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It's a Long Way Down · Original Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
This is a Mad World
Fics
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#1 · 2
· · >>Fenton
Abstract art! Wasn't really expecting something like this.

There's something aesthetically pleasing about several of these. That being said, I'm not quite sure what it has to do with the prompt.
#2 ·
· · >>wYvern >>Fenton
What's with all these entries trying to be what they aren't?
You probably didn't take much time to do this so I won't bother to waste my time on the review.
Next please.
#3 · 6
· · >>RogerDodger >>Fenton >>Fenton
>>Fenton
Wow, please take a step back and cool off. I think that tone is really uncalled for.

As for the picture, maybe it's a descent into chaos? I can certainly see a progression from bilateral, round shapes (biological), to multi-symmetric with straight lines (maybe mechanical?), to very abstract (maybe digital?). I don't get the last 3 frames, though.
#4 · 1
· · >>wYvern >>Fenton
>>wYvern
Each panel increases in entropy. So: The world gets madder and madder.
#5 · 3
·
>>RogerDodger
Yeah but although the first 3 frames share nothing but the colors, the last 3 all share similarities with the 3rd. That's an odd break IMO.
#6 · 5
·
>>wYvern
You're right.
Sorry author, I have been a bit frustrated by something which has nothing to do with this round and I vent out my anger on you. I apologise and now that I cooled down, I'll try to do a real review as an apology for my poor behaviour.

So this is a very abstract piece. It seems that you aimed for a deconstruction of something, which I still need to figure out, but I guess it is also what you aimed for by not giving much of a context aside from the title and the subtext.
However, there are questions left open, questions that doesn't fall into any interpretation.
Why curved lines disappear in the second part to reappear in the next panels?
Why did you add a darker blue on the second panel and a darker grey on the fifth? IMO, you should have gone with the same colors throughout all your entry.
As for the ranking, I'm not really fond of abstract art. Maybe other people will be pleased to see it, but for me, it isn't really appealing.
#7 · 1
· · >>Fenton
So I actually have an interpretation for this one, but I'm not going to say it because I'm curious if anyone else will come up with something and if the artist will reveal their intent.

I'm a bit iffy on something this abstract, because it tends to lean very heavily on viewer interpretation. It bugs me somewhat less in visual art, I think, possibly because I consume it so much faster; if I end up feeling my time is wasted in a choose-your-own-meaning story, I've sunk several minutes into it, whereas with visual art, I can glance, decide if I like it, and turn away if I don't find anything worthwhile.

That being said, this shows a clear progression, and I do appreciate that. Although I don't think what that it signifies is signposted strongly enough for good symbolism, it's clear the artist is trying to convey meaning, and that's great.
#8 · 2
· · >>RogerDodger >>Light_Striker >>Fenton
Call me crazy, but it almost looks like the fourth panel can be read as the word "please" (the A is the purple-red-pink section).

I think I can see where this connects to the prompt (the "descent" into madness). I'm a little less excited about the execution. For one thing, I would switch the top two panels, because the "most" ordered to me feels like the one that is evocative of a Platonic solid. As previously noted, it also feels weird that entropy is increasing in the bottom four panels despite the core structure remaining much more similar than it does between the first three. I could read it as a sort of parable against weighing down a work with too many details, but the sudden context shift halfway through weakens that considerably.

Thank you for sharing though!
#9 ·
· · >>Fenton
I'll agree with everybody else that the weird entropic shift in the middle throws me off a bit. On top of that though, something that really messes with any interpretation of this that I could have is that the second panel is unquestionably a d20. Combined with the fact that the first panel appears to be forming a human portrait, this sets up a very specific expectation in my mind as to where this is going to go... and then it turns into a full abstraction.

This could be signifying the point where viewer interpretation kicks in, but honestly, the point of abstract art is generally that the whole thing is up to any interpretation. Here, with defined shapes suddenly shifting to abstractions, we get an odd mix that neither lets the viewer have a completely subjective experience nor gives them a solid idea of what's going on. Personally, I think you should've either stuck with the theme of your first two panels, or only included the last three.

Aside from that though, this piece is really well made. The lines are crisp and the colors pop. I just wish it was a bit more consistently abstract.
#10 · 3
· · >>Fenton
The top panel does seem to include a human head form, with what I take to be an intrusion from some other source. (I am put in mind of this comic panel (top left) which represents Dr. Strange entering and reading the mind of an alien invader.) I disagree that the second panel is necessarily a D20; it seems to be mostly the result of straightening the lines in the first form. With the title and caption, it’s reasonable to take the colors as potential emotions, ideas and ways of life which are first regimented by societal pressures, then straightjacketed, sequestered and reduced so that what was once unthinkable and horrid now becomes the only possible and sensible choice.

Whether I’ve gotten your full intent or not, Artist, you made me think about it, for which I thank you. Your work is technically solid and well composed. I will rank this as an upper tier effort.
#11 · 4
· · >>Light_Striker >>Fenton
>>horizon
While swapping the first and second panels might be a clearer progression...

For the world to be mad, rather than merely decaying, there would also have to be a world which is sustainably alive. The transition from one symmetrical, harmonious form to another contrasts with the decay that follows.

The third panel is the first introduction of formlessness. It doesn't immediately look like a decay, with very little of the world lacking colour. The asymmetry is a little interesting, especially since all we've known till now is symmetry. The independent shapes are bold. Maybe this was an experiment in... abstract art!

Suddenly, however, the world is very rigid. Every shape from this point remains until the end, rotting. For new shapes to spring up, they have to carve their place out of the world, rather than being one with it. Each new shape robs the old of their colour.

There's historical evidence that a better way is possible, but the decay marches on. Hence, madness.

So clearly this is abstract art about how abstract art is eroding the world of its beauty.
#12 · 1
· · >>Fenton
>>horizon >>RogerDodger I am very much in line with RogerDodger's interpretation except for the last line, and I have little else to say.
#13 · 2
· · >>Not_A_Hat
Boy, I was so scared that this entry would be badly received but I’m very happy that it wasn’t the case.
Since I can’t draw even if my life depended on it, I started messing with Paint without anything in mind (I was bored at the moment). I ended up with the last panel and thought that, in fact, this could be interesting to start from something well defined and deconstruct it. So I started drawing the fifth panel, then the fourth, up to the first.
Until I finished it, I hadn’t any kind of interpretation in mind, I just knew that I wanted to be a deconstruction of something (like I said). Once finished, an interpretation came clearly so here is my explanation (be aware that it doesn’t invalidate yours)

The first panel represents our mind, the colours our emotions. At first, it’s something perfectly shaped (a circle), it is united, it is one. But then, society kicks in and our minds are shaped according to society’s needs. The rest of the panels follows the same pattern. The more society pressures our minds, the more they become shattered, to the point that our emotions are separated from one another.
You must also have noticed how almost all colors get smaller and smaller. That symbolize the fact that our modern societies condemn almost every emotions, relying on facts and events (the blank spaces). Only a few emotions are approved by societies.
It’s a comment on society I fully agree with. I think that we must do all what we can to gather our own being in own unique entity, reconnecting to our emotions and dismissing any kind of society’s approval or disapproval.
I also chose the title and the subtext to let the interpretation of a comment about modern art open.

Now that intellectual masturbation is out of the way, let’s reply to each one of you.


>>TitaniumDragon
Abstract art! Wasn't really expecting something like this.

There's something aesthetically pleasing about several of these. That being said, I'm not quite sure what it has to do with the prompt.


I’m glad that it’s at least aesthetically pleasing as you said. That was my first goal before anything else, make something pretty.
As for the connection with the prompt, see the explanation above. It’s a long way down from unity to shattering.

>>Fenton
What's with all these entries trying to be what they aren't?
You probably didn't take much time to do this so I won't bother to waste my time on the review.
Next please.


Fuck you! If you have nothing interesting to say, just shut up!

>>wYvern
Wow, please take a step back and cool off. I think that tone is really uncalled for.

As for the picture, maybe it's a descent into chaos? I can certainly see a progression from bilateral, round shapes (biological), to multi-symmetric with straight lines (maybe mechanical?), to very abstract (maybe digital?). I don't get the last 3 frames, though.


Thank you for standing up for me :)
As for what you see, you got that right in a way. Because the first panel is human mind in its purest form (unaltered, untainted), it’s a biological representation. It evolves into something mechanical indeed, to end up in something digital, changing along society with new technologies being discovered.

>>RogerDodger
Each panel increases in entropy. So: The world gets madder and madder.


Exactly. It’s a slow descent into madness.

>>Not_A_Hat
So I actually have an interpretation for this one, but I'm not going to say it because I'm curious if anyone else will come up with something and if the artist will reveal their intent.

I'm a bit iffy on something this abstract, because it tends to lean very heavily on viewer interpretation. It bugs me somewhat less in visual art, I think, possibly because I consume it so much faster; if I end up feeling my time is wasted in a choose-your-own-meaning story, I've sunk several minutes into it, whereas with visual art, I can glance, decide if I like it, and turn away if I don't find anything worthwhile.

That being said, this shows a clear progression, and I do appreciate that. Although I don't think what that it signifies is signposted strongly enough for good symbolism, it's clear the artist is trying to convey meaning, and that's great.


I’m curious to hear your interpretation. Everyone so far have pretty much guessed the meaning behind this piece.
I really tried to show that progression and I’m glad that I’ve succeeded.
As for your comment on interpretation, that’s what I thought when I made this. If people minded the fact that it was too obscure, they wouldn’t have lost too much time.

>>horizon
Call me crazy, but it almost looks like the fourth panel can be read as the word "please" (the A is the purple-red-pink section).

I think I can see where this connects to the prompt (the "descent" into madness). I'm a little less excited about the execution. For one thing, I would switch the top two panels, because the "most" ordered to me feels like the one that is evocative of a Platonic solid. As previously noted, it also feels weird that entropy is increasing in the bottom four panels despite the core structure remaining much more similar than it does between the first three. I could read it as a sort of parable against weighing down a work with too many details, but the sudden context shift halfway through weakens that considerably.

Thank you for sharing though!


Whoa! Someone actually found it. I’m impressed, good job :)
I understand your point about switching the first two panels. However, it would contradict what I wanted to convey. A circle is the utmost ‘perfect’ form. There is no edge on a circle. When edges appear, it means that the ‘corruption’ has started. Humans are trying to describe the world with rules and equations. That’s why I chose a Platonic solid, as you mentioned it.
About the entropy shift, it’s mainly because of the explanation I gave above, but also because I didn’t want to make about ten more panels just to have a smooth transition between all of them and instead, I wanted the point to be the most obvious. I feared that, with too many panels, the meaning would be more vague.

>>shinygiratinaz
I'll agree with everybody else that the weird entropic shift in the middle throws me off a bit. On top of that though, something that really messes with any interpretation of this that I could have is that the second panel is unquestionably a d20. Combined with the fact that the first panel appears to be forming a human portrait, this sets up a very specific expectation in my mind as to where this is going to go... and then it turns into a full abstraction.

This could be signifying the point where viewer interpretation kicks in, but honestly, the point of abstract art is generally that the whole thing is up to any interpretation. Here, with defined shapes suddenly shifting to abstractions, we get an odd mix that neither lets the viewer have a completely subjective experience nor gives them a solid idea of what's going on. Personally, I think you should've either stuck with the theme of your first two panels, or only included the last three.

Aside from that though, this piece is really well made. The lines are crisp and the colors pop. I just wish it was a bit more consistently abstract.


You have found a lot of clues. The second panel wasn’t supposed to be a D20 but a Platonic solid as horizon mentioned. However, a D20 is a Platonic solid. So your reading is right somehow.
About the interpretation, that was one of the point to let the viewer see what he wanted to see. The only solid clues are the title and the subtext, which I tried to make them the most understandable.
And I’m glad that you found this pleasing. I took some time to choose the color, struggling between contrast and shades. However, I’m curious about what you mean by ‘consistently abstract’.

>>GroaningGreyAgony
The top panel does seem to include a human head form, with what I take to be an intrusion from some other source. (I am put in mind of this comic panel (top left) which represents Dr. Strange entering and reading the mind of an alien invader.) I disagree that the second panel is necessarily a D20; it seems to be mostly the result of straightening the lines in the first form. With the title and caption, it’s reasonable to take the colors as potential emotions, ideas and ways of life which are first regimented by societal pressures, then straightjacketed, sequestered and reduced so that what was once unthinkable and horrid now becomes the only possible and sensible choice.

Whether I’ve gotten your full intent or not, Artist, you made me think about it, for which I thank you. Your work is technically solid and well composed. I will rank this as an upper tier effort.


You got it right, congratulations! You even guessed, like shinygiratinaz, that the first panel was a human head form. I see we have the same readings. I didn’t fully copy the panel you linked, but I think I had it somewhere in my mind when I draw the first panel.
I’m really glad that you liked it, both for the composition and the interpretation. I was really scared that everyone would find this boring and not worth the time thinking about it. So yay!

>>RogerDodger
While swapping the first and second panels might be a clearer progression...

For the world to be mad, rather than merely decaying, there would also have to be a world which is sustainably alive. The transition from one symmetrical, harmonious form to another contrasts with the decay that follows.

The third panel is the first introduction of formlessness. It doesn't immediately look like a decay, with very little of the world lacking colour. The asymmetry is a little interesting, especially since all we've known till now is symmetry. The independent shapes are bold. Maybe this was an experiment in... abstract art!

Suddenly, however, the world is very rigid. Every shape from this point remains until the end, rotting. For new shapes to spring up, they have to carve their place out of the world, rather than being one with it. Each new shape robs the old of their colour.

There's historical evidence that a better way is possible, but the decay marches on. Hence, madness.

So clearly this is abstract art about how abstract art is eroding the world of its beauty.


Once again, a solid explanation of what I had in mind. The last line is a possibility too. While I don't automatically dislike modern art, quite the opposite, I can't stand when meaning comes before beauty (whatever form it could take).

>>Light_Striker
>>horizon >>RogerDodger I am very much in line with RogerDodger's interpretation except for the last line, and I have little else to say.


Still thank you for leaving a comment. While it's not detailed, it helps to know which side you're standing.


To conclude, I thank everyone of you for your time and your comments. Like I said, I feared that this won't be well received but it seems I was wrong.
Congratulations to the medalists, and good luck for the reviewing.
#14 · 2
· · >>Fenton
>>Fenton

Ask, and ye shall receive.

Note, I actually wrote this not long after my post above, so other people's views hadn't colored what I thought. Here's the interpretation and explanation, edited for readability.




Here's what I see. It's subjective. and probably reveals more about me than the art or artist; like a Rorschach, it's what I've projected onto the art. As such, I didn't weigh it heavily when voting, because I don't feel there's enough information in here to signify the details of this interpretation were intentional.

The top frame looks like a brain. I see a PET scan from the top. This represents Art, as it exists in our heads, the tropes and thoughts and patterns we use to understand this stuff. It's organic and complete.

The second frame is a D20. This represents randomness, but understood and contained; it's statistical, static, logical and consistent.

The third panel is the combination of the two into Art, as it exists in the world; the tropes and thoughts and visualizations of the artist, projected onto some medium, with the flaws and restrictions that requires. Notice the combination of curves and angles in the rectangle? It's Brain and D20, combined and framed.

The successive panels are about increasing amounts of randomness in the art. This is, in my mind, about intentional randomness in modern art, where careful thought and intentional communication is decreased, in an attempt to force the reader to project their own thoughts onto the work, something I feel that can be abused by dishonest or lazy artist. This is also signaled by the abstract style, the title, and the alt-text; it's about how 'literary techniques' break up the thread of the narrative, or how something like Duchamp's 'Readymades' can sell for millions of dollars. It's also about how 'literary criticism' can be an inbred spiral, where if artists don't sanity-check themselves they can end up painting everything blue and calling it 'high concept', or claiming jars of urine are 'artistic'. It speaks to me as a critic in a community of critics and artists about how I view and critique art; have I begun to search for 'complexity' for its own sake, instead of needing them to serve artistic ends? Is my mind 'tainted' with an elitism that could eventually divorce my view of art from reality, as I dive into meaningless distinctions or pointless nuance?

Or, well, something like that, I guess.

Anyways, I find this both deeply ironic and recursive, since I see modern, abstract techniques used to question modern, abstract ideas. :P I find I've also been tricked into playing a game I hate; that of doing the artist's work myself, and inventing Meaning to project onto what may be mostly Noise.

In the end, I'm quite sure I've overthought this; if the Artist claims they intended the details of this interpretation, I'll be shocked. The 'idea' feels strong-ish, but I'm not convinced my interpretation was intended. It has, however, due to a possibly accidental junction of aesthetic and context, caused me to think, and that's definitely worth something.




And that's about it. One of the two stories I considered writing this round was based on this, but I didn't write anything because... I dunno. If I could supply a satisfactory reason, I'd probably be a much happier human being.

I kinda hate my brain.
#15 ·
·
>>Not_A_Hat
if the Artist claims they intended the details of this interpretation, I'll be shocked.


I mainly let some room for this kind of interpretation. Duchamps was in my mind when I was thinking about the title and the subtext. So no, I didn't intend all the details, just some of them :p.