Michaël Samyn, July 18, 2012
In the first years that I created in the interactive medium (web sites from 1995 to 2002), I did so with the explicit notion that what I was making was not art. I was already very arrogant though. In the utopian spirit of early cyberspace, I considered what we were doing to be better than art.
This attitude was born out of disgust with contemporary art and its context, the art world. Going online felt like we were abandoning that sinking ship. From one day to the next, I dropped all of my analog creation and turned my back on museums and galleries.
At the same time, the distance between my graphic design work and my art suddenly vanished. Probably because working with an interactive medium implied working for people, and that implied design. And because in the early days of the web, one could get away with a lot more daring designs than one can now. In those days, it was only when we failed to achieve our creative goals that we called our work art.
But when working with videogames as a medium (as of 2002), I felt gradually pushed back into the idea of art. In part because our approach to game making deviated so much from conventions that it could only be explained as art. But also because videogames embraced a very old fashioned idea of art (beauty, emotion, etc) that I found a lot more palatable than what is considered artistic in contemporary fine art circles.
After ten years, however, I feel ready to go back. I have learned a lot. Playing the artist is a very enriching experience. I highly recommend it.
The videogames context has changed as well. Creating a game that is just meant to be beautiful or meaningful has now become acceptable. Gamers have become a lot more appreciative of videogames that are not about challenges and rewards. The medium -dare I say it?- seems to have matured a bit.
So now I can go back to that thing I wanted to make in the first place. That thing that is better than art. That thing that can only be done in the interactive medium, where you can think with your fingers and where your brain is always connected to the hive mind of the cosmos. Where suffering ceases to exist and all is joy.