AuthorTopic: The History of Pixel Art  (Read 43993 times)

Offline ndchristie

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #50 on: February 25, 2016, 04:08:53 am
Quote
some of the suggestions are a bit of a stretch to be considered a part of pixel art history in my opinion.  Such as the game of life.  The only thing that shares with pixel art is the square grid, but it has absolutely no properties of "art".

I disagree with this, obviously, or I wouldn't have suggested it.

In common usage, art is a (primarily visual) subset of communication, which I would describe as the union of action, accident, and interpretation.

Animation is the assembly of images or art objects in a way which conveys life, movement, or other change.

Pixel art and animation is distinct from other artistic media in that it is the study of the way in which combinations of regular, tessellating, rectilinear cells interact visually and mechanically in a way that communicates form and movement.

Since the game of life and other cellular automata satisfy all of those criteria, and in fact kick some of them into high gear, I would absolutely consider them modes or expressions of pixel art.

I would even say these are much more like pixel art than ancient mosaics or pointilism, which don't obey any regular grid and have as much in common with most pixel art as vajazzling.  If those similarities are enough to merit inclusion, then my understanding was that this was meant to be a pretty inclusive list.  That being the case, why not throw Chuck Close in?  Why not post-it art?  Why not Girih? 

I'm not even being sarcastic -- these could easily be worthwhile inclusions in the sense that they represent explorations of color and form across tessellating surfaces which might provide inspiration, and inspiring others is a much more worthwhile goal than trying to draw a line between what is or is not pixel art.
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Offline Indigo

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #51 on: February 25, 2016, 07:25:36 am
I don't want to turn this into a debate about what is or isn't "art" - and typically I'm pretty liberal in my definition of it.  And perhaps by a more abstract definition it is art, but not in any way that provides value to the discussion of how we're using the word; the illustrative sense of the word, as pixel art inherently is.

I disagree with your common usage definition.  The one as most would understand it would be closer to the Webster's definition:
something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings

And that's more or less how I'd define it if asked. So I ask, what ideas is the game of life expressing? What skill or imagination was used?  The answers to these questions do exist, but it's not in the result of the outputted pixels on a grid; which was, inherently, procedural and without a creator. The answers lie in the design of the laws of the simulation - because that's what the game of life actually is; a simulation.

But even by your definition it's hard to fit The Game of Life in there. What is there to interpret? What is it visually communicating to you? Curiously you left out "intent" from your definition which I think is probably the most important factor of art.

Do you know where I learned about the game of life?  A science book about artificial intelligence when I was researching my middle school science fair project. If you read the Wiki article you will find zero references to art, yet it is littered with references to science and mathematics because that was it's origin.  The goal was to simplify and expand upon the ideas presented by John von Neumann who sought to find a mathematical model for a self replicating machine.  The intent was to build a simulation governed by laws which would give rise to self-replication.  I'm not trying to be authoritative about art, but it seems very clear that this is not what we're talking about when it comes to pixel art. In fact it has many properties that would be contrary to the definition of art as it pertains to pixel art.

This may come down to a personal preference, but I value concentrated information rather than an exhaustive approach.  If I wanted to learn about the history of pixel art and found myself reading about Conway's game of life, I would feel my time is being wasted because it's so tangentially related to what I'm trying to learn that it would be of almost no value.  Either way, it doesn't matter to much to me in the end what is included and I'm not trying to attack your input to the discussion.  If the goal is to be an exhaustive and inclusive list, then so be it, I just personally wouldn't find much use in that format.

I guess a simpler argument why I feel The Game of Life isn't relevant to the discussion is it doesn't have an answer to the basic question: How did The Game of Life impact Pixel Art?

I truly cannot see any way it did.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2016, 08:51:16 am by Indigo »

Offline Ai

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #52 on: February 25, 2016, 08:11:43 am
If the goal is to be an exhaustive and inclusive list, then so be it, I just personally wouldn't find much use in that format.
:y:
Once we've really teased out all of the events that had a clear influence on the development of pixel art, I suspect that list will already be quite long. A modified Game Of Life might be relevant if you're trying to get computers to generate 'pixel art' with nice clusters, or maybe a creative scene transition/wipe, but it doesn't seem relevant to 'choices pixel artists made'.
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Offline 0xDB

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #53 on: February 27, 2016, 12:11:41 pm
I do not consider the Game Of Life to be pixel art but just because the output is procedural does not mean there is no creator. The creative process was to develop the algorithms. The fact that there is one or more layers of indirection between the creator/creative process and the results, does not eliminate the fact that there still is/was a creator.

There is not really such a thing as "computer generated". There is always the creator who develops the algorithms and the computer is merely a tool to execute a huge amount of actions really fast, faster than a human creator could without the indirection through a programmed machine or use of a (dirty!) tool ( ;) ). Interesting things happen in the realm of AI where the computer, still based on a first generation of parameters/algorithms given by the programmer, can evolve algorithms on "their own" and create new mutations themselves. Even that does not eliminate the original creator and does not make the result "computer generated" or if it does... our own precious human intelligence is also "just" a computer and not really less artificial than any intelligence we(mankind) will manage to create in the future.


To write algorithms which generate 'pixel art' with nice 'clusters' would mean to create an AI which understands concepts of aesthetics as they appeal to human observers. It would have to understand human emotions, volumes, gesture, light and shadow, human perception and how to trick human perception, know about structure, physics, biology, chemistry,... In its decision making process it would need to not just observe the pixel it currently ponders but also all the pixels around it and then the clusters and superclusters around the current cluster and it would have to keep in mind the big picture at all times, know about 'balance' and be able to make decisions on how to best shape the cluster(s) in accordance to how a human will end up perceiving the clusters orientation, direction, depth, color, brightness, ..., and how it will contribute to the overall impression/effect the viewer is going to feel from seeing the whole piece. I don't know much about AI to be honest but it feels to me like an AI like this is science fiction that we're not going to see becoming a reality in our lifetime. Its impact, historical relevance on Pixel Art would be... you'd all be unemployed.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2016, 12:14:55 pm by 0xDB »

Offline doimus

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #54 on: March 07, 2016, 12:04:03 pm
I believe there's an important division between pixelart as a necessity vs. pixelart as a choice.

As a necessity, pixelart is tied to computer history, but it doesn't really represent artistic choice. It's just how things were back in the day, so to speak. If you were digital artist, you did pixel art.
Just like playing piano in 18th century. There weren't any classical pianists back then. Either you played music or you didn't. But if you play Mozart on a piano nowadays, it is by choice. If you play acoustic jazz guitar today, it's by choice.

So, I think the whole indie thing is actually very important as it marks the period where it became the art of choice and not the art of technical necessity. So, in a sense, today's pixel art has more in common with pointilism, rather than 1990s digital art.

It's the acknowledgement of artistic value of the past and bringing it into the present day, by choice.
The fact that pixel art looks better at lower cost than high res art doesn't make it any less relevant. Either it looks good and inspires you or it doesn't, regardless of cost.

Because, well, pointilism technique in painting does save a lot of time and paint compared to "proper" oil painting. It doesn't make it any less art, though. Or any more at that matter.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2016, 12:07:17 pm by doimus »

Offline Gil

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #55 on: March 07, 2016, 02:30:03 pm
I believe there's an important division between pixelart as a necessity vs. pixelart as a choice.

As a necessity, pixelart is tied to computer history, but it doesn't really represent artistic choice. It's just how things were back in the day, so to speak. If you were digital artist, you did pixel art.
I'm not sure if that's true to current definitions of pixel art. Not all art made for NES is pixel art, though a significantly larger percentage was? There's heaps of examples of early digital art that was not pixel art by any standards I think.

Offline Atnas

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #56 on: March 15, 2016, 07:29:37 am

Maybe the first thing that hypothetical aliens will see of us is pixel art. Thoughts on its relevance to the timeline?

Offline Reo

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #57 on: March 16, 2016, 01:32:27 pm
Huh had no idea you had actually added the Överhogdal tapestry! I was gonna suggest that as it is actually located in my hometown.  :huh:

Offline MAVW

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #58 on: March 17, 2016, 07:15:03 pm
Maybe the first thing that hypothetical aliens will see of us is pixel art. Thoughts on its relevance to the timeline?

"those guys on earth really don't know what classic pixel art is all about, they're just trying to be artsy"

ok, serious now. I don't know if it holds relevance to the timeline because, as I understand, the arecibo message is not about graphic content and rather displays a series of informations that just happens to be in squares.
I'd (kinda) compare it to converting image to a sound format, it's just another form to display the information.

I believe the only exception is the human figure as it is literally the graphic representation, for this I think it shows that even "non artists" agree that squares are really good way to go for lo-fi communication.

maybe an honorable mention for the human figure?

Offline Jeremy

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #59 on: March 19, 2016, 05:01:30 am
I'm glad Susan Kare is on the list, she's somebody who's had a great influence outside of the pixel art space as well.