Tag Archives: disney

What we can learn from Pixar

It is easy today to get lost in everything that is offered up to us. From social media to a high budget Hollywood films to episodic literary fiction there is so much to distract us, to placate us that I believe we have forgotten what we are capable of. I grew up with the internet, and love its potential… but I hate its reality. The internet and all its crowd sourcing power has changed the way we view the world ever so slightly, but in that slight change it has had a significant impact. We don’t trust the expert anymore. In the past news came from those who, through countless years of discipline, had earned the right to deliver it to us. Music was achieved through hard work and rigorous study…not song editing on youtube. And art… art was painful nuanced process that through careful analysis and inspired emotional revolution developed a modern sense. But it stopped there, it stopped because the world didn’t understand that modern sense and never tried to. Today we live without it, lost in a continuous recreation of the modern art world, not realizing that has already happened… multiple times.

Here is where PIxar comes into place. There is an underlying message in their films, and underlying push to challenge what is expected, what is believed to be wanted, and instead pushes for the new. Most literally this comes from Ratatouille where Anton Ego gives his review of the delicious meal he enjoyed. Additionally you could say that it came from an earlier scene where Remy confronts his dad about the ideas of change and nature. The message is clear that conformity and preservation are inadequate for a successful society. We must change and we must fight for that new change. Pixar may not have been directly attacking museums and our arts institutions with this film but I am. If we preserve art as something to be preserved we will lose it forever.

Let’s continue this. I have no link to explain where Wall-E fits except the credits. The credits tie the film to exactly what I have always seen it represent. The culmination of Disney’s dream, emotion through animation. For a large portion of the film dialog isn’t used to convey the plot, rather we visually follow the developing romance of two robots. Disney believed in the power of animation as a tool to convey emotion and he gave himself to his characters. In times past Disney has honored this tradition, the eyes in Pocahontas for example, but recently they lost sight of it. Wall-E set them back on the path by taking inorganic objects (robots) and giving them the emotion enough to convey an entire love story to us.

At the end of Pixar’s short Day and Night we find a radio broadcast defending just how beautiful the new is how scared we are of it. This example might be my favorite as the animation behind it is rather ingenious. Seemingly two dimensional characters are interacting for the first time and at first fighting but by the end are friendly. What makes it near breathtaking is the three dimensional environment that makes up their bodies, one filled by a daytime scene while the other a nighttime scene. As the two move throughout the film we see the environment their bodies are windows on change between day and night. Again Pixar uses no dialog save the radio announcement at the end of the film but is still very capable of telling a story.

Pixar is screaming at us to embrace the new, to fight for it and honor it. I imagine part of their interest is in their own image as the new, which isn’t far from the truth. They allowed for Disney’s second renaissance which is still going strong and pushed the boundaries of computer animation to such an extent that it now makes up the mainstream. But at the same time when in control of Disney’s animation studios, revived and expanded them to re-imagine the cartoon short.

Though this very well may be obvious to many I still wanted to gather my thoughts in one place and encourage further discussion on them. Pixar to me is a beacon of newness that is both pushing the boundary and making it popular at the same time. We need this level of creativity and risk to infiltrate more of the arts and move away from the idea that the arts is something to preserve. The arts is something that should challenge us and push our abilities both to create and to contemplate.

This is what I believe we can learn from Pixar.

 

-Huysmans

 

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The Wii versus the Xbox 360: which furthers the artistic development of the gaming culture?

Let me first say that I acknowledge the many who are instantly discouraged by such a title as it automatically assumes artistic merit in video games. But for the members of the Comparative Blogging Foundation, that is an easy assumption to make. I would love to engage the very basic question of that merit but first I’d like to start with the question answered and work backwards. Assuming that there is artistic potential in the video game world, which system (between the Xbox 360 and the Wii) is furthering the artistic development of the gaming genre? I do not think there is an easy answer to the question and have personally witnessed both sides defined their viewpoints fiercely. But I will say this:

In observing the interactivity that has come to represent many of the installation art exhibitions of the current era, perhaps the Wii’s desire to further the interaction between the user and the game is a better development. With the Wii, the user is required to actually act out the actions of his or her avatar as the narrative develops. Without the user’s physical input the game would not proceed thus suggesting that the art of such games cannot exist without the user. An idea that has come up here before, that of the need for viewers for the art to actually exist.

But to contradict that, the users involvement is already required with the Xbox, in fact one could say that the user is required to participate in a less obvious fashion. Or to use an almost cliche art term, the user has to participate in an “abstract” way with the use of buttons and joysticks. Also on the Xbox side is the power that system operates with. With the processing advancements only capable by a system backed by Microsoft, the Xbox 360 has opened the figurative doors for game designers to animate almost without limitation. This freedom allows for the traditional artists of the genre (the graphics designers and game developers) to fully flex their creative muscles and create extraordinary worlds and character development that would have been unthinkable even with the original Xbox.

But on the other hand when has art been measured by processing power? Are movies today more artistic than in the 30s? I am not convinced that such advanced processing power is the key to better development. After all it is not the power that creates the art but rather the artists working with that power. To better explain this point I would like to bring in the Disney films. I feel that one would be a thin ice to suggest that the Pixar films of today are more artistic than the classic Disney films of the 30s and 40s. Well let me restate that. They may find the Pixar films to be more artistic but they certainly wouldn’t attribute it to the computer power behind the films. What it ultimately comes down to is the designers behind the games.

But, going back to the Wii for a second, that is true about the designers when dealing with what a game can do. But when you are talking about redesigning the interface between the user and the game, that has wide reaching ramifications that should not be overlooked by simply stating that the designers are the real artistic developers. I am of the opinion that experience counts more than presentation. And by that token I must align myself with the Wii camp and say that a focus on the experience will ultimately pay off.

But this is not about conclusions, this is about discussions. So I know open up the forum: Which system, given the Wii and the Xbox 360, will bring out the art of gaming?

-Huysmans