that people are more open minded for new styles than before.

    One the other hand there is this saying "Good artists copy; great artists steal".
    If we think about than every artwork is rehashed as a product of crowd consciousness and thought inheritence across centuries.

    What makes JK Rowling books work is detective and fantasy syles absorbed and simulated in her's unique way of narration.

    Another point to take here is example of Dan Brown's fiction.
    He's not very renowned among literature critique but the fans are loving his fast paced narration.

  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    @semiticgod JK Rowling also had the internet and Hollywood on her side, as well as a publisher that knew how to design books to be visually appealing. She also had a publishing industry that could (and did) mass produce copies of her work to send all over the world, meaning that if you wanted to read Harry Potter, you could, no matter where you lived.

    None of those things have anything to do with storytelling, so I don't think it's fair to say that JK is the de facto "best storyteller in human history" just because her books were popular at the time they were written. Shakespeare's plays were massively popular when he wrote them, but they were only being performed in one theatre. Homer's Iliad and Odyssey were so popular that people listened to them over and over so that they could write them down.

    And people still go see Shakespeare's plays, read them in school, buy them in collections. Fewer people read the Iliad and the Odyssey, but they're still being read and talked about.

    Again, not saying that JK Rowling isn't great or that her writing isn't influential. I think if we're talking about contemporary human history (~20-30 years or so), then you have a much better case. But if we're counting the entirety of human history, there's a lot of other writers that are just as important, if not more so, and are being enjoyed by just as many people today as they were when they were alive.

  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member Posts: 14,510
    @Dee: The Internet and the publishing business allow Harry Potter to spread far and wide. But they also allow Shakespeare and the Odyssey to spread far and wide. There is no medium through which Harry Potter has spread that Shakespeare's work does not also exist. The advantage you describe is not Rowling's--she is not the only one to benefit from it.

    Shakespeare enjoys great popularity, but his appeal is mostly limited to the Anglosphere. Not so with Harry Potter. The reality is that, in the same time frame that Harry Potter has existed, older stories have had all of the opportunities to spread as Harry Potter. That technology does not favor the newer stories; the older stories spread through it as well.

    In fact, the older stories have a far greater advantage than Harry Potter has: they had centuries to build a reputation. Shakespeare has been praised as the immortal bard for generation after generation after generation. But nobody ever heard of Jane Rowling before Harry Potter.

    Rowling did not come with an advantage because she wrote her books in the modern era. Older stories have access to the exact same technology. Rowling came with a disadvantage because she was an unknown author entering a world in which Shakespeare had already been crowned the king.

    Rowling did not have the advantage. Shakespeare did.

  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member Posts: 14,510
    @Dee: A separate point: we can say that Rowling is only popular in the current era, while Shakespeare was the most popular of an earlier day, but that prejudices the competition in Shakespeare's favor. We can't very well say that the older stories are stronger because they were more popular in an earlier time--Harry Potter did not even exist in Shakespeare's day.

    If we have a race on Wednesday and Thursday and one athlete only participates on the Thursday race, we can't claim that athlete is slower because they didn't win on Wednesday. The only fair time to compare their success is when Shakespeare and Rowling's work coexisted. That time is today, and Rowling's work has spread farther and faster.

  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    My point wasn't that Shakespeare is more popular today than JK Rowling is today; if that's the point I seemed to be attempting to make, that's my fault, and I'm sorry. :)

    The point I was trying to make was that Shakespeare was as popular or more popular in his day than JK Rowling is in hers, if you look at them in the context of their audience. JK Rowling's audience expanded instantly to the entire world, thanks in large part to the internet and international media, as well as a publisher that could afford to have her books translated and shipped worldwide. That's what turned her into a world sensation; without the internet, no one in North America would know who she is. (That's not to minimize her success or to say that it's not deserved, mind you. Plenty of contemporary authors don't find that same success, despite access to the internet and publishers with international reach.)

    Shakespeare, meanwhile, was writing his plays for his own company of actors, to be performed in his own theatre, where his audience consisted of the people of London and whoever happened to be visiting London that day. There wasn't an international media presence that was equipped to carry the story of his success to the rest of Europe, much less the entire world; his success traveled by word of mouth, but even that travel was limited by language and political barriers. Even so, Shakespeare was well known throughout England, and his plays were well attended for the entirety of his career. What's more, and what's much more impressive, is that several centuries later, his plays are still being performed and enjoyed, not as historical works, but as stories that are still compelling to modern audiences. There are Shakespeare theatre companies all across America that perform Shakespeare's work to the exclusion of anything else, and they aren't exactly going out of business.

    In contrast, Homer was similarly popular in his day, but there aren't many people today who still read Homer's words. They're usually reading someone else's interpretation of the same story, which isn't remotely the same thing. But in his day, Homer was so renowned that you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who didn't know what he was famous for.

    JK Rowling's work may enjoy a similar longevity, but it's much too early to tell (she's still alive!). I just think it's a little premature to say that she's the "best storyteller in human history", especially if (like in the first post I was responding to) you're trying to make that case based on the number of hours people have spent reading her books.

    . . .

    To refer to your racing analogy, Shakespeare raced on Wednesday, and ran so well that on Thursday people are still talking about him. Shakespeare's not racing on Thursday; JK Rowling is. But now she's wearing new shoes that didn't exist on Wednesday, running on a track that didn't exist on Wednesday, and she's wearing a track suit that's specially designed to make her run faster--which also didn't exist on Wednesday. They're both still running a race, but the race on Thursday is very different from the race that took place on Wednesday, and just because JK Rowling went farther faster in her race doesn't make her automatically a better runner than Shakespeare.

  • jjstraka34jjstraka34 Member Posts: 9,236
    Dee said:

    In contrast, Homer was similarly popular in his day, but there aren't many people today who still read Homer's words. They're usually reading someone else's interpretation of the same story, which isn't remotely the same thing. But in his day, Homer was so renowned that you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who didn't know what he was famous for.

    Not many people may KNOW of Homer today, but the Illiad and the Odyssey are pretty much the bedrocks of modern storytelling. As works that have survived the passage of time, they are pretty much ground zero. Neither will ever sell millions upon millions of copies, but there is no way Harry Potter or really ANY series of novels or books could possibly surpass their overall impact.

  • ButtercheeseButtercheese Member Posts: 3,769

    @Dee: I am counting all of those except for Spielberg and Hans Christian Andersen, because the former is a director (I'm counting writers and oral storytellers) and I don't know who the latter is. [...]

    Hans Christian Andersen was an danish Author. He wrote the little mermaid, the snow queen, the steadfast tin soldier, the little match girl, the emperor's new clothes and the little duckling, just to name some of his more popular stories.

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