TACK N°3 – NATURE : Video games: The answer to the question about human ?

I would just like to warn everyone that there will be spoilers in this article and also trigger warning that there is mention of rape and assault in this article so if you are triggered by that i advise you click of this article.

The Witness(2016) is a first person point of view game with no story, barely any action and no music. Created by Jonathan Blow, a game developer known for making players question their every decision.In this game, after exiting a cave the player is sent to a desert island where they have to complete puzzles within a maze. To push the player thought process further, he has hidden audio tapes of philosophers, scholars, writers and all sorts of different artists talking about a wide range of subjects such as atheisme, borders, knowing oneself and art.

This is a very complexe game so we are going to concentrate on the two different types of puzzles that are present within this game. These riddles can be found 15 minutes into the game and are designed to make the players change their way of thinking. If the player focuses solely on the riddle itself he will never find the answer because the answer is hidden in a passageway just in front of him for example. The first maze is shaped like the trunk and branches of a tree. To answer the riddle the player has to point to the branch where an apple previously mentioned in the game had grown. The key to the second maze relies on the player tracing the contours of rocks, trees or other natural elements, so sometimes he will have to look around to find the right angle or imagine the height of a tree that has fallen. The answers to these two puzzles are quite unique, and no matter what defines the player “In real life” he will have to think like everyone else. His past, his encounters, zodiac sign and social category are of no importance in the face of the natural instinct every human being has that pushes us to think like everyone else. Does this instinct imply that there is an innate human nature? Is it conditioning us to deny our uniqueness ? I would like to set myself apart from Jonathan Blow with the analysis of Nieztsche theory that “ God is dead !” and try to further it by explaining his theory by talking about another video game: Hollow Knight (2017). First of all though I would like to mention the australian developers of the game who are known as Team Cherry. In this Metroidvania ( subgenre of action-adventure made popular by the games Metroid (1986) and Castlevania (1997) ) the player embodies a young knight arriving on the unknown lands of Hallownest. You quickly understand your role in the game: you must choose whether you kill the God named Radiance or canalise his power through you. In the bestiary Radiance is described as : “ The plague, the infection, the madness that haunts the corpses of Hallownest… the light that screams out from the eyes of this dead Kingdom. What is the source? I suppose mere mortals like myself will never understand.

Her story is a classic one, at first she was a source of life, but sadly she was imprisoned by a greedy king who wanted to become a God. She was forced to transform and take possession of the weakest people in the realm.
We can compare this to some of Nietzsche’s findings, the difference being that the god Radiance is represented by the christian God and the greedy king resembles capitalism and the alienation brought along by the industrial revolution. For the philosopher, this murder (the neglect of God that led to his death) inplies a change within the deicides minds. There are now two solutions: be weak or ascend to the rank of a God. Hollow Knight retraces this dichotomy. With the exception of one character and our knight, everyone had lost all hope of being rid of Radiance the wrongdoer. Nietzsche would qualify them as weak since they’re unable to step up and play the role that was intended for them. And what of our character? He can also choose to undo his role by deciding to limit Radiance’s powder instead of getting rid of him all together. By doing this, you accept defeat and acknowledge that the role you were given is too demanding for one person. This defeat leads us to ask the following questions: Do we all have the same role to play? If so are we capable of carrying it to fruitions ? Would we be able to do it for the rest of our lives? Do we all have the same nature?

The two games previously mentioned take place in purely fictional worlds whereas this last one is very much based on reality. Life Is Strange : Before The Storm ( August 2017) takes place in the American University of Blackwell situated in a small town called Arcadia Bay. We follow the story of Chloe Price, a young student whose life isn’t going too well. Her father recently passed away in a car crash. Her mother is dating a man who represents everything Chloe hates and her best friend has moved away. All these events lead to serious consequences in her life. In University, even though she was one of best in her class during all of her school years, she starts missing classes, her grades plummet, and she turns to drugs which leads her to owing a lot of money to her dealer. In this point and click narrative created by Deck Nine Games we are going to follow the stories of a few youngsters, uncovering all of their problems and insecurities. For example, someone who is going to become extremely important to Chloe is Rachel whose life is going to be overturned very quickly. Some are discovering their sexuality, others racisme, fatphobia, parental pressure, some students are assaulted, raped, and drugged. To be put shortly all the horrors banned by society can be found in this video game. All this is a huge weight for the students and also for the townspeople of Arcadia Bay which proves that a human nature cannot exist in the face of oppression, recurring problems, or the structural problems caused by a society that prones individualisme. Social trauma forces people to deal in their own way. All these problems rain down on us and stop us from ascending to the rank of God as Nietzsche so hoped we would. Even if video games hadn’t created a tightly knit community between people with shared characteristics that qualify as G@m3R, they have uncovered new answers and a different point of views on the questions regarding the existence of human nature. Even if video games cannot have the answers to everything, they encourage us to ask questions and develop our curiosity just like in the Croatian game; The Talos principle (december 2014) where you are an Androïde, born to a God of creation in search of your identity, free will and self consciousness, will you prove the existence of human nature by doing what everyone else does? Or will you try to evade natural laws and society like Stanley in The Stanley Parable (october 2013)

The Witness trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPMMKFX78x0
Hollow knight Trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAO2urG23S4
Life Is Strange : Before The Storm trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QD_4St79-Q
The Talos Principle Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAVh4_wnOIw
The Stanley Parable Trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1S796fXtl4

TACK N°3 – NATURE : Animals don’t want to be artists

Animals don’t want to be artists. However they are often enslaved to entertain Men be it in water parks, circuses or bullfights. The abuse is obviously concealed from the spectators, nevertheless it’s still there, since it’s the only way to get the animals to do what we want them to.

In circuses animal cruelty is everywhere. They’re crammed inside dark rooms and cages, perform in loud, over the top and overwhelming shows, and endure violent training and have difficulty forming any kind of relationship with the other animals. Their training has to be violent since the blows are meant to be more painful than the trick itself.

In most circuses, the conditions that the animals live in don’t abide by the law: In the Muller circus, Jumbo the hippopotamus has spent the last 30 years deprived of water that would normally be his natural habitat. Jumbo is isolated and locked in the dark except for 30 mins a day when he is allowed out. For Vladimir Deriabkine, a retired bear trainer “cruelty starts with the trainer”.

28 countries have already banned circuses with wild animals, such as Belgium, Danemark, India and Peru.
A 2019 IFOP survey shows that 67% of the french population would also like to see this ban in place in France, and since november 2019, Paris no longer allows shows with wild animals. Since 2010, Bolivia has banned all circuses from having any kind of animal, whereas in France the subject of domestic animals in circuses is a delicate one, why would they abolish the torture of animals but not their murder, all because we like the taste of steak too much.
Tradition shouldn’t be an excuse for cruelty, and neither should the trainer’s supposed love for the animals excuse their barbaric methods: can we really call it love if one beats and withholds food from the other who is forced to obey. Abused animals aren’t happy and their health, physical and mental,is in danger, some end up going insane which can lead to self harm for most primates.

However there are alternatives : the german circus Roncalli is the first to offer animal holograms which has put an end to some animal cruelty. They are also the first circus to remove all single use plastic and offer vegetarian and vegan meal plans.

But on the other hand there are water parks like Marineland that are overly violent towards their animals: The killer whales live in captivity in a tiny space that fails in comparison to their natural habitat. A family of killer whales can travel for miles in a single day yet they are confined in small tanks. There is also an astonishing amount of chlorine in the water that could potentially be lethal, but without it visitors wouldn’t be able to see inside the tanks, even though the product burns and causes the whale’s skin to peel off. Here again the training is based on depriving the killer whales of food so that they become docile and accept to do things they wouldn’t usually do. After a while these intelligent animals start to lose their minds due to the shows but also due to the total lack of space and complete boredom.

The only place where animal cruelty isn’t hidden is in bullfights. People have been opposed to bull fights for a while now but most of the concern was for the matador and not for the bull.

However in light of this barbaric display of animal cruelty, a new slogan has been making it’s way around Spain which is “tortura no es cultura”.
In Europe between 1950 and 2003 only one matador died compared to 41 500 tauruses, which wouldn’t be the case if the tauruses hadn’t been starved, parched and disoriented because of the vaseline used on their eyes to stop them from seeing clearly. This cruel massacre has nevertheless been a part of France’s cultural heritage since 2011, and as for the three european countries that allow bull fights public funding has collected an estimate of 500 million euros for these fights.
There is only one reason all this brutality is made acceptable: speciesism. This principle relies on a hierarchy between different species where the human race is often seen as superior and can therefore legitimately dominate all the others.
The only philosophical ideal that defends animal rights is antispecism, which is the idea that all species are equal.

In the face of humanity’s remarkable impunity toward animal cruelty, religion is one of the first things to blame : “ Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” ( Genesis 1.26 written by Man).

The Judeo-Christian-Muslim world has established that mankind shall dominate over all other creature, whereas Buddhists believe that all animals are sensitive creatures and are just as important as mankind.
Animals are seen as ressources to be exploited, their worth only determined by how useful they are to us: If they are entertaining enough, maybe they’ll live.

All these monotheistic religions have only legitimized the already existing and overwhelming dominance of mankind over all other species. Mankind being at the top of the hierarchy has allowed us to grant ourselves superiority over all living things indefinitely.
Rousseau was one of the first to question this “ domination of the fittest” in ​The Social Contract. ​Being the strongest doesn’t entitle us to special treatment, it’s not a “right” as he put it, especially since the dominated don’t have a choice in the matter. “Giving way to force is something you have to do,not something you choose to do; or if you insist that choice comes into it·, it is at most an act of prudence. In what sense can it be a duty?”
Moreover, strength can never be a right, because what kind of right disappears when we cease to be the strongest. This right is superficial, it can never guarantee superiority, the strong impose their dominance on the weak and are dethroned when they encounter someone stronger than them. In reality strength is its own right.
But, because Mankind exploits innocent animals there is a need to feel legitimate hence the odd legal status that qualifies animals as being something between objects and people.

Nevertheless it is a difficult task to make cruelty – that everyone can clearly live without- just.
Furthermore our decency- be it consequentialist ( only concerned with the final results) or ethical ( questions our duties towards others)- should protect animal rights.

First of all we have Kantiens, who are against any kind of animal cruelty because anyone capable of harming animals could also be capable of hurting people, “We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals”.
There is also the American psychologist Kenneth Shapiro who proved that animal abusers are more likely to commit domestic abuse, be cruel to children and just be quite abusive in general.
For Kantiens defending animal rights is also a way to defend human rights, but it’s also a way to keep a feeling of human decency. “ Our duties towards animals are also our indirect duties to humanity”.

Secondly, utilitarians believe that a morally just action is one that spreads the most happiness. Animals feel pain and pleasure just as we do, and because of all the animal cruelty the amount of pain is far superior to the amount of pleasure people get out of all these shows. “The day may come when the rest of animal creation ​may​ acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day come to be recognized that the number of legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the ​os sacrum​ are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month old. But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they ​reason?​ nor Can they ​talk​? but, Can they ​suffer​?” ( Jeremy Bentham, ​The Principles of Morals and Legislation,​ 1789)

Animal cruelty has never been art and it never will be. Instead let’s make art about people and stop considering mankind as some sort of God.
« Racists violate the principle of equality by giving greater weight to the interests of members of their own race when there is a clash between their interests and the interests of those of another race. Sexists violate the principle of equality by favoring the interests of their own sex. Similarly, speciesists allow the interests of their own species to override the greater interests of members of other species. The pattern is identical in each case. Most » (Peter Singer, ​Animal Liberation​ 1975)

Tuer l’ennui du Confinement avec un jeu vidéo (ou cinq ?)

Article écrit par Bastien Silty

En cette période de confinement, je n’ai qu’une seule envie, sortir de mon 17m2 et voyager, profiter des paysages de ma ville, de ma campagne et de voir la vie dans les yeux des gens. Heureusement, mes jeux vidéos sont là et voici alors une petite liste des jeux vidéos me rappelant c’est quoi la vie dehors. Cet article est garantie spoiler-free.

A commencer par Life Is Strange. Paru le 30 Janvier 2015 en cinq épisodes, il vous permet de vous replonger dans vos journées universitaires. En incarnant Maxine « Max » Caufield retournez dans votre hameau d’enfance qu’est Arcadia Bay. Vous retrouverez votre meilleure amie et serait plongé·e dans une histoire intrigante ou vos décisions seront cruciales pour la suite des événements. DONTNOD réussi pleinement à reprendre cet esprit universitaire américain entre bully, amitié, cours, résidence CROUS et grosse soirée où drogue sexe et alcool sont de la partie. Intégrez à cela votre âme de photographe en herbe et vous pourrez vous laisser porter au gré du temps. Ce temps qui est à votre merci puisque Max peut le remonter afin de changer le cours de sa vie.

Vous préférez peut-être les grands espaces ? Quoi de plus grand qu’un désert ? Quoi de plus envoûtant qu’un monde vous permettant de créer vos propres histoires et conclusions ? Pour retrouver cet amour du vertige, il suffit de jouer à Journey sorti en mars 2012 par ThatGameCompagny. Ce jeu indépendant vous emmène dans un endroit mystique ou la magie opère dans un désert brûlant de retourner à la vie. Incarnez ce personnage en cape rouge et écharpe grandissante pour visiter des ruines, surfer, partir à la rencontre de petits tapis volants et profitez de la beauté qui vous est proposé ainsi qu’une bande-son remplissant votre cœur d’une joie pure.

Peur de vous ennuyer ? Besoin de stimuler votre cerveau ? Résoudre des énigmes est votre passion ? Alors armez vous de votre clavier et de votre souris et partez grimper vers la connaissance de Dieu dans The Talos Principle. Ce jeu de la société croate Croteam paru en décembre 2014 vous fixe un décor antique, d’ancienne Égypte puis médiévale où des labyrinthes grandeurs natures prendront vie devant vous. Prenez vie dans le corps d’un Androïde suivant les préceptes célestes d’Elohim. Tentez de découvrir votre nature et la nature de votre créateur, mais surtout, ne grimpez pas dans la tour.

Si tout cela peut manquer d’action et de petite bête toute mignonne, Ori and the will of the wisps paru en mars 2020 par Moon Studios est fait pour vous. Jouez avec Ori et partez explorer ce monde sous-terrain magnifique plein de verdure et tentez de sauver votre ami. A l’image de Journey, la bande son est un véritable chef d’œuvre. L’orchestre de Gareth Coker permettant une immersion totale dans cet univers féerique. Ce véritable Metroidvania centré autour de ses mécaniques de déplacement vous tiendra en haleine du début à la fin.

Vous êtes salarié·e dans une grosse boîte et que votre métier consistant à appuyer sur des boutons vous manquent ? Vous êtes alors dans la même situation que l’employé 427 de The Stanley Parable. Stanley menait une petite vie simple où son travail d’une simplicité rare ne lui a jamais demandé trop de réflexion. Ce jusqu’au jour où il se retrouva seul dans son étage, ni ses collègues, ni son patron n’étaient présents et les ordres vinrent aussi à manquer. Il se retrouva alors dans une situation compliquée : faire des choix. Plongez-vous dans cette critique de la société actuelle signée GalacticCafe et tentez de comprendre ce qui peut bien être en train de se passer.


TACK N°3 – NATURE : Princess Mononoke

A studio ghibli film directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

Critique by Heolruz / Translated by Maia Sefton

I would like to start this paper off by disclosing my thought process and why I chose to present this film. First of all nature is one of the leading themes,it is as if you were to take a paint brush and dip it in green paint, you would find the untouched, unexploited and immaculate forests and fields that are represented in this movie.But there is also the matter of the other colors and shades of green that are meant to represent a higher power that reigns over the world, a power that humanity cannot overrun or dictate. To be put shortly, this is meant to be the way the world works, nature is everything to which humanity cannot apply strict rules and regulations, nature is free, it is the product of the earth. Nature isn’t just a geographical area defined by legislations and environmental borders.It isn’t just a place devoid of human life and activity.
Nature can’t be influenced and it is not judged. It’s what’s left when you remove all the changes provoked by human activity.
Keeping in mind this principal/idea, I searched high and low for a cinematic piece that would be interesting enough to share with you and, I realized that a lot of the movies that broached the subject such as​ Into the wild,​ ​Out of Africa​ or (even if it’s very good)​okja​ weren’t what I wanted to talk about. While I was searching I listened to quite a few broadcasts on the subject including a great broadcast on France Culture about Hayao Miyazaki’s animation films. That was the trigger. What better way to talk about nature than with an animated film. Contrary to traditional cinema there is a real affinity towards nature in animations, maybe because of the targeted audience, so I had a large choice between ​Pocahontas​, ​Princess Mononoke​ or even ​Brother bear​. I decided on the second, without hesitation since I listened to a fantastic broadcast and because I feel that it is by far the most interesting and complete to explore together.

Now where do we start? This film is produced by the Ghibli studios and has been broadcasted in cinemas since 1997, the director wanted to share his point of view of a very industrial dominated world. By the end of the 90’s Japan was one of the world leaders in technological advancements. The idea that the director had is shared by tradition and many other people, the idea is that there exists a connection between every individual and the earth. It’s also the idea that, after the second world war and the huge industrialization that followed, that there was some form of an ecological reaction that developed.

The movie is set in the XVth century, Ashitaka is a young man from a remote village with ancestral traditions, he is respected by all within his community. These traditions are what speak to the japanese public, I was specifically thinking of the scene where Ashitaka is forced to leave the village without being seen and he is not permitted to turn around or look back. There is a similar proceeding in ​The Ballad of Narayama ​by Shohei Imamur released in 1983. Ashitaka was poisoned by a sick/possessed boar so he must leave the village to find a cure. He must cross many different lands where he comes across villages, some home to crooks trying to make a bit of coin. Places and fields devastated by war, where even Ashitaka is forced to fight and kill, so he can continue his search for the god of the forest who is said to have thaumaturgic powers. What has the first passage tried to show us, well we have seen some of what is causing the people’s ailments and troubles, but there is also a complete rejection and very negative image of cities and towns, which go against, up until now, our only protagonists beliefs and way of life.

After his departure, Ashitaka meets an important character in the mountains, Miss Eboshi, a woman who leads an army as well as a forge, she is the leader of her community. This film is never thanked enough for the important roles given to all the female characters that are so well developed. Miss Eboshi is at the top of a whole work organisation that is divided into sections where everyone has their place. She built this place and united women that were thought to be inferior, lepers and quite a few indigineous people. The forge is at the heart of their new lives where everyone is considered equals since work at the forge is divided equally and one task is no more important than the others. So where is the problem?

Well there isn’t just one problem there are two, the first being the neighboring Lord who wants to get his hands on all of Miss Eboshi’s accomplishments, but he also craves immortality that can supposedly be found within the sacred forest. The second problem is Miss Eboshi’s work. Within her little community, her people are thriving, however on the outside nature and the forest are suffering. Ashitaka now has two enemies, and he decides to flee the forge when Miss Eboshi attempts to kill a wild girl, San, and her wolves.

When Ashitaka joins up with San, he learns that because of the deforestation of the magical forest to fuel the forge, the sacred animals have been cursed which pushes them to attack the nearby men and women. By perfecting her weapons and her army Miss Eboshi spreads the curse wherever she goes. We can see the moment Ashitaka realizes that a huge crisis is looming over the world since he knows, thanks to his experiences and his journey, that if the balance between the sacred forest, and human activity is broken, a great danger will be unleashed onto the world.

I will stop here so as to not spoil the whole cinematic art piece. We could linger on the many incredible friendships Hayao Miyazaki is able to build up in his movies but we have already gathered enough material on the subject of nature.

In summary you would need dozens of views to analyse all the ideas on nature and it’s preservation that are portrayed in this film. I didn’t talk about the role of the sylvains who are magical creatures that inform us whether the sacred forest is doing well, nor did I talk about San, who becomes a more prominent character in the second part of the film. The music used in the film is that of Joe Hisaishi and it allows us to really understand the aim of the film. I also never broached the subject of the mysticism bound to japanese films, but I don’t think I’m competent enough to touch on the subject.

To finish off there is a really good short film on the subject of nature called​ L’homme qui plantait des arbres​ it’s by Frederic Back and it dates back to 1987. It’s easy to find and I recommend you watch it, it retraces a touching story in less than thirty minutes with a really nice voice over.


TACK : Bonjour, je vous laisse vous présenter et expliquer vos oeuvres ? 

Bonjour je suis Jean Michel Gnidzaz, artiste. Mon premier travail a porté sur le cinétique et j’en ai fait une déviance sur les oeuvres en Pop-Art. C’est pour ça que j’amène certaines oblitérations sur les tableaux, c’est-à-dire des lignes transversales coupées par une sorte de fenêtre au milieu.

Par rapport à l’exposition de ce soir, le style de vos tableaux fait beaucoup penser au Néo Pop, un dérivé japonais du Pop Art, quel est votre lien avec ce mouvement ? 

C’est ça, le Pop Art ! Mais c’est aussi beaucoup de bandes dessinées, j’adore ça, et des oeuvres très très colorées. 

Par rapport à vos inspirations, on peut citer Andy Warhol  ? 

J’étais un peu portée sur Roy Lichtenstein et Andy Warhol, un mix des deux, oui. 

Des tableaux aux résonances de la pop-culture actuelle, Tintin Mickey, ce sont des références intemporelles  ? 

Vous savez on est vite dépassé. C’est vraiment des symboles parce qu’on est né avec et il y a une évolution dans le design des bandes dessinée et c’est toujours d’actualité, on a rien inventé. 

C’est important pour vous le travail sur la bande dessinée ? 

C’est passager demain je ferais peut-être autre chose. Il faut évoluer.

On va évoquer vos expériences précédentes, vous êtes un artiste assez important de la scène parisienne et toulousaine et vous avez travaillé avec les Beaux Arts de Toulouse, comment on en arrive-là ? 

J’ai fait l’école des Beaux-Arts de Toulouse en architecture. Je suis à la retraite et je me suis relancé dans la peinture. Autrefois je faisais un peu « la peinture du dimanche » et maintenant je fais ça tous les jours. J’ai eu la chance d’avoir été repéré par des grandes galeries et au départ j’y croyais pas du tout, maintenant c’est une vitesse de croisière.

Il y a donc une cohérence au niveau de vos créations, qui tourne autour de ces lignes, vous pouvez nous en dire plus ? 

On appelle ça des oblitérations. Ce mot m’a été divulgué par un ami à moi, artiste à Nice, malheureusement décédé, Sosno qui a réalisé la Tête Carrée de Nice. Puis j’ai eu la chance de travailler avec Ultra Violet, qui a une époque a été l’égérie d’Andy Warhol et de Dali. Et malheureusement elle était très malade et elle est partie du jour au lendemain. Mais j’ai travaillé pour elle pendant un moment, elle m’avait invité à New York où j’ai pu travailler pour elle.

Une dernière question personnelle, qu’est-ce que vous pouvez considérer comme votre tableau préféré ? 

Mon tableau préféré c’est un des derniers tableaux qui fait référence à Picasso sur les femmes d’Alger. Entre autre, Picasso a fait quinze variantes des femmes d’Alger que vous pourrez retrouver sur mon site internet. 

Enfin, qu’est-ce qu’on peut dire de vos projets futurs ?

Variante tout à fait personnel d’oeuvres de grand maître comme Mondrian, Fernand Léger, Picasso.

Merci beaucoup, on vous souhaite une bonne exposition et un bon vernissage. 

Merci à vous, bonne continuation. 

Retrouvez l’artiste sur son site internet : http://www.jean-michel-gnidzaz.com/portfolio/vues-galeries/

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