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I know the art thread is talking about art in general, but my question is somewhat different and would be a tangent, so I went to a new thread with it.
Why do we have art? What makes us do it, and why is it that we've been doing it since the caves in France? What need does it fulfill? Is it related to the whole desire for immortality thing, like antropologists seem to suggest? An afterlife thing... That doesn't seem to work for me. What's your opinions? is it all just a waste of time and material? A way for folks who can't get any other job to get money telling people their scrap metal and stone blocks are "art"?
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There are many very interesting theories on this topic. As someone who is very interested in evolutionary psycology and anthropology, I find the function of art and its relation to language especialy very intriguing.
I wish I had the articles to hand, but there have recently been many scientists who have come to believe that art and "cave paintings" could well be the basis for our entire phsychological system of language. Many even go so far to suggest that art came before any structured languages. In esscense, we learned to "read" before we could speak. By "read" I mean the simple communication of one persons idea to another to an acceptable degree of understandability.
It was a simple and effective system for communicating simple ideas quickly: draw a picture!
Another interesting theory is that the pictures gave rise to sounds. This is exactly what the ancient Egyptians did. Hyroglyphs represent sounds, and from the sounds we build the words. For example, i'm not sure what it's called, but the glyph of three papyrus reed heads makes a hsss sound: just like reeds in a breeze. It is hypothesised that very early systems of language evolved like this.
Basically, thats how I think art started. I'll do some more reading and post in more detail perhaps.
By art do you mean visual/creative art? Or does this also encompass languages/history/music?
Visual art is entertainment. It pleases the eye; conveys emotions, concepts and images. Art is the visual link to the aforementioned results. People may view art for just the sheer pleasure of it, for examining its style or in an attempt to gain an understanding of it. But really, it is the individual that defines art from the "stone block" (or non-art). If anthropologists view art as a means of achieving immortality, who am I to refute them? ^_^ Art may also be used as a sign of material wealth. The more expensive it is (usually meaning the more pleasing it is), the more wealth it holds.
And here is a quote from the The Australian Oxford School Dictionary Second Edition ^_^ : "something beautiful". Clearly left open for reader's opinions.
If a picture paints a thousand words, then what else could art be, other than communication on the most basic level?
Is there anything else anyone wants more than to be understood? To have someone say "I know exactly what you mean"? No.
It is a history, a future, a truth, and a fiction, described in a way that transends clumsy tongues, words and language. Art tells you what is important to someone else, it tells you how they see the world, and what they believe. It is a visual description of who they are, and who they want to be. It instructs and guides, is bold and subtle, precise and abstract, strong and delicate, beauitful and ugly. It is everything to everyone.
That is "why art?"
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Like Schmeag said, I think a lot of art is just for the purpose of entertainment and gaining a little capital. Like a lot of bands. And then there's other art, like books and poetry and some music, and films, that I think are made to portray ideas and feelings, like others have said.
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A very good question..
I disagree with art transmitting understanding. I don't think it's possible to transmit understanding through any human medium (since we're not telepathic.) One man might look at Damien Hurst's shark in a tank emblaming fluid and really see the impossibility of death in the human mind (the title of that piece.) Another person just sees a shark.
How we read art is more important than what it's supposed to tell us. In a way, it doesn't matter to me what the artist was thinking, what he's trying to transmit. It matters what you see.
I think that's why art is important. It stimulates us as individuals. It creates an internal process. Okay, everyone's process is different. They might come out with something different or think something different, but they're coming out with something. That kind of stimulation can change us as people, it can be a process of personal growth.
No art is for everyone. Neither should the intention ever be for one piece of art to please everyone who looks at it. But that's irrelevant. If one person sees it and has a question, or a thought, or even just a feeling, then the art has done its work. Neither does it have to be something you see in a gallery. A seagull sitting on a certain building may be art for you. A man crossing the street might be art. What we call art is merely a deliberate attempt to harness that human process, the way in which humans learn and understand their surroundings.
Does art have a place.. Sure, I'd say it does. Just like language has a place. Language lets us think, it lets us conceptualize, it lets us 'see' and imagine things beyond the raw physical components of the world. Art is the same. It's personal, but that doesn't make it invalid.
Besides, if people like it, why stop it? If people are prepared to pay someone to put a shark in a tank so they can go and see it, what's wrong with that?
Last edited by The_Giant_Mantis; July 12th, 2006 at 18:48.
I think art happens because we can't help ourselves. We're social animals, that much scientists can prove with definitiveness, and "art" is a very powerful way we communicate with each other. It's perhaps the most powerful form because it inspires such strong reactions. (If not in me, than probably in you, so it's still art.)
It seems to me that the key difference between art -- in all it's forms: visual, aural, etc. -- and overt communication, like the posts we're adding to this thread, is that art isn't specific. Art is a kind of indirect communication between the artist and ourselves where we each bring something to the table and come away with different ideas about the art in question. It doesn't necessarily have to "change" us in any particular way to qualify as art, but I think it's important the the potential for change be present, and that we -- artists and art consumers alike -- are fully aware of that potential. Where that potential is not recognized on both sides of the art, then we're no longer talking about art.
For example, there are certain kinds of modern paintings, which I'll over-broadly categorize as "Jackson Pollack Crap", that I do not personally consider art. There is no potential for me to be affected by them in the least. I see one of these JPC pieces, and my eye is bored to tears, my mind wanders, and I'm wondering why I'm wasting my time. There are others who see all kinds of stuff in JPCs, and so think of them as art!
By this standard, the "greatest" art, and the greatest artists, are the ones that the most people seem to agree have the potential to be affecting.
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Just looked up some of that guy's works and couldn't stop laughing!which I'll over-broadly categorize as "Jackson Pollack Crap", that I do not personally consider art.
Trouble is everything can be considered art these days. I could take a dump, smear it up the wall and it wouldn't look out of place in a modern art gallery.
All that this "different way of looking at things" attitude has brought us is lower standards. Why would someone spend hours painting a wonderfully life like picture when they could simply throw some random paint on a canvass and call it "modern art"
A brilliant example would be when Tracy Emin drew a dog on TV once, it was the sh*test dog i've ever seen. Yet her other "works" are famous across the globe.
I don't think this just applies to visual art either, i think music is heading in the same direction
But my answer to "why art?" is that the artist gets enjoyement from making the piece. I think
Lower.. or different?Originally Posted by Stonehambey
For example.. Most African art has no concept of perspective. For years, this was seen as evidence that it was primitive and wrong, evidence that Africans couldn't rationalise that things were seen from a particular viewpoint.
However, if you show an African artist a picture of a person in profile, they will tell you that you've drawn it wrong. A person has two eyes, but you've only drawn one. Therefore, you aren't drawing a person. Showing the person as a whole is considered far more important than showing them from a particular angle.
It depends on your artistic priorities.
As for life like pictures.. does looking at a perfectly drawn cat tell me anything except what a cat looks like? Is the purpose of art just to show off how many years you spent learning how to paint leaves?Good argument. But I think you're being a bit generous. This is a consumer society.. What you're effectively suggesting is that stuff like Mozart (yeah, I know I'm using music but it makes more sense that way), which few people can relate to, should be kicked out in favour of some crooning boy band song or whatever most emotionally affects the modern citizen.Originally Posted by number6
Heck, forget fine visual art.. Just do what they did in Japan and have an exhibition entirely devoted to a stylized kitten someone invented to sell accessories to preteen girls.
I actually don't mind that logic myself. I think that's probably the most egalitarian way to discover what art is (after all, who cares about the elite, I didn't vote for them.) I'm just saying it would get rid of what you seem to be promoting, which is meaning.
Last edited by The_Giant_Mantis; July 12th, 2006 at 22:54.
Few people can relate to Mozart? OkaaaayOriginally Posted by The_Giant_Mantis
Actually classical music is a lot more popular than the Radio 1 generation would believeNo but i'm more likely to appreciate a piece of art if i see skill and effort have gone into itOriginally Posted by The_Giant_Mantis