Cave Paintings Be Art?

By John Walker on April 21st, 2010 at 12:10 pm.

Depiction of event. Not art.

Me Ugg. Me angry ’bout current societal acceptance of cave paintings as art. Art no painting on cave wall. Painting on cave wall practical communication between non-verbal tribal group. Me explain.

Art is poem. Like Ugg’s favourite:

Me hunt deer.
Deer taste nice.

Or art weeing on fire. Or installation pieces. But cave painting no be art because it new and me not fully understand it. It depiction of previous events to record history. How that art? Art be other things. Less new things.

Thank you for listening at Ugg. Ugg go wee on fire now.

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111 Comments »

  1. Papageno says:

    Hell, he gave that abomination Star Wars: The Phantom Menace four stars. He liked that POS, but thinks videogames can’t be art. Whatever, Ebert.

  2. matte_k says:

    Thank god there are others here who read Mr. Codak, the man is a genius. You can even follow Tiny Carl Jung on twitter :)

  3. golden_worm says:

    Games and art are two words that defy absolute definition and trying to make a concrete equivalence is largely impossible, That said, debates like this are are how we make sense of the words we are using so the debate is probably worth having.

    To throw in my to pennys worth, I think it would help if we try and break the amorphous blobs of meaning attached to them into 4 groups

    ART = what is largely accepted as being “really” art, the classics, the mona lisa etc

    art = what is called ART by some and refuted by others at this time, “modern art”, advertising, cave painting etc

    GAMES = those activities that are accepted as undisputedly being games, like chess, sports, tetris etc

    games = activities that it is argued at this time can one day be accepted as GAMES or can be art now like most video games, ARG’s, art games, PnP RPG etc.

    Now GAMES are not ART, The art, if any, would be in how well it is played. GAMES themselves are limit actions within the rules, and expression of artistic meaning are only meaningful within the GAME.

    art when its been around for a while tends to become accepted as ART or forgotten

    games are almost always art in some sense if they are being discussed as such. If not the are either forgotten or become GAMES.

    As art can become ART, so sone day some games can become ART.

    It’s an over simplified way to describe it, but as the definitions of art and games (and ART and GAMES for that matter) are in constant flux, any deeper analysis just make the whole thing into a complex mess and makes it hard to enjoy the games, art or cave paintings for what they are, human expression.

    • Wulf says:

      I don’t really agree, I can’t. My mind works different to yours, so I see things differently, and that won’t ever change. What I can do is present a different perspective, not meant to contest, but for the sake of variation, because there is no one, true representation.

      If we look at things like Tetris, Space Invaders, Pong, and Pac-Man, I really don’t see why those couldn’t be a form of art to the modern generation, despite what you consider ‘GAMES’, so to the contrary I could see why these ‘GAMES’ could be art to some people. Also, ‘ART’ I think is a thing of critics, elitism, high society, and pure snobbery, something that actually damages the public perception of art, and limits us in. what we can believe art to be, and therefore limits the art that can be created. So I think ART, where ART > art, is wholly detrimental to society and culture, it’s stagnant, unmoving, not evolving, and if it is these things then it’s very dead.

      I would say that art can be just about anything, it doesn’t matter what high society thinks, and I definitely don’t care for snobbish opinions, I can accept that what they see as ‘ART’ is actually art, I can understand it and in a few cases I can see it, but if they’re unwilling to see anything else as art then they’re only really robbing themselves, they can do that, and that’s fine, but I think it’s wrong for people–people like Ebert–to run around, flailing their arms, and proclaiming factually that certain examples of art aren’t art, simply because they aren’t ‘ART’. Does that make sense?

      So at the end of the day, I think that art is very important to everyone, I think that ART is irrelevant and just a sort of clique which is unnecessary (since people who appreciate art can also appreciate ‘ART’), I do believe in the existence of games and ‘GAMES’ (as you put it), but I also believe that if someone finds art in ‘GAMES’, then that’s fine, and we shouldn’t tell them that it isn’t. Art is about creativity, it’s about brilliant, shining minds who see something beautiful, wonderful, incredible, and utterly fantastic in something, and in turn they want to make more of it. I welcome more of it. Since more of it leads to things like Don’t Look Back, Today I Die, and Majesty of Colours.

    • golden_worm says:

      @Wulf Thanks for your perspective, but I think we may agree more than you think. I was just trying to point out that when we speak of art and games (as a whole, not broken down into my crude subdivisions) we care talking of radically different concepts using the same words.

      I don’t believe ART > art in any way, bar its level of cultural acceptance. In fact ART is just a subset of art that has retained its cultural significance or emotional impact and has not been forgotten.

      Similarly the GAMES/games distinction is just to clarify that the word “Games” can be used to mean different things, not a value judgement on what is a really a game.

      In summary the whole discussion is a word game that rests on how you define Art and Games. My example is just my perspective of how the different camps use the words. They are both correct, both wrong and both irrelevant depending on your point of view. The whole thing is a process, and that is what I find most interesting about this debate.

  4. _Nocturnal says:

    So, for example, if I devise a service for watching movies that rewards your watching with prizes… would the movies cease to be art? Because, hey! You can win!
    Otherwise, I’ll just repost what I wrote on fidgit:

    I’d say Ebert’s actually just trolling. The whole debate is silly on so many different levels. You can’t convince people that something is, in fact, art. Art convinces people it’s art. And for some people, very few things can actually do that. It can’t be helped. And it’s not important. Should games aspire to be art? Yes, it sounds like a good plan for some of them. It would be a nice thing to achieve. Making sure nice things are achieved is important. Go do that, instead of arguing over semantics.Saying that, I do want to make a clarification: film, literature, music and so on are not inherently arts. They are mediums. “Art” is what people think should be done with those mediums. Many people over the centuries have thought differenet things on the subject. Many more will. Probably to the point where it’s being discussed whether discussing whether something is art is art. So… yeah. Keep fighting the good fight, people.

  5. Hodge says:

    This whole debate reminds me of the old vi vs. emacs one.

  6. Wulf says:

    I think it’s all a bit silly too. I suppose the only thing I don’t really like is that–as Hodge pointed out–it has this air of “My Art is better than your Art, neener neener neener!”

    What I want is, as _Nocturnal mentioned (and I said in a comment above his), for people to continue to creating things that mean something to them, and not give a shit whether anyone else thinks it’s art, and the only reason I debate is to support them, because I love what they do. Very much. What’s important is that people keep doing that, make things that mean stuff to you, and who gives a toss whether anyone thinks it’s art?

    The painter responsible for those cave paintings was moved to do so, feeling compelled to take visual record of the animals she had the most respect for, and I think that’s art, it’s definitely art to them and it’s art to anyone who sees it and gets the same feeling from it, I really think that’s all that matters. More, I think that’s all that should matter.

    I’m going to say something a bit risqué now, and I know it’s something that some won’t understand due to their personal perceptions of art, and it’s perhaps even something I’ll get mocked for (but that will just cement my point, really) but I don’t mind. Personally, I don’t find a lot of worth in some old paintings, some have moved me, and I’ve gone to galleries and marvelled, but the Mona Lisa, for example, meant nothing to me, and I found more meaning in Star Guard. On my internal art scale, Star Guard ranks higher than the Mona Lisa.

    Whomever reads this can question my tastes, but I won’t see that as anything more than base snobbery, because everyone is entitled to what art means to them. Art is a very personal, introspective thing, it isn’t an objective thing, and I can’t say that art has rules, because I honestly don’t believe it does. Write a hundred book series on art (and I’ve read a few) and we’ll be no closer to creating an objective construct out of it. Art is different to each person, because everything we experience is interpreted differently by each person.

    TL;DR: Art is whatever the hell you think it is, and no one should really care what you think it isn’t. Hence why this is silly.

  7. gryffinp says:

    You know what? I don’t understand why people want games to be art. Books, for example, are far more enjoyable when they’re not art and people don’t want them to be art. As soon as you look at them like that they become painful exercises in interpretation and bullshit.

    Let’s keep games fun shall we?

    • Wulf says:

      I have a book of nature poems, it’s one of my most prized possessions, it’s really fun and enjoyable to read, and it’s also art.

      Different strokes!

  8. Moses says:

    Oh but he is art, he is I tell you!!!

  9. Roger Ebert says:

    lol i trolled all you kids

  10. RedFred says:

    Less talk, more rock.

  11. party gowns says:

    I have always admired your point of view mate. I am really glad to be a part of your blog.

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