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What is Art?
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beltmann
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: 07.25.2003 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mark,

Glad to see your return!

In my college days, I pledged allegiance to Wilde's art-for-art's-sake notions. These days, I strongy disagree with some points (especially "No artist has ethical sympathies"). But mostly his arguments remain accurate and perfect, and his influence upon me still obvious. My favorites: "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."

And of course all film is art. The only question is whether, in the eyes of the spectator, the art succeeds or fails. (I also believe that all film is political, either consciously or inadvertently.)

Eric
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beltmann
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 03.11.2005 10:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was reading a recent issue of Film Comment, and found an article by Chris Chang about director Patrick A. Gaucher and his avant-garde multimedia performance piece Combinations. I thought the opening words were relevant to how we go about identifying what qualifies as art:



Quote:
"No one who has not seen live boxing," writes Joyce Carol Oates, "can quite grasp its eerie fascination--the spectator's sense that he or she is a witness to madness, yet a madness sanctioned by tradition and custom, as finely honed by certain celebrated practitioners as an artist's performance at the highest level of genius, and, yet more disturbing, immensely gratifying to the audience."



Notice how Oates equates insanity with intellectual excellence. It's a maneuver common to anyone defending thorny aesthetic phenomena. Consider, for example, the arguments surrounding Damien Hirst's sliced cows in formaldehyde. Or the calm-shattering strains of "difficult" music. Or imagine the rarefied taste buds of epicures feasting on offal. What all these have in common is the snobbish prerequisite of a "trained" eye, ear, or palate--as if special gym equipment dedicated to the health and fitness of the senses existed. (It does.)




Thorny aesthetic phenomena? [Like Christo's gates?] Difficult music? [Like Wilco's drone?] Is Chang correct in asserting that spectators can enhance their tastes and appreciation skills via training, or is he full of BS?



Discuss.



Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 03.12.2005 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
Is Chang correct in asserting that spectators can enhance their tastes and appreciation skills via training, or is he full of BS?





I think the creative process and the receptive process regarding art are both non-rational (insane?). It doesn't do to think too much while creating art or experiencing it. However, you must engage the intellect to ascertain and articulate (to yourself and others) how a piece of art is affecting you. So thinking about art, or the experience of art, may be the sort of "training" that enhances taste and broadens appreciation that Chang is talking about.
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beltmann
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Location: West Bend, WI

PostPosted: 03.12.2005 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the night watchman wrote:
I think the creative process and the receptive process regarding art are both non-rational (insane?).


I agree, but are those processes exclusively non-rational? Is there room for creation and reception that resides almost entirely within the realms of rationality or the intellect? Are you talking about a definition of or a preference for a certain kind of creative process?



Quote:
It doesn't do to think too much while creating art or experiencing it.


Is this always true? Is there something inherently wrong or inferior about art rooted primarily within the artist's rational thought processes?



Quote:
So thinking about art, or the experience of art, may be the sort of "training" that enhances taste and broadens appreciation that Chang is talking about.


Can we deepen how we think about art through formal, dedicated--whether academic or personal--training? Can we train our brains to engage with art on a deeper level?



For example, I adore the films of Stan Brakhage, but I'm quite certain that if I had been introduced to his work at the age of 19 I would have marginalized him as pretentious. At 19 I was profoundly interested in cinema and "thought" about movies as deeply as I could, but I realize now that at 19 I lacked the intellectual apparatus to engage with Brakhage at the necessary level. Ditto with Guy Maddin. I first saw one of his shorts at the age of 20 and dismissed it as "psuedo-intellectual hogwash." Years later I came around on Eye Like a Strange Balloon--what once seemed Maddin's failings were exposed as instead my failings. Did the film change over those 10 years? Not at all; what had changed was me, my cinematic faculties, and my appreciation skills.



Eric
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 03.13.2005 2:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beltmann wrote:
the night watchman wrote:
I think the creative process and the receptive process regarding art are both non-rational (insane?).


I agree, but are those processes exclusively non-rational? Is there room for creation and reception that resides almost entirely within the realms of rationality or the intellect? Are you talking about a definition of or a preference for a certain kind of creative process?




I was trying to draw a link between Oats's statement, Chung's interpretation of it, and my own personal experience. For me, art is more intuitive, but, obviously, there comes a point when collecting impressions and articulating them can help you get a bead on a certain work (whether the work is yours or someone else's).



beltmann wrote:
Is there something inherently wrong or inferior about art rooted primarily within the artist's rational thought processes?




Again, from my experience, and from what I've read, the creative process is at least initially intuitive, non-rational. Even if you troubleshoot and point out that this or that is isn't working, you still seem to gravitate back to feelings or intuition when making the corrections. The creation of art, after all, relies on imagination.



beltmann wrote:


Can we deepen how we think about art through formal, dedicated--whether academic or personal--training? Can we train our brains to engage with art on a deeper level?





Certainly. Everyone has limits, and sometimes we need to be explained how to approach a piece from an angle that hadn't, perhaps wouldn't, otherwise occure to us. Your Brakhage and Maddin examples are perfect examples.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 03.13.2005 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Discuss. Wink
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