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Thread: What is art?

  1. #41
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Art is not a product. Art is a process. And the process is the suspension of disbelief.

    Art is the same today watching a movie in the dark as it was 3,500 years ago, painting a wall in a cave in the dark.

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    Art is not a product. Art is a process. And the process is the suspension of disbelief.

    Art is the same today watching a movie in the dark as it was 3,500 years ago, painting a wall in a cave in the dark.
    actually, that was more like 20,000 years ago. 3,500 years ago was more agrarian than cave dwelling
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  3. #43
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    A little essay on the nature of modern art, based on some college history and lit classes:

    Before the invention of the camera, the main job of the painter was to capture images for posterity. Artists painted portraits of wealthy patrons for their heirs. Northern artists in England and Belgium traveled to Italy to capture images of exotic climates and landscapes and bring them back north for mass reproduction in their galleries and sale to clients who couldn’t make the trip themselves. And of course the churches and governments of the day commissioned works that glorified their cause.

    Once the camera was invented, OTOH, artists were no longer needed for simply capturing images. So artists set about capturing things that cameras could not capture: Impressionists captured special atmospheric effects like a hot, hazy day at the beach, with subjects shimmering and melting. Surrealists distorted images to create a feeling or a metaphor. Abstract painters try to evoke feelings with just shapes and colors; or they combine images (the sacred and the profane) in novel ways.

    In summary: The camera captures mundane images of the real world; art increasingly captures the exotic or tries to convert the mundane into novel patterns.

    Another modern artistic theme:

    Early mass market literature (i.e. literature written after the invention of the printing press) tended to be travelogues. Like the northern painters traveling to Italy and bringing landscape paintings home, writers traveled around the world and brought to their readers descriptions of the exotic adventures, myths, and cultures they found. But eventually the industrial age (locomotives, steamboats) made travel easier, and the camera did a better job of capturing the exotic.

    OTOH, with the rise of the modern state composed of homogenous ethnic groups, writers increasingly became the voice of the new state/government entity. Writers asked why the state or even mankind itself existed and where it was going. They worked out grand dramas with great empires as their setting. Or they tried to encompass and capture the energy of the modern young states themselves (“the great American novel”) in a way that the camera couldn't.

    But in the last 25-50 years there has been a growing disillusionment with the state and what it can realistically do for its citizens. Meantime, with greater social mobility and breakdown of cultural barriers, ethnic groups are mass-marketing a separate cultural voice of their own. And so you have white middle-class Americans exploring music about black gang culture and watching TV shows about the drug culture (Breaking Bad, the Wire, etc.) But with all these new ethnic voices, they say the culture has gotten so fragmented that it's no longer possible to write "the great American novel" and encompass it all.

    And so mass literature, music, and TV/movies have gotten back to their roots and are once again exploring the exotic again, acting as travelogues for people who can’t make the journey themselves. But this time the journey is across ethnic or cultural boundaries or it involves experiences of extreme activities, rather than crossing thousands of miles to exotic climates.

    If you compare the story of painting to that of literature/TV/movies, you’ll see that they have both ended up at a similar place. The camera was perhaps the biggest artistic development in modern history, and it forced almost all of art to seek out the exotic and bring it to the audience much like the old traveling artist did once upon a time. But where do you find the exotic? Wherever the middle-class audience is not: In war zones, in gang fights, in meth labs, in prisons, etc. The exotic is also in the homes of the rich and famous; or on islands or dance floors where celebs compete to keep from getting voted off. It’s in the sports arenas where steroid-fueled athletes beat on each other. Or it’s in the research and imagination of writers putting together movies or computer games about past centuries or about imaginary worlds. Or it’s in the fantasy of bloody horror films and stories of unusual sex practices. It's in the special effects labs, portrayed in manga books, and lights up our computer screens.

    Is art ugly today? Some of it undoubtedly is. But mainly it’s about the exotic and the novel. People want to explore the limits of the known world without leaving their armchairs. Cameras do the gruntwork of simply recording history and archiving our daily experiences for posterity. So the audiences pay a little more to the artist who can offer them something more than just the mundane fare of the camera.

  4. #44
    Senior Member guesswho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elfboy View Post
    why isn't art beautiful anymore? why are modern artists so indulging of the grotesque, the ordinary and the base? why is art no longer used to inspire to a higher ideal, beauty, or motivation? has art become an expression of shame or hopelessness?
    Modern art isn't beautiful because you say so?

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by guesswho View Post
    Modern art isn't beautiful because you say so?
    Duh.

    ...

    Elfboy, care to show us a piece of art you consider to be perfect/superior etc.?
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  6. #46
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    Your face, Elfboy. THAT is true art.

  7. #47
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    I was going to say that art is communication. But then I thought about it, art is essentially expression. The artist doesn't need an audience to create art all they need is a medium and something they feel is worth expressing. As far as being aesthetically pleasing; Not all feelings and ideas are beautiful, nor should be. And sometimes beauty needs a contrast in order to see it properly.

  9. #49
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Viridian View Post
    So modern art has been infected with hipster-dom?
    Not exactly. Its more widespread than that that. Its more to do with the internet and the age of information. Everything is so highly available; movements form quickly and 5 minutes later they're being satirised; 10 minutes later they're old news. This kinda demonstrates it for me:



    Art has lost some sacredness in all this. Artists focus more on mimicking other successful styles and generating buzz or controversy, rather than actual creative authenticity and/or innovation. It is more about shallow semi-intellectual ideas, and to a degree, shock factor, rather than being rooted in emotional truth - consequently everything becomes trite and hollow.
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  10. #50
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    ^^^ I get nostalgic for the world we lost.. the value of information seems to have deflated, but I think everbody sufficiently old feels that way. Wonder what the timline for 1880 would be.

    9am - Heard crickets chirping.
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    11:30 - Heard crickets chirping.

    Actually, most people back then played their own music. We may be heading that direction again, self expression seems to be more widespread now than in the 90's. Which deflates the value of expression?

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