Thursday, April 3, 2014

Final Project Proposal - Dear Esther

The proposed argument regarding Dear Esther is that it is not quite a game, but much more definitely art.  The art of Dear Esther is the entire basis for anything that has to do with it being a game, i.e. it is centered on the artistically constructed map that Dear Esther is.  I will argue that a large part of the art of it is not only the actual physical parts of it (the island), but the metaphor of what this island means relative to the story.  This metaphor is strongly rooted in the human body (as I have argued before), and my argument will include this detail, with a clearer definition and explanation of what this is, what it means, and how the human body itself, has historically been a subject of art.  The reader should care about this argument, aside from how interesting it is, because growing technology has given a completely new medium for art, referring to digital constructions.  Art is not confined to paint on canvas.  In today’s society with growing conformity, art is still unique and distinguishing.  This evolution of sorts, can be important in individual expression, as well as a larger proportion of people being able to be called artists, though they may have no artistic talent (speaking historically with painting, as an example). 
Marcuse will be a source of strength in this argument of importance.  Marcuse believes that art is important and expression and free time are important for society outside of struggling for the necessities of life constantly.  Marcuse also talks about the Great Refusal in explaining things are not always as they seem.  As I argued in my essay on Portal, I will use similar examples of how Dear Esther exemplifies Marcuse in this way.  This makes sense with the metaphorical representation I discussed above, which will only add to the ability to argue that Dear Esther might not be a game, but art, and that art can come from something completely outside of what the person involved in Dear Esther physical sees.  There is more to it than meets the eye, if you will.
Since this is a revision of an earlier essay, I will use this previous essay as groundwork for this final project.  I will first define what I really mean by what Dear Esther is, further clarifying what I mean by an artistic pseudo-game, though I will focus much more heavily on the art of it rather than what pseudo-game contributes to it.  As a consequence, I want to take some of the stuff about the limited game play out, just keeping the core concept, and relate that to the art of it more by explaining how the maze of the game, even outside of the caves, can give a sense of the human body and the experience of art too.  I will also attempt to pose a short argument against why it is not art, incorporating and refuting a few other reviews in addition to the first draft, in order to strengthen the argument that it is.  In this sense, I would be emulating parts of Marcuse as well in his discussion of opposites, and turning it on it’s side slightly arguing that which is while using that which it is apparently not.  The maze will be further defined and clarified while explaining that certain physiological processes of the human body are also mazes, but not really.  There is a definite start and end, and the path is defined, but the detours are necessary, in certain situation, to define the path and its end. There is evidence of this both in the game and the human body.  In providing this extra information and taking away from some of the unnecessary details, I will form a stronger argument about Dear Esther as art, as described above.  


Proposed Bibliography:

Apostolos-Cappadona, Diane. "Human Body: Human Bodies, Religion, and Art." Encyclopedia of Religion. Ed. Lindsay Jones. 2nd ed. Vol. 6. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005. 4168-4174. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 2 Apr. 2014.
-       This source will be used in an attempt to highlight the role and meaning of the human body through different cultural forces, and its impact from an artistic and religious standpoint in a symbolic representation.

Clarke, Andy, and Grethe Mitchell, eds. Videogames and art. Intellect Books, 2007.
-       This source will be used in an attempt to argue whether or not videogames can be art, what that means, and the impact videogames, technology, and art have on each other rooted in various forms of art, such as contemporary art. 

Dickie, George. “Defining Art.” American Philosophical Quarterly. Vol. 6. Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1969. 253-256. JSTOR. Web. 2 Apr. 2014. 
-       This source will be used in an attempt to help define really what art is.  In doing this in a more traditional way, the videogame will try to be fitted into this category, mending it by taking into account the advancement of art with technology.

Musiol, Hanna. “Museums of Human Bodies.” College Literature: A Journal of Critical Literary Studies. West Chester, Pennsylvania: West Chester University, 2013. Ebrary. Web. 2 Apr. 2014.
-       This source will be used in an attempt to show the prevalence of the human body within art, even in the context of exhibits, rather than just traditional paintings.

Pedersen, Hans and Singh, Karan. “Organic Labyrinths and Mazes.” Penn State University. Ebrary. Web. 2 Apr. 2014.
-       This source will be used for background information regarding mazes and labyrinths, relating their construction to art as a whole, in order to relate mazes, the human body, and art to the construction of Dear Esther.

Tamir, Abraham. “Human Heart by Art.” The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery: Brief Clinical Studies. Instanbul University: Mutaz B. Habal, MD, 2012. Ebrary. Web. 2 Apr. 2014.
-       This source will be used in an attempt to give more evidence of how the body itself is nature’s work of art for background on the internal structures in Dear Esther representing more than what they are.

Tavinor, Grant. “The Art of Videogames.” 1st ed. United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell. 11-206. Ebrary.  Web. 2 Apr. 2014.
-       This source will be used in an attempt to clarify just what a videogame is, and the possibility of a game being art in itself and how that relates to the new age.

Zwijnenberg, Robert. “Body Within: Art, Medicine, and Visualization.” Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History. Vol. 3. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers, 2009. 31-138. Ebrary. Web. 2 Apr. 2014. 
-       This source will be used in an attempt to show there is a strong history of the human body in art, particularly, but not limited to, the female figure, as well as the interior representation of this. 


Kurt Wichman said...

I'm not going to lie, I was moderately confused with your entire proposal for a while. Obviously you state what exactly you plan to write about in the very first sentence, but the following sentences kind of work their way into a confusing trail.
But after rereading a few sentences, it all came together and seemed genuinely interesting.
I think your plans to interpret Marcuse via Dear Esther is fascinating. In my opinion, it seems like you have a very structured, establish shape of what you plan to write about for the final paper.
My only point of concern came up after I fully read your proposal, is there enough to actually write about without repeating yourself; mainly because the game is relatively short and potential poses difficulty. My concerns however faded after reading your detailed bibliography. After reading a few of your sources I had an "OOO" and "AH!" moments that made me even more excited for your final work.
In all, I think you have a pretty sound understanding and vision for the final work, best of luck.

Adam said...

For a final project, I think it's best to spend some time at the beginning thinking through what your interests are, and thinking through whether other people would share them (and how to talk them into sharing them). Asking whether DE is art or not has some value, I think - but I think it would be really helpful for you to ask what you hope to get out of answering that question.

Incidentally, I think bringing your argument re: how the caves are a metaphor for the human body into the foreground is a good idea.

The great refusal isn't quite what you think it is: there is a kind of political dimension to it (what are we refusing? The world as it is!)

"The maze will be further defined and clarified while explaining that certain physiological processes of the human body are also mazes, but not really. " -- good

Overall: I'm not opposed to you revisiting this revision. I'm always happy to hear more about Dear Esther, and I think that you have a lot to say about it. What you need to work on is the big picture: what your central argument is, and why we care. Your strength is that you have lots of ideas, but especially for the final project you want to force yourself into more unity and coherence. Being able to explain briefly what your central idea is and why we should care - then holding yourself to that topic - would do wonders for you.

Note: Your bibliography is quite good, and helps clarify what you're up to.