Art as Game: Game Theorectic Examples

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Art as Game: Game Theorectic Examples

On this page: {Intro} {Artist as Producer} {WorkShop W/S} {Art Factory} {} {} {} {Stuff} {Game models} {Zero Sum} {Non Zero Sum} {Push-me-Pull-you} {The Product Upgrade "game"} {} {} {The Product Upgrade "game"} {}


Artist as Producer

We take as read that this exmample/model covers such things as the "Works Progress Administation" artist's league during World War II. In the case of large scale projects, we see that given that many of the artists can do any of the tasks (going back to Larry Niven's "PAK" human evolution idea - eventually we evolve into a genius/can-do-anything species) - we take as read that for large scale projects (eg, building a space explorer probe) - that the distribution of work can fall into areas of: 1) The artist is the only one that can do this. 2) A group of artists will be best at doing this. 3) A group of artists can do this (or these) task(s). 4) Any of the artists in this (larger) group can do this. Large sculptures usually fall (neatly) into this category.

WorkShop W/S

Workshops are (usually) of two forms: 1) A practice-specific workshop; eg, paper making, specific glaze techniques, cubist studies, etc. 2) The visiting professor. A professor is brought in to display/teach their technique(s) and working methods. High-speed lithography, cast/model making, spray gun techniques, kiln building, etc. In these cases, clearly the competition for special equipment or the visiting professor's time may turn this into a non-zero-sum game (and unfortunately, often does). Only by removing ourselves from the imprint of time, does a fairly (and fair) even distribution of attention occur. Odd that humans play the "the runt pig starves to death" model so often. Hmmm, this too i think doesn't impress the galactic central council very much.

Art Factory

See also: -[
Andy Warhol's concepts of]- While Warhol created the modern version of the art factory, we know that many of the masters (especially in the case of large, commissioned works) during the renaissance used this idea as well. ??need to do research on this??? alas, time is finite. (even WITH a duck)


An engineering model of an artist: ==== INPUTS ==== (A/H) other artists ---> artist ---> art events | ^ v personal B/G | | ^ +---<---------+ +----<-------------------------------+ === FEEDBACK: Critiques, reviews, sales, etc.

Zero Sum

Recall that in a "zero sum game", what ever one side wins, the other loses and vice versa. Note that "Candy on a table - everyone grab one!" is and example of this. In the art market place, this is probably a fairly realistic model - it assumes that there is a fixed amount of money to be spent by the public (or corporations) for art work. And if artist A gets a commission, then that money is gone and may deprive artist B of any work and/or money to pay the rent with. Thus, if B dies (or leaves the city, or retires to take up a job selling appliances at the local super-store "WallyWorld") then this (in theory) benefits A. Of course, this goes back to "trendiness" and "well-known-ness" as art-market variables.

Non Zero Sum

In the excellent book, "Non Zero", ??author?? relates severeal experiments that were done with computers using various strategies in competing in a common "game space". The more successful game programs were allowed to duplicate, while less successful ones were allowed to die off. One would think that aggressive, zero-sum programs would win, but in this case they tended to destroy each other (nuclear wars?) and other programs were able to survive. The best over-all strategy was one called "tit for tat", which based its moves on its previous encounters with other programs. If the other program tended to attack, this time the TFT program would attack. If the other program tended to barter, the TFT would barter, etc. The book, Non Zero, is an approach to human history, which the author confers his theory that co-operative Non-Zero-Sum game stategies throughout history have advanced human civilisation the most - hence arriving at our present "highly civilised state" - if one can consider a planet serious on the edge of extinction, with rogue nations feeling free to attack covertly other nations for religious/philosophical/market-driven reasons "highly civilised" - i don't think the galactic central council would agree. An excellent book, even though the author (in attempting to use NZS game theory on living systems and having to deal with Stephen J. Gould - look, he's just this guy ok? So, just say, i think that Gould is wrong on this and GO on!), again goes for the "GRAND UNIFICATION" Theory (GUTS) as does sub-atomic physics, etc. Regardless, we would nominally say that as far as artists are concerned, they (for the most part) operate on a non-zero-sum basis (if i help you that doesn't necessarily hurt me) - which is the co-operative data model again. And despite "cliques" this tends to be the case. Cliques usually forming around, very up-scale representative work and the artists/consumers involved, and then other groups of abstract artists, etc. That is, mostly the "primordial soup" model of art.


In the series of books by Hugh Lofting (rivaled only by the "Wizard of Oz" books by Frank L. Baum) are way better than the movies in either case. Regardless, in (as i recall, "The Voyages of Dr. Doolitle") they encounter the two-headed llama-like animal: The Push-me-Pull-you. And as with the rare events in the animal world of two-headed creatures, it usually turns out that one head is *dominant*. But, in general these kinds of creatures do NOT survive well in the one-headed "grab all the candy you can get" world in which we find ourselves. However, this model is reflected rather well in the work shop and the art factory examples in the art world. And similarly in laboratory work in the science world, etc. If we assume that each person (or team) is working on an independent (or at least intra-dependent) thing, then there should be no dis-advantage to co-operation. The only limiting factor MIGHT be time. In the case of the workshop, taking time from your own work to help someone else, will usually devolve to the ZS-game model. In the case of the LAB ASSISTANT it is their "sacrifice" that prevents this from happening. But, again, we see this as everyone is a producer in the workshop. Consmption comes later during the critique (which can or not be in the competitive model) as well as post-WS sales. In the case of team work - sub-dividing tasks so that they can proceed in parallel. We are most obviously back to the FILM PRODUCTION example. Alternatively, this is of course the same model as the LAB ASSISTANT model with multiple assitants and is seen in the GALLERY INSTALATION and PACKING FOR SHIPMENT, etc. examples.

The Product Upgrade "game"

Ref: For this example, the players will be a company (USER) considering the choice of a new internal e-mail or intranet system, and a supplier who is considering producing it. The two choices are to install a technically advanced or a more proven system with less functionality. We'll assume that the more advanced system really does supply a lot more functionality, so that the payoffs to the two players, net of the user's payment to the supplier, are: USER/CONSUMER Advanced Proven SUPPLIER/PRODUCER Advanced 20,20 0,0 Proven 0,0 5,5 We see that both players can be better off, on net, if an advanced system is installed. (We are not claiming that that's always the case! We're just assuming it is in this particular decision). But the worst that can happen is for one player to commit to an advance system while the other player stays with the proven one. In that case there is no deal, and no payoffs for anyone. The problem is that the supplier and the user must have a compatible standard, in order to work together, and since the choice of a standard is a strategic choice, their strategies have to mesh. Although it looks a lot like the Prisoners' Dilemma at first glance, this is a more complicated game. We'll take several complications in turn: Looking at it carefully, we see that there this game has no dominated strategies. The best strategy for each participant depends on the strategy chosen by the other participant. Thus, we need a new concept of game-equilibrium, that will allow for that complication. When there are no dominant strategies, we often use an equilibrium conception called the Nash Equilibrium, named after Nobel Memorial Laureate John Nash. The Nash Equilibrium is a pretty simple idea: we have a Nash Equilibrium if each participant chooses the best strategy, given the strategy chosen by the other participant. In the example, if the user opts for the advanced system, then it is best for the supplier to do that too. So (Advanced, Advanced) is a Nash-equilibrium. But, hold on here! If the user chooses the proven system, it's best for the supplier to do that too. There are two Nash Equilibria! Which one will be chosen? It may seem easy enough to opt for the advanced system which is better all around, but if each participant believes that the other will stick with the proven system -- being a bit of a stick in the mud, perhaps -- then it will be best for each player to choose the proven system -- and each will be right in assuming that the other one is a stick in the mud! This is a danger typical of a class of games called coordination games -- and what we have learned is that the choice of compatible standards is a coordination game. We have assumed that the payoffs are known and certain. In the real world, every strategic decision is risky -- and a decision for the advanced system is likely to be riskier than a decision for the proven system. Thus, we would have to take into account the players' subjective attitudes toward risk, their risk aversion, to make the example fully realistic. We won't attempt to do that in this example, but we must keep it in mind. The example assumes that payoffs are measured in money. Thus, we are not only leaving risk aversion out of the picture, but also any other subjective rewards and penalties that cannot be measured in money. Economists have ways of measuring subjective rewards in money terms -- and sometimes they work -- but, again, we are going to skip over that problem and assume that all rewards and penalties are measured in money and are transferable from the user to the supplier and vice versa. Real choices of information systems are likely to involve more than two players, at least in the long run -- the user may choose among several suppliers, and suppliers may have many customers. That makes the coordination problem harder to solve. Suppose, for example, that "beta" is the advanced system and "VHS" is the proven system, and suppose that about 90% of the market uses "VHS." Then "VHS" may take over the market from "beta" even though "beta" is the better system. Many economists, game theorists and others believe this is a main reason why certain technical standards gain dominance. (This is being written on a Macintosh computer. Can you think of any other possible examples like the beta vs. VHS example?) On the other hand, the user and the supplier don't have to just sit back and wait to see what the other person does -- they can sit down and talk it out, and commit themselves to a contract. In fact, they have to do so, because the amount of payment from the user to the supplier -- a strategic decision we have ignored until now -- also has to be agreed upon. In other words, unlike the Prisoners' Dilemma, this is a cooperative game, not a noncooperative game. On the one hand, that will make the problem of coordinating standards easier, at least in the short run. On the other hand, Cooperative games call for a different approach to solution.
here} Common-Sense Nihilist Party, Tutorial on game theory: