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Toys and Interpretation

by Tony Creech on Wednesday, January 28, 2009

>As I study the Art and Ideology of the 20th century, i’ve been musing on the ‘meaning’ of toys and art and stuff

my favorite toy:

Those who know me know I’ve never really thought in terms of favorites, but if pressed (and i guess i am) I’d have to lay the burden on the amazing G.I. JOE toys. The crazy amount of movement allowed with the arms, legs, knees and waist, still keeps them as the all-time best action figures… says me. Of course some might complain that the rubber-band-waist-holder-together-thingy broke too easily, but i thought they just gave you a chance to have war-amps in your battles. Did playing with G.I. JOES teach me anything about myself and culture? That’s the question right there. It certainly taught me that i viewed things in terms of images and conflicts, and i often found myself making mental-films of conflicts, closing one eye to control the images i played with, not even realizing i was pretending to make movies. I would control my perspective, while playing with the toys and wasn’t satisfied with “pretending”, but needed the playing with G.I. JOEs to look “good” to me. The cultural teaching might be the importance of imagination, pride, war, and fun, as underlined by the proliferation of such toys, and me being allowed to play with them so much. It subtly painted the subjects of War and fighting in terms of bravery and story. It encouraged me to stand out and fight for things, or at least that those were good ideas worth imagining.
Why do i care about Toys?

Toys are art. Consumer-art might be different than “Fine Art” but it’s also much the same. Both communicate things to us in varied and complex ways. What is communicated and how it gets interpreted is also quite important. It is vital, both as artists (everyone is one) and consumers, that we understand interpretation, and understand how pop-culture teaches us and strives to communicate with us (usually the message is “BUY!”).

Since interpretation concerns meaning, and as artists we invest a lot of meaning into our works, it becomes increasingly important to understand how interpretation works, as we seek to better accomplish our artistic goals in communicating meaning. We are always communicating something in art, and so, if we aren’t aware of the complex array of factors affecting the meaning of an artwork, then we are flying blind and aren’t in control of the messages we are making, and the spectrum of interpretations our art is open to. One of the “reasons” (if we would ever put it like this) we make art is so that people interpret them in certain ways, wether a single way, or many. Understanding interpretation allows us to make informed decisions every step of the artistic journey.
Tony Creech
anthony thomas creech is Founder of Citadel Magazine. He's a marketing executive, filmmaker, screenwriter, columnist, and university lecturer on film, audio, media, and faith. You can find him at thecreechleague.com
Leave a response
  • Stacy
    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    >The best toy in the world was my Fisher Price Portable Record Player with books on record. I could sit at the little table in my bedroom for hours and “read” my books. I created my own little world of imagination with my books and still do it to this day. I still have that record player in a box somewhere.

  • Mr. Lloyd
    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 1:10 am

    >So started on a comment, but then it turned into a blog post. I linked back to you though…three words: Lego v. GI Joes.

  • Mr. Lloyd
    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 4:17 am

    >oh, and your blog looks awesome. maybe you should get out your black flame candles, chicken head, and yak’s blood, then dance around that magic box of light and photoshop me up a wicked sweet banner. Only I have no cool photos of me to play with…well none that you can see my face in.

  • I'm me. I'm bland. I'm a pale sky, or greying cloud.
    Friday, January 30, 2009 at 4:36 am

    >That is me editing real film on a KEM, an industry standard,
    the light coming from the mini projector showing me my first
    film-film. haha.

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