Flipside Movie Emporium Forum Index Flipside Movie Emporium
Discussion Forums Locked & Archived for Browsing
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

What is Art?
Goto page 1, 2  Next
 
This forum is locked: you cannot post, reply to, or edit topics.   This topic is locked: you cannot edit posts or make replies.    Flipside Movie Emporium Forum Index -> Movie Talk
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
the night watchman
Studio Exec


Joined: 27 Jun 2003
Posts: 1373
Location: Dark, run-down shack by the graveyard.

PostPosted: 06.27.2003 1:52 am    Post subject: What is Art? Reply with quote

What classifies some movies as ?Art? and others as pop or trash or mere entertainment and escapism? A friend of mine said, ?You know Art when you see it,? but any cultural conservative claims the same about pornography. Additionally, it seems to me this perspective relegates Art to personal taste, which would render its merits completely subjective. There must be some sort of objective criterion at work. A level of technical prowess and thematic sophistication should be indisputably identifiable in a film that is Art, I suppose. It should at least reveal something salient about the human condition. What makes Art more significant than entertainment, and how can we identify -- and defend -- its significance?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 06.27.2003 3:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't believe there is a distinction between entertainment and art. I've always said that the best art is the best entertainment, and vice versa. As Pauline Kael once said, "If art isn't entertainment, then what is it? Punishment?"

For me, art is anything that contains some degree of personal expression. (In class, I use the more formalized "organized expression of an idea.") Even simple items, such as a chair, qualifies because someone had to design that chair and a personal imprint, however slight, is present. (If someone else had designed it, it would look different.) A stricter definition must ultimately impose a subjective definition of "art," which is necessarily exclusionary, and, I think, arbitrary.

I don't think the debate is whether something is art, but how successful it is as art. It comes down to value judgments. Is it good or bad art? For me, that's the only question worth discussing.

Eric
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 06.27.2003 3:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also don't think that technical prowess, thematic consistency, intelligence, or human "truths" are necessary components to "art." Those are still subjective parameters. They might serve as a useful set of standards to help you make a judgment about whether the art is good or bad, but I disagree that any of those planks are requirements. What value is there in limiting our notions of what art is and what it can achieve?

Here's two sets of statements:

1. "Talk to Her is art." "Tomb Raider is not art."

2. "Tomb Raider is not nearly as important a work of art than Talk to Her."

I'm much more comfortable with the second set. Even if we dislike Tomb Raider as a film, can't we at least grant it the status of imperfect art? Surely there is some level of personal expression in Jolie's acting, its father-daughter story, its costume design, its editing rhythms? We may consider the movie mediocre (or worse), but of course it is art.

Eric
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
the night watchman
Studio Exec


Joined: 27 Jun 2003
Posts: 1373
Location: Dark, run-down shack by the graveyard.

PostPosted: 06.27.2003 5:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, you seem to be suggesting that the difference between "good art" and "bad art" is subjective, but if one is going to make a claim like "Tomb Raider is "bad art" or Talk To Her is "good art" or Talk To Her is "more important art" than Tomb Raider, what is really needed is a good argument and strong support to back up the claim. So art is "good" or "bad" within the context of claim being made.

Obviously, "Tomb Raider is bad art," is far too general; you'd have to make a more concrete claim like, "Talk To Her more deftly illustrates the struggles of women in a male dominated culture than Tomb Raider." To which, doubtless, most people would answer, "Well, duh."

I guess claims of the quality or significance of a particular piece of art relies on the claimant making certain assumptions about its function, or about the intent of the artist. If Tomb Raider is unconcerned with the struggle of women in a male dominated culture, than the claim that it fails to illustrate this subject matter as well as another movie is irrelevant.

As far as art necessarily being entertainment, there are movies that can't exactly be considered entertaining, but are considered important anyway. I haven't seen "Irreversible, but I've heard it is sometimes a difficult movie to bear. Another example might be Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Not necessarily an "enjoyable" movie, even on the level of horror movies in general, which usually strive to provide frisson, i. e., a pleasurable sense of dread, yet I can't deny I highly regard Henry, or, that I like it, even if the sense of dread it delivers is less that pleasurabe.

An English teacher I had once said (I?m paraphrasing) that even the greatest, most intellectually challenging work of literature must first succeed on a visceral level. So maybe art doesn?t need to be ?entertainment,? if we regard entertainment as ?visceral pleasure,? but it must move us somehow, whether positively or negatively.

Sorry if it sounds like I?m rambling; just working this out as I'm writing.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 06.27.2003 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Precisely. I am indeed suggesting that the difference between good art and bad art is highly subjective. When it comes to evaluating art, I doubt that objectivity is achievable, nor particularly desirable. One of the primary reasons art matters is because it functions on a personal level, both for the artist and for the audience. We should embrace this aspect of art; we should embrace our opinions. Elsewhere on this site I wrote, ?If cinema is a record of the human condition?and I think it is?then critics, when they deny their personality, experiences, and biases, are denying the very things that qualify them to discuss the most human of all art forms.?

Of course, an evaluation gains in stature (and validity) when it is accompanied by sound critical theory. Knowledge is the key to making worthwhile assessments of art. To defend your opinion of a film, for example, you need knowledge of how the art form works, including a strong understanding of cinema history. Nevertheless, I don?t believe that there is ever a just one correct reading of a film. There are too many variables?including a wide diversity in critical theories?for that to be possible. We should also embrace these variables, for they are what make criticism an art form, too.

Eric
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 06.27.2003 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I?m also not convinced that an artist?s intent is inherently relevant. One critical theory suggests that once a work is released to the public, what matters more is what the audience takes from it: audience as context. Personally, I generally try to make sense of the author?s intent before evaluating?I typically choose to engage with the material on its intended level, if I can. However, I also recognize that there are other valid approaches in criticism.

Night Watchman said, ?As far as art necessarily being entertainment, there are movies that can't exactly be considered entertaining, but are considered important anyway.? I?m not sure I agree. I would argue that what?s necessary in cases such as Irreversible and Henry is a revised definition of ?entertainment.? Surely ?entertainment? doesn?t simply mean escapist fare? Why must ?entertainment? be limited to the pleasurable? To me, being confronted, challenged, stimulated, and tested by art are all forms of entertainment, modes that are often disregarded.

Eric
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
the night watchman
Studio Exec


Joined: 27 Jun 2003
Posts: 1373
Location: Dark, run-down shack by the graveyard.

PostPosted: 06.29.2003 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reflecting upon Lamberto Bava's "Devil Fish," I have concluded that beauty -- and Art -- may well be in the eye of the beholder, but crap is purely objective.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 07.17.2003 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
Reflecting upon Lamberto Bava's "Devil Fish," I have concluded that beauty -- and Art -- may well be in the eye of the beholder, but crap is purely objective.


I'm tempted to agree, but then I recall that even Freddy Got Fingered has its defenders, and the most recent issue of Film Quarterly includes a symposium on Showgirls that aims to welcome the film back into critical graces. I am unconvinced on both counts, but there we are.

Eric
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
the night watchman
Studio Exec


Joined: 27 Jun 2003
Posts: 1373
Location: Dark, run-down shack by the graveyard.

PostPosted: 07.17.2003 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think "Freddy Got Fingered" baffled me more than offended me. I certainly wasn't bored, althought I can't say I was entertained, either. (The "Zebras in America" cartoon was a flash of brilliance, however.) I think I took more satisfaction watching the Tom Green fans try very hard to laugh. The whole experience seemed to just confuse them. They seemed to recognize their cues to laugh, but it took them awhile to figure out they weren't having a good time.

I'd be hard-pressed to find anything worthwhile about "Showgirls." Even abundant nudity doesn't make a flick more tolerable if you loathe (or completely disblieve in) every character on screen.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 07.18.2003 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
I think I took more satisfaction watching the Tom Green fans try very hard to laugh. The whole experience seemed to just confuse them. They seemed to recognize their cues to laugh, but it took them awhile to figure out they weren't having a good time.


Exactly!

I agree that I was less offended than disappointed in the movie's vacuity. Here's what I wrote at the time, when Freddy Got Fingered topped my Worst list of the year:

"Tom Green's defenders label his confrontational comedy "daring," as if tactless nonsense is a virtue. Smug insensitivity may indeed be Green's entire 'ironic' point, but it's the sort of point only a snickering jerk would push. If Green were truly risky, he'd find a way to fasten his raunch to an authentic narrative, to make it count for something more than just stupid throwaway window-dressing. Feeble boorishness has rarely existed in a safer vacuum, a blacker hole of nothingness."

Eric
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
the night watchman
Studio Exec


Joined: 27 Jun 2003
Posts: 1373
Location: Dark, run-down shack by the graveyard.

PostPosted: 07.18.2003 3:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's the opening paragraph of my review:

"Here is how a typical scene from "Freddy Got Fingered" goes. Tom Green enters. He either does or says something weird, and/or does something gross. Someone may get hurt or humiliated. Other people in the scene commence screaming and yelling at the tops of their lungs. Sometimes what they are screaming about has something do to with what's happening on screen. The scene ends."

Yeah, in regards to your comments, Beltmann, I think Green's idea that tastelessness in and of itself constitutes something was, to put it generously, misguided. "Pink Flamigos" -- now there's tastelessness with panache!
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
beltmann
Studio Exec


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 2341
Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 07.18.2003 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Tastelessness with panache..." I'd vote for Dead-Alive.

Eric
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
the night watchman
Studio Exec


Joined: 27 Jun 2003
Posts: 1373
Location: Dark, run-down shack by the graveyard.

PostPosted: 07.18.2003 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
"Tastelessness with panache..." I'd vote for Dead-Alive.



LOL. Yup.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Mark Dujsik
Director


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 212
Location: Chicago, IL

PostPosted: 07.25.2003 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"The artist is the creator of beautiful things.

To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim.

The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming.

This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.

They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written.

That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.

The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium. No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.

No artist has ethical sympathies.

An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.

Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.

From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician.

From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type.

All art is at once surface and symbol.

Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.

It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.

Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.

When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.

We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless."

--Oscar Wilde
_________________
"Film lovers are sick people."

--Fran?ois Truffaut



10 Best Films of 2006



Mark Reviews Movies
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address
Mark Dujsik
Director


Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 212
Location: Chicago, IL

PostPosted: 07.25.2003 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also found an old-school quote of mine on RT:

"All film is art.

At least, it should be."

Yeah, I just quoted myself. Kiss my ass. Very Happy
_________________
"Film lovers are sick people."

--Fran?ois Truffaut



10 Best Films of 2006



Mark Reviews Movies
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address
Display posts from previous:   
This forum is locked: you cannot post, reply to, or edit topics.   This topic is locked: you cannot edit posts or make replies.    Flipside Movie Emporium Forum Index -> Movie Talk All times are GMT
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001-2007 phpBB Group