Art & Life pt. 1

And so, ladies and gentlemen, we encounter the timeless debate yet again in the year 2010. It’s one that seems to emerge every five or so years, generally revolving around the introduction of some new submission into the world of mass media that seems to catch everyone’s attention at once. This, my friends, is the issue of  ‘art and life’–and which begets the other.

As humans–and especially Americans–we spend a substantial amount of our lifetimes looking to be entertained. When we were younger, it seemed almost our sole purpose on this planet. From our first experience with a television set, radio, or any other media platform, we have been perpetually seeking the next all-engrossing distraction from the universal “mediocrity” of our daily lives. The mass media is well-aware of our own desires, and have been pushing the capabilities of technology to match our outlandish imaginations.

The race between what exists in the deepest corners of our minds and the tools that talented people have created to bring these thoughts to life have lead to what we call art. There is no doubt that popular entertainment is a form of art. It is objective whether one determines something like a film or a video game to be high or low art–but as long as the definition of art is self-expression, there is no reason why these vehicles should be overlooked.

At the end of last year, acclaimed filmmaker James Cameron introduced the world of Avatar to audiences across the world. The film, which would go on to break records as the highest grossing film of all time, also garnered nine Academy Award nominations. Needless to say, when Avatar, a film over ten years in the making, swooped into theaters on the wings of little more than imagination–and $237 million budget devoted extensively to CGI effects–the world watched.

Cameron revealed during the release of his film, that in the nineties, when he had initially hoped to produce Avatar, the “necessary technology” had not yet been invented to bring his world to life. Now, at the head of a new decade some fifteen years later, we have this–among other pieces of “entertainment art”–which have taken full advantage of recent technology to bring an out-of-this-world-and-into-another experience to reality.  At the heart of it all, however, is the human desire to actually become an active participant in our own imaginations. Entertainment reflects this by offering a more and more sensational and all-encompassing journey which injects the spectator with each new vehicle created.

This is the vital point at which the blurred line between our methods of escape from reality and the manifestation of our imagined reality exists. Does art begin to imitate life or does life imitate art? Evidence will forever be inconclusive, but the accounts of those witnesses who continue to take the stand are compelling, to say the least.

“Ever since I went to see ‘Avatar’ I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na’vi made me want to be one of them. I can’t stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it,” Mike posted. “I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and the everything is the same as in ‘Avatar.’ “

“I wasn’t depressed myself. In fact the movie made me happy ,” Baghdassarian said. “But I can understand why it made people depressed. The movie was so beautiful and it showed something we don’t have here on Earth. I think people saw we could be living in a completely different world and that caused them to be depressed.”

“That’s all I have been doing as of late, searching the Internet for more info about ‘Avatar.’ I guess that helps. It’s so hard I can’t force myself to think that it’s just a movie, and to get over it, that living like the Na’vi will never happen. I think I need a rebound movie,” Elequin posted.

“When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed … gray. It was like my whole life, everything I’ve done and worked for, lost its meaning,” Hill wrote on the forum. “It just seems so … meaningless. I still don’t really see any reason to keep … doing things at all. I live in a dying world.”

According to a CNN report which investigates a the phenomenon they’ve coined the “Avatar blues,” a the fan forum site called “Avatar Forums” includes a topic thread entitled “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible.” Since the movie’s debut, more than 1,000 posts have appeared, referencing depression or offering therapeutic advice in connection to Avatar.

After seeing this report, my only question was whether this “post-avatar ” depression held some type of truth in my immediate environment. When I watched the movie, for instance, I was indeed taken by Cameron’s mastery of special effects and the temptation of experiencing the fantastic world of Pandora all over again in 3-D. The 2½-hour run-time of the film did not feel quite as drawn out as it did a necessary span of time to encompass a world as enormous as Avatar’s. Though I saw nothing revolutionary at the heart of the storyline, the method through which it was portrayed created a transcendent experience. I admit–I even got a little choked up at one point. But depressed? I was far from it.

I asked a classmate for his reaction to the film.

All in all, it seems as though this movie, like any other piece of art or entertainment intended to illicit an emotional reaction from an audience has done its job. However, unlike any other film before it, Avatar has set a new standard for the movie experience. Cameron may have taken a leap beyond what the logical progression of modern film might dictate. For this reason, it was this film, in particular, that set world records, racked up Academy Award nominations, and caused such a stirring of emotion in its viewers. Avatar will not be the only film of its kind, however, and people realize this. It was, perhaps, a peek into the future of science fiction and fantasy, and a cinema experience presented in a way that truly taps into the deepest corners of our imagination.

I haven’t come across any reputable stories which have linked a confirmed suicide to viewing of the film Avatar. If ever a manifesto did surface referencing Cameron’s masterpiece as the catalyst for the taking of one’s own life, I’m sure a news organization would jump all over the opportunity to report it.

So is the discussion worth having? I think so. Every so often, I feel that it is important to check our pulse as human beings. One of the most telling indicators of our vivacity is the art that we create. Human expression is a testament to the fact that people are dreaming, creating, and generally taking advantage of their time here on Earth to leave an impression in other’s minds of their take on this thing called life. Whether or not one person can express themselves in a way that is solely responsible for driving another to act in any way is impossible to determine.

Maybe the nature of art is too similar to life to be distinguished… Or maybe life is all just one big collage of experiences that people like James Cameron are better at conveying than others. In my opinion, the only true answer can be found by experiencing them both–and allowing that shared experience to constantly reveal new worlds to you. And in 3-D, if possible.


0 Responses to “Art & Life pt. 1”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


RSS Climate Culture/ Counter Culture

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4 other followers


%d bloggers like this: