Shedding some dead skin

Ok, maybe I could have thought of a better title.

I just wanted to say that I feel like I left a little bit of me behind as I settled down in a new city. I began to sleep before 11, while this whole summer I always slept somewhere between 1am and 5am. For the first time in 7 years, my school is not a few minutes walk away, but 40 minutes of subway. I am finally studying game art full time (10am to 5:30pm, five days a week, for twelve weeks) and so, of course, most of the conversations with my classmates have been about games, movies, what makes a particular entertainment work unique, etc. The concept of “elite” no longer sticks to my mind for everything I do: everyone around me AND I are just normal people. (I love that I can always get away with saying I study “in the US” and no one asks further where *exactly* I go to school). I am enjoying the new routines and mindset that I am adopting, and, so, here’s to a little new chapter of my life!

Thoughts from the first week of my game art course

1. taking inspiration from all art mediums

On the first day, our teacher talked about art bibles, which is a master document that defines the visual style of the game: time period, location, architecture style, color palette, textures, patterns, lighting, props, etc. It defines the tone of the world that will be created, based on the narrative and mechanics of the game. And our first major assignment was to create an art bible for our first big project. (We have two projects for the course, each taking six weeks)

When our teacher talked about taking inspirations for designing game environments, he specifically told us to NOT look at other games but every other creative medium: fine art, fashion, architecture, industrial design, etc. Simply this one comment made me feel so much better about myself coming into game art, because I haven’t played a lot of games, though I love creating virtual environments. All of a sudden, my past explorations of diverse art and design fields (which was essentially just me getting unsatisfied with the limits of every field I began to learn about and jumping to something new only to get disappointed again) became my advantage in game art. I started to think that perhaps people in other creative industries would say the same thing as my game teacher, that maybe I had been too harsh on myself for not having settled with and specialized in any creative skill or discipline. 

2. art direction

As soon as I heard about the art bible assignment, I screamed internally: I WANT TO DO THIS ALL THE TIME. 

A huge interest of mine is worldbuilding. I have been planning to make it my independent major when I go back to college. Essentially, I love thinking about how the internal world externalizes, how the spiritual world manifests itself into textures, smells, light and shadows, spatial relations, etc. I mean, my summer research was basically on the topography of awe. Also, from painting (2D), to sculpture (3D), to installation (bigger than sculpture), to architecture (a total installation), and now to game/VR art (architecture but with interaction), my path of creative exploration can almost be summarized as a linear one extending towards the infinite of immersion.

My teacher said that art directors in game essentially create art bibles and decide what the virtual world looks like, which is probably one of the most exciting things a lover of worldbuilding would want to do. I knew art directors existed before this course but it only dawned on me this week that I would want to do something like what art directors do, and for that kind of job, I am actually more than on the right track!

3. my art bible

So my idea for the first project is making a modern temple for the worshippers of kawaii. I’m only making the interior of it because we’re supposed to make a top-down platform for this project. It is a little eccentric, I know, and certainly I can’t think of anyone who has done anything like it--which makes me even more excited because I love feeling unique in what I do, lol. And here’s my art bible. It’s a very big document so it will take a while to download.

A documentary recommendation

Abstract: Season 2.

My artist idol, Olafur Eliasson, is featured in the first episode of this season!!

Also, in the episode featuring Neri Oxman from MIT Media Lab, Neri provided a SUPER COOL model connecting art, science, engineering, and design:

“Usually art is for expression, science is for exploration, engineering is for invention, and design is for communication. I said why can’t we…create a circle out of them, a clock where you’re constantly moving or shifting from one domain to another. And the input for one domain becomes the output for another. So.. science converts information into knowledge, and engineering converts knowledge into utility, and design converts utility into cultural behavior and context, and then art is taking that cultural behavior and questions our perception of the world.” 

Neri was trained in both biology and architecture. She does research on materials while making really cool architecture works informed by her research. 

Two videos

1. Tim Ferriss’s ted talk

The title of the TED talk doesn’t do the content justice. From the title it looks like just another generic videos about moving towards discomfort and yada yada without giving anything concrete. 

BUT, this talk is not that! Tim Ferriss actually gives a very specific exercise here for making decisions while facing your major fears. Check it out.

2. Tim Ferriss on batching

A very short video about a productivity advice that I thought made a lot of sense and was very helpful.