Thursday, June 5, 2014

Is Frontier CGI the Most Labor-Intensive Form of Artwork in History?

It certainly seems likely:

Via u/Muffintoxico this amazing showcase of some of the best-in-the-business CGI requires armies of animators and digital artists. Arthur C. Clark once remarked that the 7,000-strong team of engineers that labored to produce a new automobile model was an appalling waste of technical manpower. I won't go into whether free market capitalism allocates resources ethically, but this type of labor-intensive collaborative art existing on the frontier of technological possibility presents a fascinating case of markets supplying hugely valuable (in an economic sense) artistic products.

Art has always existed in a less-than-pure context of funding competition, and clearly the vast demand and money-making ability of movies and video games has meant CGI and natively-digital art has outpaced basically every other artistic medium in this economic measure. This sort of stuff is slowly starting to gain recognition by existing artistic institutions like museums, but it presents a major disruptive challenge to the existing art culture. These videos and video games are overwhelmingly action, fantasy, and sci-fi oriented, and currently would be relegated to the 'low art' category.

Which is fine. Low art created with novel technology doesn't stay that way forever, and its only a matter of time until artsy artists really start using the full CGI capabilities available to them. The uniquely-high labor demands of good CGI might present a roadblock to this adoption, though.

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