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Old 29-07-2007, 08:13 PM   #1
Mighty Midget
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I have been sitting and contemplating: Have our imagination or rather our skill in imagining, waned throughout the last decades or so?

Music: I have watched music videos, and I get a good (?) idea what it is the band is trying to tell me. I then listen to the same song with no video, and I'm all of the sudden wondering: What are they trying to tell me? Do I really need visual aid to understand? Or did the video just broaden the message somehow?

Books and movies: Have movies put our imagination half to sleep? What does it do to us when we get all the images and sounds presented to us, instead of having to make them all up for ourselves? A book needs your imagination, I feel, while a movie presents you with someone else's visions, it doesn't need your imagination on the same level. Instead, that imagination could come into conflict with what you see and hear, so you need to swith off parts of your imaginative mind to watch the movie without losing the thread. On the other side, I have seen stuff in movies I could never have imagine (I think so at least).

What about non-graphical computer games? The old school text adventures for instance. Did we benefit from having to imagine it all or does today's graphics help us expanding our imagination

So, what are your views? Does all this visual and sounds expand our imagination, or does it cripple it?

Use your imagination, guys and gals, what do you think?

DISCLAIMER: This is not a declaration of war against music videos or movies. I do enjoy a good movie. I'm just wondering if our imagination has become "lazier" lately.
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Old 29-07-2007, 09:51 PM   #2
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I don't think imagination is a kind of ability someone can develope. There are certain people gifted with it (well, everybody, but certain ones are more gifted than others) and those will find ways to "practice" it. Not movies nor computer games can kill it.
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Old 30-07-2007, 11:01 AM   #3
Havell
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I wouldn't say that films required less of an input of imaginationand books, or cause people's imagination to become fallow. I'd say that they both allow the person making the film or book to instill certain emotions or to provoke thought or discussion in a given direction.
A filmmaker or an actor can convey messages using subtle imagery and acting that is near impossible in a book. In the same way, a writer is far more free to craft sentences and to describe whatever he wants than a filmmaker, who is limited to what is visible on a screen and what can be produced in front of a camera.
I think the big difference between films and books is what the makers of each can get away with. It is possible to make a film lazily, without much concern for it's artistic value (with lots of car chases, explosions and gunfights), and for it to still be fairly enjoyable to watch and reasonably successful. A badly written book, however, is near worthless. Despite this, I'd say that the best examples of eahc medium require concentration and imagination to extract full enjoyment from, and both are very worthwhile pursuits.

Oh, and @Tito:
Quote:
Originally posted by Jean Paul Satre
Imagination is not an empirical or superadded power of consciousness, it is the whole of consciousness as it realizes its freedom.
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Old 02-08-2007, 04:42 AM   #4
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Science fiction movies have died because video games make more money than many movies. Movie makers have taken the wrong idea from this. Instead of focusing on what a movie can give that a video game cannot, they try to make movies like video games. Personally, this makes going to a science fiction movie on par with watching someone else play a video game.

CGI has also struck a near fatal blow to science fiction films. Instead of using visual effects to tell the story, the visual effects are used to wow the audience. The best example of the proper use of special effects in a film is Forrest Gump. It is not a science fiction film, but the story of a man's life who happens to get involved in history. The special effects are there merely to advance the story. the most amazing one being Tom Hanks shaking hands with a man who had been dead for over twenty years (JFK).

There is no inherent conflict between books and film, even if they try to tell the same story, because they can tell the story in different ways. The best way to understand this is by watching the old Asterix animated films. Particularily, Asterix the Gaul and Asterix and Cleopatra. Asterix the Gaul was apparently made by cutting the book up into a storyboard and animating everything between the panels of the book. Goscinny and Uderzo hated it, because the film presented nothing that they could not have done themselves. Asterix and Cleopatra had a song and dance number, and otherwise remembered that, in a film, the pictures can move and there is a soundtrack.
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Old 02-08-2007, 12:57 PM   #5
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Mmm I don't see any dichotomy between book and film. They're different cases of representation. An artist must not focus on what he's trying to represent alone, but on his representation of it; that's the definition of art for me.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_realism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representation_%28arts%29

And so book and film use different tools to get a representation into our minds, some artists prefer one of the two and we as audience like to enjoy both. But just like they're different so are different genres within a single art, such as painting.

You can't compare a film with a book, and I agree with Rlbell that the worst way to adapt a book into a film (or the other way around) is trying to deliver the exact same message *in form*. And it's wrong to criticize a work of art, or compare works of different arts such as literature and cinema, by how close they are to the reality they represent. First of all because we can't, everything we know and think about is representations of reality, never reality itself because we apprehend it always through a representation, even when we see it with our own eyes.

(That's why I find so funny that so many people judge the quality of a book by how accurately it describes things and specially the stage, they think good literature is about including photographic descriptions (with good adjectives) of every place. Many times there's a point in descriptions but that's just ridiculous and opposite to the way to go. If an author is doing that he should be making a movie.)

Well in short I do not think one art is better than other, or more meritorious or more noble or even requires higher mental skills to enjoy. Of course there are films that can brutalize or at least don't cotribute anything to the audience; but if you think about it there are also many like books.
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Old 02-08-2007, 05:43 PM   #6
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I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that action movies and our helter skelter western sinful lady of babylon western society have done imagination any harm. In fact, having met old people, I'm not sure imagination was ever in great supply.

Truly imaginative people are rare little birdies, and I'd bet my balls that they always have been.
Of course, with a thriving commercial art scene (art covers the whole shebang here) it's pretty profitable to fake imagination and draw inspiration from other sources. The vaguer the source, the more imaginative the artist.

If you mean "visualising", then that's gone right down the crapper.

Despite all my bitching here, I'll wind down and say originality's on the up.

"A robot that turns into a car!? Who comes up with this stuff!?"

<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Japofran @ Aug 2 2007, 12:57 PM) [snapback]302423[/snapback]</div>
Quote:
(That's why I find so funny that so many people judge the quality of a book by how accurately it describes things and specially the stage, they think good literature is about including photographic descriptions (with good adjectives) of every place. Many times there's a point in descriptions but that's just ridiculous and opposite to the way to go. If an author is doing that he should be making a movie. [/b]
Never actually met anyone who thinks like this, but I can see why they'd get on your wick.
Old Man and the Sea! Nary a detail the whole way.

<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Havell @ Jul 30 2007, 11:01 AM) [snapback]301926[/snapback]</div>
Quote:
A badly written book, however, is near worthless. [/b]
Harry Potter's worth how much now?
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Old 02-08-2007, 07:18 PM   #7
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I guess I might have something to say on the subject After all my diploma theses was graded with the highest possible mark and I did cover the conversion of a book into a movie (OK it was Clockwork Orange, so it's really an exceptional movie - and the book was always somewhat obscure - but still).

First off, we should all know what ART is. The most simple and still valid explenation I could ever find was that "art is way of creating something without the intent of having material gain from it."

All the books, movies, paintings, songs... that were made for the INDUSTRY are not really ART. They are products. They may be of extremely high quality, but they're still not art. On the other hand art may be really crappy and people will completely forget about it.

Example - when a kid takes four color spray cans and makes some graffitti (expressing something) that is art. It may be the lowest and most worthless form of art, but it's art. While on the other hand when a graffitti artist is hired to paint a subway station that is NOT ART, but a product. True, such products may be much better then art things (after all Michellangelo's ceiling in the Chapel was ordered, so de-facto it is not art) and so people come to think of them as art (especially if they're done by authors, who have established themselves as artists).

But all of this still has nothing to do with imagination (those were just random thoughts that went through my head while reading some previous posts).

Now about imagination...

No, imagination is not on the downfall. People have more and more imagination, but as chumloofah said, people with a lot of imagination were always rare. You'll find more people today, that believe in one or another form of imaginary creatures (even if they did only copy it from another source). The point is, they take for granted a world that is not real (for instance, most people know the reality of Star Trek, and although it's far from being real, people know about it - so thinking about it is acctually imagining things and thinking about imaginary). On another level, many people are capable of thinking out conspiracy plots. Those might not be original, but they are their own imagination. So by seeing imaginary things, people can imagine more (the quality and originality of it may be questionable, but there's still more imagination as there was before).

And about the ability to deliver a message...

I must say, I have to draw from personal experiance as a teacher. I have given quite a few classes the movie Pink Floyd: The Wall to watch in order to write an essay about it. It's a very hard movie to watch. Most of them didn't think they understood the movie.

the problem was simple, they got several messages and couldn't (because they were unable to process them all) believe that more then one message could be correct. So they were so unsure in what they understood, they disliked the movie. Not to mention, they missed out on several messages (it's a really heavy movie). Now if this causes the public to stop enjoying something, because they can't get a clear message from it, the industry won't make it. Which movies and books were always mostly spread? The ones, that had a clear and easily understandable message, so the reader, viewer got the feeling of catarse (cleansing). And when a book or a movie is that specific then you don't need any imagination.

The problem is also, that the audience is getting younger and younger. The older audience isn't prepared to spend so much money on the industry. An adult with a job will not have the time, nor will he be willing to spend money to go to the cinema 8 times a month or to buy a book every week. Both time and money are factors. And it's the adolescent audience that has the time and can get just enough money for it. now if the audience isn't spending money, the industry isn't making it and therefore the industry won't do something that will not attract the population they can make most money off. And in order to get their attention they have to give the kids what they want. Lots of meaningless action, assotiations to sex and shallowly presented ideas, so they can be certain about what the message was (it was always like that).

The only difference why you might get the idea that it used to be different in the past is that only the quality prevailed. Take a look at how many short TV comedies there were in the seventies and eighties (google for them and you'll see there were many and most of them were mindless). But only a handfull of the best remained (example M*A*S*H). Quality remains, the rest falls into oblivion. But there were always bad quality things. Doesn't matter what media (canvas, paper, film, computer programme...).
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Old 02-08-2007, 10:03 PM   #8
chumloofah
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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Sebatianos @ Aug 2 2007, 07:18 PM) [snapback]302471[/snapback]</div>
Quote:
First off, we should all know what ART is. The most simple and still valid explenation I could ever find was that "art is way of creating something without the intent of having material gain from it."[/b]
I've always had a hard time pinning down what makes art.
I don't think it's mandatory that art and product be totally separate, though.
Almost every artist in history has made money from their art, or someone else has made money from it, apart from a few outsiders like that hobo in the US that had a weird compulsion to build a tower out of cardboard boxes.

At the moment I'm standing behind the delightful "Art is anything that was deliberately created to be of no use to anyone" theory.

Just so this isn't a total derailment from the point of the thread, and since I've been thinking about it a bit, I'll get back to imagination...
To break it down as simply as possible, imagination is the ability to imagine something that isn't actually happening. It's not strictly visual, but that's how it'll usually happen if you're not a jedi.
So, to set your mind at ease, if you've ever imagined yourself running alongside the car you're in slicing up cars with a sword or a laser you're ok and your brain hasn't been rotted yet.
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Old 03-08-2007, 03:58 AM   #9
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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(rlbell @ Aug 2 2007, 04:42 AM) [snapback]302383[/snapback]</div>
Quote:
Science fiction movies have died because video games make more money than many movies. Movie makers have taken the wrong idea from this. Instead of focusing on what a movie can give that a video game cannot, they try to make movies like video games. Personally, this makes going to a science fiction movie on par with watching someone else play a video game.
[/b]
One thing that is very funny is that they actually did a movie OF a video game. It was on Gamespot a little while ago(actually it was a guy reminiscing about games he used to play, and about the movie, I think it was called The Wizard or something like that, it was gameplay from Super Mario Bros. 1 ), Kind of odd.
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Old 06-08-2007, 09:10 PM   #10
rlbell
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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(chumloofah @ Aug 2 2007, 09:03 PM) [snapback]302491[/snapback]</div>
Quote:
<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Sebatianos @ Aug 2 2007, 07:18 PM) [snapback]302471[/snapback]
Quote:
First off, we should all know what ART is. The most simple and still valid explenation I could ever find was that "art is way of creating something without the intent of having material gain from it."[/b]
I've always had a hard time pinning down what makes art.
I don't think it's mandatory that art and product be totally separate, though.
Almost every artist in history has made money from their art, or someone else has made money from it, apart from a few outsiders like that hobo in the US that had a weird compulsion to build a tower out of cardboard boxes.

At the moment I'm standing behind the delightful "Art is anything that was deliberately created to be of no use to anyone" theory.


[/b][/quote]

Neither of these definitions of Art allow for the vast body of stuff that is found in art museums.

Art can only exist when, as a group, humans have enough spare time to specialise and are freed of the tyranny of having to hunt/gather/grow your own food. This pretty much eliminates ". . . not for material gain . . .", as an artist must have a way to support himself, and if it is not his art, he has little time to produce any. Just about every piece of art has some purpose, and any piece that does not is probably nothing more than the endpiece of performance art.

Art is an indirect way of communicating. We can have a great philosophical debate about what it means to be human, or we can watch Bladerunner. We could talk about the importance of free will, or we could read A Clockwork Orange. We can rail about how TV's race to the bottom causes us all to become less intelligent, or we can read Fahrenheit 451. Paintings are images that convey mood and sensation. Sure, you have all heard about how Canada is a huge place, but looking at the works of The Group of Seven can really drive the point home.

Propaganda posters are Art. Some years ago, there was even a touring collection of North Korean motivational posters.

Art without purpose is music without sound (a funny-once joke, at best). The simplest way to recognize a bad piece of art is if you cannot derive any meaning of the piece without knowing the title.
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