What is Art?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by goros, Sep 19, 2006.

  1. goros

    goros Subscriber

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    I don’t know which forum would be the most adequate for this post, so it will be here.

    In another thread (Presentation & Marketing > Fine Art Photography???) I expressed my concerns about the fact that somebody’s work will be considered art only if an influential critic says so. It came to my mind something I read in Mike Johnston’s The Online Photographer blog. It happened in Flickr: a HC-B picture was anonymously posted for approval. It didn’t past the test.

    As a general comment, there were some people that realised who the author was, but the majority of “critics” don’t. OK, not everybody could have such a huge photographic culture as to see and remember all the famous pictures or to recognise the author of a picture just by the style. So many of the people who posted in that thread didn’t like the picture.

    And that is the point. I always have thought that why should I like a “piece of art” just because a critic says I have to? Why should I accept the critic’s opinion? The critic could be a very educated person, with art degrees, experience or whatever but at the end of the day, if I don’t like it, I don’t like it and I may not consider it as art, although I can accept that it could have some craftsmanship merits (but sometimes, not even that).

    Art, as well as society, is continuously evolving: what was crap yesterday, today it is beautiful and vice versa and anything would be considered, in a moment of History, as art. The Tate Gallery is having a yearly contest for new artist. There are several disciplines as paint, sculpture, etc. Some years ago, while the new Gallery wing was being built, an operator dumped his load of bricks on the grass and left for a new load. Meanwhile, the contest jury passed by the pile of bricks and, you guessed, it won that year sculpture first price. And like this one there are many examples. Is this art? Could we consider a natural beauty, let’s say the Grand Canyon or the Northern Light or a sunset, as art?

    Eventually, the HC-B picture didn’t pass mainly for reasons as “it is not sharp from front to back”, “it is blurred”, “I would use a faster shutter speed”, “autofocus didn’t work” and so on.


    Cheers
     
  2. Muihlinn

    Muihlinn Member

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    "Art is a mystery, even to the artist -- that's why so much crap is sold as art."

    One of my favourite quotes about it. BTW, and as rule of thumb, art can be considered as a form of joy, as your knowlegde grows, more ways to understand or enjoy. On the other hand the statement "you don't have to like everything" will always remains true.

    Market of art - with its preachers and prophets - is another matter.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2006
  3. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    My favorite answer to the question: "The invention of Art" by Larry Shiner, U of Chicago Press. Available at any good university library.
     
  4. catem

    catem Member

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    I saw that thread. Sorry, all it proved to me was the inexperience (and narrow mindedness) of the posters of those comments.
    Cate
     
  5. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes, it simply shows the idiocy of the new self appointed,self absorbed, (and incessantly marketed to) guardians of our art and craft. (yes, they think what they do is) :smile:

    More on topic-Why the constant desire to define art, or kinds of art? Is it because we wish to know we are making it? Do we wish to peshaw those who say they make art with a camera? Its kind of interesting, but in the end, how big is a rock?
     
  6. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Art is what you make it, or, to paraphrase Spike Milligan, 'Art is in the eye of the beholder, you can get it out with Optrex.'
     
  7. catem

    catem Member

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    I like that.

    Hey, guys, shall we leave it at that this time? :smile: :tongue:
     
  8. goros

    goros Subscriber

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    Yes, you are right, they were quite narrow minds. I don't think a picture has to be evaluated in terms of sharpness, focus, tonal range or whatever, if it transmits something to the viewer.

    The thing is: Would they say the same if they knew the picture was from HC-B?

    I also agree with Andy and JBrunner. For me art is what I think is art, not what others say. And we will probably disagree in our different concepts of art.

    It looks like, in terms of art (and in terms of many other things, I don't want to add more salt in the wound) we must be like a herd of sheeps.

    And that makes me twist inside.

    Cheers
     
  9. goros

    goros Subscriber

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    It is OK for me. I have had enough but I needed to scream a bit.

    Cheers
     
  10. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Well ... again...,

    The best deinition I've heard so far, and I'm wondering it it is a definition at all:

    "The work on the wall (or wherever) is a encrypted window displaying the "being" of the artist on the other side".

    Notes:

    "Encrypted"
    - It has to be. It is a defense and insulation from the random foreign bodies and "slings and arrows" of sociey - mainly. The artist exhibits more of her/ himself than does the nude model. You are looking at the insides of a human being.

    "Being"
    - Best choice of word I could think of. Self-so-ness, soul, psyche, SPIRIT ... all close - very close.

    "The other side" - Well, yeah. I'm in here; the artist is not in here with me. Through the "work", though, closer than before.

    It should be noted that many definitions assume that the work has reached some sort of value plateau... sort of, "It is not art unless it is GOOD enough to be art." Interesting. If we accept that limit, there is ONLY "good" art ... "bad" art simply does not exist.

    I have given up struggling with "good" and "bad" and degrees in between.
    It is ALL "art" ... and to me, the "worth" of any piece is determined by the emotional effect it induces in ME.
     
  11. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Art is that guy who used to play with Paul Simon.
     
  12. bherg

    bherg Member

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    In germany art is called kunst, in sweden konst, and in most europeans countries i think it is something the same. And kunst is from the german word kunen (to know)

    So from the begining art is meant to be somthing that artist have great knowledge in.

    great knowledge in photography, painting, building cars etc.

    Everything if done right and with great knowledge is art. And not so much how things look. Thats my view on it anyways.


    Cheers Johannes
     
  13. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Beats the living daylights out of me. Mr. Art Liem asserts that it is great to be Art, perhaps he can explain what he means by that.
     
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  15. Dave Wooten

    Dave Wooten Subscriber

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    nope it is that guy on Apug who runs around Toronto and Connecticut with a bright yellow Hblad taking beautiful photos of beautiful women...
     
  16. Cooki

    Cooki Member

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    I think I shall follow Laurie Andersons dictum; " Art is a virus, some people get it, some people don't.":tongue:
     
  17. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Art is gone. In a time when anything can be Art: a urinal basin on a pedestal; a light switch in an empty room; a cow sliced in half and pickled in formaldehyde; a bunch of bricks laid in a certain pattern... If anything can be art, then everything is art, and if everything is art then art has no unique meaning, and if art has no meaning then it does not exist. QED.

    All that is left is a bunch of rich people shuffling stuff around between them at auction houses...

    BTW, "Art" is much the same word in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese etc. "Art" however has a similar root meaning to "Kunst", coming from the Latin "Ars" meaning skill or craft.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  18. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Art is subjective and undefinable. It depends on your prespective and what you want it to be. For a Dr. the bodily functions and chemistry there in are an art form. For the farmer it is the artistic ability to produce viable products to consume. For the artist it is what ever they say it is. For the critic, it is what they personally think it is. For the rest of us, it is what is told to us. Who really knows exactly? And who really cares. If I make something that pleases me, then I"M happy. To hell with definitions by someone elses terms.
     
  19. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Damned if I know, but I know it if I see it. :wink:
     
  20. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    John,

    I am not sure if I know it when I see it, but I know what I like.

    Rich
     
  21. Daniel_OB

    Daniel_OB Member

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    Goros
    Karen Roeeder MFA (Master in Fine Art) from US asked similar question on internet (she asked on one forum how I know is one particular photograph art?). Beside MFA she is B. in Biology too, and she say she is top photographer also. Now came car-repairers, hear-dressers, pro-boxers, …, as camera owners, to quarrel around who will make “better” definition. Not to belittle anyone, but this is very similar as one ask question what is Law, and if he “figure it out” now he is a lawyer.
    Art is a word before just anything. Many cultures does not have such word within their language, but still people there make artworks. Michelangelo or Durer was not that much concerned with meaning of that word as photographers are. They just did it, and other ask around what is it they did with a hope they will make the same (or similar).
    If you want to know more about activities bonded around such word, the best advice is find a book “History of art”, from H. Janson, 5th edition or earlier (there is 6th and 7th edd. too).
    Not to be bad in you eye, art is extraordinary work, work done by a guy named artist a guy who has a spider-net on his as*. Gear is work done by engineer. Fire is quenched by firefighter.
    Find a way to measure quality of work done by hand, and you will find answer on you question.

    www.Leica-R.com
     
  22. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    You mean aside from a Chinese guy in Connecticut who posts on APUG?
     
  23. siorai

    siorai Member

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    Art is 100% subjective.

    I don't think much else really can be said about it...
     
  24. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    The meanings of a word are the uses to which people put it. As such, most words have multiple meanings, and these meanings can differ from person to person. Furthermore, there is no "correct" usage, at least according to my friend who writes dictionaries, as people can use words in any way they'd like. If enough native speakers use a word in a certain way, dictionaries will be updated to include that meaning.

    In spite of these different meanings, there needs to be some common understanding, or communication wouldn't get very far. In any case, the meanings of words aren't clearly defined or set in stone. As Wittgenstein would have said, they don't have definitions but rather family relations of definitions, some of which have no direct connection to each other. So 'art' can mean 'deep understanding' (the classical Greek definition), or a knack, or an object made purely for aesthetic enjoyment, or ... It's meanings are legion.

    My advice is to stop worring about it, do what you like, and let the salespeople worry about categorization.
     
  25. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Sounds good to me.

    As far as I can tell ... "Art" as I know it - or don't know it - is undefinable.

    I remember long discussions over the exact composition of light - "particle" or "wave"; electricity; hah! "gravity - all more of less concrete and nowhere as "vaporous" as life, love, aesthetics - joy, ... or any number of human emotions.

    Possiblly, wrestling with "electricity" is an exercise providing a useful guide: no one KNOWS what the hell it is; most will concede that is DOES exist; we can use it by predicting its effect ... I don't know what it is, but if I flip this little lever on the wall, something else that I cannot define - light - will happen.

    So - back to "art". Whatever it is, I enjoy doing it more than not doing it. Occcasionally I'll discover someone - I describe them as "Kindred Souls" who experience the works - whatever they are - with the same emotional effect as I have.

    I'll still wonder about "what it is" - but I would much rather "do" than let that wonder hold me back.

    - And - how do I "spell check" these messages?
     
  26. Daniel_OB

    Daniel_OB Member

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    Just one think more
    you have to put your hand work into the object to produce arwork. So how you will do it with photograph your problem.

    www.Leica-R.com