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What is art?

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Ken Hemingway

Re: What is art?

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Mad wrote:The danger of making the designation of art contingent on its reference to ultimate concern is that, by doing so, you exclude so many truly great works from the category of art simply because their subject matter is too specific or their tone fails to imply the proper gravity. Does ultimate concern have to be treated glumly. or even seriously? Doesn't Nietzsche have something about the laughter of the gods?I don't really see what you mean about "subject matter is too specific". An example that works for me is Van Gogh's "Chair". The subject is prosaic, but for me, the emotion it evokes is something very close to what I think of as coming face to face with a matter of ultimate concern. It's probably not possible to say why that is. (That's why we need art, not just talk about it). If you don't know what I'm talking about, I think the best I could do would be to say that it seems to bring me closer to direct contact with what it means to exist. Does that seem absurd to you? I think a lot of paintings do that for me. Theatre too. Kate wrote:Ken:Quote:--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Is "I love Lucy" art? I'd say usually not. But I do not think it is impossible that it may occasionally "rise to the level of art".--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Hoo-hoo! Don't tell a serious actor or actress that their work is not art! They will differ with you most passionately.Well, I did say "it may occasionally". You may be right, Kate. But I think this points out a problem. If we give the word "art" such a wide scope of reference that it includes, let's say, one of David Letterman's "Will it float" spots then we lose the ability to use the word to talk about what engages us so deeply in some works. People do use the expression 'rises to the level of art'. It's not just me. Lori used it to say:Oh, there are comics that rise to the level of Art, She is clearly implying that not all comics do that.I guess in the end it's just a debate on what the word means - which is unresolvable because different people use it differently. In which case I'd have to rework my thesis to talk about the connection between some art and the feeling of sacredness which I believe we can (and I'd argue should) retain even after we have rid ourselves of supernatural religion.
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Re: What is art?

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Mad, I thought you'd appreciate that definition because it seemed reflective of the comment you made: Quote:Representative art depicts, and in doing so "captures" the essence, but if the essence itself were the goal would the artist not be satisfied with the thing itself, and have no need of a representation?Lori "All beings are the owners of their deeds, the heirs to their deeds."
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Re: What is art?

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To some extent, it does, although I think to "counteracts" of the definition you quoted draws a pretty important line. But I should also qualifiy my statements by saying that not all art is necessarily representative.
Timothy Schoonover

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Re: assholesPresent company excluded of course. Please pardon the eccentricities of my rhetoric, I did not intend that statement to be interpreted as such, although given the context its hard to imagine how else I could have meant it. In my defense, even the crudest of individuals knows that the calibre of virulence appropriate to this community surpasses mere profanity and ad hominem.
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Yessss. It behooves us to be far more sophisticated in our sadism than most of the foul-mouthed sailors and back-stabbing psychophants that roam the internet.Heh. Heh heh. Bwahahahaha! HA!
Sakis Totlis

Re: What is art?

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Just passing by very quickly. Busy... busy... busy..., as Kurt Vonnegut would say. I noticed this brief point by MA: "A good starting point on exploring the division between the Apolline and Dionysic is actually F. Nietzsche's "The Birth of Tragedy".This is one of the best books I ever read in my life. It is so sober and sensible, that it almost does not look like a book written by Nietzsche. I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who wants to know the historic roots of our present day Apollonian (western) attitudes. A quick definition of mine: Art is a direct orchestration of pictures (audio-visual, etc), in order to indirectly manage emotions. And a brief explanation: This is because the intellect (mind) does not have direct access to emotional centers and can reach them only indirectly, through pictures. I mean that if we want to invoke a certain emotion to some audience we project a certain "picture." There is no other way around it. The context of art is both emotional and mental (containing both emotions and pictures). A work of art (e.g. a literary text) reaches an end only when the material reaches a satisfactory arrangement both emotional and mental. Of course the artist intervenes directly and willfully only on the mental material of his work of art, (on the "pictures"), and manipulating emotions only indirectly. Edited by: Sakis Totlis at: 3/16/05 10:05 am
Timothy Schoonover

Re: What is art?

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I agree with a lot of what Sakis wrote. Images devoid of emotion are by my most general standards, not art. Art is aesthetic, it invokes pleasure...or pain. It causes you to relate in some measurable way, and the breadth of artistic medium directly corresponds to the degree in which consumers are able to be stimulated. Some objects may engender a specific emotion in one group of people, while none in another. What is art to one group is potentially meaningless in another. Is the object art? It is, but not to the observer who has no distinct perspective to associate with it. It becomes art when that observer gains the perspective...which incidently cannot ever be identical to the original artist. Correspondence doesn't matter but that is another ugly conversation worth avoiding.Art to me, restated once again, is a calculus of the subjective--a re-presentation of one's subjective perspective in such a way that an observer can emotionally relate in some measurable way to the artist.This explains why old art is often more difficult to relate to than contemporary art and why people get so stuck up on the idea of high art being better. It just means that the artist said something that fucked with them more, lol. Who knows, maybe the next guy don't give a shit. Quality is a subjective value in art.
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Re: What is art?

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Sakis Totlis: I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who wants to know the historic roots of our present day Apollonian (western) attitudes.Just to qualify, the Apollonian is not expressly Western -- it relates to form and the ideal, as opposed to the ecstatic, emotive qualities of the Dionysian. Eastern art, I would say, tends more often to conform to the Nietzche's Apollonian impetus than does Western art: consider the Zen forms like haiku and Chinese calligraphy.I mean that if we want to invoke a certain emotion to some audience we project a certain "picture."Would it be safe to call this the imaginative faculty? ("Imagination" being, of course, a cognate of "image", and being most often associated with visual sense.) If that's the case, then my hesitation in accepting your definition (which is close in substance to the Aristotelian) outright is that art would seem to be somewhat redundant -- why do we need to externalize a faculty that is inherent in all humans?Timothy Schoonover: Images devoid of emotion are by my most general standards, not art.A second hesitation, because the exceptions are a bit too glaring. Unless you're willing to dismiss a rather large portion of modern art, or provide a more encompassing definition of emotion, I'd say that there are about a century's worth of examples of art that are intended not to ellicit emotion but to engage the formal imagination.It causes you to relate in some measurable wayTo say that you relate in a measurable way makes it sound as though aesthetic response were somehow applicable to scientific method. That doesn't seem to be the case. Maybe you meant to say unmeasurable? The phrase "a calculus of the subjective" isn't very helpful in resolving the seeming contradiction, since the aim of any mathematic is the formal objectivity of expression.
Timothy Schoonover

Re: What is art?

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Imagination is inherently emotive. It is an identification with the external through objects and means that are internal. The statement that it is a calculus of sorts was not meant to resolve the contradiction you seem to be struggling with. It is only a contraction if you insist on an objective definition. Don't take the term calculus too literally. It is as the subject it decribes--just a metaphor.I don't think my description demands glaring exception. I have always, although, perhaps inconsistently, maintained that everything is art. Please provide examples of art that would be excluded. If anything I think the description is too broad.
MadArchitect

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Re: What is art?

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Imagination is inherently emotive.I wouldn't think so. I can imagine an abstract shape -- a rhombus, for instance. In itself, it has no particular emotional content, nor does it produce emotion.Please provide examples of art that would be excluded.Shaker furniture has been prominantly displayed in various art museums for the last several decades. I don't know that they can be said to have any particular emotive function. On the other end of the spectrum there is a great deal of abstract art that deals with formal elements -- shape, color, pattern -- that do not aspire to any particular cathartic or emotive effect. You might consider, for example, "Nude Descending a Staircase", which is a study of motion, or the shape-based works of Mondrian.
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