Sunday, 28 February 2010

Alright, so there's this thing... (Cynical Blog Post 3)

That I never realized. The rule of three. Twice is too little and four times is too much. I won't go to far into the details, because Steve already covered it. Suffice to say, I do think that three is the magic number, just don't let your players know it.

Another thing I never realized, is the art and design split. I used to think that art and design could meld together, into some crazy blob of awesomeness. Turns out this wasn't the case, and while I bounce back and forth between art and design, this week I'm in the design camp. Let's talk about art.

Joanna Mowbray - Sculptures

Now, I rolled into this lecture as usual (30 minutes late, not regretting a thing, usually with some snickers). But this day, I had been constantly (and accidentally) putting my alarm on snooze. It was bad luck that my wake up alarm had gone off the exact same time as I entered the lecture. My alarm was set for 8:50, how I managed to not turn it off until 10:30 is beyond me. As I sat down, I noticed sticks in the ground. Yep, just sticks. The first thing I saw was Joanna's... something in space. Sticks in space? I forgot what it was called. But she said it was basically her outlining something; it was around there somewhere, but she never showed us.

Anyway, this woman was an artist. No two ways around it. She worked instinctively and freely flowed from thought to concept. She worked on paper (and with paper) for the ease of manipulation, then later used stronger materials to make her work last and stand up. The metals she used were dependant on what she wanted to do. One of her works was near the sea, so she used copper so that the rust would create unique patterns. Some of them she used stainless steel because it's very strong and clean, so it could reflect light well. Some she used bronze (I think) so that when the light hit it, it would create a nice orange/brown shadow underneath.

Her sketches were fantastic, lovely use of shape, perspective and shade. I wish she had kept her ideas there, because a lot I felt was lost between the page and the product. She prefers to work on her own stuff at all times, but will hand her projects over to people and supervise them if the work because too large or heavy for her to handle. She felt like an artist comes into constraints later on; she misunderstood the question that was asked of her. Since the constraints and limits she referred to were the ones that you place upon yourself, rather than what anyone else places on you. A lot of her work was circular, old designs would come back around, perhaps an accident or simply refinement. However, in my cynical eyes she just ran out of ideas. A lot of the work just looked like her previous work, and while I have no problem with revisiting old ideas and concepts to make them better - I saw no evidence that anything was being changed. Perhaps that is my inexperience as a sculptor talking (Yeah, Zbrush doesn't count, even though it should), but I thought there would be more to change. The shape was the same, the little hole in the middle was the same - oh, she just changed the colour - it's still the same. One thing I give her credit for though, was that her work had some awesome names. Let me list a few for you:

The Spaces Within
Movement in Space
Abyss and Passages (?!)
Beyond and Within
So Far So Near (So Near yet So Far)
Surface Tension

Reading this, you're probably thinking how corny they all are. Well, they are corny, but only as words, when you see the work, they lose all sense of corniness. Abyss and Passages could be summed up as... a funnel. One piece of work she had walnuts and light bulbs (I think, definitely light bulbs) on a wall. She talked about relationships and how we don't think about how certain objects relate to each other. Someone asked what the relationship between them was; when pressed further, she simply said, "The relationship between them is exploring the relationship." I was taken aback, I'm paraphrasing here, but the quote isn't far off. It took all my energy to not burst out laughing as I thought, "So there is no relationship then," and shook my head.

I'm still amazed at this whole art vs design thing. There was a lot of talk about feelings and taking your concept in places you never imagined - which I agree with, they are all important aspects, but this seemed too random. It seldom made any sense, but I applaud her conviction. If there's nothing I like about the concept or the way it turns out, I respect how it was made. Working with metal isn't easy, and the jump from 2D to 3D is a harsh one.

Gotta get 100 words out of this... how do I distill cynicism into academia? Is there anything I can take away from this as a game designer?


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