The routes: Art Vs. Craft

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SpunkySix
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The routes: Art Vs. Craft

Post by SpunkySix » Sun Oct 04, 2015 7:14 pm

My Philosophy of Art class has been talking a lot about expressionism, and the distinction between art and craft. Basically, the idea is that while craft is designed to make you feel a certain way, art allows you to come to your own conclusions and express unique, individuated emotions along with the original artist in a collaboration of sorts.

I feel like this can make for some interesting discussion here, since it touches on things we've already talked about, but it gives us new terminology to better explain our positions to each other. Specifically, Lilly's route has seemingly been criticized at times for being too much like craft, and Shizune's route often takes heat for being art without enough formal structure to hold it up properly, along with Rin's. The other two routes seem to be up for more intense debate, seeing as they tend to be viewed as more of a middle ground from what I gather.

What do you think of this? Which routes are art, which are craft, and in the end, does it really even matter to you?
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Re: The routes: Art Vs. Craft

Post by brythain » Sun Oct 04, 2015 8:44 pm

I'm going to try to come at this very interesting question a little indirectly.

In classical Greek, the word 'technë' is used to describe art, craft, skill or invention. It's where we get 'technology' — the formal structure supporting 'technë'.

To differentiate between the four, it's useful to say that art is the self-originated expression—the conceptualisation of emotional state that comes from within, that craft is the design of things to convey expression successfully, that skill is the technique required to display craft, and that invention is the ability to make things that display the other three.

I think that in these senses, Shizune's route displays invention, but is deficient in the other three. Specifically, it paradoxically makes you feel the frustration of having to deal with someone like Shizune—you will get close, but no closer. I choose to think that's how Shizune is, at least. Also, yes, I think you're right that the formal structure has omissions that don't even make the necessary frustration clear, if that's what was to be the main point.

Rin, on the other hand, has a masterful route. It may not be satisfying, but it is certainly a good display of all four. Lilly likewise, despite the possible fairy-tale ending—because there's the possibility of a short, sharp shock. Hanako's route is more powerful than Lilly's route in that sense—you don't expect her 'neutral ending' to be that way.

Emi's is like Lilly's. You can see the nuts and bolts of story-crafting much more clearly. However, Emi's route somehow has more depth to it if you look carefully enough. There is very little depth of concept to Lilly's route, although moments like when she snaps at Kenji come to mind.

These are just preliminary thoughts. You've asked an interesting question, and I'll mull over it a while more.
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Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
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Re: The routes: Art Vs. Craft

Post by Kakureboshi » Mon Oct 05, 2015 1:40 am

Whether a piece of media was designed to convey a particular set of emotions, or get the consumers of said media to come to their own conclusions, I feel that the enjoyment of said media ultimately depends on the consumer. People who disliked Lilly's route for being too much like a "craft" as you describe it will probably still hate it, regardless of the terminology introduced, and same with Shizune. I'm not really sure introducing new vocabulary will change much in the way of these discussions, but I'm curious to see if it will. Then again, I'm never opposed to having a new framework through which people can analyze something in a new way.

As for me, I don't really see at the moment how viewing something as either art or craft would enhance my appreciation or opinion of the routes, because I already recognized all which those terms imply with other words: "open-ended", "manipulative of your emotions", "left for interpretation", "feels inducing", etc. The intent and effect of the routes seemed clear to me without the need for these new definitions. And I don't seem to have a particular preference for either, since my two favorite routes are Lilly's and Rin's, both resting at opposite ends of this new spectrum you introduced. This won't help me understand why I don't like Shizune's route either, because if it was a result of preference of a particular extreme of this spectrum, then that would be at odds with the fact that I love Rin's route, as they both fall pretty clearly on the "art" category.

What I really need to do is play the Visual Novel again, and try to pay more attention to Shizune's route. This is somewhat unrelated to the craft vs art discussion, but it really bothers me that I didn't like her route because it feels like I'm missing some detail that won't let me empathize with her, and, to relate it more with the topic at hand, perhaps some of the discussion that would happen with this new framework will help me understand the reason.

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Re: The routes: Art Vs. Craft

Post by erundil » Mon Oct 05, 2015 2:20 am

SpunkySix wrote:(...) craft is designed to make you feel [in] a certain way, art allows you to come to your own conclusions (...)
As far as I know the writers were really surprised with how Katawa Shoujo impacted people. As such Katawa Shoujo did not impact us according to their expectations.
So, following your definition of art/craft, Katawa Shoujo is either art or failed craft.

Not like I really care about the labels, because that's exactly what "art" and "craft" are in my eyes - meaningless labels. Because whether you call Katawa Shoujo art, or craft, it doesn't change what Katawa Shoujo is and how it made me feel.

Let's say someone treated Katawa Shoujo as craft. Now you go there and tell him "hey, it's actually art! so, you can go and make your own conclusions now."

Not to mention that I strongly disagree with the definition of art provided here. I don't believe that you can make someone feel in a certain way. I've seen a good example a few times. Let's speak Mass Effect 3 game. Definitely a craft. You introduce a child, because you want the player to feel sympathetic towards it. You won't believe how it annoyed me, because it didn't affect me. I hate children.
So, you can't make people "feel in a certain way". So craft defined by your definition doesn't even exist.
However you try, people will feel different things.

On the other hand, art is not the only thing that can make you come to your own conclusions. A discussion you've overheard in a school hall can make you come to many different conclusions (for example how society these days is retarded and how you'd prefer to stay alone at home).

I really prefer to take things as they are, without trying to name everything. I can't give a name to the feelings Katawa Shoujo has given me and I sure as hell can't give a definite name to what Katawa Shoujo itself is.

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Re: The routes: Art Vs. Craft

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Oct 05, 2015 2:46 am

SpunkySix wrote:Basically, the idea is that while craft is designed to make you feel a certain way, art allows you to come to your own conclusions and express unique, individuated emotions along with the original artist in a collaboration of sorts.
Well, that definition looks like something your art teacher - or maybe their art teacher - pulled out ot their behind, since it has no basis in either linguistics or everyday usage.
Brythain's definition is much closer to how the terms are usually defined.
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Re: The routes: Art Vs. Craft

Post by SpunkySix » Mon Oct 05, 2015 8:54 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
SpunkySix wrote:Basically, the idea is that while craft is designed to make you feel a certain way, art allows you to come to your own conclusions and express unique, individuated emotions along with the original artist in a collaboration of sorts.
Well, that definition looks like something your art teacher - or maybe their art teacher - pulled out ot their behind, since it has no basis in either linguistics or everyday usage.
Brythain's definition is much closer to how the terms are usually defined.
Actually, it's from Collingwood on expression theory. There's a context here that's a little unusual, but it would take forever to explain it. Basically though, he's not interested in using the words as they're normally defined, because he's attempting to redefine them.

The idea wasn't to use the labels to change your opinion on how you felt about the VN, by the way. You don't call something art, then suddenly decide that now you can come to your own conclusions. The idea is that you have these terms and use them to evaluate various creations, at which point you have a better vantage point from which to describe how you already felt about them. As people here have alluded to including myself, there have already been similar notions talked about here, these terms just make them easier to talk about and can lead to the same discussions from a different perspective.
Not to mention that I strongly disagree with the definition of art provided here. I don't believe that you can make someone feel in a certain way. I've seen a good example a few times. Let's speak Mass Effect 3 game. Definitely a craft. You introduce a child, because you want the player to feel sympathetic towards it. You won't believe how it annoyed me, because it didn't affect me. I hate children.
So, you can't make people "feel in a certain way". So craft defined by your definition doesn't even exist.
However you try, people will feel different things.
You can manipulate people's emotions in an attempt to make people feel a certain, specific way. No, nobody can force you to be sad, but obviously the child in Mass Effect 3 was intended to manipulate you into feeling sad and nothing else. Likewise, even if it doesn't work, the SPCA commercials are just trying to make you feel shitty, period. They aren't an expression, they're a kind of emotional propaganda.
On the other hand, art is not the only thing that can make you come to your own conclusions. A discussion you've overheard in a school hall can make you come to many different conclusions (for example how society these days is retarded and how you'd prefer to stay alone at home).
Right, but that's not an expression of a complex emotion that somebody has creatively gone about representing, it's just an argument or a statement. There's a pretty important distinction there.
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Re: The routes: Art Vs. Craft

Post by brythain » Mon Oct 05, 2015 9:03 am

I think that it helps to consider how best to define art as a discipline.

The core concern of art is how to share the internal mental state or emotional state with another person. The arts can therefore be defined as disciplines in which productions are designed that will convey or invoke a specific kind of mental/emotional state in someone else, in the user, or even in the originator/artist/artiste.

This definition would cover anything from music and the visual arts to tae-kwon-do, cooking and wine-making.

However, there are related disciplines or sub-disciplines—ideation/imagination, craft/design, technique/technical skill, invention/integrative skill. You also have historical concept/art history and legal/legislative concept: how to define, how to score and so on. You can see this at work in art competitions and even sports events such as platform diving or gymnastics.

If you want to 'score' the routes, you'd need to think of a rubric. If you want to say which areas they're better in, that's a bit easier. But the fewer the criteria or dimensions, the more difficult it is to compare things. As I tell my students, I'm hopeless at oenology: to me there are only two kinds of wines—those I like and those I don't. :)
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Re: The routes: Art Vs. Craft

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Oct 05, 2015 4:43 pm

erundil wrote:Not to mention that I strongly disagree with the definition of art provided here. I don't believe that you can make someone feel in a certain way. I've seen a good example a few times. Let's speak Mass Effect 3 game. Definitely a craft. You introduce a child, because you want the player to feel sympathetic towards it. You won't believe how it annoyed me, because it didn't affect me. I hate children.
So, you can't make people "feel in a certain way". So craft defined by your definition doesn't even exist.
However you try, people will feel different things.
Of course you will never evoke the same emotion in everyone. (Watching "Scream" had me laughing uncontrollably for ten minutes, and I doubt that was the creator's intention.) However there are some things that will evoke a certain emotion in the vast majority of people - dying children will make most people feel sadness.
Just because there are exceptions that does not invalidate the principle. I guess most artists (or craftsmen or whatever) would be more than pleased if they manged to evoke the desired reaction in 80% of their audience.
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Re: The routes: Art Vs. Craft

Post by ProfAllister » Mon Oct 05, 2015 7:50 pm

Can't say I agree much with those definitions, but discussing art is always going to be a fuzzy topic.

Personally, my preferred idea of how to score art (insofar as you can do such a thing), I'm inclined to favor the method introduced (and mocked) in the movie "Dead Poets Society" (which, a little bit of research reveals, is in fact embraced by some actual professionals):
J. Evans Pritchard, PhD wrote:To fully understand poetry, we must first be fluent with its meter, rhyme and figures of speech, then ask two questions: 1) How artfully has the objective of the poem been rendered and 2) How important is that objective? Question 1 rates the poem's perfection; question 2 rates its importance. And once these questions have been answered, determining the poem's greatness becomes a relatively simple matter.

If the poem's score for perfection is plotted on the horizontal of a graph and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness.

A sonnet by Byron might score high on the vertical but only average on the horizontal. A Shakespearean sonnet, on the other hand, would score high both horizontally and vertically, yielding a massive total area, thereby revealing the poem to be truly great. As you proceed through the poetry in this book, practice this rating method. As your ability to evaluate poems in this matter grows, so will, so will your enjoyment and understanding of poetry.
It appeals to the mathematician in me.

Unfortunately, that first axis is kind of cheating - seriously, "how artful?" So let's break that down to two subfeatures: elegance and beauty of expression. And lets further break elegance down to clarity/subtlety and economy.

Now we have a set of features to evaluate:

Rin:
For the sake of brevity, we'll put the theme of Rin's route as the problems and dangers of using people as a means to an end (Nomiya to Rin, Hisao to Rin, Rin to Hisao, etc.) On a 5-point scale, I'll give this one a 4.
Rin's route is kind of ugly and painful, but that's mainly to draw the contrast with the brighter bookends - I'll give it a 3.
As for elegance, There's absolutely no economy of expression, but that was an intentional decision, used to great effect, as it manages to walk the incredible tightrope between too blatant and too subtle. So we've got a 2 for economy and 5 for clarity.
So we've got 4 x ((3 + ((2 + 5) / 2) / 2) = 4 x 3.25 = 13.

Hanako:
The theme is "don't be a worthless overbearing piece of shit" - important, but obvious. I give it a 2.
Mostly sweet and pretty, except when it has to be dark and painful. Let's say 4.
It manages to be short and to the point, but it does so by being as subtle as a 2x4 to the face. 4 and 1.
Hanako is then 2 x ((4 + ((4 + 1) / 2) / 2) = 2 x 3.25 = 6.5.

Emi:
Theme: don't be too proud to accept the help of others. We'll say 4.
It tells it like it is - not much in the way of pretty flourishes, but not too ugly, either. 3.
Emi's route is Elegant as all get out. it sets the stage, sets the conflict, throws in the inversion, and even manages to avoid the standard pass/fail setup. 5 and 5.
Emi is then 4 x ((3 + ((5 + 5) / 2) / 2) = 4 x 4 = 16.

Lilly:
Theme: Honesty in all things will make you a man, allowing you to rise tot he occasion and win the heart of a girl, who has no obligation to show any honesty or loyalty. And if you ever lie, or even avoid telling the whole truth at the first opportunity, you're condemned to live your whole life as a hopeless beta. Okay, I'm being a little harsh, but my point is that the the theme seems all over the place, with little applicability. So 1.
The writing is really pretty, though. Lets' be generous and give it a 5.
There isn't much wasted space, but there's not much subtlety, either. I'll allow the possibility that I'm missing something, so we'll be generous and say 5 and 2.
Lilly is then 1 x ((5 + ((5 + 2) / 2) / 2) = 1 x 4.25 = 4.25.

Shizune:
Theme: Adulthood comes without warning, and when it does, you need to be able to think clearly, even when it means self-denial. It's a pretty big deal, and a complex idea as well, so I'd say 5.
Not always the best, and people really hate Jigoro and Hideaki, but there are some very lovely and multilayered scenes. So 4.
The route is often accused of wasting space, but the scenes tend to be in service of the primary theme, or the secondary theme that learning about someone is best done by observing those they interact with (just like Mutou's lecture in Emi's route). So I'm admittedly being generous, but I'll say 4. As for subtlety, it's perhaps a bit TOO subtle. Being generous, we'd give it a 3.
Shizune is then 5 x ((4 + ((4 + 3) / 2) / 2) = 5 x 3.75 = 18.75

Scientific proof that Lilly's route is the worst. :p

In all honesty, though, I'm definitely being too generous to Shizune's route - personally, I think Emi's is the best overall. It's an interesting method to approaching the routes, though.
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Re: The routes: Art Vs. Craft

Post by 300BillionDegrees » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:16 am

ProfAllister wrote:Personally, my preferred idea of how to score art (insofar as you can do such a thing)...
For some reason this reminds me of the question of whether statistics is math or philosophy with graphs.

As for trying to score artwork, I have to say it's impossible. Everyone's interpretation of any given piece is going to be different. Assigning numbers to 'artfulness' and declaring one knows exactly and completely what the artist's objective was so that it can be determined how well that presumed objective was achieved seems a bit ridiculous.



edit: typo typo
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Re: The routes: Art Vs. Craft

Post by brythain » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:56 am

300BillionDegrees wrote:
ProfAllister wrote:Personally, my preferred idea of how to score art (insofar as you can do such a thing)...
For some reason this reminds me of the question of whether statistics is math or philosophy with graphs.

As for trying to score artwork, I have to say it's impossible. Everyone's interpretation of any given piece is going to be different. Assigning numbers to 'artfulness' and declaring one knows exactly and completely what the artists objective was so that it an be determined how well that presumed objective was achieved seems a bit ridiculous.
I can't say it's impossible; rather, the correct term would be 'unreliable' or 'irreproducible'. That's because IRL people score art all the time — in exams, in exhibitions, in ballet or music or fencing or reality TV shows.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
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Re: The routes: Art Vs. Craft

Post by 300BillionDegrees » Tue Oct 06, 2015 3:10 pm

brythain wrote:I can't say it's impossible; rather, the correct term would be 'unreliable' or 'irreproducible'. That's because IRL people score art all the time — in exams, in exhibitions, in ballet or music or fencing or reality TV shows.
Fair point. There would likely be rather strong disagreement on the scores given to most anything.

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Re: The routes: Art Vs. Craft

Post by Alpacalypse » Tue Oct 06, 2015 3:33 pm

WoT INBOUND

Personally, I think that there was a pretty good reason for that rating system getting mocked in the only film (probably) it was ever displayed in. Namely, as much as the OCD pedantic in me would very much like to have a graph that rates all art numerically, it would never sodding work. The fact that so many people disagree over every piece of art from the routes in KS to Lord of the Flies I heard somebody who once interpreted the story as being a retelling of the birth of mankind is a testament to the fact that it'd never be feasible in any meaningful way.

On the topic of this thread's original question - I honestly don't think that either is better. Being manipulated to feel a certain way isn't necessarily a bad thing - hell, Clannad is basically a "How to emotionally manipulate your audience into being sobbing wrecks 101" exercise, that course has way too long a name and I'd totally take it as a university major but that doesn't stop a very large number of people liking it a great deal. Conversely, an Artaudian piece of drama is very much open to interpretation - many different conclusions could be drawn from a single piece - but that doesn't mean that those plays are all that good (pretty much all of Antonin Artaud's plays are considered roughly on the level of utter tripe). Each side has its merits and flaws, but ultimately, being fairly far down one end of the spectrum or the other doesn't mean squat in terms of the quality of a piece.

As to the routes of the game, I enjoy playing the "craft" routes (i.e. Lilly's) more than the "art" ones, but I appreciate the "art" routes far more (especially Rin's - jeseus was that route well written). My perspective can either be from a standard, "just here for the experience" one or a more analytical one, and I generally like to view things through the lens that I get the most out of them through. Whether that be through interpretation and artistic appreciation or pure experience - that depends. All I know is that I freakin' loved Mad Max: Fury Road and 1984 (the book) for completely different reasons. YMMV *shrug*


Sorry if that ramble amounted to nothing and had no point whatsoever. I tend to do that whenever discussion on abstract concepts comes up :oops:
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Re: The routes: Art Vs. Craft

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Oct 06, 2015 6:48 pm

Unfortunately, that first axis is kind of cheating - seriously, "how artful?" So let's break that down to two subfeatures: elegance and beauty of expression. And lets further break elegance down to clarity/subtlety and economy.

Now we have a set of features to evaluate:
...
I generally agree with those ratings (except for Shizune which I'd rate WAY lower). Not quite sure what you mean by "economy" though. If it is how many words you use to make your point, Shizune's route should score a solid 1 in this category - this from someone who had to translate it... Those run-on sentences still give me and my fellow translators nightmares...
Clannad is basically a "How to emotionally manipulate your audience into being sobbing wrecks 101" exercise,
That's only Clannad AS. Clannad itself is a pretty sweet - if a bit generic - story.
But it's exactly this total lack of subtlety of any kind that makes me loathe AS as much as I do - to the point that I wish I could unsee it somehow...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: The routes: Art Vs. Craft

Post by Kakureboshi » Wed Oct 07, 2015 12:40 am

ProfAllister wrote:Can't say I agree much with those definitions, but discussing art is always going to be a fuzzy topic.

Personally, my preferred idea of how to score art (insofar as you can do such a thing), I'm inclined to favor the method introduced (and mocked) in the movie "Dead Poets Society" (which, a little bit of research reveals, is in fact embraced by some actual professionals):

It appeals to the mathematician in me.

Unfortunately, that first axis is kind of cheating - seriously, "how artful?" So let's break that down to two subfeatures: elegance and beauty of expression. And lets further break elegance down to clarity/subtlety and economy.
The issue here is that I may ask you, "well, can you confirm that those four variables are what everyone would like to base themselves on when judging art?" And while the question, "how can you be sure that the apple is going to hit the ground if you toss it?" can be answered and visualized with as many demonstrations as needed to convince the asker, I highly doubt that you will be able to replicate the same results when you ask "what makes art valuable?" to several people.

Don't get me wrong, I love numbers. But as Alpacalypse pretty succinctly pointed out:
Alpacalypse wrote:Namely, as much as the OCD pedantic in me would very much like to have a graph that rates all art numerically, it would never sodding work.
While the nature and value and meaning and everything else of art will continue to be discussed ad nauseam, at this point we do not have a sufficiently reliable method of scoring art. At best, we can try to describe our feelings and thoughts to others about specific pieces of art, so that people can use us and our words as a point of comparison, in hopes that we all eventually reach a consensus on how to best "score" art after immeasurable numbers of comparisons have taken place. Or until neuroscientists and the like can find a really reliable way to calculate and quantify what elements of art elicit which responses in our brain, somewhat like hardcore protein folding prediction, but with human emotions.

Also thumbs up for Clannad.

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