Friday, September 14, 2007

Part 3

Alright, so, I think I've fully given what was my opinions on what art is, what art isn't etc. These next parts probably won't be quite as lengthy, but I think they are far more interesting.

After having come to the conclusions that I mentioned below, I felt I had a strong standing for what I thought. It was arguable, it was logically sound, and I had not met anyone or run across any writing etc that seemed to directly contradict it. However, when I think about it, it really does contradict my overall opinions on the way the world works, but that's tangential.

Ultimately what brought me out of this sort of thinking was one of my instructors here at Ringling as well as various stuff I've read, eastern religions that I had read about, and the non-violence class I've been watching. None of these sources were directly attacking what I thought, but what underpinned it was being changed. That is, the idea that through logic and reason one can find truth and have some level of certainty on it. Of course this all sounds good and fine, and to a certain extant it is true. However, something that took me a while to learn is that logic and reason often can be used, unconsciously, to fool yourself.

This is particularly important in art because whether or not you can logically argue that your drawing works and is good is inconsequential if no one understands it and finds it ugly. Furthermore, while making appealing art that connects with an audience can be enhanced by learned skill, it is your intuition that is what will tell you whether or not it is working. This, I believe, is because when a person looks at your art, their initial response is automatic, emotional and intuitive, if you can't grab them then, all the concepts in the world don't matter. Not only that, but if you have a piece that is appealing, the viewer will be immediately attracted, then, if the concepts are strong they will be further drawn in, and then they will further notice more aesthetics, and go back and forth like this over and over, depending on how well done the piece is.

Now, I'd like to highlight this point, I tend to be a very logical person, arguments are fun for me, reason is what I use. So, to switch over to relying on intuition and emotion to find truth, truth that cannot be found by logic or argument, is a fairly large shift. This isn't to say that I have thrown logic or reason out, quite the opposite, instead I believe that they support each other, keeping each other in balance. It's not so much that focusing on one or the other is bad as much as together they are so much better. In the past, I might unconsciously push out of my thinking things that I intuitively felt because I couldn't immediately think of some sort of logical explanation. This doesn't mean that they are not true, it simply means that I can feel something that my logical mind does not yet have enough information to categorize and explain in detail. With this, you can pursue topics and "stuff" that you wouldn't if you hadn't used intuition, and in the reverse, you can use logic to both. keep emotion in check, and to infuse emotion with substantial meaning. This is all probably obvious to everyone, but this stuff is new to me.

But, how did this shift my views one what is art? Without getting tedious with the logic of it, it meant, to me, that the viewing of art was very subjective. This pulled in allot of ideas and memes that I had been absorbing over the years. Namely ideas of ethnocentrism and people's viewpoints being shaped by the world they live in and the world they come from. Furthermore, this meant that the reading of a piece of art was highly dependent on the culture, time period etc. of the viewer. Ultimately, what this meant was that whether or not a person thought something was good or not was completely subjective, and would most likely change throughout they're own lifetime. This, augmented by the idea that visual art is much like writing, only the words and vocabulary were visual and not as regimented meant that:
1. Art is a way for people to communicate.
2. How that message was received was highly dependent on the viewer.

With this realization, the concept of artistic intent felt very non-relevant and brittle. If art was a way to communicate, then who cares about artistic intent? Either it works, or it doesn't. That doesn't mean that if a thousand people think that a piece of art doesn't work it isn't art. Because, there might be one person who it connected with, in that case, the piece was a success. It succeeded in bridging a seemingly insurpasible bridge, the space between two people. Those people were communicating, and that's what it was all about.

Not only that, but it started to be obvious the reasons why people were repelled by art. This construction of artistic intent was the problem. It allowed those who were educated to erect a wall around what they liked and protect it from any criticisms by the commoners while simultaneously being able to pelt common culture as not being art. As Daniel knows, because we spent half the night talking about this, if we were able to get rid of artistic intent paradigm then what would matter would be a personal interpretation of a piece. Because the question of whether or not X is art or not has been removed there is no war to be made between people. Instead, there is simply a discussion of what that piece means to them and why.

Growing out of this is a discussion of who they are as a person, after all it is because of their history that they liked that piece in the first place. And so I imagine that art, instead of stirring up debate over whether or not X is more worthy than Y people would instead be learning about each other. Art would be a reference point, a way for people to bridge the gap between each other and learn more about each other.

Now, I would like to make a few notes here, because I have feeling that you may be thinking things that I believe are faulty :-)

1. I don't think that the result of this would be chaos. Or that we would lose standards. On the contrary, I think that if people were better in tune with their gut level intuition, they would be able to better develop a personal opinion on what they like. Instead of "liking" something just because you are supposed to, it would be okay to dislike, say, the mona lisa. I think that it's this personal style/viewpoint that is often underdeveloped or completely lacking in many people.

2. Just because you get rid of artistic intent, and switch over to personal experience, doesn't mean that you are really changing anything fundamentally. What you are really doing is taking the shackles off art and letting it be what it was all along. These judgments based on artistic intent, merit and art vs craft are constructs that only take away from the true purpose of art.

3. Furthermore, I think that this would actually broaden peoples appreciation of art. Why? because being coerced into liking something just because your supposed to, doesn't work. But when you see someone else having a totally different experience with the same artowrk then you want to know how this is. This may lead to you learning about the period it was created, the artist, and ultimately the visual language they were using, which may be different from the language used today.

Alright, I think that pretty much covers it. Some of this is sorta vague, so, if any questions come up, feel free to ask. This is not the end by the way, I have one one more element that I want to put in, and I think it's the most interesting. So far we have just been talking about the nuts and bolts, next I want to talk about what will bring this all together and really start to give it meaning, in my opinion.

P.S. I want to apologize for the scatter shot nature of these posts. They are written at night, first drafts, and it would take me a couple drafts to shrink things down to more concise readable form. Unfortunately, I wouldn't write them if I had to do that, I just have too much work :-/

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