Gawd. I have been so busy lately! Didn't intend to leave this topic hanging in the wind! Let's rectify this situation, shall we?
Has anyone ever heard the concept "Kishotenketsu" on here before?
In short, it is a technique that has strong implications on storytelling and general communication.Kishotenketsu
Kishotenketsu has its roots in ancient chinese poetry, but it really shines when applied to writing / storytelling, particularly eastern storytelling which sidesteps any 'need' for conflict altogether within any story using Kishotenketsu. Obviously this is completely unlike western storytelling where experienced writers insist you "MUST" have conflict or the story becomes meaningless. However eastern storytelling utilizing Kishotenketsu creates a meaningful story without any conflict being at the root of the story by instead developing the story as an interconnected web of ideas
to convey and/or learn about rather than as a meaningless series of small independent chunks of painful struggles that consume time but offer very little reward for sitting through it all. This lends more maturity and meaningfulness to the story as a whole, making it also more impactful because it isn't about the struggle anymore -- it's about the experience
we go through -- during and
after things -- whether there were any struggles or not.
Although imagery and writing are different in form, their goals are really the same at their core -- they exist to tell something
to the observer. That being said, just exactly WHAT they are meant to tell is solely up to the artist/writer -- and noone else.
As with anything you tell someone else, they can either listen or not. However, whether or not they listen generally has to do with how much they understand
of what you're saying. What matters most to ensure they have every opportunity to understand you is to offer them words and concepts they already
understand. This will help you to communicate more effectively with them.
Of course boredom tends to get in the way when you're discussing things they tend to think they understand already. This is where the "ten" aspect of "Ki-sho-ten-ketsu" comes into play to combat such notions of expectations. In this context, "ten" means "a twist, or to twist" and it applies to the aspects of "ki" and "sho" in which "ki" offers some context or an idea, then "sho" takes this idea and develops on it, adding just enough to get you thinking you know what's going on, and then "ten" is applied to throw a completely unexpected and seemingly "out of the blue" twist to the idea you really thought you knew from the development of the original idea, and then finally, "ketsu" clears up any confusion that might have arisen by "pulling it all together" and showing that what it was you just witnessed really does make sense. And just to be clear, "ten" is not a simple plot twist, but is instead a completely unrelated thing that at first doesn't make any sense up until the final relationship of all three other aspects is revealed in the "ketsu" portion of the technique.
Now you might be thinking "what the hell is this guy talking about?" and rightfully so -- we're in the "ten" portion of my idea's development (and as such, you can start to see that we're transitioning to the "ketsu" portion because you're starting to see that Kishotenketsu can apply to more than just writing a story -- it is very versatile -- it can even be applied to learning a new or strange concept more effectively, as is the case here!)Kishotenketsu in Visual Design & Imagery
Kishotenketsu can also be applied to visual design. Imagery is as much a way of communicating an idea as writing is, and to be able to do it effectively in a single image is a huge testament to your artistic prowess -- as much so as the ability to be concise is to a writer -- the ability to communicate very complex ideas with only a few words is highly sought-after in the writing communities. As such, it should be the same in any artistic community as well.
I will share with you some hints at how one might apply the concept of Kishotenketsu to communicate imagery more clearly -- but to do so, I'm going to borrow an image by Pawel Kuczynski from Conceit's post over in another thread (here: http://wayofthepixel.net/index.php?topic=19189.0
), which I found perfect for this post:
Now that you understand Kishotenketsu, it should be pretty easy to break apart the code yourself -- but, for those who haven't gotten it just yet, I'll give you a run-down of the image in terms of Kishotenketsu steps:"Ki"
You start with a nice, freeing, sky with clouds which indicates a sense of a free-spirited and open world. This is the idea context of the "ki" that you're initially presented with."Sho"
Next you are presented with a tiny bit of a wall and a ladder up leaning against it leading up to the top of the wall and the sky -- so at this point, as far as you can see, all the rungs on the ladder are in tact, and you're thinking "oh, that's nice, someone could climb that ladder and enjoy the nice breezy sky, so who's going to climb the ladder?" and that's when your eyes move down the image. This is "sho" and is where the initial idea seems to be developed further and substantiated with more details describing the context or state of the inital idea better."Ten"
You begin to feel disturbed because you notice at first some rungs are missing on the ladder. Then you notice that it's a very TALL wall. Then you notice there's a guy down there warming his hands by a fire with no way back up the ladder. This is the "ten" or the unexpected twist from left field and out of the blue. It doesn't make any sense just yet to your mind."Ketsu"
You look around trying to make sense of the situation and realize that there's not just firewood laying on the ground by the guy, but a saw too. That saw tells you he cut his firewood from the ladder rungs himself, leaving himself no way out. Then your mind naturally wants to know "why? why would he do that??" and then you realize that he simply wanted to be comfortable in his deep hole, behind his wall, with no way out. It is reminiscent of a guy who, for whatever reason, buries himself in short-sighted goals while simultaneously isolating himself from the rest of the world, and especially, his own freedom, inadvertently imprisoning himself with his own short-sighted comforts. A classic but invisible danger to us all -- which makes it all the more dangerous. This is "ketsu" in the sense that the objects and their arrangement relative to the eye tells a very impactful (but invisible
initially) story of their relationship to one another, leading you to tie-up the pieces yourself (while giving you all tools to do so), making your overall understanding and impression of the image, alongside the artist's attempt at communicating that impression, the "ketsu" in Kishotenketsu. Summing it all up
To be able to apply Kishotenketsu masterfully in your art, as is the case with this piece, is more important than drawing well (as is proven by this picture) and the ability to make the 'story' you're trying to tell progress from one side of the canvas to the other is a great way to display Kishotenketsu in your art. Please note, however, that it is not the ONLY way to apply this concept to imagery.
There are ways to apply this to animation, to comics/manga, to character designs, to poses, to architectural designs (see, RAV? I haven't forgotten you!
), and even level designs and layouts, which has actually already been done before!
Anyone want to think up examples of ways they might be able to apply Kishotenketsu to other aspects of game art and imagery, maybe perhaps through game environment design and/or composition in some form?