Austin Metzger: The productization of art
Art is an essential piece of human existence. If one wanted to compare the differences between two different human cultures on Earth, they would only have to look at their art. Art is the trademark of the times, ranging from the perspective of one individual to an entire group.
It’s a world where expression defies science, and emotions take the form of images, sounds, and textures. Art is art, and there is no easier way to explain it. Art is defined by the artist and the viewer, each with its own perspective on what art means. What is quite surprising, however, is how much art has been turned into a product throughout the years.
I think to really put into perspective how art is being reduced to a product, we need to look at our modern civilization. Art has never been more accessible, nor has it been more expressive. With billions of humans on Earth, each with their own perspective and culture, the creative resource of art has been overflowing in these modern times.
The internet and advanced communication allows these pieces of art to be shared instantly and it is a thing of beauty. And the mediums in which art is expressed have expanded, as well. From traditional paintings and sculptures to video games and movies, we are living in the age of art.
But there is a problem. Our modern civilization also has allowed another essential part of humanity to spread and become more accessible. Consumption. If art is the will to create, the need to consume is its greatest enemy. Humans consume everything from food, resources and even each other, and I’m afraid art falls victim to this, as well.
Through the use of “productization,” the mass amounts of art in these times are being consumed just as fast as they are being made. The problem arises that a lot of humans now view art as another commodity. Movies for money, music for money, video games for money. And it’s not the fact art is being sold, but rather it is not viewed any different from an appliance.
Take video games, for example. Video games are one of the newest forms of art in the world and one of the most complicated. Video games often use all the different forms of art in one piece. This leads video games to often be a collaborative project, with people who create visual art, to audio art, to acting and to programming.
It’s not a simple medium to create in, but like all arts, the artist prevails. That’s why the video game industry is massive now, and every year different pieces are being made by individuals, each providing a different skill and vision to the piece. But often I rarely see people actually appreciate the artists behind these works.
They often are just referred to the company behind them rather than the people. And this is really discouraging because art is its best when it’s a relationship between the artist and the viewer. But when the viewer does not recognize the actual artist behind it, art becomes a product. And that’s the current state of the video game industry.
People only see the companies behind video games, not the actual artists who create the video games. So now they only see video games as products. They buy a game, criticize it, and throw it away. In the name of standards. Standards are the bane of art, a limit on what could have been. While there are people who do appreciate video games as art, the majority seems to view video games just as products.
When viewing video games as a product, the people think their vision on what it should be is the right one because, like an appliance, it should just work. But since art is defined by the artist and the viewer, this means people are often upset when a game does not meet their vision, even though they aren’t the ones creating it.
They yell at the artists, demanding they remove or add things because they don’t align with what they want. This leads the artists to a hard place because they are often harassed to change their vision because if they don’t please their audience, their corporate overlords will take away their resources to create and express if they don’t get enough buyers. This is the current state of the video game industry, but it’s not just video games. This applies to all art in the modern world.
Art is being turned into an appliance and sold, and we’re buying it.
Austin Metzger lives in Grass Valley.
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