The visual arts include all those forms in which the mode of communication is primarily through the medium of light, or some analogous primary sense. Examples include photography, ceramics, sculpture, visual virch experiences of all kinds, video, printmaking, drawings and paintings. Crafts, architecture, and industrial design may have a strong visual art component and are regarded by some as parts of the visual arts, though the have a practical component. Likewise decorative landscaping, terraforming, fashion and interior design, gardening or cooking may be considered under the umbrella of visual arts. Video or virch with a component of story is considered both a visual art and a narrative art.
The 'visual' component of the visual arts is not a hard-and-fast requirement. Even for those with standard human-style Terragen senses the visual arts typically engage other senses as well, especially in sculpture or fabric art. Since then, as Terragens have developed new clades and met new xenosophont species whose primary sense is not actually vision, the ancient category of the visual has expanded to include analogous art forms. For example To'ul'h touch-sculptures are classed with the visual arts even though neither the artist nor the usual audience uses light to appreciate them. Likewise the sonarscapes favoured by cetacean and chiropteran provolves, To'ul'hs and other clades that rely on sonar are considered as visual arts. So too are works of art that rely primarily on the perception of electromagnetic fields that are widely appreciated by certain vec or cyborg clades, or biont clades such as clade Kanuma.
Sentient but subsapient beings such as various Old Earth or xenobiont animals, may create objects that might be regarded as visual art, typically as part of a display for to attract a mate. So too may sentient m-life or a-life forms that arose through evolution. However, extensive and varied creations that clearly qualify as visual art seem to be a characteristic of sophont species. Not only do humans and nearly all of the derived Terragen sophont clades have one degree or another of appreciation for visual art, but so too do independently evolved xenosophonts. For instance the Muuh, the Soft Ones, the Jeepers, and the To'ul'h all have rich and varied traditions of visual art. In the case of the Limners, visual art seems to have been a powerful memetic tool as well. There are of course some designed clades that have no visual arts, either because they lack the impulse to create art entirely or because the creative impulse is directed into other modes. Some transapient beings do appear to have an equivalent to the visual arts. Though most of their work is difficult or impossible for ordinary sophonts to appreciate, some small fraction of transapient creations are comprehensible and correspond to modosophont categories. Some of these may fall under the category of Perfect Art.
As Terragen technology has grown, the range of materials has expanded. While the first primtech humans employed stone, wood, fabric, hide and a few pigments, and later cultures added metals, ceramics, glass, paper, a huge array of paints, and later entirely synthetic materials such as plastics, a modern artist might work in utility fog, or employ gengineering or holography, or manipulate swarms of synsects or employ smart materials, or work entirely through the recipient’s DNI equipment. Likewise the range in the size of visual art projects has expanded. While once the range was from miniatures to objects the size of a small hill, a visual artist in the modern day might work on the nanoscale or might shape entire mountains, weather systems, ecosystems, comets or asteroids, or even entire planets or megahabs.
- 3Ccos2 - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
One of the famous series of Ccos2 aesthetic/mathematical/quantum-diffraction-pattern/crypto-alife commentary-icons created by the second singularity Administration AI "Little San".
- 5Ccos2 - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
Perhaps the most pornographic of the aesthetic, mathematical, quantum-diffraction-pattern, crypto-alife commentary-icons created by "Little San".
- Arctic City Virch - Text by Darren Ryding
Popular interactive virch series of the Interplanetary Era.
- Art Generator Software - Text by Domagoj K.
A class of software that allows users to easily create visual art.
- Bertrand Media Categories - Text by Thorbjørn Steen
A set of categories, used to group various kinds of media as diverse as holovision, virch, smellscapes and artistic massage.
- Cellular Artist - Text by Keith Halperin
One who creates artworks from living cells.
- Chahipho Collection - Text by Anders Sandberg
Major art collection in the Vast Endeavour system gathered by the AI godlet Chahipho in the Era of Fragmentation.
- Cinema - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
2d sound and light-projection media popular during the late Industrial, Atomic, and early Information Ages; replaced by interactive virtual reality during the later Information Age.
- da Vinci, Leonardo - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
Old Earth Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer, mathematician, scientist, and inventor, considered the ideal superior, and the supreme example of Renaissance genius.
- Firesculpting - Text by Todd Drashner
The shaping and control of plasma phenomena and auroras for artistic effect.
- Lightstorm, The - Text by Marcus Rauchfuß
Megastructure orbiting the interstellar gas giant CG49-H-27HHN in the Horsehead Nebula, that uses nanotech to create the effect of a gigantic movie screen.
- Megart - Text by James Ramsey
Megart (Mega Art) are artworks that are built on a planetary or stellar scale.
These may include the sculpting of planetary surfaces, specialty forms of stellar husbandry, redesign of entire planetary systems, or even stellar clusters. Megarts are the largest artworks ever created by Terragen civilization. Ancient alien megarts have been found in various places as well. A good example of Terragen megart is the Kapella system of the Crystal Star Dominion.
- Microgravity Art - Text by Anders Sandberg
Art that requires micro- or zero- gravity to retain its configuration. Fragile sculptures are popular, some including liquids in interesting configurations. The only problem to deal with is air drafts.
- Pet Rock - Text by Todd Drashner with note by Anders Sandberg
Slang term for a world, terrestrial or otherwise that has had its surface structure modified by a transapient or archai, apparently for the esthetic enjoyment of the creating entity. Apparently created for reasons similar to why some terragens practice pottery or sculpture. Occasionally found in systems that host archailect primary computing nodes and tools. Some pet rocks result from interacting MPA and Keter cultures, holding exhibitions of von Neumann art in otherwise unnused systems.
- Polyspectralized Art - Text by John B
An artform which first appeared in the pre- nanoswarm period amongst sensory-augmented sophonts. In its initial forms, it involved generating material objects which affected the boosted sensoria of the artist and similarly augmented sophonts in manners congruent to art and the visual sense of baseline humanity.
- Reseb Grupp - Text by Anders Sandberg
Abstract painting by the Solarist ai Nomologic ga Helios-4, painted in 2315. While ignored in the databanks of the Dominion for over 2000 years it was rediscovered after the Version War, and immediately became a great hit and widely imitated.
- Stendhal-Bomb - Text by Graham Hopgood
A memetic instrument most often utilized against baseline and nearbaseline human populations, consisting of art that is precisely tuned to the individual target or target group to elicit strong emotions.
- Virch - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
[noun] virtual reality, any digital space or environment; [verb] to interact with or exist or function in virtual reality. Hence vircher.
- Visualisation Software - Text by Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Software that creates images in association with sound, or caters for the entire sensory spectrum.
- Von Neumann Sculpting - Text by Anders Sandberg
Artform whereby replicating machines are seeded onto a planetary surface to reshape it according to some plan, or possibly the machines themselves make up the art. This can range from laying down patterns of trails to sculpting entire mountain ranges into portraits. Somewhat controversial due to the environmental impact, but popular in the MPA.