Friday, July 2, 2010
Guns of the Patriots - Tribute
From now to September, I will be showing art pieces I created over the past few months on this blog. They can be viewed on both my Flickr page and on DeviantArt. Here is the first in the series.
In the debate over video-games as an artistic medium, the Metal Gear Solid series is noted often for its deeply philosophical story, known to most critics as a piece of interactive art. Despite it being an action game and having the player engage in graphically violent actions, the game has a strongly underlying tone of pacifism. Topics discussed through the series include war’s futility, the effects of war on civilians, nuclear proliferation, deterrence and the absurdity of considering a person to be an “enemy”. The protagonist, Solid Snake, an espionage agent and the product of a government cloning project to manufacture genetically “perfect” soldiers, is forced by superiors to perform unethical and violent actions, killing hundreds of people in the process. Towards the end of the first game of the series, the antagonist accuses him of obeying orders because “he enjoyed all the killing”. Unable to deny this statement, this scene comes back to haunt the protagonist throughout the series, culminating in his attempted suicide to prevent himself from being used to kill more people.
In this piece, I depicted that protagonist, Solid Snake, apparently being in intense pain, presumably due to emotional stress inflicted by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, crumbling away into dust. I used charcoal smeared upon charcoal paper to depict the dust. As the game deals heavily with nuclear proliferation and its threat to world peace, I tried to liken Solid Snake’s body and pose to a mushroom cloud. This symbolically represents the destructive and irrational method of attempting to achieve peace through violence. This piece relates to the theme of “spirituality” because, in the modern world, faith for many people justifies violence. A narrow interpretation of volatile texts can lead to deadly and divisive results. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 only divided the country, causing massive insecurity, intolerance, fear and close-mindedness in citizens. To relate the dangers of religious intolerance and fundamentalist interpretation to Metal Gear Solid, I played on the theme of violence and worked off the game’s philosophical commentary to create this piece.
I had a lot of fun conceiving the concept for this art piece. Video games present a large portion of my life (and spending money) and I sincerely appreciate them as a serious artistic medium. Thus, I wanted to use charcoal, a medium that I had not fully explored in the Memory Project, to develop a tribute to Metal Gear Solid, a franchise that I enjoy deeply. While working with it, I learned that excellent value effects could be achieved by smearing the charcoal with my fingers. This lent itself well to the visual depiction of Solid Snake crumbling away into dust. This was a fun piece to make and I feel that I effectively achieved my artistic goals in this tribute to Metal Gear Solid.