When Bonnie Ora Sherk’s Crossroads Community (The Farm), she helped inaugurate as version of an age-old artistic practice in which artists emulate their surroundings instead of interpreting them or responding to them emotionally.
When Bonnie Ora Sherk’s Crossroads Community (The Farm), she helped inaugurate as version of an age-old artistic practice in which artists emulate their surroundings instead of interpreting them or responding to them emotionally. This eco-art version can now be added to the artistic ‘isms’ that capture the colors, textures, forms, and structures of the material world. Some examples include:
- Naturalism (strict adherence to appearance)
- Impressionism (emphasis on capturing the fleeting qualities of light)
- Realism (objective rendering of common events)
- Photorealism (paintings appearing to be photographs)
- Superrealism (coincides with Photo realism, but includes representations of three-dimensional objects)
Bonnie Ora Sherk’s Crossroads Community (The Farm) and FarmVille both introduce non-farmers to real farming experiences. However, the word ‘real’ in the previous statement carries very different meanings in each context. Sherk’s The Farm actually produced edibles, while FarmVille is a Facebook application that functions as a real-time, farm simulation game in which players become virtual farmers. FarmVille attracted 63.8 million active users five months after it was launched in June 2009.24 At the time it was the most popular social network game application. To play, people whose actual lives are remote from farming experiences conduct farm management chores by planting, growing, and harvesting virtual crops and caring for their virtual farm animals by milking cows and collecting eggs from chickens. The popularity of the game may be due to the decision by the designers to eliminate the less delightful aspects of farming – sweat, dirt, and bugs – from the simulation. It also optimized delight by endowing FarmVille farmers with powers no actual farmer possesses. For example, “fertilize all” immediately fertilizes every plot on the farm; “unwither” guarantees are available for purchase to assure that trees and livestock cannot die; and “instant grow” can be applied to crops to make them available for harvest immediately. Appeal is also traceable to the graphics which are colorful and cartoonish.
The FarmVille simulation, and these movements all strive for authenticity while simultaneously earning esteem because the work is actually a pretense. Compare the concept of ‘reality’ in Sherk’s The Farm, FarmVille, and a specific example of one of the movements listed above.
24 NPR Weekend Edition November 14, 2009
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