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Art Is the Wrong Cave

Post #1601 • May 1, 2013, 5:10 PM • 2 Comments

(Skip ahead to: samurai shows, Warren Craghead is awesome, the Department of Skills, quote of the week.)

Over the past few weeks I have been co-hosting Beyond the Horizon Radio under the leadership of DJ Bluestreak. The immediate objective of BTHR is to have a good time playing music and talking about gaming, comics, film, and whatever crosses our minds. The ultimate objective is to become the de facto radio station for Star Citizen, a sci-fi game that is being developed by Roberts Space Industries. The name is a joke—RSI more commonly refers to Repetitive Stress Injury, a frequent affliction of programmers who spend their days hammering keyboards. The project is not a joke. Chris Roberts, who has a storied career in computer games, set out to produce a new title as an independent developer. His Kickstarter campaign sought to raise $500,000 and was overfunded to $2.1 million. RSI's own solicitations and pre-launch offers have raised an additional $7 million, bringing the total to $9.1 million.

[Image: The Aurora, from Star Citizen. ]

The Aurora, from Star Citizen. Courtesy IGN.

Excitement about this game is so acute that in-game guilds have already formed. Blue Horizon, who have been big supporters of BTHR from the beginning, describe themselves thus:

Blue Horizon is a team of traders supported by a dedicated in-house security force and an explorer corps. A culture of information sharing allows us to arrive first and en masse at a system offering the best price commodities.

With the support of our security force we are able to then quickly organise into convoys capable of crossing any space lane to arrive safely at the destination offering the best sell price.

The risk reward equation dictates that the most profitable trade routes span the frontier and the deep space regions beyond it. But whereas to most low security and lawless space remain no-go areas, as a specialist in beyond frontier trading we have configured ourselves to minimise the risks associated with operating in these regions to the point of being able to routinely carry out large-scale trading activities within them.

Blue Horizon is the first signator of Powers Against Common Threats (PACT), an alliance to combat in-game piracy. Other PACT signators include Black Widow Company, a group of veterans, guys who fought in real-world wars, who come together for digital and real-world gaming, Systems United Navy, Imperium, and most recently, Eternal Vigilance, which has a particularly interesting About page.

Eternal Vigilance is not merely a ‘clan’ – we like to call ourselves a multi-gaming guild, and this is a source of great pride to us. We have crafted a chain of command that is conducive to such an environment; constantly adapting to the interests of the members so that your membership with Eternal Vigilance lasts longer than your interest in a single game. When you join Eternal Vigilance, you are making a decision that will likely benefit you for years to come.

In our experience, multi-gaming guilds – guilds that participate in multiple games and expand in directions dictated by the interests of its members – have not only a much longer lifespan, but perform exceedingly well in every game that they choose to participate in. This is only logical; members of multi-gaming guilds have known each other for years and have this advantage under their belt when working together towards goals in new games. When we created Eternal Vigilance, we knew from the beginning that this advantage would be invaluable towards the success of the guild.

I may need to remind readers at this point that Star Citizen does not yet exist. You can buy a ship—purchasers of the new Aurora get lifetime hull insurance through May 4, so step right up—but there's nothing to play until its alpha release slated for Q4 2013.

I bring all this up in contrast to the missives from New York City considered last week. The plural of anecdote isn't data, but contrast the 300 people commenting on how stoked they are about the new Star Citizen space suit to what Paddy Johnson had to say recently:

Spending a few months in New York to build connections and get studio visits isn’t a bad idea, but it’s possible to keep up with most art virtually, and art here has becoming increasingly lifeless anyway. The Lower East Side has become particularly stale lately; in the past four months, I’ve seen only two solo exhibitions that I thought were exceptional—Sara Ludy at Klaus Von Nichtssagend and Jaimie Warren at The Hole. Neither of those artists lives in New York.

And while money is a crass way to evaluate cultural projects, I would challenge any private organization to raise $9.1 million dollars on behalf of a fine arts initiative. Once again I cite John Link:

The art artists do is much more a product of their environment than most care to admit. It almost seems a mistake to say that artists are the masters of their art. Individual talent and discipline are necessary conditions for great art, but hardly seem sufficient. From the time of the cave painters, you had to be painting in the right cave to make it to the level of "greatness". The more things have changed, the more that has remained the same. ... Those who painted in the Right Cave kicked the butts of those who painted in the wrong ones, that's for sure.

It's axiomatic that as time goes on, you end up with more in common with your mortal enemies than the people who come along and heedlessly replace you. Art, all of it, is the wrong cave. Several years ago I observed that art had largely stopped exporting cultural influence and had for a long time been importing it instead. Gaming is not only exporting cultural influence—note, here, my friend DJ Bluestreak has started a successful Internet-based radio station for a community forming around a game that hasn't launched yet—the medium invites the participants to think about group dynamics and economics in a way that is likely to bleed out into the real world. J. Christopher Stevens, the ambassador who was killed last year in the Benghazi attack, was a noted player of EVE Online.

I'll go even further and say that increasingly, technology is culture. Fascinating, marvelous, lucrative things are going on in technology, and more than anything else the art world is afraid that it will be completely forgotten.

But though software engineers and art dealers may pass one another on the High Line, the worlds they inhabit could not be less alike; parallel universes that rarely intersect. And considering their net worths, technology innovators and the venture capitalists who back them are not collecting much art, according to people in both the tech and art worlds.

For the latter, this is a big problem.

“It’s hard to get those guys’ attention,” shouted Thea Westreich, 70, a veteran art adviser, over construction clamor that was disrupting work at her office on Greene Street. “I think they will eventually collect, and collect very heavily and be a part of the community. But I think that’s going to be a hard wall to go through, at least in the short run.” ...

Dennis Crowley, 36, the founder of Foursquare, the social-networking site, is one of this year’s participants [in the Seven on Seven Conference], despite what could be considered a relative disinterest in the art world. Though Mr. Crowley has bought art, he focuses most of his harvesting instincts on snowboards, of which he has many.

Mr. Crowley, who had just returned from the South by Southwest Conference in Austin, Tex., said about art: “I’d never call myself a collector. And if I did, my friends would make fun of me."

And then there's comics. If you have figurative inclinations, why go into an art world dominated by, well...

[Image: ]

...when you could make comics instead?

Congratulations, my fellow fine artists: we are dinosaurs and the Paleocene is well underway. What to do about this? We'll talk about it next week. In the meantime, tune in Saturday at noon, east coast time as we go beyond the horizon.

Samurai Shows

I reviewed samurai shows at the MFA and the Currier at the Arts Fuse.

If you’re a fan of the military culture of feudal Japan — and you know you are if you hear the word “samurai” and think “awesome” — this is a grand time to be in New England.

But not for long—the Currier show ends this weekend.

Warren Craghead is Awesome

So say I and Graphixia, speaking of comics.

While I admit to painting an overly simple picture here, it gives rise to the question of how certain comics artists who put drawing before storytelling challenge the notion that comics must tell a story supported by pictures. What if the picture came first, and the story came second? Arising from the image as it were, rather than preceding it?

These are the kinds of questions that Warren Craghead asks. Craghead talks about his own work as trying to avoid the “cinematic” aspect of more mainstream comics, the feeling that one is looking through windows or frames at an unfolding story. Instead, he wants his drawings to come out at the viewer…to be objects in the world. To Craghead, a drawing is both a thing and a picture of a thing. The way I understand his work is to think of it as a perpetual questioning of what it means to draw a picture of something, incorporating a complex of mind, hand, technology, and external world.

Department of Skills

With a little help from the Department of Brute Force.

Quote of the Week

"Nothing is quite so pleasant as to spend an evening with a pencil and a dog."—Andrew Loomis



Warren Craghead

May 8, 2013, 4:30 PM

I can't remember if I properly thanked you for the "Warren Is Awesome" post. So thanks, man!



May 8, 2013, 5:31 PM

The pleasure is mine, sir!



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