I’m unsure if I should open this canister of two-four-five trioxyn, as my comprehension is limited.  But over here at the Diamond Island conversations tend towards the rare and unusual, so what the Hek.

Scott McCloud talks about comics, but I believe his ideas are applicable to probably just about any art form.  In his book Making Comics, he speaks of four kinds of approaches to comic book creation, but just substitute any art form and you got the idea.

  • Classicists want to create art that displays a certain kind of technique worthy of being admired, as an image of what art should be.
  • Animists want to create art that tells a story and relates to the emotions of the audience.
  • Formalists want to create art that tests the boundaries of what an art form is capable of.
  • Iconoclasts want to create art that has integrity and honesty to an ideal, unbeholden to any mainstream influence.

This is useful in determining what your stance is when you write, or create art of any kind.  You might say it’s the purpose you are drawn towards.  All of them are worthy; although the various camps will claim theirs is the only kind that is true art.  Yet each has a purpose that supports and encourages the other (but don’t tell them that).

Moving on, in Chapter 7 of Understanding Comics Scott also brings up the six steps of art creation.

  • Step 6 (Surface): What you see at first glance.
  • Step 5 (Craft): The skill involved in making the art.
  • Step 4 (Structure): Understanding what goes where and why.
  • Step 3 (Idiom): Speaking the language of a particular flavor.
  • Step 2 (Form): The materialization itself—book, vase, speech, whatever.
  • Step 1 (Idea/Purpose): Why am I doing this?

Basically, you start at Step 6 when you admire and are inspired by a work of art to get involved.  Each stage requires you to pass several thresholds of challenge to progress. At the end, you choose whether to go to Step 2 (re-imagining the form itself) or Step 1 (exploring the ideas available for expression within).

It’s a little strange for me to even contemplate these paths, for they reveal a pattern to our thinking and feeling, our efforts to create art which are grounded in the fundamentals of brutal survival.  Sex, Danger, Play (Art) are as necessary as anything we do.  Going further down you get to things like breathing, making hormones and the like. Then it’s molecules and elements.

The one indispensable part (so far as we know with our nervous system) of the process is the connection between artist and audience.  This relies on the system that delivers the contact between the two, which needs effort to make it effective.

Throw in the formulations of audience expectation of GNS roleplaying game design theory and you have the reader (or whatever the audience is called) demanding fun in the form of their creative agenda:

  • Gamists who want to be challenged by systems that show who cuts the mustard.
  • Simulationists who want the right to dream in an authentic ‘as if’ situation.
  • Narrativists who want conflicts that resolve premise.

These match up with Scott’s ideas of art asserting our identities as individuals through exercise of our organs (gamist, or sports/mental games), the exploration of the world for useful knowledge (simulationist or discovery in language, science and philosophy), and outlets for mental imbalances aiding in survival (narrative, or self-expression through catharsis).

This is an extremely simplified view of GNS theory, but what I have found is it demands a retraining of the brain to expand one’s mind to the horizons available for meditation.  What you have, I believe, is a re-thinking not just of roleplaying games but recognition of the audience as participant, rather than a top-down gamemaster (or artist) responsible for everyone’s fun.

Take a step further in today’s digitized, mouse-driven age and you have the hierarchy of gamemasters telling people what to buy breaking up under a realization that everyone is both artist and audience, and capable of producing their own supply at will.

Demand is going to create supply, that is, people will create their own needs and fulfill them themselves without having to run the gauntlet of traditional gatekeepers, who dilute the message and inflate the price.

Or even demand that price exist at all.

In a free market, might not money be one of several other options (say, companionship and glory) as means of exchange?  Physical objects like books just become part of a series of modules (a way to make money on one end and a way to show allegiance on another).  Traditionals might have to content themselves with doling out prestige. If they’re lucky, that is—when one can count the number of followers they have does one even need a traditional stamp as a mark of “making it”?

This means the costs will have to go way down.  If someone can make a hit movie for ten thousand dollars, or a bestseller without the chain-gang, how will concentrations of power compete?  They’ll have to.
It can be done if they accept the reality of lower profits and less control—the alternative is extinction.  We are on the downslope of energy anyway, moving towards inner space and not outer space (it was a nice dream while it lasted).

“What about quality?!”  What about it? There’s no quality now, only your good and my bad.  Everyone is going to have to step on up and improve their game if they want to work on the delivery.  Contact is the only game in town now.  There’s no ‘elite’ telling you what works and what doesn’t.

Friends will guard you from crap.  Fans will make sure you don’t starve.  Both will “poopcan” (that is, work the dodgy parts out) your art for you if you are serious.  Just do the stuff.  Everybody’s on the same field and there’s no limit right now.  It’s a conversation; You talk, I talk.

The big question is, “what is your form about and what do audience members do?”

Fun.  NOW.