Sunni Ago

Sunni Ago

She/They Black Queer writer currently living abroad. Working on games and making art.

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    Latest Articles

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    Can there really be "art for art"

    The slogan "art for art’s sake" arose in the 19th century with the core ethos being that art, true art is divorced, separated, alien from function, any and all functions.

    But with this philosophy, there is room for critique, after all nothing is created in a bubble and artists are influenced by their society and as such so are their works.

    Does art always have a message? Should it?

    Many Marxist thinkers would argue art must have a meaning and purpose but even non-Marxists have levied criticism at this school of thought.

    Is Art for Art’s sake a philosophy that is unfairly maligned? Is it a cynical defense from critique?

    • I think it’s also interesting to explore when we define that someone is to be considered an artist. As we age it’s much more difficult to explore things separated from fiction but as children there is a much more free exploration of art that is disconnected from our adult analysis. Is this something we are only able to harness in childhood? If so, is “art for arts sake” something we are trying to reconnect with in adulthood? – Denise Zubizarreta 4 months ago
    • If one were to write about this topic, I believe they would absolutely need to mention Oscar Wilde. In the preface to Picture of Dorian Gray, he writes that "all art is quite useless". By trying to give a spin to the word "useless" -- and make it a word that doesn't necessarily have a negative connotation -- he responds to the idea that art should have a purpose, and instead suggests that it can simply be purposeful for its aesthetic qualities. I therefore don't believe that "art fort art's sake" is merely a cynical defense from critique. It simply asks you to critique it under different criteria! – chloew 4 months ago
    • When I hear the phrase 'Art for art's sake' I think of two people: James Hampton and Henry Darger--the former not to be confused with James Hampton the actor (who plays Dad Wolf in Teen Wolf), and the latter not to be confused with Jeffrey Dahmer. These two persued making art that they seemingly never intended to show to anyone; the art they constructed had no audience, no person in mind. James built religious inspired structures out of trash, the finished products of which he kept in a rented garage. No one else laid eyes on his creations until he passed away and his landlord found them. His works are now kept in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Henry Darger wrote a 15,145-page novel accompanied by extremely detailed images and tracings he made himself. His works were not discovered until shortly before his death, oddly enough, ALSO by his landlords (there's no significance to the landlord thing, just coincidence... I hope). This all goes to say that this could be a pretty interesting avenue for an interpretation of 'Art for art's sake' to take a stroll down. I'm cringing DEEP into myself for what I'm about to type but, in a world where the ability to share everything we create is democratised so that audiences are readily available to consume it, stories about outliers such as these call into question the very purpose of art itself. So, that doesn't really answer the question 'can you really have art for art?'. But I think the question James and Henry tease out is 'without an audience can art even exist?' – JM 2 months ago

    Analyzing Analog Horror

    Analog Horror refers to the genre of horror created with the aesthetic of Analog technology, that is to say shot on video, "found footage".

    Within the subgenre there exists quite a number of breakthrough hits such as "Backrooms" "Local 58" and "The Mandela Catalogue"

    What draws people to this genre and what can be said about the genre tropes and themes? What is the appeal and is there a lesson that can be garnered from the creation of these works?

    • Good start, but you might want to delve a bit more into what analog horror is, or how your examples achieve it. If you don't know what found footage is (and I, for one, only have a vague idea), you might be a bit confused. – Stephanie M. 8 months ago
    • I was just thinking of leading a topic for this subject too. I think the evolution of analog horror is fascinating, its origins (I think) layered from many concepts and ideas from YouTube. I think constantly about what makes this niche sub genre scary, and what draws people in. This would be a great topic, especially to see where it’s grown from. – eaonhurley 8 months ago

    Bloodborne and the grotesque feminine.

    Bloodborne, the 2014 game from FromSoftware is a game ripe for exploration. One element worth delving into is the nature of femininity within the world.

    The ways in which the player is force to confront the cruelty in which women and female coded NPCs are treated with regards to the game’s world. Elements such as the "blessings" of the old ones force the player to view the horror of a world where women are specifically targeted for cruelty.

    The nature of the blood within the universe is also worth exploring with regards to origins of the blood and the people born of it.

    • I love Bloodborne and would love to claim this article to write, but I haven't played it in a while and the only three female characters I remember are Iosefka, Eileen, and Lady Maria and I wouldn't know where to start in terms of talking about their "grotesqueness." However, the obvious connection with women and blood (you know what I mean) could be an interesting avenue to take for the prospective author. – LeoPanasyuk 3 months ago
    • Bloodborne is my favourite game and I think this topic is really worth exploring. One key character who would be great to write about is Arianna and how she *spoiler* literally gives birth to an old one if you follow up her quest line — players are then faced with the choice of whether to kill her. Lady Maria would be an excellent choice for discussion, as well as Vicar Amelia. – Patrick 2 months ago
    • LOVE this topic!! I am so keen to read this article when it has been done. It would be really cool as well to consider ideas of feminine suffering and pain and the fetishisation of this in media. – Zoe Odessa 2 months ago

    Alienation and Evil in Supermen

    Superman is a hero routinely derided as one-note. A good boyscout who is always by the books. For this topic the writer should look into the myriad supermen.

    Mainly focused on characters such as Man of Steel Superman, One Punch Man’s Saitama, and Watchman’s Dr. Manhattan.

    Shared between these characters is a distinct sense of alienation. Not just from their friends but from the people they protect as "heroes"

    Understanding the origins of each of their alienations and possibly comparing them to "evil" over powered characters such as Plutonian (Irredeemable), Homelander (The Boys) and Omni-Man (Invincible)

    What elements make for a character’s alienation that wouldn’t lead into their collapse into villainy?

    • See also Ultraman from DC Comics' "alternate universe" stories: he's literally Superman with slight alterations in his backstory that made him a villain instead of a hero. Perhaps compare to mutants in X-men as well. Apocalypse and Magneto have superiority complexes pushing them to try to take over the world, similar to Omni-Man and some of the other evil Supermen. Professor X, on the other hand, is just as powerful but does not share that philosophy. – noahspud 3 months ago
    • Umm i think thats a bit too broadening. Marvel has a bunch of direct Superman analogues such as Blue Marvel, Hyperion, and Sentry. Bringing in Prof X and Magneto and Apocalypse is a bit off topic. – Sunni Ago 3 months ago
    • I enjoy how Lex Luther and Superman understand each other as being two sides of the same coin, in much the same way that Doomsday Superman can't -- being being an identical polar opposite they are literally two side of that coin in strength, etc and so can only annihilate and not triumph over the other. This is ultimately unsatisfying. Lex Luther adds the dimension of an unfortunate childhood, family, daily pressures and a superior mind which Superman can relate to though never condone. – anthonyzed 3 months ago

    Villainy in Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

    Jack Horner and Death

    Of the antagonists in The Last wish, these two stand head and shoulders above the rest. But between them who can be argued to be the "better" villain.

    Horner is a throwback, an old school villain, evil at his core. Unrepentant and callous his simplicity lends itself to easily understanding why he’s a villain but, that same simplicity could be critique as lazy or unoriginal due to him always taking the worst most inhumane option.

    Contrasting him is Death.
    Death plays with Puss in Boots but is solely focused on him. It could be argued he is cruel and unfair but he’s literally death and that is his nature. Is his simplicity better than Horner’s due to him being more of a force of nature than an character.

    What elements make each villain unique?

    • Great topic! Maybe comparing these villains to other villains in the shrek universe and puss in boots films would help strengthen this – Anna Samson 3 months ago
    Taken by noahspud (PM) 1 week ago.

    Sex scenes in Media

    The discourse surrounding sex scenes in media has risen again and this time to much more of a pushback.

    Starting with the origins, who are the people criticising the existence of sex in media and what are their reasons?

    From there, what are the arguments against limited sex in media?

    What can come from this repetitive discourse and why does it seem to be such an enduring topic for discourse?

    • My biggest critique of sex in media is that so many of them have minors involved (though played by adults). The confusing thing is that shows like this (Euphoria, Riverdale, you name it) would probably make more since if the characters were in their 20s and in college. Why do they have to be minors? Additionally, having grown adults playing children makes the concept seem fine, thus normalizing sexual content involving minors. – kaitminghui 3 months ago
    • It is also interesting how television and film reviews are impacted based on the type of sex scene featured. The Last Of Us episode 3 was review bombed on IMDB after featuring a gay sex scene despite it being one of the more acclaimed episodes of the series. – mattweightman 3 months ago
    • There is also the issue of exploitative use. For example, the film I Spit on Your Grave has long scenes of sexual violence and is a commercial product. It is important to ask whether a scene is there to communicate something or is just a fetish. – EllenPastorino 3 months ago
    • One of the things that can come from the discourse is the existence of intimacy coordinators and further discutions around best practices for sex scenes. Additionally, the topic is always discussed because, like it or not, people like sex scenes in television and film, they find them entertaining, etc. – Madelinelca 2 months ago

    Understanding Death of the Author

    "The Death of the Author" is the title of an essay literary critic and theorist Roland Barthes.

    The term itself has been argued to mean that the work should be judged wholly on its own merits despite problematic origins. But, was that the intent of the framework or is it a post hoc justification for supporting creators (and thus their creations) who would otherwise be maligned?

    With regards to fandom, how much can be said to be justified under this framework and as consumers should there be a limit to where and how this framework is used as a defense?

    • I recently studied this essay in my class on Contemporary – thalamouawad 4 months ago
    • I recently studied this essay in my class on Contemporary Writing by Women. I think that Barthes' essay can be juxtaposed effectively with Nancy K Miller's "Changing the subject". It counters Barthes' work by stating that this dismissal of individual identity can be interpreted as a hegemonic tool used to deemphasize the stance of minority writing. – thalamouawad 4 months ago
    • Another point for reference: novelist John Green has publicly subscribed to the Death of the Author philosophy, saying "authorial intent doesn't matter"; how readers interpret metaphors, he says, is as important or more important than what the author was thinking when he wrote them. This makes reading Green's books, like Paper Towns and The Fault in our Stars, which are stuffed full of metaphorical imagery, quite interesting. Paper Towns, in particular, is about imagining people as multifaceted instead of seeing them as metaphors - but if authorial intent doesn't matter, should we accept our superficial impressions as accurate? – noahspud 2 months ago

    "I Don't Like ****, I Don't Go Outside" An Exploration of Depression

    "I Don’t Like ****, I Don’t Go Outside" is the sophomore album by Odd Future Alum, Earl Sweatshirt. Despite maintain a level of darkness in his tone and instrumentation, Earl is distinctly alien from his former self. Gone are the edgy shock-lyrics of cannibalism and murder, replaced instead by a vulnerable young man drowning in depression reliant on drugs and alcohol to keep himself going.

    What is it to be a celebrity? A chosen one at that, to be the idol of millions of people you’ve never met while isolated from your friends and family. The album speaks to the thin veneer of happiness success can really be.

    Earl was often a center piece of the fandom from the "FREE EARL" days and yet it doesn’t seem as though the freedom was very liberatory. The lack of hope and overwhelming sense of abject bleakness from Earl speaks to the hollow nature of what was gained by his fame and his regrets seem innumerable as each song on the album falls further in further into an inky blackness of despair.

    That then begs the question, what does this album serve? Is it just a self-exploration or can there be some universal message garnered from the album? What can be said of Earl and his developments as an artist? What of the raised awareness about depression and how it can shape and distort a person’s view not just of themself but of the world around them.

    • Agree with first person. You do a good job summarizing what the album is about, but what specific question are you trying to ask? – Montayj79 10 months ago

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