John Klima on Thu, 25 Apr 2002 17:18:01 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] Re: RHIZOME_RAW: GENERATION FLASH (3A / 3)

napier wrote:
> > > Lev Manovich wrote:
> >Programming liberates art from being secondary to commercial media.
> As much as I'd like to believe this...
> Progamming may produce new forms outside of commercial media, but
> programming puts the artist into new relationships with other existing
> forms.  If I dabble in 3D rendering then my work could be competing with
> Pixar, Toy Story, and Shrek.  Can I accomplish what teams of Silicon
> Graphics programmers can pull off?  No, but that's not my role as an artist.

it's impossible to attain the level of scale that a pixar team attain,
but you sure as hell can try, and in my mind, one probably should. there
was a time in the not so distant past that all software was created by
only one or two individuals.  as the technology became more able, it
required larger and larger groups of people to take advantage of the
abilities. visi-calc, the first spreadsheet program, was coded by one
guy. ms excel is a whole company in and of itself, more or less. but it
all seems mostly a measure of scale. an independent artist can't create
shrek, but they can create a scene from shrek. an independent artist
cant create the sims, but they can invent a new gaming paradigm. this is
in line with pat lichty's alpha-rev manifesto which makes a lot of sense
for the individual artist. software art as prototype. in a sense, this
describes netomat, starting as an individual's art project, it expanded
to the point where it is now a viable company.

the reason why flash is so compelling is that at this point in time, the
best commercial flash actually lags behind the best non-commercial
flash. and whats really interesting, is that the lag is both in function
and in content.  non-com flash often exhibit the highest degree of tech
sophistication available, in service to an intent far more compelling
than a nike ad. its as if time were turned back and we are all coding
for a 8086 processor again. one person can code wolfenstein in flash.

last week i was out in LA and i had a long conversation with a student
who was trying to produce a game with some of his friends. they naively
thought it would be possible to design and build a fully functional top
shelf game in a semester. well, i told them that it actually *is*
possible if you chose your platform carefully.  i told them to build a
game for the gameboy console. its basically the same challenge one faced
when writing a game for an 8086. there's only so much you can do, so
there is only so much you have to do. flash is sorta the same. it then
becomes up to the individual artist to decide when they have exhausted
the possibilities of their platform.  with the highest level
environments like flash, this happens sooner. in C/C++ it never happens,
or if it does, you have exhausted the possibilities of the medium
itself. but thats not to say that flash tech will not someday be as
utile as C/C++. 

i've been working with two guys from parsons on a semi-commercial game
project. last year they created in flash, a functioning but simple game
with a fairly complete back-story, so i invited them to assist on this
project (and yes, i'm paying them for the trouble). we are using flash
to create a series of animations as part of the demo/proposal to garner
further funding for the project.  it is quite obvious that the game
could never be built in flash, flash is slow as piss and games need to
run fast. but its great as a rapid prototyping tool, it more than
adequately describes the look and feel of the final game, and best
thing, it allows us to quickly try out new things. though not the final
product, flash is integral to the process. the guys i'm working with,
though big fans of flash, want to get into deeper code, they see it as
essential to the realization of their vision.
so what i'm trying to say here is that flash is a really really really
good entry point into the realm of programming, and in fact for some
individuals it may be all they ever need. however i think most if not
all the young people who are using flash now, will shortly discover that
it wont work for "such and such" a project, and they will have to bite
the bullet and "upgrade" their tech. that flash exists as an entry point
is only a good a thing. that flash allows for more time spent on an
aesthetic and less on a functionality is also a good thing. that a
generation of people are ubiquitously involved in both an aesthetic and
a functional investigation is a great thing, borderline revolutionary.


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