The rules of abstraction
In 2003, when the cinema had already long surpassed all that series of technical obstacles that remarked from realism and was about to start an era in the inclusion of the impossible and the fantastic, Lars von Trier decided to take a step back. The Danish director, who had achieved fame and critical prestige after the premiere of _ idiots, breaking the waves and Bail in the darkness, _ he became interested in theater while preparing the second film of him shot in the United States; A ribbon with which he intended to explore the cruelty of the human being, hidden under the hypocrisy and the limits of hospitality. In _DOGVILLE The different levels of abuse that Grace suffers are directly linked to the people in which she hides, a town in which houses are lines on the floor and the sky is limited to the roof of a large warehouse.
Over the years, Von Trier has discussed this decision in very different terms. According to a conversation that he kept with the New York Times shortly after the premiere, the intention of him was to reduce the town to his exponent minimum to get the public to focus on how important, for him, were the relationships between the characters. Shortly after, he would talk about creating a perfectly controlled environment and to present a skeleton where the spectator could project his own ideas from society. However, it is striking that a film that aims to talk about independence and privacy let the spectators invade everything with just a look. In Dogville, the characters can not hide, can not rest from our gaze. The abstraction in its scenarios turns its small town into a space ntimo, a population whose secrets only stay hidden because its inhabitants do not understand the fragility of the walls that separate it.
Doing an abstraction always passes by simplifying a complex system, to reduce it to a few basic forms, instead of trying to reproduce it as we observed it in nature. Using in a flexible terms of the world of art, from the purely abstract to the most accurate representations within realism there is a spectrum in which we can place an image according to what is recognizable of its figuration and the ties that timsed the reality it represents. We are using, of course, denominations in their popular meanings instead of from the meaning given by artists from pure abstract, who prefer to refer to non-target art to talk about pieces that do not refer to visible and recognizable objects, against the Target art, which tries to represent something external to the artist himself. In this sense, abstract (total or partial representations) are associated with a series of concepts – such as purity, order or spirituality-that refer us to Plato and the ideas of Him on the beauty that we find in the geometric figures.
From the Renaissance to the invention of photography at the end of the 19th century, the majority tendencies within Western art tried to achieve progressively more realistic recreations, with the aim of imitating nature as much as possible. The arrival of photography caused a crisis in many artists, who began to be attracted to the expressive possibilities of abstract and their ability to awaken complex feelings in the observer. However, in the case of videogames, their approach to the abstract in its visual section has always been accompanied by technical limitations and has been perceived, at least for a certain part of the public, as an obstacle to overcome.
By the contrast between the white and the black and the use of the lines and the point to work as the idea of palettes and a ball, pong is one of the most abstract video games within the middle, sending us easily to the famous work of Kazimir Malevich Black and White Suprematist Composition. But the title of Allan Alcorn is not only abstract on the visual. The game of ping pong that is developed on the screen is based on the rules of the real game but it translates them so that the events and actions we carry out are partially independent of the game off the screen. Thus, the title is abstract in its actions and in its images. An exercise that does not translate from reality but invents a new language.
The success of the first video games, together with the enormous interest that aroused the technology that supported them, created the need to integrate, during the 1980s, characteristics of other types of media that significantly reduced the degree of abstraction that we found in videogames more Popular However, as it happens with children’s games, video games keep an interaction based on abstraction today despite having advanced towards realism and approaching their representations within the visual section. Of this time, as a purely abstract game. It is worth highlighting Tetris, a title that works on itself, and that has no intention of representing a real or natural system or in its vision visual or in its gameplay. Subsequently, and after passing into its facet more Mainstream for a pixelated period whose objective was purely practical and representational (remember that pixelism emerged to be seen in CRT monitors), the 3D leap introduced the need to reduce reality to polygons and figures Flat geometrics that work in themselves as a partial abstraction. Of the last years of the 90s, characters and totally fantastic environments stand out, which were created precisely because their design and appearance works well in polygonal terms, without any representational intention. Some experts in video game, as Leo Castañeda, point out that many virtual environments of the time, like those that we find in Alpha Waves or Super Mario 64, have a clear relationship with Lewitt sun work, especially in the way in which They let out the available space that dictate forms, colors and sizes.
“According to the graphics and becoming more representational, abstraction became more in an artistic decision than in a technical need,” Mark J.P writes. Wolf in his essay abstraction in the video game. «The” realism “in video games was the simplest and most rapid way in which consumers could compare systems, so the complexity of graphic details and Gameplay have become In the most important areas in which games can compete for players ». But, as the author points out, is committed to realism and graphic hyperrealism has also created the need, the best in high budget games, to introduce systems and conventions from other audiovisual media, often rejecting other ones that arose in the First years of evolution of the video game.
“To be limited to themselves in conventionalisms from other media, videogame designers have neglected the real possibilities that abstraction can offer,” says Wolf, “a potential without limits that can only be exploited with a deliberate step back towards the abstract design that Take into consideration the unique properties that videogame has as a means ». Talking in 2022 of videogame abstraction is especially interesting when Inscryption, one of the best-evaluated games last year, is abstract in its representation of abstract things, that is, in the representation of the physicality of a table game that works within A digital video game. On the lists where the title of Mullins has figured as a game of the year, it is presented in equality with titles in which the realistic aspect is one of its most attractive characteristics, demonstrating that the public is prepared to accept a certain level of experimentation in language visual. This, combined with the fact that creators reputed as Yoko Taro are showing interest in abstraction, even through minor sagas such as Voice of Cards, could indicate that the time has come from embracing abstraction as a cosmetic decision and Design and not as a commitment to lack of media. Not like a step back, but as a return to the origins of the video game.