You are either not logged in or not registered with our community. Click here to register.
 
December 04, 2016, 02:27:41 AM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Click here if you are having problems.
Default Wide Screen Beige Lilac Rainbow Black & Blue October Send us your theme!

Hark!  The Herald!
Holiday Issue 2016

Wiki Blogs Dicebot

Author Topic: Sound off: What is art?  (Read 846 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline grdellTopic starter

Sound off: What is art?
« on: May 02, 2011, 01:24:47 PM »
I am, as many of you know, a classically-trained musician. We are a strange breed, I'll be the first to admit. I was thinking about Beethoven's "Grosse Fuge" while listening to it and got to thinking about the nature of art.

What is art?

If there is something (such as the Grosse Fuge) that you have to be trained to appreciate - rendering it not at all accessible - is it still art? Most laypersons don't like the Grosse Fuge. I don't blame them. It is exceptionally challenging music - and not just to perform. It makes unrelenting demands upon the listener as well.

But isn't art supposed to be a way to communicate? Doesn't it bring us together as a people? Sure, it's controversial at times, but even in controversy, it gives us something to ponder and discuss. But if it's not accessible, and most people can't understand it, doesn't that mean that it has failed as art?

And it's not just music, either. My old roommate was an artist who loved Jackson Pollack. I couldn't stand his work. I didn't "get it." But then, he didn't like my music either, so we were even. So it goes for all art forms. The more advanced and progressive it becomes, the more it takes serious study and learning to even understand much less appreciate it. What does that do to its status as art? Does it enhance or diminish it? Does it even affect it at all?

What are your opinions, please?

And I don't just mean of the Grosse Fuge, although you're welcome to comment on that, too, if you choose... ;)

Beethoven, Große Fuge (complete, Great Fugue), op. 133, string quartet (animated score)

Online Nicholas

  • Mr. Nice Guy (or so I am told) :-) Jag's Mulder *muse crack* Deviously delicious - according to a certain, most awesome Liege ;) King of Terrible. Always innocent despite what Caedy says. Spoiler buttons are evil. 42,19km!
  • Knight
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: May 2009
  • Location: My Skype info is available upon request!
  • Gender: Male
  • #JeSuisUnAnge #ReallyIAm #BlameMads
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Sound off: What is art?
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2011, 01:49:45 PM »
This is an interesting question. One that comes up quite often.

I believe, the only answer I can give you is a personal one, as an artist. So yes, I am probably biased. ~laughs~ But I heard more than once that being biased is art in itself. So.. duh.

For me, art is a way to express myself. It is the medium I use to communicate certain emotions, views of the world, whatever you want to call it. It is very difficult to explain because there are so many ways to define art. And probably just as many to not define art.

For me, the question is... Is art what we have learned to appreciate? Or maybe something we still need to discover? Something that has to be explored to be tangible?

You see, in Art School, I have learned to create art - in a certain kind of way, as much as can be tutored in such an environment, but I suppose, this was barely a beginning, because art grows in its own. I often experience this -what I call- "gain momentum" -moment. I create something, another person looks at it and creates his/her very own thoughts, the next person does the same, and creates something completely different.

So yes. What is art? This question alone is art in itself because it creates... a million and more answers. ;)

And something that just sprung to mind: What was there first? Art, or the motivation to find a definition thereof?
« Last Edit: May 02, 2011, 01:53:36 PM by Nicholas »

Offline Shjade

Re: Sound off: What is art?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2011, 12:25:43 PM »
What is art?

If there is something (such as the Grosse Fuge) that you have to be trained to appreciate - rendering it not at all accessible - is it still art?
I am confused by your assertion. Why would you need to be trained to appreciate Grosse Fuge? That assumption seems to be the basis of your art question, which makes it hard to answer.

Assuming I drop that bit and just address "What is art?" I'd probably start with something broad. Something like "any creative work that evokes a thoughtful emotional response." Then I'd have to parse downward from there a bit.

Offline grdellTopic starter

Re: Sound off: What is art?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2011, 10:59:15 PM »
I am confused by your assertion. Why would you need to be trained to appreciate Grosse Fuge? That assumption seems to be the basis of your art question, which makes it hard to answer.

My apologies. Training is not a requirement to appreciation - but I have noticed a trend in more "advanced" art that those trained tend to appreciate works that those untrained either dismiss out-of-hand (the age-old "That's not art!" assertion), or fail to understand to such a degree that it interferes with their appreciation and therefore they simply don't like it. It is a generalization, and I tend to prefer to stay away from generalizations (yes, I recognize the inherent contradiction there).

You don't have to be trained to like the Grosse Fuge. If you have no musical training at all and still like the piece - good on ya (as the Aussies say)! But you are in a distinct minority if you do.

My question is geared more toward the trending I spoke of. When art has reached a sufficient level of advancement (according to artists and critics) that it alienates the general public more often than not - is it still art? Is an intellectual exercise art? People perform Bach's "The Art of Fugue" today as if it were some kind of concert piece, but it was written as a study exercise. It would be like someone reading a passage from a chemistry textbook three hundred years from now and their audience saying how moved they were by it. Now, this is an odd exmaple, I admit, since Bach was one of the greatest composers who ever lived and therefore even his exercises are artistic, but it still begs the question.

Assuming I drop that bit and just address "What is art?" I'd probably start with something broad. Something like "any creative work that evokes a thoughtful emotional response." Then I'd have to parse downward from there a bit.

I'll have to ask you for clarification as well, then. What exactly does thoughtfulness have to do in the context of emotional responses? What if a piece fails to evoke any emotional response from you at all?

Please understand that I am not trying to be in any way confrontational or inflammatory. I know that art has as many different definitions as there are people. All I'm trying to do here is get different people's take on this one aspect of defining it. If art is a means of communication, how do we continue defining it when it fails to communicate? It is the supposition "What if you have to be trained to appreciate it?" that I am addressing. When art is so elitist that it only speaks to the cognoscenti, what purpose does it serve? I realize that these are age-old questions. All I'm asking for is people's views on it.

Offline Will

Re: Sound off: What is art?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2011, 11:47:56 PM »
Personally, I think that when art crosses that line, it does cease to be art.  Provoking an emotional response in the audience, or alternatively, expressing an emotion of the artist himself, is part of the definition for me.  When you leave that behind and wade purely into the realm of virtuosity, technical perfection, and skill, you're a heck of a lot closer to sports than art.  In my opinion.

Offline Oniya

  • StoreHouse of Useless Trivia
  • Oracle
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2008
  • Location: Just bouncing through. Hi! City of Roses, Pennsylvania
  • Gender: Female
  • One bad Motokifuka. Also cute and FLUFFY!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: Sound off: What is art?
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2011, 11:16:38 AM »
As Bette Midler once said, "Modern painting is supposed to be the panacea for all of the ills of modern life... and yet everyone still buys the painting that matches the couch!" 

Personally, I think the art aspect comes in the creative part of the process.  If Jackson Pollack (I don't 'get' his art either - much prefer Escher) were haphazardly and mechanically tossing paint at a canvas, with no more emotional connection to what he was doing than a stand-mixer, then there's no art to be found there.  I'm not saying that he worked that way - in fact, that would be what would differentiate his paintings from what you find on the drop-cloth under a kindergarten easel.

On a different corner of the spectrum, I might point out Sybl's Fractal Art thread:  fractals by their nature are deterministic, but there is art to be found in the careful adjusting of parameters to get just the right effect.  The Mandelbrot Set by itself is not what makes the art, but the hand of the artist.  In the same manner, the sweeping vista of the Grand Canyon isn't 'art' until the photographer/painter frames and interprets it.

Elsewhere, you have the interminable seascapes and landscapes that litter vacation resort towns, seemingly produced for the sheer purpose of being mass produced (the ones that match the couch).  It's rare that I'd call those art - the painter shows no care in anything other than producing something that can be sold.  The lighthouse isn't positioned with enough care to make it 'remote' or 'looming'; the waves aren't depicted as particularly rough or calm. 

Bach's 'Etudes' may have been intended to help the student practice a certain technique, but there was a care put into their composition that distinguishes the Etudes from the Robert Pace lessons to the same degree that a hand-carved Swiss cuckoo clock differs from the 'Bird Call' clock that is sold on late night infomercials.

Offline Shjade

Re: Sound off: What is art?
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2011, 02:25:51 PM »
I'll have to ask you for clarification as well, then. What exactly does thoughtfulness have to do in the context of emotional responses? What if a piece fails to evoke any emotional response from you at all?

Please understand that I am not trying to be in any way confrontational or inflammatory. I know that art has as many different definitions as there are people. All I'm trying to do here is get different people's take on this one aspect of defining it. If art is a means of communication, how do we continue defining it when it fails to communicate? It is the supposition "What if you have to be trained to appreciate it?" that I am addressing. When art is so elitist that it only speaks to the cognoscenti, what purpose does it serve? I realize that these are age-old questions. All I'm asking for is people's views on it.
Lots of things can evoke emotional responses that have no real thought process behind them. If I jump around a corner and shout "Boo" and scare you, there's no deeper meaning to consider there. You got spooked. That's all. On the other hand, being frightened by the ideas presented in a movie about the direction society is taking and where it might put us in the future, that sounds like the result of observing an artistic creation. Then again, simply observing something true can have a similar effect. Thus why I'd have to parse down eventually if I wanted to get something resembling an accurate definition.

Ah, I see what you were getting at now. Yes, something can still be art if you have to be trained to appreciate it. Nothing is going to appeal, or even "work," for everyone. A large audience is not a requirement for art. As for what purpose it serves, that'd depend on the piece, wouldn't it?

Offline Beguile's Mistress

  • Time flies like an arrow ~ Fruit flies like a banana ~ Elliquiy's Fair-E Godmother
  • Dame
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Jul 2009
  • Location: Faeleacanvald ~ The Steeler Nation ~ Home of Lord Stanley's Cup 2016 ~ She won't stay throwed! ~ 48\22-5\1\11-5\7
  • Gender: Female
  • Perpetual Notion Machine ~ 'What if...?'
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: Sound off: What is art?
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2011, 08:57:46 AM »
Creation and understanding - an artist creates and an understanding observer appreciates.

I don't know if I could appreciate or like der "Grosse Fuge" without knowing what a fugue is in music.  I learned about fugues in a music class in high school and have a very basic understanding of them.  Der "Grosse Fuge" was created by Beethoven, written as an expression of his feelings or ideas to communicate them to listeners.  His feelings are incomprehensible to me yet his music evokes feelings of my own and ideas that I can use to create a written work that expresses feelings and ideas that are mine.  I can take those expressions of mine that are inspired by Beethoven's piece of music, write a story and inspire someone else who might create a painting, look for images to photograph or even continue my story or write one of their own.

That is art to me, created works that inspire a need or desire to create in others. 

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Sound off: What is art?
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2011, 11:16:31 AM »

Offline GothicFires

Re: Sound off: What is art?
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2011, 11:20:54 AM »
From what I've seen during my life time Art, to me, must simply be defined as something that invokes joy or satisfaction to the one who created it. I thought it would be cool to go to the Seattle Art Museum when I was there working for a week and OMG was it a transition of an artist of wonderful renown and skill to stuff that a two year old could do and was obviously done by an adult. I had never seen any of Sargent's work, never heard of the man yet was profoundly glad that I had happened to chance the museum why his work was on exhibit there. But elsewhere in the same building I'm wondering why the hell they have a square consisting of four squares: two black, one white and one red, on the floor? And why in the hell am I being forced to look at a squire piece of canvas that was wasted by someone splattering paint over it for an hour? To get into a obviously reputable art museum someone had to feel it was art. If it were a two year old I would praise the child... but as adults did it, I'm still confused over their choice in this.

And though art does not require training in a specific field to be appreciated, the training in that field does change the way one looks at the art and therefore the appreciation.

Take in example modern music. Though I am not an awesome musician as I believe Grdell to be, I had as a teacher for 5 years one of the best jazz fusion drummers in the world. I'm not going to drop his name because you probably have to be among the jazz professionals to even know it. But during the early stages of learning I was into bands like Poison, Guns' n Roses, Kiss. Very popular bands however not very impressive to a jazz musician because the music is very simple. That simplicity and the ratio between untrained musicians and trained ones are WHY they are so popular and why there is less of a following of Jazz that has complex rhythms that can often jar an untrained ear. There are among musicians bands bands identified as a 'musican's band'. Some of these 'musican's bands' have main stream success, such as Yes and Dream Theatre with their more simple pieces but those aren't the ones that you will find a musican having an orgasm about. Now when I listen to music I have to decide if I'm going to listen to music as a 'fan' or as a 'musican'. Where once I could bounce up and down to Poison all day as a 'musican' it makes me cringe. I can almost never listen to Dream Theatre as a 'fan' because their complex rhythms and chord changes don't always flow from one point to another and you have to understand their training to understand their reasoning for their progression.

When you are trained in a specific field you tend to look at the objects in your line of training with more depth and more of a critical eye. I can draw and paint, though i haven't worked on this skill. Since i haven't, I tend to dismiss something that I can replicate. When I look at drawings I look for proportion. I suck at hands and noses so look at those first and normally judge how good a person is by how well they have accomplished those two items. When I listen to music I listen to either how simple and catchy the melody is to the complete opposite of how complicated the rhythm structure is, how layered and complex can the musicians get the music and not sound like a pile of noise. I judge writing on the detail of description, consistency and the ability to keep me interested as I wait for the writer to reveal the hook.

But those are art forms I am familiar with. I can look at carvings and tell you what i think is pretty and what I don't like, but I can't tell you what of what I don't like should be a masterpiece simply because the skill required in making it was intense.

I think I'm going to quit now before I start meandering, but experience/training, even lack of it, shapes what an individual sees as 'art' as well as their view of quality of said art.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2011, 11:24:28 AM by GothicFires »