We had rather an involved discussion at the PyGTA meeting on Tuesday. By way of background, a number of the Python programmers in Toronto are working on a project called the "Art Interface Device", which is, in essence an attempt to create a standardized framework for animatronic artwork. At the moment, the system works at the level of basically peak-ing/poke-ing values, much as we saw when programming Apple II+ programs back in the early '80s. The thing is, the project is focusing so much on the low level operations, such as what communications bus to use, that I can't see it becoming a particularly valuable channel for artistic expression.
Every art form, when first introduced, undergoes a period of experimentation wherein simply accomplishing anything in the media is sufficient to be described as art. The physical complexity and newness of the art form allows just about anyone to create art which extends the limits of the art form. You can see this effect by comparing early novels with modern novels. Almost every piece created during the exploratory phase of an art form tends to be "great". As the limits of the art form are explored, the creation of "great" art in the art form becomes more and more a question of what you're saying, rather than how you're saying it.
As far as I can see, animatronic art has moved beyond the level where simply "doing it" is sufficient. If you're going to serve animatronic artists, you need to provide tools which are considerably more nuanced and easy to use so that the artists can move beyond merely creating effects and being glad they work at all, to using those effects to shed light on the human condition.
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