Thursday, November 05, 2009

Fleshing Out the Question "Is it Good for Art?"

It really doesn't matter whether there's a bubble or a burst in the market. It doesn't seem to matter whether there's a crisis in this or that discipline at the moment, either. The question "Yes, but is it good for art?" is never really far from the center of the dialog, forming the fallback position for anyone caught in over their head on any debate point and asserting, if only subconsciously, that the person asking, of course, has art's best interest at heart.

I can't help but chuckle at this personification (and immediately imagine "Art" as the black sheep of some extended family with deep roots in the culture of the country...he's the less successful twin brother, in my mind, of Morty...you know, Morty, the big network executive best known for his ruthless cancellations of under-performing dramas...who's currently pressuring the crop of new "True Blood" rip-offs to get their acts together..."Morty, The Vampire Show Slayer").

The thing is...it seems to me that usually "what's best for Art" just happens to align with what's best for the person asking the question, but ....

Of all the theories about the world that I've ever heard (from the idea that God created it in 7 days to it being a complete cosmic accident), the one that seems to ring most true to my mind is the Gaia theory, which views the Earth as a single living organism. More specifically, the theory suggests that "the life forms of earth in their diversity coevolve and contribute interactively to produce and sustain the optimal conditions for the growth and prosperity not of themselves, but of the larger whole, Gaia." This theory would account for the way the earth seems to continually heal when damaged, and conceptually makes sense of why certain species flourish at some points only to become extinct later on. It's not about the individual creatures. It's about how they contribute to the continuation of the whole Earth.

Extrapolating from this notion, then, it stands to reason that the Earth will kill off the humans when they cease to contribute to its well-being or before the humans manage to do too much damage (all part of the hypothesizing behind flu epidemics or spikes in asthma or allergies or perhaps even natural disasters). The Earth will survive, the theory goes. The individual species on it, not necessarily.

This theory is met with guffaws by some humans, who will point to mankind's ability to nuke the entire planet to smithereens (an ironically short-sighted form of arrogance, if there ever was one), but there's now perhaps doubt that even that is something the Earth (or the universe, if you will) can't and wouldn't stop from happening. Dennis Overbye explained in this recent New York Times essay:
More than a year after an explosion of sparks, soot and frigid helium shut it down, the world’s biggest and most expensive physics experiment, known as the Large Hadron Collider, is poised to start up again. In December, if all goes well, protons will start smashing together in an underground racetrack outside Geneva in a search for forces and particles that reigned during the first trillionth of a second of the Big Bang.

Then it will be time to test one of the most bizarre and revolutionary theories in science. I’m not talking about extra dimensions of space-time, dark matter or even black holes that eat the Earth. No, I’m talking about the notion that the troubled collider is being sabotaged by its own future. A pair of otherwise distinguished physicists have suggested that the hypothesized Higgs boson, which physicists hope to produce with the collider, might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather.
I know that sounds crazy, but if there are elements of not only space (how far we are in orbit from the sun, the tilt of the earth which regulates the seasons, etc.), but even time, that work in harmony to continually stabilize the Earth, it might just be the case. There's no doubt (in my mind, at least) that entire history of mankind is but a blip in the lifespan of the Earth and that what might seem an insufferably long, cataclysmic event to we humans is but a burp to Gaia. (Image above is a still from a video by Christopher K Ho, titled "Lesbian Mountains in Love" which, in part, deals with the relatively of time from the respective standpoints of humans and the Earth. Click here for more info.)

All of which isn't the point of this thread as much as it forms the background of my thinking about the question "Is it Good for Art?"

When people talk about "art," in this context, I can't help but think that, like the Earth, "art" will take care of itself. Even in situations in which artists are persecuted or work is destroyed, the creative drive in humans continues to find a way. It works around the cataclysmic events. Yes, this or that body of work or this or that artist may see setbacks or even become extinct, but "ART" presses forward. None of which means we shouldn't work to prevent such events. But it does suggest to me that it's good to stop and consider what people are truly asking with that question. More often than not, it seems they're really asking whether this or that event is good for them.

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92 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems that at least a personal definition of the word, art should come with the question (assuming anyone wants to hear). The elusiveness of the word makes the question even more hollow.

Cathy

11/05/2009 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

If Gombrich is right that Art-with-a-capital-A doesn't exist - that there is no such thing as "Art" but only artists - then the underlying question "Is this event or trend in the art world good for me?" becomes a reasonable one to ask.

11/05/2009 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

In that roundabout way it might be reasonable if only artists were asking it, Tom. As it is, plenty of other people ask it as well.

And even in the context in which you frame it, the answer becomes much easier to respond to with "Why should I care whether it's good for you or not?"

11/05/2009 09:49:00 AM  
Anonymous kim matthews said...

Art will take care of itself and is doing so right now, IMO. I think we're living in an incredibly exciting time. Scary to say the least, but there are some major shifts in global consciousness taking place and those of us resilient enough to hang on are going to come out the better for it. I don't wish to be the kind of person who dances on other artists' graves (metaphorically speaking), but I'm thrilled to see that cynicism is starting to fall out of fashion and that consumers of art as well as artists themselves are beginning to value spiritual content and the process of making again. The current Metaphysical Abstraction show at Berkeley Art Center is a good example.

11/05/2009 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

i went into space for a year and I came back older and wiser than everyone else in the art world....the personification of nature as a living brain is what is called a "pathetic fallacy" - like thinking one of joy's (newsgrist) found scupltures has agency. I used to think, like an anthropologist, that these piles of detritus could be used as a language, but art? I don't think it works for me in that way.

Ecologically speaking, in terms of wholism and "a rising tide lifts all boats" and "loose lips sink ships" and protestantism being the dominant warlike culture/software program - the art-not art and raw and the cooked and the mind-body dualities all seem catholic (as joy of newsgrist said once about something else I forget).

(Claude Levi Straus would know more about dualities visa-vis Santa Claus vs mere collectors).

But the idea that what is good for art is what is good for myself is interesting - the narrow focus of some people boggles my mind (you cant even cook? Good god what a prima donna!).

Three threads back discussing patronage, George brought up the melancholic fin de siecle zeitgeist that seems to have infected some quarters of the art world (but don't call it nihilim you crazy druged out hand biting chimp!).

Seen from outside the terrarium, this melancholy (after denial anger and self loathing) seems like a natural reaction to loss, confusion, change and general entropy. I;m no psychologist, but I sincerely believe the pathologies of teachers can be passesd on to their students and that isms are hardly free of pathogens.

SO what is good for the art world is maybe more blogging, psychotherapy, a better job, reading more broadly, less focus on learned tropes and more emphasis on idiosyncratic work (to innoculate the art world from the monocultural trends). Not seeing six sides of the pentagon (to steal a phrase) -rather to take affirmative but possibly non art action towards reframing the argument and making art be about something other than its own solipsistic history and abstruse philosophical conundrums (wall off that gallery and install a velvet rope), and instead turn to practical matters like doing gods will.

You will be converted.

11/05/2009 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

The question "Yes, but is it good for art?" is never really far from the center of the dialog, forming the fallback position for anyone caught in over their head on any debate point... it's good to stop and consider what people are truly asking with that question. More often than not, it seems they're really asking whether this or that event is good for them.

"Appeal to motive is a pattern of argument which consists in challenging a thesis by calling into question the motives of its proposer. It can be considered as a special case of the ad hominem circumstantial argument. As such, this type of argument may be a logical fallacy."

11/05/2009 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Franklin, more academic nonsense - add something to the dialogue.

What are people really asking?

Is art dead?

Do I care? Not really, been there done that.

Why are they asking this question now?

Have they asked this question before?

Is it the Higgs boson of the Art?

I'm gonna go paint a door - gray.

11/05/2009 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

As such, this type of argument may be a logical fallacy."

Really?

If I were making a declaration about motive, rather than simply introducing conjecture in order to open up a conversation, I could understand the pedantic response, but, come on....that's the only thing in the post you see worthy of additional dialog about? (No need to answer that...again.)

It seems innocuous (and feasible) enough to me and follows up perfectly with this previous thread in which we discussed whether every conversation about art is really simply a conversation about oneself.

Finally, it's an intentional provocative device (included to spur conversation about the topic, not one's grasp of logical fallacies)...in a meandering, sometimes whimsical post...why the heavy handed response? What button of yours did that push? Or did I just miss some fallacy flinging free-for-all on another blog that's spurred both you and Zip to swoop into this thread with such responses?

11/05/2009 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Or...what George asked.

11/05/2009 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger another-painter said...

A friend of mine is a physicist doing work on that collider in Geneva. He describes the problem in less hyperbolic terms: the cooling system had some pinpoint leaks in the welds and the magnets had lost some of their charge. The collider is still functional, just not at it's greatest capacity. I teach art at a research university. Just below the art department, literally, is a laboratory that houses something called Diocles Laser:
An ultra-high-intensity laser system, DIOCLES, was built to study the interactions of light with matter at the highest attainable field strengths. It has the highest combination of peak power and repetition rate of any laser in the U.S., 100 TW at 10 Hz. When focused, it is capable of directly increasing an electron's mass relativistically by 20 times.
Just above this beast, unaware, students are learning to paint and draw!

11/05/2009 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Or...again...as I wasn't challenging a thesis (but rather musing on the source of a perennial question...which in this case is not a "thesis") the fallacy definition seems irrelevant, no?

"which consists in challenging a thesis by calling into question the motives of its proposer."

11/05/2009 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Samuel Monnier said...

Being a physicist myself, I can assure you that not only Nielsen's theories "sound crazy", they are. He did make some valuable contributions to theoretical physics in the past, however (what is probably what allows the author of the article to speak about him as a "distinguished physicist").

There are no "elements which work in harmony to stabilize the Earth", the solar system started out as a huge pool game. After five billion years, the remaining objects are sufficiently far apart so that they do not interact significantly. This is what make the system look stable over our time scale, yet it is completely chaotic over large time scales and nothing guarantees that the Earth orbit will stay the same over the next few billion years.

Similarly, I think the gaia hypothesis is a unnecessary metaphysical explanation for a very simple darwinian fact. Living organism are by definition efficient at spreading.

It may just be that making art is a fundamental need of (some) human beings, what ensures its continuation.

11/05/2009 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Ahh Samuel...you've crushed my fantasies about futuristic sabotage.

The Gaia theory does seem to suffer from the points you raise, but its appeal to me (having been raised in a Fundamentalist family that believes the earth is about 5000 years old), is how it bridges the two most popular beliefs (creation and evolution). There's no part of the hocus-pocus element of Creationism that Gaia doesn't seem to address, unlike evolution with its strict adherence to hard science and calm acceptance of the unknowable. ;-)

Another-painter: that's a hysterical image to hold in one's head...thanks for sharing.

11/05/2009 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I thought my response was considered if a bit long and rambling. Sue me.

I think one thing is clear - the internet is good for the art world in the same way the printing press was good for religion.

But we mourn the latin mass!

When you talk about the Gaia theory, I have to link back to (re the Aquarian Age of nutritious fruit slurries)

I can't help but think this is all related to some undelying theme - perhaps the Confucian ideal of the buddhist noble eightfold path and "Right Livelihood".

Sure its great to entertain waco wing-nut theories about patrons and cartesian ghost dogs, but you can avoid all that drama (if you are bored by it) and put another dime in the jukebox, where it has all been written down in the liner notes.

Ohm mane padme hum

11/05/2009 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Zipthwung...the only point I was making about your comment (which did strike me as considered) was how it seemed to be coincidentally inline with Franklin's...

11/05/2009 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

yes that was weird.

Also: Maybe work is keeping me from working. But how!!!!???!!!!

11/05/2009 12:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

You are making a declaration about motive. You're saying that anyone who questions whether some phenomenon is good for art is probably really asking if it's good for them. Now the next time you debate with someone who doesn't like what they see going on in the art world, you can cut them off with a handy ad hominem circumstantial: what they don't like is working against their interests, so they would say that.

Art is not taking care of itself. It is dying in front of our eyes. Sorry for not sharing your whimsy.

11/05/2009 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Wu Li

Along with Fritjof Capra presaged that lightweight Tipping Point dude.

11/05/2009 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Samuel Monnier said...

Sorry to disappoint you about Nielsen's theories.

I probably do not want to enter into this kind of argument, but I just would like to mention that evolution is not a "belief". It is a scientific theory gathering in a coherent whole numerous facts. Nobody "believes" in evolution, there are only people looking at the facts and, putting preconceptions aside, deduce rationally that this is the most plausible explanation.

This said, I agree that the Gaia hypothesis is a very pleasant fantasy to think about.

11/05/2009 12:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There's no part of the hocus-pocus element of Creationism that Gaia doesn't seem to address, unlike evolution with its strict adherence to hard science and calm acceptance of the unknowable. ;-) "

I'm a little confused, Ed. Why should anyone bother addressing the crackpot theories of creationism? Beliefs such as creationism aren't subject to argument or reasoning because they aren't based on anything quantifiable or demonstrable. Religion is weird. People just believe it. It seems pointless to argue about it or to try to convince anyone to change their beliefs.

Calm acceptance of the unknowable sounds reasonable to me. Does it really matter if one calmly accepts it or one jumps up and down and rails against it?

I guess I'm not sure what this conversation is about.

Oriane

11/05/2009 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

My brain is a bit fuzzy but I think Franklin is dealing with the motivation behind the question rather than the question itself, which is about motivation, or "self interest" (survival, assertion of individual identity within the group).

Red of tooth and claw, the art world (at least at the gallery level "for fucks sake zipthung!" it is about life and death, and quality of life, which is also relevant to survival, man does not live by bread alone!)

DOnt let the cat out of the box just yet, this is fun.

11/05/2009 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Art is not taking care of itself. It is dying in front of our eyes.

I've heard. It's apparently all Urs Fischer's fault.

I probably do not want to enter into this kind of argument, but I just would like to mention that evolution is not a "belief".

Yeah, I went back and forth on using either "belief" or "theory" there and didn't want to credit "Creationism" with being a theory...not easy to discuss them in parallel at all..which brings us full circle to Oriane's first point.

I guess I'm not sure what this conversation is about.

It can be about many things, obviously, but my central point is about my firm belief that although art evolves, until mankind becomes extinct, art will NOT die before our eyes...it's much heartier than that. Guess I could have just written that, but then we'd have missed all this fun!

11/05/2009 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Zip, are you psychic? Wow.

11/05/2009 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the ability to ask "Is it good for the planet?" shows progress towards that end, wouldn't the acquisition of the question "Is it good for Art", however inane, be, in fact, good for art? Or does it just add another layer of chatter? Yes, the earth will survive regardless of my caring about it but is it self serving for me to prefer to coexist with species besides roaches and rats?

That said, if I had to entertain the question "Is it good for art?" on a regular basis, I'd be calling in sick a lot.

Cathy

11/05/2009 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Zip said: SO what is good for the art world is maybe more blogging, psychotherapy, a better job, reading more broadly, less focus on learned tropes and more emphasis on idiosyncratic work (to innoculate the art world from the monocultural trends).

Right on. We forget that our world view is a bubble we inhabit as if it was real.

Fifty years ago, within the spam of my memory, we saw the world differently and we saw art differently. As we move deeper into the 21st Century it is going to be apparent that the philosophical aesthetics of last year was just a fad. Art survives in the flotsam of these ongoing fads, because certain artists elevated their art towards the universal.

The present problem is that we are fixated on the fad as if it were a real truth and not just some passing fascination. The "Art that is dying in front of your eyes" is the detritus of past fad, the art which fails to satisfy the desire of the culture.

Art cannot die

11/05/2009 01:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I see. In that case, I can understand your saying that art will take care of itself. After all, it's taking care of you just fine.

11/05/2009 01:20:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

After all, it's taking care of you just fine.

Hah!!!

If you only knew what we're having to do these days, you'd never dream of being so arrogant. Never mind, though...it's clearly you we're talking about.

11/05/2009 03:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Dammit! When Zipthwung said that I was questioning the motive behind your question, he was engaging in the appeal to motive that I said characterized your original argument. So since that impressed you, I purposefully used an ad circumstantial hominem assertion on you so you'd see what the problem with the formation was. I can only imagine what you're having to do for survival these days and don't wish hardship on anyone. Screw it - I'm gonna go walk my dog.

11/05/2009 03:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Gam said...

bummer - I hate it when postings go awry like this - yeah just a wimp I is.

the creative drive in humans continues to find a way. ...

maybe we're confusing the creative drive with "art". Can we really say that art is the exclusive result of creativity. Isn't art rendered actual when someone appreciates it?

I don't think 'beauty' in nature is equated with 'beauty' in art. They may both be awe inspiring, but the art 'beauty' says to the viewer, you are not alone, someone else has experienced this same "art" rapport which we call 'beauty'. Natures beauty doens't state the same "you are not alone" .

so although the creative drive may always spring eternal like hope, it can be perverted as in totalitarian art. That creativity thrives needn't necessarily mean that the art world shall. (I'd like to hope it does but, but I think it actually really needs to be nurtured, regardless of how resilient it appears.)

11/05/2009 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Wiki "Art" and you'll see that the definition of art has had many interpretations over the centuries. Even today these definitions are changing. To suggest that "Art is not taking care of itself. It is dying in front of our eyes." only serves to acknowledge this change. Rather than signaling extinguishment, death is frequently a metaphor for rebirth and renewal.

Art takes care of itself. When some philosophical viewpoint exhausts itself, the resulting artworks become nothing more than stale copies. Yet people resist change, they find comfort in the old models which they know and when they are supplanted by something new it is disturbing to those seeped in past models and of course they protest that art is dying. If we look at how many times this has occurred in the last century it is clear that art is self renewing.

As noted earlier, we are in a moment of significant cultural change. For many it creates uncomfortable sense of lost bearings because they cannot see a path forward. The urge to lay blame or retreat into a past comfort zone is strong yet Art parallels the culture which is moving forward into a new century. It won't move backward.

11/05/2009 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger Marc Snyder said...

Future art historians looking at our time will study the seeds we are producing now of what is the important art of their time, and point to those seeds as the important art of our time. We might not even be aware of them - our attention might be turned towards the least significant efforts, the dead ends or wrong turns. But that's what keeps things exciting. It seems impossible to me to think that "art" could die, but it seems very reasonable that our idea of the kind of art that should survive could be completely off base.

11/05/2009 07:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Death is not a metaphor for rebirth and renewal. It is a requirement for rebirth and renewal. And art is dying in front of our eyes. People who claim to see a larger picture, whether they do or not, often have a condescending attitude about the pain involved in the dying part of that process, a dismissive attitude about the value of the past, and a tragic blindness to the fact that the future doesn't include them in any form. They take comfort in the assumption that the larger culture makes unerring decsions about taste, despite the all the historical evidence to the contrary, and that they, of course, are one with the inerrancy. (Or, if you prefer, George, we can have a conversation about this that doesn't caricature me, and I don't have to reply by caricaturing you in the same manner.)

Human creativity is indestructible, but nothing guarantees the viability of any medium or genre for all time. I believe that most of what we think of as art is going to disappear into forms that can be readily shared - films, comics, computer games, parties, virtual environments, social netowrks, literature, and product design. People wil still adorn their homes with art, but art capable of adorning someone's home will never again be regarded as important unless it ties into some larger project, at which point one might as well refer to it as decoration. The only objects that will qualify obviously as art and garner regard as important will be the kind of large-scale sculptural quasi-happenings that go on at Burning Man. Urs Fischer's excavation is headed in that direction. The direction of death.

11/05/2009 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

we can have a conversation about this that doesn't caricature me

Indeed, that one got lost in the ether. My remarks made at 6:16 address what I believe is a general condition within the culture. I believe it would be applicable regardless of the medium or era. I guess if the shoe fits....

I have a less nihilistic outlook on life and art. I do believe that in order for art to reinvigorate itself it will need to change its philosophical direction. The past century has been marked by a reductivist approach which has reached a point of diminishing returns.

As a painter I see no reason why the cultural attraction it held for thousands of years will suddenly come to an end because of some new technological fad. Painting is a powerful abstract language concerned with images. Its discoveries are applicable to all the other mediums which deal with images. As Ed mentioned in an earlier article, most painters aren't asking the right questions.

Moreover, there is no hiding behind a particular medium, fads wear out and new historical threads are formed. In periods of change, like the one I also believe we are in now, there is a necessity to reconsider the old paradigms. On the other hand, one can just wallow and complain, nihilistically impotent as you watch the world go by.

11/05/2009 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Maybe I am psychic. But I think its another kind of logical fallacy

Let me know, psychiatrists...

...ha, that is hyperbolic Franklin. Your project is reactionary - meaning conservative and traditionalist. I would place you in the ranks of the Aesthetic Realists of SOHO, or even the Stuckists. What is wrong with death?

I don't mourn your "death" as this is clinging - the cause of pain on the wheel (especially for dogs). Apparently people cling to the idea that ART is a kind of religion and that art includes religious ideas such as embodied spiritual value or meaning. This leads to esoteric fields like structural linguistics and Kabbalah.

While I agree there is something eternal about the bauhaus, about deck chairs, about masonry, lincoln logs, lasers and robots - there is also a need for art that has nothing to do with opressive historical precedent, or at least the illusion that history can begin again.

hence Urs Fischer, who I can't stop talking about - and who apparently doesn't know his whole ouvre or whatever you call the sum total - is a thin rehash of historical tropes using technology artists have already been exploring for years. And also: no NY critic in any major magazine seems to care. I smell fish, and where there is fish there is a bhodisatva.

11/05/2009 11:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

"If the shoe fits"?! You quoted me, George, and used the quote to malign the courage and vision of people who say such things. Your negative characterization of such people says more about your own smallness of vision than anything else, and your lack of ownership of your own comments is the mark of an intellectual coward.

Zipthwung, you don't mourn the "death" I'm talking about because you don't make anything, and you hide behind a pseudonym and a pose instead of putting yourself on the record. Consequently, you have nothing to lose.

For the record, the way Ed set up the original post, the only people who can be trusted to talk about whether a given development is good for art are people whose ideas about the matter run contrary to their own interests. The scenario I describe in 7:54 does exactly that. The reaction was predictable and predictably negative, but genuinely challenging ideas always provoke that response from weaklings.

11/06/2009 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

the way Ed set up the original post, the only people who can be trusted to talk about whether a given development is good for art are people whose ideas about the matter run contrary to their own interests

That has to be a fallacy of some sort: is there a projection fallacy?

I actually meant to suggest only that when we talk about "what's good for art" we're actually talking about ourselves...because Art itself isn't defined or limited to anything any of us at any given time have the tools to measure its long-term health and will, if history is anything to go by, continue to flourish on its own timetable as long as humans do.

11/06/2009 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

"... when we talk about 'what's good for art' we're actually talking about ourselves ..."

"Art" is just a catch-all concept for everything that artists do. Like "the art world" is for everything that critics, collectors, curators and gallerists do.

When we talk about Art living or dying, we come close to reifying an abstract concept. Art could only die if all artists died. So I agree with Ed that the question "Is this good for Art?" is actually a question about ourselves: "Is this good for me as an artist, critic, collector, curator or gallerist?"

Seeing as how there will continue to be living artists, and so Art, the only question worth asking will continue to be: "Where does a particular work by a particular artist fit on the excellent-to-terrible scale?"

The future promises us errors, achievements and arguments in Art.

11/06/2009 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

The only quote I used of Franklins was the one shared by other commentors as well that Art is dying in front of our eyes. [12:21PM] I disagree with this viewpoint.

Zip noted that the ... project is reactionary - meaning conservative and traditionalist. While he was referring to an earlier post here, Zips observation is a correct in a more general sense as assessment one response to change. It represents a misunderstanding of the contextual flow of culture which is a process of constant reevaluation of its current status.

If one can step back and view the history of the culture with just a bit of distance, one will see that aesthetic ideas, or art theories, are fungible and diffuse rather than absolute. However, for a passing moment we may consider them absolute, as they are the truth, which of course they are not. Moreover, we may invest our time and intellectual commitment in any one of these positions, to the extent we are unable to see, or accept, how the culture has evolved away from the initial point.

While the majority cling to some acquired past belief they should note that time moves on, that art moves on and that most of yesterdays fads have been forgotten. The train of logic which led us from Malraux, to Greenberg, to Foster, just keeps moving forward marking the once revolutionary as now a reactionary traditionalist.

Art keeps evolving because the culture does not stand still.

One final note. My remarks have attempted to address the general topics at hand and unless stated, are not directed at any one person. Anyone who feels that I am trying to characterize them should consider why they feel that way because I am suggesting that a lot of people have these misperceptions. It was the whole point of opening up the dialogue.

11/06/2009 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Franklin, i am a fake artist.

11/06/2009 09:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Projection fallacy, eh? Well, projection is pretty much all the basis you have for saying "when we talk about 'what's good for art' we're actually talking about ourselves," so maybe there should be. The rest of the thought, that art will always continue because it always has, is legitimately arguable. I might have agreed with that at one point, but I presently don't. You think that anything can be made into art by designating it as such, so civilization would have to be destroyed to the last man before art could be killed utterly in your model. I identify a central category for art, objects made for visual delectation and only that, but not decoration. A thing can lie squarely within that category, clearly outside of it, or somewhere on its fuzzy border. I don't see much interest in that central category among the parties with the most power to influence the future of art. At this rate, we're going to have Burning-Man-type sculptural spectacles (see the Art Prize finalists for indicators), and objects that are basically not art but skirt what used to be its fuzzy border.

George, no other commenter here shared my remark that art is dying in front of our eyes. Either stand by your insults or apologize for them. This weaselly address of third persons plural of which I am the only member doesn't absolve you of responsibility for your remarks.

11/06/2009 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Well, projection is pretty much all the basis you have for saying "when we talk about 'what's good for art' we're actually talking about ourselves,

Not true. I also have the fact you and I, as one example, disagree on the definition of art.

As do many, many other people.

Indeed, although there may be complete agreement among a few small groups, as a society in general, we each see "art" as defined by one set of highly subjective and personal criteria, and therefore, anyone asking any question in which they declare "art" as its subject without additional qualification is therefore automatically talking about their personal definition, and therefore themselves.

11/06/2009 09:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Franklin, i am a fake artist.

Strike the "artist" part and you'll have my agreement.

therefore, anyone asking any question in which they declare "art" as its subject without additional qualification is therefore automatically talking about their personal definition

So what would qualify as adequate "additional qualification"? (Possibly related: Loki's Wager. Possibly related to the original post: Baguette Dropped From Bird's Beak Shuts Down The Large Hadron Collider.)

11/06/2009 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Franklin, you brought up the idea that "art is dying in front of our eyes." By shared I meant that it was also mentioned by others, including myself, who happen to disagree with you. I cannot fathom why you feel I have insulted you, it is what you said, and I disagree. I find it pompous that you should think I would direct my comments only to you as if you were the sole defender of some retrograde position. My use of the third person was an attempt to depersonalize my remarks but apparently you think the world is revolving around you and I failed.

11/06/2009 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

"I identify a central category for art, objects made for visual delectation and only that, but not decoration."

Would a reintegration of the artist and the artisan in Western culture be such a bad thing? Perhaps the separation has played out as far as it can go.

11/06/2009 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think people should never stop asking these questions, 'what's good for art', 'what is art for me'. The answer will always be different - it will be a reflection of one's historical background, education, ego and will. Without this question, doubt and argument an artistic quest will find its end.

11/06/2009 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Anon 10:06 The answer will always be different ... exactly what I meant by "Art keeps evolving because the culture does not stand still."

Tom 10:04 asks Would a reintegration of the artist and the artisan in Western culture be such a bad thing?

I question the premise. Part of the question may lie in attitude adopted towards what is considered "artisanship" If you look at Velasquez and his followers (recollection from the Spanish painting show at the Guggenheim) it appeared that the followers thought 'precise detail' was "artisanship" and at least from the present vantage point it is clear that Velasquez was a master of slight of hand.

I think it's is possible that we might make the same mistake today. Certainly their can be no doubt about the consummate craftsmanship of someone like Jasper Johns. Yet, how do we deal with the big red heart by Jeff Koons which is as beautiful as it is kitschy? Where do we draw the line when the artwork is fabricated by someone other than the artist, yet possesses a high degree of craftsmanship? Are you suggesting that 'craft' (artisanship) is a requirement we must hold our artists to?

I don't agree with that position. But by disagreeing it does not mean I don't pay attention to craftsmanship, just that it isn't absolutely necessary to be art.

11/06/2009 11:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Gam said...

i don't know. If I leave my garden alone with the attitude that it'll still be there in a month or two , well I'll be technically correct but it sure won't look like it would if I nurtured it and watered it during the same time.

I really don't see how we can ask "oh where are all the patrons of the arts" or "why is the white house hanging this or that artwork", if we don't fundamentally believe that our actions can have a positive or negative impact on the art world.

Nurturing or neglect isn't one act, it is accumulative and likely the difference is whether art thrives or just survives.

11/06/2009 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

George, I didn't mean craftsmanship qualities in painting and sculpture. By "artisan" I mean potters, bookbinders, jewelers, calligraphers, furniture makers, etc. All the visual arts we now consider lower than painting and sculpture. Because they're "decorative."

11/06/2009 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

While I understand what Gam is getting at I don't think it is as simple as nurture vs neglect. I agree that the effect is accumulative and that very fact leaves me with a positive feeling. Given the general responses by other artists, I suspect that artists are more serious about their craft than they may let on even though they do not flaunt it prominently.

Damian Hirst recently made a series of "paintings by his own hand" which were roundly criticized but are still better than a lot of paintings by artists who are "really trying" Clearly his actions suggest something but I could have lived without the silk wallpaper job.

11/06/2009 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Tom, sorry I misunderstood you. Functional objects, cultural artifacts, are considered seriously but as you note in a different category than "art" I think it has less to do with "decorative" than "functional." High art is seen as a meta activity, it functions as what it is, an artwork. As such it addresses the culture in a different way than functional objects do. That said, Scott Burton and others have crossed this line and three quarters of all painting is essentially just decorative.

11/06/2009 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Gam that somewhere along the line, art needs to be nurtured. War and repression have nurtured great art and money has too. It sucks on the tit of every experience life offers. So maybe the question should be 'What isn't good for art?'. For every idea I came up with, I found an example that refuted it.

Cathy

11/06/2009 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

im listening to the wu li master stuff I posted a link to - apparently in Chinese Physics translates to "patterns in nature".

Also he makes the point that many scientists are actually technicians, rather than artists.

He thinks artists are people who re-present the world to "make it new" - and that this ability to make you see something in a new way is "genius".

I like that. SOme of my favorite artists may not even be artists - Andy Kaufman, Charles Ponzi, Hugh Everett III, to name a few - and I actually like the idea of them (or their ideas) more than I actually know about them. Like much art I have only seen in textbooks (Dennis Oppenheim's READING POSITION FOR A SECOND DEGREE BURN).

I suspect Franklin thinks Dennis was somewhere near the beginning of the end. Oh but what about the photographic evidence? Is that art? Or documentation?

I Can't Stand It, I Know You Planned It
But I'm Gonna Set It Straight This Watergate
But I Can't Stand Rockin' When I'm In This Place
Because I Feel Disgrace Because You're All In My Face
But Make No Mistakes And Switch Up My Channel
I'm Buddy Rich When I Fly Off The Handle
What Could It Be, It's A Mirage
You're Scheming On A Thing - That's Sabotage

11/06/2009 01:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

Oh, you were depersonalizing. How noble of you, George. In that case, I was referring to a mass of cowards. I find it pompous that that you should think I would direct my comments to a single coward, as if you were the only coward around. (Etc.)

Would a reintegration of the artist and the artisan in Western culture be such a bad thing? Perhaps the separation has played out as far as it can go.

A position at the categorical center is not an honor, just a taxonomical concern. Purity itself is not worth striving for, unless it helps your work. But I tend to think, yes. The guy who won the ArtPrize did it with an enormous realist seascape. As art, it didn't look half-bad. (As a demonstration of skill, it was off the chart.) But there was a panel discussion held at Michigan museum to discuss the finalists, and those alleged experts did their utmost to denigrate the entire event, from the premise down to the chosen artists, who apparently were in attendance. (I heard this from an artist friend in Michigan.) So I'd like the "real" art people to have a look at artisanship again, because there's an idea out there that we're living in a post-skill art world. One day we will be, when we can download skills directly into our brains, like Neo learned kung fu in The Matrix. We're not there yet. Artists who make skill-based work are not the ones denigrating bookbinding. It's the post-skill crowd that thinks they exist at a higher level.

Balthus, whom I admire quite a bit, was content to refer to himself as a painter, disdaining the word "artist." He took his cues from figures like Masolino da Panicale and people you haven't heard about because of their Medieval working attitude. I think there's something to that.

Certainly their can be no doubt about the consummate craftsmanship of someone like Jasper Johns.

Whatever.

If I leave my garden alone with the attitude that it'll still be there in a month or two , well I'll be technically correct but it sure won't look like it would if I nurtured it and watered it during the same time.

Right. Also, if you burn the whole thing down and load it up with piles of garden gnomes because you've decided that you're "post-plant" or something and trying to avoid tired traditional models, it's your choice, but you're going to miss out on what makes gardening good in the first place.

11/06/2009 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

art isn't a garden.

11/07/2009 02:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

At this point I'm so much into other things that if Fine Art disappeared tomorrow, I wouldn't notice it at first, but I find more
challenging in making non-art becoming interesting than making Fine Art be interesting, because, it's kind of a given for me that Fine Art is, at least theoretically, very interesting. Or is it?

By pushing my interest toward non-art, I'm not talking about dragging a pile of detritus into a gallery and attempting to find
it interesting. I used to think that Fine Art was a mental faculty. That the real artist was in the eye of the beholder, and that anything that someone experienced could be perceived from a Fine Art lense if they had the sensibility, intelligence and
knowledge (or skills) to perceive things in that way. With that in mind, you didn't need to create objects. You either "had" Fine Art in you or you didn't. It was all in how you perceived the world, and it was a perceptual faculty that you could flicker on and off, as in "oh, that christmas tree is now fine art! Oops, it's not anymore!". With this model in mind, I could enter a white cube gallery and decide to counteract in my mind whatever was on proposal "AH!! This painting is now fine art!! Oh! it's not anymore!".

Then at some point I had this flash: "What's the fuss am I fussing about Fine Art?". Why have I tricked myself into expecting that the "Interesting Bits" should occur within the Fine Art light?

Today that's the model I find wrong. It's the white cube model. This laboratory of aesthetics and discourses that have witnessed every chemistry elements imaginable enter its light and juggled about for sensitive information. I believe the mistake we are making with Edward's question is that it is clenching to a similar belief that the "Interesting Bits" optimally
should come from within fine art. I find it fair to question the motive behind questioning "why should "fine art" be important to me?". Theoretically, Edward could present one exhibit every year in his gallery that would totally not be about Fine Art. We could test
the white cube model by having it present something interesting yet absolutely refutal to this ideal that an exhibition space should rely exclusively upon fine artists and fine art to present a gathering of arguments supporting a "sensitive" and "interesting" discourse. We could also test our own artworldish envy to receive and deem the show as "fine art".


(Part 2 following (I'm moderated on the length of my posts, how predictable)




Cedric Casp

11/07/2009 07:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

What I really want to be surviving is not Fine Art as is, but Interesting ("Inneresting"), err, stuff. K-E: Knowledge And Entertainment: Entertaining, yes, but primordially, Interesting. I really embrace the
Burning Man model that Franklin proposed, except that 1) I wouldn't wish to enforce a nomenclature of Fine Art about it if it doesn't need it, and 2) if the Burning Man is so "low" and boring, than can you make it not be so boring and so unworthy of some elevated aesthetic considerations? And to get there, and taking into consideration that scarcity of an object is involved, do we really need this mental construction that something
ought to be "Fine Art"? Or is this about what some rich heir is willing to pay to bring that Burning Man back home? A videogame these days can present more artistry than a single Master painter as created in his whole life (partly because they are designed by large groups of people). Why are they still boring? Let's presume they are based on cinematic clichés. But if we can turn them into not being so relying on emote standards of the worst Hollywood films, do they have to become Fine Art to impress the intelligentsia? Do we have to drag down into Fine Art anything that elevates itself a little above fad and gratuitous entertainment, so that it can receive both aesthetic and intellectual value?

Haven't medias already superceded enough what Fine Art can support,
in its own traditional discourse?
Aren't we a tad "advanced" over the model that Fine Art proposes (object-or-event-within-space)?

Also, in a quest toward better entertainment and knowledge, do function really matter? Is function an appeal to motive?




Cedric Casp



PS: As I considering studying in the field of airplane-parts engineering, my personal views are biaised (I love putting personal and biaised in a same sentaqnce).

PS2: I hope the crazy Geneva scientists and the Maya calendar is an oxymoron.

11/07/2009 07:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

art isn't a garden.

Having made neither, you wouldn't know.

11/08/2009 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

"art isn't a garden."

But is it a building? ("Is this good for Art?")

http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/Science-Fiction-News.asp?NewsNum=2639

11/08/2009 10:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

art is a mosaiculture?


Cedric C


(Zip, you are artistic, you wouldn't even need to make art)

11/08/2009 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

video projection is cool, but I'd qualify that as design.

For one, there is the use of the grid - grids being easy, though many people like grids, finding them formally pleasing, if safe.

In the same way, academicism is formally pleasing, safe. It has easy ruling qualities described as flow, modulation, balance and composition.

No one would say of a zen garden that it lacks flow, unless it was a bad zen garden. But many zen gardens are rock gardens. Are we to say that all rock gardens lacking grass are bad gardens? Are not gardens? that gardens must have organic growth? That stones do not grow? That gravel does not flow? That sand is inedible? That concrete has no beauty? That asphalt is not like a river? That dog shit is not infinite in formal variety?

In short, a gnome garden would please me more than a suburban lawn, even if it meant never playing tag with the neighbor children.

I am hard core and smug elitist academicism and its dogmatic insistence of defining art as spiritual basket weaving is the problem, not the solution.

11/08/2009 03:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

I agree with zip. A gnome garden can be great, so can be a trad garden. You have the same problem in gardening than you have with painting. Some think the essence is in the material and technique, other see it that a garden should have some aesthetic affirmation. Take the Versailles gardens. Are they about plants? Or about their organizations in space? Perhaps both, but it seems they are other pleasures to gardening than
the skills of bringing plants to life.

Where I don't agree with Zip is that I think Installation Art
is exactly gardening. It's about gardening objects. Taking care of objects and arranging them for visual impact, and/or infer the whole spectacle with special meaning.

Franklin's problem seems to be with artists who are trying to say
that the objects tell "more" than just trying to be a garden of objects. When he uses the gnomes-in-pile example, he assumes the gnomes are used merely for a "post-plant" argument ("there, eat those gnomes!". This is what he stands again. But I'm wondering if Franklin would be able to appreciate a garden of gnomes that'd be "arranged" with a lot of care and skills. Does the figure of gnome really matter?


Is gnome an appeal to motive?


Cedric Casp

11/08/2009 05:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just don't get post skill, 'deliberately ham fisted', all that talk. If you can do a thing well, do it well, it's insincere to do otherwise. Is there a shortage of insincere artists? Does any other art form even consider this concept?

I feel like I'm reading Madame Blavatsky here. Please advise.

Cathy

11/08/2009 07:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Cathy:
++Does any other art form even ++consider this concept?


Oooohh yes! It's called being lazy!

Or being a smart ass. What-you-can-get-away-with type of attitude. It's everywhere.

Cedric c

11/08/2009 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Well currently I'm interested in the confirmation bias embodied in the artworld - i.e. because it is in a gallery, it must be art. Or because on the one day I changed my usual route from point a to point b, something unusual happened, it must be because I changed paths. I changed paths because I am psychic and I knew I would get hit by a tree - never underestimate the value of the death urge.

Remember, you may not have much of a thing for Thanatos, but many people do - which is one theory behind deskilling (namely my theory).

What do you live for?

So art isn't just a way of doing gods will, or even rebelling against god- art is a complete branded lifestyle with paint and everything.

What is good for art?

Films that romanticize the role of artist! Totalizing grand narratives that go for the gut but end up pulling your heart out of your chest and cooking it.

Art that makes your biases seem trivial and your trivia seem relevant.

Art that makes you more in tune with the universe, in lockstep, almost, with destiny. As if everything you do is mirrored by the universal mind, and destiny is whatever the day's headline is. No need for more than one newspaper, no more hunting for the right idea, the right word or wondering what to do with you spare time. There is no spare time in an ideal art world, because art is all the time, and the work never ends.

Art is not a garden, or a park, or a walk through a park, or a moment in time, or a specially arranged set of objectified moments, or more than a feeling, or a bridge over troubled water, no, art stops making sense and starts working when you forget about skill - so in a way, this "deskilled slacker art" is a parody or burlesque of the "one shot one kill" "master of the hand and the eye" esthetic - a Romantic notion that took the image of the mad alchemist and somehow merged it with swordsman and the court jester(during the medieval revival period that ended somewhere with the fifties notion of the modern). Or maybe I'm confusing several magazine biopics - are these sorts of character-izations good for art? Does art need a romantic notion of the role of the artist to survive?

Does anyone need a role model anymore or can we go with the iphone? (I mean if the price comes down).

11/08/2009 09:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I feel like I'm reading Madame Blavatsky here. Please advise.

That's a good call, Cathy. A lot of effort has gone into making art as inclusive a category as possible, and you're reading the tortured reasoning and pure noise-making that goes into that effort. It doesn't make sense, and no other creative discipline puts up with it, nor rewards it so handsomely. People who believe in that kind of inclusiveness hate comparisons to other creative disciplines because they're so obviously damning. But genres thrive on their narrowness, and they thrive on an understanding among its practitioners that certain aspects of a given medium make it wonderful. Visual art is the exception, which is why most of it is terrible. Musicians love sound. Writers love words. Gardeners love plants. But visual artists who feel likewise about shape and form will pay for it with their careers, unless they can justify it with something that has nothing to do with shape and form.

I'll note, here, that only the art aficionados are confused about this. The garden I planted this Spring, the first one my wife and I planted together, was a real project, not a theoretical conjecture. I said above that making a garden with no plants, with all effort put into some absurdity, would deprive you of what makes gardening good. I stand by that.

There's a phenomenon called buji Zen. It says that since all sentient beings are already enlightened along with Buddha, no effort to realize enlightenment is necessary. Buji Zen is regarded as being one of the most insidious barriers possible on the path. A similar mistake is being made here about art.

11/08/2009 11:42:00 PM  
Anonymous doug weevil said...

How can art ever be better or worse? Is Greek art better than Roman art? The Renaissance better than Baroque or Romanticism? Art is just this category of objects. If it fits it's art, if it doesn't it's not. Art does not get better. If it did it wouldn't stay art.

11/09/2009 12:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Gam said...

the morning sun rose over the temples high wall, silently caressing the rivulets of gravel that marked the passage of Monk Zen's rake. Or was the passage of the ephemeral suns rays only revealing the temporal residues of the memories of the monks intent to nurture the gravel into the temples desired traditions and form? He pondered over the rakes handle a while longer. Should he run barefooted over the mornings ritual work?!

Nobody wants to domesticate art, and as Ong and others point out, "Nature is not art." Regardless, we do seem to impact art's "direction", benign neglect leaves too much to chance, and iron fisted control leads through advertising to propaganda.

Is it good for art? ,at least raises the proposition why and what am I doing.

11/09/2009 06:39:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Is it good for art? ,at least raises the proposition why and what am I doing.

More or less my point, with the emphasis on "what I am doing."

But visual artists who feel likewise about shape and form will pay for it with their careers, unless they can justify it with something that has nothing to do with shape and form.

And again, more or less what I am saying...

...anyone else in this thread realize how much the discussion has revolved around the welfare of individuals (rather than stay focused on the welfare of "art")?

11/09/2009 08:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

The phenomenon described in that excerpt is not good for art.

11/09/2009 08:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Doug:
++If it fits it's fine art, if it doesn't it's not.


My view is that fine art has been broadening so widely that it will includes mediums for which its traditional language wasn't fully developed.

Hence how (fine) art specialists will miss a point about a piece of video art because they don't know film form theory very well, or even wrether they know film theory, they will dismiss the problematic that they are discussing cinema rather than fine art (because fine art magically takes it all).

But as broader and broader media enter the fine art field, it becomes clearer that we're dealing with lots of proposals that require other discourses or invoke other languages than fine art to be fully apprehended, be it
science or indeed, plant gardening. Maybe this started with philosophy, when philosophers decided they were going to make fine art at the place of "skilled artists".

For a while, they did a very good thing. I'm open to any interesting proposals. I'm just seeing less and less the point to refer to a tradition of fine art and this elitist ideal of uplevelling aesthetics and sensible experiences
to a specific field of research. "Does it have to be Fine Art?" is the question I ask. Indeed, all this romance (and under-table-cheques) we are waving
about this category.


There is the intention to make fine art and the intention to be interesting, or entern-interesting,
a mixture between being entertaining yet titillating to knowledge, what is exactly
what fine art does, even when it pretends to be pure aesthetics.

Nevertheless, I think the artist of tomorrow will less and less insist on describing his production as fine art, as aesthetics and imagination become assets of other fields to a degree where fine art itself looses the intellectual monopole on creativity.


Cedric Casp

11/09/2009 08:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Opps, "will includes" (first phrase of my previous post) should just read "includes". Or did I mean "will include" without the S?

The welfare of "fine art" is historical. Fine art is always something of the past, that we can distinguish because it has already been associated as such. As long as we respect history, we will respect that there ever was a notion of fine art. But when we think of the present, of the now moment when a work is being made and you haven't yet apprehended if it will be fine art or not, I think this distinction will change. I think some notions or simply the intention to make "fine art" might become "passéist" some day because aesthetic knowledge and creativity will simply be part of too many other fields. "Fine Art" will be in everything, rather than everything can be in "Fine Art" (the current state).

The notion of "Fine Art" might become a joke in the places where serious discussions about aesthetics unfold.


Cedric C

11/09/2009 09:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric said...

Gosh, come to think of it, Cedric is BAD for fine art.

Ced

11/09/2009 09:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Gam said...

when you love someone you are doing the loving but the focus is for the nurturing of those loved.

When one asks why am I doing this-- is it good for art?, is it not to refocus the attention from the actor (the centric ego) to the acted upon? To move from the intenders benefit to an act of loving the loved?

11/09/2009 09:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Gam said...

Cedric,
one of Mr. McLuhan's ideas was that to understand a media and its import on people (what its message was/is) was to consider the way the given media is used. If you apply that filter to "fine art" and say as well to design or advertising or propaganda- I think you will find that "fine art" can be distinguished from other uses of the visual and that that usage is of considerable value to society.

11/09/2009 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Nothing is more frightening than seeing ones beliefs spin out of control.

11/09/2009 09:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

an aside:

studying in the field of airplane-parts engineering

are you more interested in doing virtual 3D interior design for customized aircraft? I can give you a contact in Montreal if you wish. Less engineering, more design and visual skill sets required.

11/09/2009 10:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I understand it Cedric,the distinctions between fine and popular art or craft is a Western construct and so, at least, power shifts to places like China could shift aesthetic thought in the direction of which you speak.

Going back to Franklin's point about inclusiveness and skill, I think visual artists can get away with more because the tools we work with can accommodate accidents. If you haphazardly string words or notes together the lack of intent is more obvious. Atonality and nonsense require modulation but you can blindly fling paint and still take pleasure in the color. Or maybe modernism, through all its rules of exclusion, its psychic distance, has made inclusiveness a necessary counterbalance.

Because I think humility is good and struggle necessary for growth, I put a high value on skill. But of course, it's wonderful to be fully immersed, to forget about skill and the rest of my shabby little life. Such instances counteract the underlying death wish Zip speaks of.

11/09/2009 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger tony said...

I know that I'm out of my depth in making a comment but out of an equal mixture of ignorance & belief I find virtue in the Gaia concept in the sense of inter-connectedness & dependence & for me part of the beauty of art is that it offers a way to connect with 'realities/truths' which pass beyond and outside the rational & rationale of language-based thinking.

11/09/2009 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

"All of which isn't the point of this thread as much as it forms the background of my thinking about the question "Is it Good for Art?"

When people talk about "art," in this context, I can't help but think that, like the Earth, "art" will take care of itself.

Even in situations in which artists are persecuted or work is destroyed, the creative drive in humans continues to find a way. It works around the cataclysmic events.

Yes, this or that body of work or this or that artist may see setbacks or even become extinct, but "ART" presses forward.

None of which means we shouldn't work to prevent such events. But it does suggest to me that it's good to stop and consider what people are truly asking with that question.

More often than not, it seems they're really asking whether this or that event is good for them."

Amen

11/09/2009 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Gam,

I think that, besides the consideration of intentions, one could take an artwork from a museum and put it in a very public space, and in many cases, or for many people, you would rapidly loose the notion that it is Fine Art. Is McLuhan talking about media or intention? I think Fine Art is like a theatre that we have created to surround the spectacle of our mind-weaving through aesthetic and sensitives topics.
It's more about intention than about media.


(ouch?)


Anon: anything that beats slicing up airplane parts for Christoph Buchel.


Cedric C

11/09/2009 12:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

By the way, if the interconnected theories of Gaia (homeostasis) dumbfind anyone, wait til LHC proves string theory. That is, If we survive the experience (or H1N1.. Or bread sticks dropped by owls).

Cedric

11/09/2009 12:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Gam said...

Cedric,

McLuhans thesis might be surmised as: if I yell at you; regardless of the content of whatever I say and irrelevant of the intent of what I am saying, the yelling is the essential message transmitted. - the yelling is what you "hear", not my intent nor my words. the media being the message

bold having the same effect as yelling in a blog. The headline screams ...

regardless of what stories we tell, nor how eloquently we weave them, it is in the act of telling and listening that one finds the message of storytelling.

Fine art - which I take to mean great art (versus bad art which is just bad), too acts as a media. And it doesn't exclusively happen in museums. The rapport is the message. Ask any collector how they feel of their art works.

I likely won't convince you, but I do think it so.

11/09/2009 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger Dalen said...

Maybe this started with philosophy, when philosophers decided they were going to make fine art at the place of "skilled artists". (Cedric)

Perhaps Philosphy was looking for a marketable product (other than books) to infuse so that it could better survive capitalism...and with population growth, Art needed to expand as well, so it became more inclusive (after all, not everyone is good at depicting people -crucial in the days of religious patronage, today, not so much).

Is it good for Art? I think it's a bit superfluous to contemplate that question. Just as it matters not to the rain if you curse it for falling.

11/09/2009 03:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

If you ask whether a given development is good for art, and someone answers that you're really asking if it's good for you, it must be because he's complicit with the enormities of that development.

11/09/2009 06:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

Gam, I agree with McLuhan to the extent that a specific media has specific proprieties, a certain
realms of possibilities that it can exploit. If you circle a diagram about a precise media, and list all what it can do, than that is its "message".

Maybe I'm being McLuhan without noticing, when I claim Fine Art is about intention and not media.
Indeed, a media's message would supercede the Fine Art intention. Do you see where I'm coming from?
This is exactly why I think the broadening of medias used within Fine Art has tainted the whole reasoning behind its origins. From a very narrow canvas of aesthetics standards, Fine Art bursted into englobing any experience that deemed itself worthy of being considered under its light, but by doing so, it's been also engulfing its authority in the matter of fine taste, knowledge, sensibility, or whatever you wished Fine Art still had a final word about (Fine Art, aka, Final Art). It's just because IT, what you said. The media is the message. A film in the gallery is still just a goddamn film.

I think the museum acts as an artificial "frame" for higher culture. By artificial I mean that we have come to focus more on this affect or trick of the exhibit space's framing than being interested by what happens outside of it. This is why post-conceptual artists (from Koons to Hirst) insist on the "pedestal", the curio, anything that invoke a museal language (work that is conscious of its museal presence (its frame, literally, when you witness those presomptuous garments that surround the paintings of great masters)). Art that pays attention to how and where it's being presented.

Louise Lawler being conscious that she is exhibiting in a museum.

Is Louise Lawler appealing to motive?


Cedric Casp



Dalen: I think philosophers thought that it was time to have a party.

11/10/2009 01:15:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

If you are taking the long view, I think there is some kind of debate as to when art became self-reflexive (i.e. philosophical or modern). If philosophy has a market, maybe it was trying to go upscale rather than fleeing a declining market. The truth is, there never was a real market for philosophy other than books - or lectures at the forum. Hemlock!

I don't think it's philosophers that ruined art (other than rancid philosophy borrowed and smeared as a marketing tool) - but that is an interesting theory. Can philosophers really oil artifacts with magical selling oil?

The famous Ballantine cans weren't ideas so much as symbols of friendship? A glorified Hallmark card? I should hope. Otherwise, such illustrations of "philosophy" must be overpriced. At least as a symbol of friendship or one persons cynical reasessment of such - you have put a price on that friendship for me! an absurdity! Ha! There is nothing my money can't buy!

No, I never took it seriously.

But you did? You fool.

Drinking beer with friends is not the highest art - it is merely the low wallowing in it's own filth.

But truly, the damned forget that the west coast idealism, dare we call it new age philosophy, is driving the core of our tech economy, even as it is surrounded with circling eichmans!

11/10/2009 01:49:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

If you ask whether a given development is good for art, and someone answers that you're really asking if it's good for you, it must be because he's complicit with the enormities of that development.

I think you're somehow oversimplifying my argument and making it more complicated than it needs to be at the same time, which is impressive when you get right down to it, but I see what you're trying to do here.

Rather than continue down the yawn-inducing trail of whose fallacy trumps whose (like some Victorian Pokemon-esque parlor game), let me try one last time to simplify this.

If you ask whether a given development is good for art, but you don't share a mutual definition of art with the person you're addressing, how can you possibly be communicating anything other than notions about your own personal definition?

Let's say for example, you're not all that far from the person you're talking with about what the definition of "art" is, but there is one area in which you disagree.

Say we have two artists. If one artist's definition of art excludes the importance of text-based conceptual work, she might conclude that a spurt of International Biennials focusing on text-based work is "bad for art."

If, on the other hand, the other artists believes text-based conceptual work is a valuable development in understanding how text is just another symbol in our visual landscape and how like any other symbol its shape and form and concluding language can each be controlled to evoke different emotional responses, then she might conclude that this spurt at the Biennials is "good for art."

How can these two intellectually sincere people come to such opposite conclusions? It all boils down to something personal...something about THEM. When the second artist concludes that this spurt in the Biennials is good for "art," she is asserting that it is good for her definition of "art." When the other artist disagrees, she is asserting that it is bad for her own definition of "art."

They are talking about themselves.

11/10/2009 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

Sometimes the question "Is this good for Art?" is actually the question "Is this good Art?" I think it's possible to both ask and argue this apart from self-interest.

11/10/2009 09:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Gam said...

Ed, I hadn't realized you weren't saying that ones actions impacted art, but instead saying that we can't find a common ground on the definition of good or bad.

I tend towards Tom's ,i> is this good art ,/i>, but then I think good art is what moves someone, which appears to come back to an egocentric ground. ... I touch you - appears egocentric yet also is determined by the you. I'm getting really muddled now.

self-interest can align with a common interest. I think the question is it good for art/ is still a valid one to pose

gonna need to mull this over

Ced - I'd like to respond but I think i would be digressing too far.

11/10/2009 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I would have dropped this myself had George not quoted you for truth and said Amen (and probably hosannahed and sang Gloria in excelsis Deo as well).

Ed, your reasoning holds as long as the people in the example have arrived at this or that definition via an intellectual process. But if they can actually see art, they can identify whether a given development is enabling or enervating to the making of good art. If an art aficionado (let's leave artists out of this) sees that a vogue for text-based art is enabling the manufacture of a rich variety of moving, sensitive, interesting work, she could say that it's good for art. If she sees that the vogue is producing a lot of arid, ugly nonsense, she can say that it's not good for art. Definitions need not enter into it, and ought not, because art has a way of insulting definitions given enough examples. Art regardless of style has to be evaluated one work at a time. If you're genuinely using your taste, it will surprise you, often at the expense of what you think art should look like or should be doing.

If quality was purely a by-product of opinion then you'd be right - any idea of art would be arbitrary and personal. But quality is a material fact and people have widely differing abilities to detect it. Thus it's possible to see trends in art in terms of whether they produce or inhibit the production of good work, and to be factually correct or incorrect about such judgments.

11/10/2009 01:24:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

"quality is a material fact and people have widely differing abilities to detect it"

oh boy.
ever read zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance? THis quality stuff will make you crazy. Or a nazi.

Seat of the soul?

keyword: popery

11/10/2009 06:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

This will sound like I'm on repeat:

If I was the third artist in the text-based art discussion, I would add that it should be irrelevant wrether it's good or bad for fine art. You could present a form of the same work somewhere on the internet and most people might not perceive it exactly as being fine art (because it would loose that socio-intellectual framing or context to some degree), and yet the work would still receive interesting responses (some of which would be from the Fine Art people: "wow, THIS should be Fine Art!" or... "I have to include this in my next curator show at the New Museum").

I think I am objective as possible. Do I have an interest in seeing Fine Art vanish? I love Fine Arts! But it's not about what's good for me, it's about cultural facts and witnessing how things are evolving.

Cedric C

11/10/2009 11:43:00 PM  

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