Thursday, May 29, 2008

Parameters and Art

What are the parameters of art?

What are the parameters which make a bunch of words poetry?

What are the parameters which make a drawing or painting art?

What are the parameters which make an 3-D entity a sculpture?

What are the parameters which make sounds music?


Todd Camplin said...

A cat walking through some paint and across a canvas is a painting. :)

Todd Camplin said...

I think art is fashion. What the parameters of painting change with the fashion of the day. Same way as all art forms. Art forms are fashionly redefined every generation. We should define what these art form IS for our generation, but don't get upset when in a 100 years people read our ideas and laugh.

Troy Camplin said...

This is about half true. The other half is that art is responding to actual events in the real world, including ideas and scientific/technological developments. It's no coincidence that point perspective was developed after the introduction of arabic numerals, including the zero. Literary naturalism was a response to deterministic science -- much Modernist literature was a response against it. We also see developments in arts follow similar trajectories as different cultures develop along similar paths. Children are naturally attracted to rhythmic, rhyming poetry, suggesting a natural element to such poetic structures. One can easily see art from the Impressionists through the abstract expressionists and even the postmodernists as developing along a clear trajectory of increasing iconoclasm. Of course, if we really are, as Danto suggested, in the era of post-historical art, where art no longer develops at all, then perhaps you are right that art is NOW only fashion. My suspicion is that 100 years from now, we will have better perspective on what is happening now, and the wheat will be separated from the chaff, and clear developments will show themselves that make sense in context of what is being made at that time, 100 years hence.

Todd Camplin said...

On my other blog, your right. I should move my statements here. Better for debate.

On the other thing. I knew I would goat you into an answer I like. A really good paper could be written on your comment.

Troy Camplin said...

I could perhaps do something on literature in this respect, but I suspect that you would be much more qualified to do so with the visual arts.

It seems to me that if art did in fact follow the trajectory of iconoclasm through the last 150 years, that we have clearly reached the end and are only moving the rubble around (which is perhaps why pomo art can't find its footing). This suggests that it is time, in the words of Nietzsche, to engage in a revaluation of values in the arts. Once you reach nihilism, one shouldn't just stay there, but instead look at the world anew, with fresh eyes. Perhaps there are things from the past which are worth recovering. Perhaps we can see that much can be discarded. Perhaps a world-historical and natural classical perspective can be taken to renew the arts and get art back on the path of history.

One huge project I would love to be able to do is show that the arts developed in certain ways because of our passing through the spiral dynamics psychosocial levels. I think there is little question that content will match well, but I wonder if one can see a similar pattern in changes in form as well. That one I don't have an answer to. But it would be an interesting way of looking at both the issue of the relationship between form and function and also the relationships among psychology, society, culture, and artistic form and content. Again, I might be able to do this with literature, but I know I'm not really qualified to do it with the visual arts.

Todd Camplin said...

I found something intresting: Here are the things the Fluxist group reacted against. Art was defined as: 'to justify artist's professional, purasitic, and elite status in society. he must demonstrate artist's indispensability and exclusiveness. he must demonstrate the dependability of audience upon him. he must demonstrate that no one but artists can do art. Therefore, art must appearto be complex, pretentious, pretentious, profound, serious, intellectual, inspired, skillful, significant, theatrical, it must appear to be valuableas a commodity so as to provide the artist witrh an income. To raise its value art is made to apear rare, limited in quantity, and thereforwe obtainable and accessible only to the social elite and institutions.

Troy Camplin said...

The question is, whose definition of art was that? Theirs? If so, it sounds like it was a straw man set up for easy toppling. Further, it seems to me that Modernists like them only worked to make art even more that way. You had to be an elitist to understand what the artist was doing at all. When talking about a work by someone like Turner, for example, yes, it took a highly skilled person to make it (if you want to call having a well-developed skill elitist), but the average person could enjoy his work without getting an education in art theory.

Consider the following quote:
"Artworks are undoubtedly social objects. They are produced and absorbed by people, they have an effect on the life of the individual as well as on culture as a whole, and at the same time they take on their meaning from the socio-historical environment in which they exist. But works of art are more than this, they possess their own qualities which raise them above the status of social things. They might be human products, artefacts, but unlike others which exhaust themselves in their utility value, they are marked out by a surplus, a quantum of non-utility. Art works 'are an end in themselves', art theory tells us. The refusal of the art work to be a means to an end stands it apart from us. Proud and exclusive it stands and faces us. whereas all other media offer themselves to us wholeheartedly so to speak: the newspaper to impart information; an essay, instruction; a football match, excitement; a cabaret, relaxation; and good wine, a lifting of the spirits. The art work claims the right not to have to fulfill needs, not to want to join the ranks of useful things. Instead of giving, it demands the exertion of the (perceiving) senses and the (understanding) intellect."

What do we think of that definition?

Thomas Spencer said...

I wonder what you think of this definition of art. Sometime time ago, I was thinking seriously about what makes art special. I came to the conclusion that true art was indistinguishable from true magic. My definition was that:

"Art is the changing of reality through an act of the imagination."

Substitute the word "magic" for "art" and I would stand by the same definition.

It seems to me, that the critical effect of an artwork is the effect on the viewer. A cat walking through paint and across a pavement leaves a trail (and could be said to be painting) but it is not art. A cat walks through some paint and then across a canvas - which is then exhibited - could have created a work of art! No credit to the cat, its role was no different from that of a brush. Some credit to the person who selected the canvas to be exhibited. But the real question is - how do the people react who view the canvas? If the reaction is neutral, then the work has failed. If, somehow, the viewing changes their perceptions of the world, then (for them, at least)reality has been changed. The world is just a little different from the way it was before! They have seen a work of art.

Troy Camplin said...

I think this is, overall, an excellent definition. It also recalls the ancient Greek use of the word poetes as "to make." It also recalls Fred Turner's idea of the artist as trail blazer. Of course, it only then raises the question of how to best change reality. What techniques, styles, etc. would work best? Why? Also, it raises the question of the responsibility the artist has in changing reality. If the artist is in fact changing reality, then the artist has quite a responsibility on his/her hands. How responsible have artists been with this ability?