The Beautiful Art Program

This text was written by Auriea Harvey & Michaël Samyn for the occasion of Tale of Tales' 10th anniversary and presented first at the Independent Games Summit in Cologne on 20 august 2013.

This is not a manifesto. It is not intended to encourage a creative practice in anybody but ourselves. Unlike our Realtime Art Manifesto of 2006. The Beautiful Art Program is a list of resolutions, goals and intentions for our own personal use. A guide for the next 10 years of our artistic activity.

This program concerns the use of videogame technology for artistic creation. We feel this is the medium most suitable at this point in time to realize our Beautiful Art.

– 1 –

the medium is software

Approach computer technology fresh.

Share our experience of existence.

Software can be anything.

We want to approach computer technology fresh. We will use the medium to share our experience of existence. We won't be distracted by game rules or story plots. We will approach the medium fresh.

The nature of this medium is software.
Software can be anything.

Through its procedurality and interactivity, software offers the medium most suitable for artistic invention in a complex contemporary post-postmodern world. Software isn't limited by linearity like other media. It is not caged by sequential logic.
Software doesn't need to be static or frozen in time. Software changes, software adapts.
Software does not even need to be an object, limited by a singular existence. Software travels at the speed of light to the farthest corners of the world. But above all, software can easily unite contradictions in an organic whole, for the active spectator to freely explore.
Just like reality.

– 2 –

atmosphere is everything

Express through immersion.

Don't tell stories. Make realities.

Consider the software as a living creature.

We want to immerse the player in a living situation. And express the important things through this immersion. We don't tell stories. We make realities.
Even when the player does nothing at all, the software should have an emotional effect.

We consider a software program as a living creature. We let it breathe. We give it space.
We allow the program to approach the player as much as the player approaches the program.

We consider our characters to be alive. They are not depictions or representations. They are living entities onto themselves. With a life of their own.

– 3 –

work long, not hard

The easy way is the right way.

What comes easy is what we're good at.

Take time! Be slow. Be thorough.

The easy way is the right way. When the process is rough, we're probably doing the wrong thing.
We need to find what comes easy to us. Because that's what we should be good at.

But we can't be lazy.
We need to take time! Take oceans of time. Be slow. Be thorough. Make and remake. And test. Share, show, observe.

After the project is finished, we should spend the same amount of time on making it better.

– 4 –

be original

Software has enormous potential.

Following conventions takes more effort.

Don't bother!

The software medium has so much potential that it takes a silly amount of effort to make a traditional game.
It's much easier to be original in videogames than to be conventional.
If we follow our heart it's almost unavoidable that we make something that has never been made before.

It is not necessary to bow down to formulas and conventions. We should think beyond them. No: forget they even exist.

So let's not bother with old formats. Let's not remake the favorites from our youth.
We're far too curious for that. There's so many things that haven't been done yet. So much to discover!

– 5 –

don't waste talent

Wasting talent is a sin.

Find our strength and develop it

Or become a master of appreciation.

To waste one's talents is the greatest sin.

Life is precious! We don't want to waste it.
Let's not obsess over things beyond our grasp. We need to figure out our own strengths and develop them, even if they don't seem suitable for games —especially so!

And if we find ourselves without the talents to create, we won't! We will become a master of appreciation. We will develop our taste.

We wouldn't make videogames because we love videogames. We would cultivate that love instead. Become even better at appreciating them. Add sophistication to our taste. Become a better lover.

After all, people with good taste are even more rare than good artists.

There's no point in shoehorning our creativity in formats that are unsuitable. Software is malleable. We can reshape it to fit whatever we are good at.

– 6 –

be ambitious

Break out of the niche.

A good game is not enough.

Surpass all previous media!

Success within the game community is nice. But it's not enough.
We want to break out of the niche. Reach out.
This medium deserves to be taken seriously by all.
We will become independent of the conventions of the game format. And join the larger culture. Hoping to breathe new life into this culture.

We won't even try to make a good game. We will focus directly on entertaining and enlightening our audience. We will use game conventions only if they serve this purpose. And abandon them when they don't.

Games are fun.
But so are books and paintings and opera. Videogames can be all these things together. And surpass all previous media.

– 7 –

beauty is the goal

The goal of art is beauty.

Share the beauty of existence.

Embrace the complexity of life.

Art may deal with the investigation of reality, ask questions and encourage critical thinking. Or it may be for amusement and entertainment, wonder, fun or pleasure. But none of these are goals in and of themselves.

The goal of art is beauty.
Our message as artists is simple yet radical: that life is beautiful.
We feel the need to communicate this. To show the beauty of existence. To share the beauty that we find everywhere.
In the good and the bad, in the happy and the sad, in the clear and the confusing.
A celebration of life, a tribute to existence as it presents itself. Without story, without meaning, without reason.
We embrace the complexity of life. We want to share the pleasure of our existence on this planet, in all its baffling glory and with all its mysteries. In the knowledge that we form an integral part of this existence. We are not simply observers.

Through beauty, we can sense a truth that no other means can reach.

– 8 –

beauty is political

I feel joy, therefore I am.

Beauty is the reason for living.

Beauty will save us.

"I feel joy, therefore I am!"
I am not a number, not a negligible detail.
I am a person, and I am a part of this planet, like the rocks and the shrubs and the ocean and the moon.

Beauty is not a self-deluding illusion or a numb kind of pleasure. Beauty is an invigorating and inspiring way to gain self worth.

Everything else is less important: beauty is the reason for living. And there is beauty everywhere.

Beauty will save us from our cultural crisis.

Modernists have destroyed beauty. Commerce has abused beauty. But they cannot take it from us. Beauty belongs to us. And beauty will save us.

– 9 –

make beauty, not art

Modern art is a lot of work.

Most spectators are not artists.

Help them.

Modern art expects the spectator to do half the work. This means that the spectator needs to be a sort of artist themselves. It is unfair to expect everyone to have that sort of talent, skill, or patience. Unfair and not necessary.

The interactive medium allows us to create a sort of art that actively approaches the spectator, that helps them enjoy the work. With videogames it should be possible to create art that does not require connoisseurship to enjoy.

Through videogames, deep aesthetic joy can become accessible to a wide audience.

– 10 –

bring beauty and joy to all

Work hard on creating beauty.

Make beauty that people can see.

People are beautiful.

We will ignore negative criticism and try to give the experiences that the positive criticism describes to everyone.

We want to create beauty for everyone! Software can be distributed far and wide. We will create work that takes advantage of this potential. We will make work that is happy, easy and light. And make sure that other people experience it as such too.

We will give the joy of beauty. To as many people as we can. Even at the expense of complexity. But gaining simplicity and charm. We will make simple games. With simple themes. And aim for an instant aesthetic effect.

We will work harder on creating beauty.
Beauty that people can see.
Because people are beautiful.
And beauty is love.

— Auriea Harvey & Michaël Samyn, August 2013

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