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But is it "Art"? (part II)

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  #11  
Old 06-09-2003, 11:20 AM
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I shall further deepen the hole I'm digging by asserting that many, perhaps most, confuse art with aesthetics. Aesthetics is to art as rhetoric is to truth.

All pretty pictures communicate the exact same message: "I'm pretty". Just because it looks good over the sofa doesn't make it art. Ditto for sexy, funny, pastoral, etc.

And on the creation side, I suspect many folk confuse the buzz of craftmanship with artistic inspiration. I know I have.

But if you just enjoy looking at it or making it, does that make it bad? No, it just doesn't make it art.

When you have a stimulating conversation you're larger when you finished than when you started. Art also makes you larger, both in the creation and the appreciation. Pretty pictures (or words or music or whatever) may make you smile, but they rarely leave you larger.
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  #12  
Old 06-09-2003, 09:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Doug Nelson
I shall further deepen the hole I'm digging by asserting that many, perhaps most, confuse art with aesthetics.
To some extent, I think I understand this. Some art is pretty, some art is not necessarily so.

So you have defined what art is not... can you give me a definition of what art "is"?

Is art something that has a purpose? Is art only something that makes you feel something deeply? If so, is it art if it causes one person to react and not another?

Can you give me a little more help on how you ARE diffining art?

Tyeise
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  #13  
Old 06-09-2003, 09:21 PM
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Well, there's a bit of a paradox here in that you're asking me to use intellectual tools (words, logic, etc.) to describe a non-intellectual thing.

To mangle Lao Tsu, "the art that can be described is not the true art"

But I'm game if you are. In creating art you are not representing a flower or a tree. You are representing yourself, seen through the lens provided by said flower or tree. If the subject is the flower/tree/whatever, you have failed. The subject is yourself.

In viewing art you are trying to view back through that lens. If all you see is the flower/tree/whatever, then someone in the chain has failed. If your response is merely "oooo, pretty!" or "ick" then the communication has failed, and instead of seeing through a transparent lens we are merely seeing a reflection of ourselves.
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  #14  
Old 06-09-2003, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by photomauler
To me, everything has a certain artform about it. Everything communicates something to someone, therefore everything does start with some level of artistic quality or form. It is up to us just how high that level is raised.
I agree with this...although I think the idea that art can be "lifted" to a higher level does not really mesh with "Everything communicates something to someone." How would you define a "higher level" if everyone has a different interpretation of what that is. A velvet Elvis might be kitsch to me but high art to someone else. ...of course, now we are delving into the whole Postmodern thing and I am not sure anyone wants to be bored to death!

Doug - I'm not really into grand meta-definitions of art...too constraining! I don't think art has to move one's "soul" to be considered art...besides, who's soul are we trying to inspire? I once created a whole series of paintings based upon concepts from physics and astronomy..."intellectual art" at it's finest! ...I would be willing to bet that 95% of the people that walked into the gallery were bored by the work...but I know of several people, including one astronomy professor who loved the images. I'm not sure if it moved any souls, but I think they were inspired by it at least. How would such work fit into such a narrow definition of art? No matter how hard I attempted to communicate, I was only able to reach a small audience...was this my failure as an artist or a failure of the viewers? ....My answer would be neither!
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  #15  
Old 06-09-2003, 11:06 PM
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The only contraint is assuming any soul-to-soul communication must result in inspiration or movement. The easiest way to inspire or move someone is to show them exactly what they want to see, with no "communication" involved. That's the sign of good craftsmanship.

Lawrence Olivier once had to deliver a speech he was unprepared for. Ever a trooper, he went on, spoke awhile, had the audience in tears and on their feet at the end. It was only in examining the transcript later that it was discovered he'd simply pasted together odd bits of dialog from previous projects and delivered it in his well-practiced manner. It actually made no sense at all.

In the words of Gertrude Stein, there was no "there" there.
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  #16  
Old 06-10-2003, 08:46 AM
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Quote:
In creating art you are not representing a flower or a tree. You are representing yourself, seen through the lens provided by said flower or tree. If the subject is the flower/tree/whatever, you have failed. The subject is yourself.
So, when when we view MICHELANGELO's "David", we should see Michelangelo rather than David -- if it is to qualify as art? Or is it simply excellent craftmanship? Or aesthetically pleasing?

Web Gallery of Art

I do not intend to reduce the discussion of a concept into specifics, but specifics can often help to clarify the overall concept.

I come from a liberal arts education, with only a sprinkling of general art appreciation teachings rather than an art background. I admit to leaning towards the belief that Art, like Beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, although that might include works that would bother me personally. I believe that the viewer can attach significance which may or may not have been intended by the creator, and that significance may truly "move their soul". A pretty picture may certainly communicate "I am pretty", but it may also communicate "love the Earth - protect her", or "the universe is magnificent in its beauty and diversity". Or is this simply an example, Doug, of what you meant when you said "The easiest way to inspire or move someone is to show them exactly what they want to see, with no "communication" involved."
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  #17  
Old 06-10-2003, 05:04 PM
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If someone creates something with a specific message in mind, that's not art it's propaganda. Or at least manipulation. There's no more art involved in something that says "save the earth" than there is if it says "buy Cheetos".
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  #18  
Old 06-10-2003, 08:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Doug Nelson
There's no more art involved in something that says "save the earth" than there is if it says "buy Cheetos".
...unless "buy Cheetos" is presented in a suitably ironic and/or sardonic manner! (Campbell's Soup cans? )

CJ - You stated, "I believe that the viewer can attach significance which may or may not have been intended by the creator, and that significance may truly "move their soul". " ...that's an excellent point. I think at a certain point most artists realize that their well thought out intentions are not always interpreted as they would wish by the audience. The viewer brings as much to an image as the artist does and interpretations are filtered through each person's unique cultural, political, philosophical, etc... views.
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  #19  
Old 06-10-2003, 09:50 PM
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My two cents,

Art = creation, whether you are solving a problem or creating an interpretation.

The state of mind when the right and left side of the brain dance, that is art. Total involvement - the zen moment. It is what I think draws some people to religion, the prayer that centers can be addictive. When the piece is felt or visualized to the point where words can't describe it, that is when the whole mind is involved. When Einstien first figured out something, that creative process was art. It may be interpreted by the person experiencing this as euphoria, an emotional charge, hairs raising on the back of the neck, etc.

Whether you are on the creating or receiving end, if this happens for you, it is art. If it doesn't it's not art, at least not for you ...

What triggers this resonse in the viewer is either the viewer being sensitive or surprised. What triggers this in the creator is the process of working through (whatever it is) until it happens.

This might be a little off the beaton' track, but in my opinion it is the experience that is the art part. Talking about whether a particuar object is art won't make it true ar false for anyone else - in the eye of the beholder and all...

Roger
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  #20  
Old 02-20-2004, 08:29 PM
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Yesterday I watched "The Stone Reader", a documentary about the search for a forgotton author. In his search, the filmmaker interviewed many leading critics and authorities on literature. He was puzzled about why, if this author's work was so great, why was it forgotten? Why didn't more people like it? One pithy answer to his question was "just because it's great doesn't mean you have to like it".

A little lightbulb went off over my head, and I remembered this thread. So many confuse entertainment with art, equating the success of one with the success of the other. When in fact, the old cliche "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like" is not the mild put-down of arty pretense it so often is intended as, but rather it's an ironic confession of self-ignorance.

Another interviewee in the movie said "when you're reading a great writer it's like the author is sitting right next to you, like he's a long-lost brother you just discovered and he's right there, whispering into your ear". I wonder if many feel the Disney corporation sitting next to them, whispering into their ear while they're experiencing what passes for 'art' today? Does Eminem or John Grisham whisper to you?

And, of course, the important question: what are YOU whispering when you create art?

Last edited by Doug Nelson; 02-20-2004 at 08:46 PM.
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