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Written by: Carl Shan
In an age dominated by technology, it’s only natural to find its lasting mark on a plethora of aspects of our lives. From finding a greater role in music to becoming a central component in our daily interactions with other individuals, technology has brought about revolutionary, sweeping changes. This paper explores the aesthetic contributions of technology: more specifically, video games. The question of whether games can be considered a legitimate art form is one that, if answered, can decide whether they only serve as playful entertainment (not to be taken seriously) or can be considered an established art form.
The 20th century featured technological leaps that included wonders such as the airplane, cinema, the radio, and perhaps one of history’s most influential inventions – the personal computer. Through the introduction of things such as electronic mail and instant messaging, the computer has revolutionized life by allowing people to interact with one another regardless of the distance between them. Computers have made constant human inspection and regulation of mundane tasks obsolete through automated management and control. But an overlooked impact that computers have had upon mankind is the change they have brought to the philosophy of art. The technological progress accomplished by the 20th century has led to the formation of new avenues of creativity. Video games trace their roots to this pursuit of new heights of artistic expression through these recently created technological media. Although the idea of games as a medium of art has its opponents, when exploring the character and potential of video games it becomes apparent that not only can they be art, but also a form of art with the capability to be more successful than any other in aesthetically conveying feelings and experiences.
To argue that something is art, one must first define the concept of art. The origins of the word can be traced back to the European Renaissance. Christopher Witcombe, Professor of Art History at Sweet Briar College, explains that “during the Renaissance, the word ‘Art’ emerg[ed] as a collective term encompassing painting, sculpture and architecture. Subsequently, this grouping was expanded to include music and poetry, which became known in the 18th century as the ‘Fine Arts’.” These five arts form the nucleus of what is generally considered to be true art. Other forms, such as literature and film, have gained acceptance because they contain key elements rooted in the five original forms. Yet what is common to these five art forms and establishes them as art is a mystery to many. Although both sculpture and poetry are widely considered to be art, the two don’t share an obvious common ground. But, although there is no unified consensus on the exact definition of art, it is implicitly accepted by virtually all those engaged in the discussion that art contains certain fundamental elements. Art, for the most part, engages in the conveying of ideas and feelings through some medium. This is evident in all five original art forms. Painting, music and poetry are all expressions of the artist’s thoughts and passions. Sculpture and architecture are both media through which the sculptor or architect is able to create a visual representation of some emotion, idea or experience. Art is best defined by the Britannica Encyclopedia: “the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments or experiences that can be shared with others.”
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