Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Art vs. Craft

        Art                                    vs                                           Craft

There is a representation of craft in SL dance. That being the notion that a performance be judged by muscle memory...the repeated practice of manually interacting with your avatar and their environment  during showtime. And that repeated practice will earn praise for an increased level of achievement. It is a reward for work. Hard work....for a sacrifice of energy expended.

It might be a fair assessment if everyone was forced to play on an equal playing field. That being that everyone spend countless hours practicing for a real-live performance.  But the vast majority of performances are sequenced. Scheduled actions planned to occur at specific times. A beautiful accuracy and symmetry of pre-thought out actions planned to work together in visual harmony. And with tools available, their is a respectable level of consistency and quality produced. So I oft find it hard to rate its appreciation next to that of scheduled offerings of life-like MOCAP, as one example

And this "ART" (pre-planned presentations), as I would equate it to,  has become a de-facto standard most audiences have come to expect.


 Must it be performed? Must it be practiced? We don't watch artists paint. We don't watch writers write books. We don't listen to live musical recording sessions. We buy* the finished product. We admire the work after the fact, save for things like live jazz where we watch a creation, or a caricature of ourselves drawn at the country fair.

So why not admire sequenced work. In that sense I DO INDEED deem it as 'art' along side songs, paintings, and novels.

But, to be fair, I have also noticed audible, laudable, audience appreciation for practiced manual dexterity in these rare SL marvels of manual manipulation. I went to one recently, having been previously bored...repeatedly. I figured....I must be missing something. 

What I realized was that there was something akin to the reuse of the same 7 common musical notes (over 12 semi-tones - think 7 white keys (ABCDEFG) and 5 black keys on a piano before they repeat) over and over again to make the Western music we have become aurally accepting of, for centuries. But in all fairness, the analogy could be drawn against non-Western music as well (Non-Western cultures often use scales that do not correspond with an equally divided twelve-tone division of the octave. For example, classical Ottoman, Persian, Indian  and Arabic musical systems often make use of multiples of quarter tones (half the size of a semitone, as the name indicates). 

Bottom line is the reuse of the same notes but with variations of treatment. Pitch, volume, rhythm, harmony etc. We rely on the recognition of parts of a song 'repeating'. Variations of a common theme (or 7 notes or less) is how classical compositions are built. So in this way there is an approach to music-like form to these "marvels of manual manipulation", dare I repeat MYself.

Purist manual-based performances usually do something in a way that is harder than they need to be. One of those 'things' is making your own animations, vs buying pre-made animations. No way can they match up with the realism of MOCAP, if that is indeed the measuring stick.

But I did notice some creative use of doing things we can't do, (well that we don't think to do without intention) with MOCAP, like turning and twisting and perverting body parts in ways impossible for the human body. A nice creative twist. 

I imagine it takes a very long time to create a manual animation. So what they end up doing is repeating a lot. Using built-in animation extensions like hovering hovering, turning, diving, swimming, hovering, etc. Clever reuse to stretch a creation into something resembling a 'performance' worth attending.

And the repetition is what I sensed mimicked the reuse of musical notes in various combinations. I think there was something akin to 'trance-music'...'trance dance'. Forced to feel the motion-drone and offer personal transcription of a motion abstraction. Am I over-thinking it? Maybe?

Ok here is where I would normally go onto this other idea I want to also tie in but Nai is holding a gun to my head saying "Stop or I'll make you listen to 24 hrs of owl jokes that ended up on the floor and never made it to the Blue Moon stage".

I yield to the Anti-Yummy. Hope this passes the Nai-brevity test. /me blows into the Nais breathalyzer, and decides I am too word-drunk to continue and hails for my trusty designated relief blogger. KAAAAAAAAAAAAT!!!


Lat "Yummy" Lovenkraft