27 October 2009

Is creating a defintion necessary?

Even so, I remain hopeful that we might construct a satisfactory -- however inclusive and broad -- intensional definition of art.

Professor Johnson wrote that quote on his blog. Although I believe that discussing art in hopes to create a definition is important, I’m unsure of our ability to actually create a definition. Will we be able to integrate all of the author’s opinions in the text? Will we be able to agree on our own opinions?

These questions are why I believe that maybe art should stay undefined and uncategorized. Progress has been made in striving towards a definition through discussion, and it has opened up some great conversation, thought, and debate. So can that be enough to satisfy our need to question the question of art?

Maybe with art remaining open and uncategorized, it leaves room for growth and development. Art is allowed to evolve since it has no boundaries, allowing for the development of future pieces like another urinal!

My question is those above: Should we continue to strive towards definition? Is definition possible?

Response to Michelle's blog 10.25.

While doing research for another class I came across the phrase, "Mother Nature’s Paintbrush." What do you think this means?

I believe that Mother Nature has a paintbrush that creates those beautiful sunsets, intricate details to flowers, or even the heart-shaped spot on that dog! It’s the little details that occur in nature, and usually go unnoticed.

If we stop from our busy lives and really look around, there is beauty all over in nature. Thousands of people flock to the area for the foliage every year, and I’ve become used to it, being my third year going to school here. It wasn’t until my aunts (who are from the Midwest) flew in to visit me this year, did I really stop to look at the colors that come out. They made me go on a hike, and it renewed my ability to see the beauty of the trees in the Fall and realize why leaf-peepers sell out the hotels in the area during September and October.

It’s the same as someone who lives on the ocean. If you see it every day, it loses its majestic qualities. However, no matter how busy we become as a species, Mother Nature continues to use her paintbrush, we just have to stop and notice.

Experience versus AN experience

Make a special occasion out of any occasion.

I really like the difference that is brought up between experience and AN experience. Days run together for me all the time. During school, you become ingrained into a schedule, and most people, myself included, find themselves doing the same things on M/W/F, and then on T/TH. However, when something extraordinary that stands out in your mind happens, say about your week, or even your school year, is then considered ‘AN experience’. That one experience has its own individual qualities that make it unique, and might even have the potential to become one of those moments you never forget.
I think it’s necessary for people to have more of those experiences, the “an experiences”. I believe that those special experiences are what truly counts when you ponder your “degree of completeness of living.”
Art plays into the completeness of living as well. Although not everyone may believe that a quality of life depends on the amount of art in your life, or the artfulness of the life you’ve had, I believe it has a major impact. The artfulness of living is what helps create more of those “an experience”.
Sometimes, there’s nothing better than feeling alive at a concert or feeling content at an art museum. Art definitely has a place in factoring the degree of the completeness of living, at least to me.

My question is simple: What has been one of those "alive" "an experience" moments for you?

18 October 2009

response to Michelle: 10.18.09

So I want to know, seriously all theory aside, what is art to you?

In class, we haven't really discussed much about what we personally think about art, and I'm glad Michelle posed this question.

Personally, before second semester of senior year, I didn't like drawing, because I was horrible at it, and I didn't really think about "art", per say. I wasn't good at it, so basically I didn't care.

When picking my classes for second semester, however, my counselor explained how I was one "art" credit (or one class) short to graduate. I thought I had done my four classes with two full years of chorus, but apparently it didn't count that way. So I found myself in Graphic Design. Since it's mainly computers, I thought I could handle it. I was so wrong. We barely worked on the computers, it was all about drawing and then scanning it into the computer. So I tried my hardest, created a few fonts, a few album covers, and came out loving concert posters! My teacher was a big concert poster and concert flyer enthusiast, from old Clash posters, to recent ones, hometown band flyers and it was also how he made money on the side. Mr. Flanagan, my teacher, exposed me to a lot of things that I didn't consider art, like the pop art and other graphic design areas of work. I thought art was the stuffy old paintings that we learned about in elementary school!

That summer my parents finally started letting me go to Boston alone, and so I hopped on the T a lot and went to the MFA. One time they were having a Chanel fashion exhibit, and another time they had a pop art exhibit, along with the older art. It was then that I really started liking art museums.

I was excited when I came to MCLA and found out that we can go to MassMoca and the Clark for free! I really like mostly everything that is in Moca all the time, even if I don't understand some of the really 'modern' pieces. And although the Clark is more along the lines of the old "stuffy" art, I still appreciate it for what it is and the talent it takes to create this art.

Artists really have the power to emotionally affect the observer, one reason why I like Tolstoy. There is a definite relationship between artist and observer. Sometimes it is possible to feel better knowing someone else has been there. Art museums are a good way to go and either clear your head, or have time to think while looking at images or portrayals of people who have gotten through your worst of problems. Even just staring at something beautiful can brighten your day.

Art undeniably has a profound effect on peoples lives and it is an integral part of human nature.

oh, clive bell, you're such a pretentious and confusing individual.

Clive Bell extremely confuses me! Although most Philosophy seems to confuse me a bit since it's beyond the scope of common thought, I've had a handle on what we were discussing until Bell. Nevertheless, the most intriguing part of Bell that I will try to discuss is Aesthetic Emotion.

Clive Bell describes aesthetic emotion as a peculiar emotion that is different from the observer’s usual range of emotions. This peculiar emotion is so rare, so mysterious, that it cannot be identified.

For example, viewing pictures from 9/11 may trigger feelings of patriotism or maybe bring back feelings of grief, but those emotions are able to be pinpointed in our mind, and therefore not considered aesthetic emotions. Michelle mentioned that this type of aesthetic emotion can only best be described as the “ecstasy felt in religious contemplation,” which makes it even more unexplainable to me.

After reading Tasha's blog about how there are not a common set of emotions that every experiences, I agree, and I then came to think that even Clive Bell had no idea what he was saying. How can you call something an "aesthetic emotion" when it is so mysterious it cannot be pinpointed?

Professor Johnson even said that some think that Clive Bell was trying to develop theory that would help him defend the new cubism art that his friends were creating and calling 'art'. Although I believe cubism is art, it could have been considered art even if Clive Bell only went along with the intentionality thesis and didn't insist on creating a confusing new set of unidentifiable emotions.
So, this leads me to my questions:

1) Do aesthetic emotions even exist due to their inability to be described by Bell?

2) If they do exist, and since we can’t describe aesthetic emotion, is it possible to know when we are experiencing an aesthetic emotion?

11 October 2009

in response to michelle's post "beauty" 10.10.09

my question is why do we feel the need to place a label on art? Why not just let art exist and whatever people deem as art let it then be called art and what certain people don't deem as art then let not be art?

I smiled when I read this because I've been thinking the same thing for a few weeks now. My thinking is that I don't have any artistic qualities, so who am I to tell someone that something does not qualify as art?

However, I think that one reason stems from a few classes back, human nature is to feel the need to qualify something and categorize it.
We categorize art (realism, impressionism, contemporary), forcing the theory that no one thing is original, that all art falls into some category.
We also need to feel as if art is special in some way. If every doodle was considered art, wouldn't that lessen its appeal?
Therefore, I believe, that's why we feel the need, or a natural pull, to qualify or disqualify certain things as art.

As of now, I believe that art needs to evoke some sort of emotion to qualify and connect humans to communicate in another form. However, later on in the course, that might change.

I don't think that there will ever be a set definition of art, I think it's an endless battle. However, that battle stimulates conversation and debate with academic minds, so isn't that a good thing?

freud. art. fantasies.

I liked Freud’s view of art in relation to fantasies, even though I do not think it applies to every aspect of art.
Freud describes “phantasies” as unsatisfied wishes. “Every separate fantasy contains the fulfillment of a wish, and improves on unsatisfactory reality.”
Therefore, Freud believes that unhappy people have these fantasies and art serves as an outlet for these oppressed, animalistic tendencies that, without art, are suppressed by civilization.

Portraying the fantasies through art does not repel its viewer; the art is aesthetically pleasing, even to the most conservative of viewers.
Art allows the oppressed to gain pleasure in making the art as well as releasing the built-up tension that the fantasies mount inside of us. Art also gives pleasure to the viewer, who might recognize the fantasy as one similar to their own, and they also release the tension that builds up. It allows the viewer to enjoy own daydreams and fantasies without shame, if they are of the erotic nature.

One artist I thought of was Georgia O’Keeffe, whose Calla Lily paintings have been likened to sexual fantasies of the artist. In one article it states, “The vibrating fragility and intimate centrality of Georgia's flowers led some art critics to liken them to female genitalia, consequently they believed Georgia was interpreting the Freudian sexuality rampant in "Roaring Twenties" society. In truth they saw only half the picture (no pun intended): Georgia used the flowers as a sexual metaphor to arouse enchantment with its beauty.”[via http://www.lkwdpl.org/wihohio/okee-geox.htm]

On one hand, Freud may be on to something, but the only thing I’m having difficulty with Freud’s fantasy-driven art is the realism and landscapes, which is where my question comes from.
Do realism and landscapes and other more “straight-forward” art still depict fantasies? Are there hidden dreams and wishes in there somewhere?

04 October 2009

response to Bill's blog 10.3.09

does anyone also feel that Tolstoy knew of the intentionality thesis before he wrote this book?

First of all, I agree that art can try to portray one emotion, but will inevitably represent more since emotions go hand in hand.I think it is impossible to only feel one thing at one time, having "mixed feelings" about something is very common, so therefore it's hard for art to only have one emotion. I also agree with your example of Starry Night. It's a commonly known masterpiece, and seems simple enough, but evokes a flood of emotions when someone actually stops to look at it.

Secondly, I think that Tolstoy was well aware of the Intentionality Thesis, and was trying to amend it like we have been. The artist was creating art, so therfore it is art, but it also has to communicate some sort of emotion in someone to count. Although there are also flaws in that amendment, it is a step in the right direction to becoming more exclusive of a theory.

Tolstoy: the Romantic Russian<3

Tolstoy considers art as “art” if it has some sort of emotional impact on the viewer, which is a surprising theory for any man of the olden days, especially that of a Russian!
Tolstoy’s views are sort of romantic in a way, especially since he believes art is a means of “communion among people”. He sees it as an important way to communicate with one another. Humans need to convey emotion to each other, and art is one way. Once the art is produced, the first viewer, and all those after him, will receive an impression and emotional response and be in communication with the artist. Art has a purpose to unite people, and if it misses the mark, Tolstoy believes it should therefore not be considered art.
Of course there are other ways to communicate, but isn't art just a fun way to do it? Writing papers is tedious and boring, and if I had any stitch of artistic talent, I'm sure art would be a more enjoyable way of communicating. Tolstoy's view of connecting people is heartfelt in my opinion, and a much needed, positive aspect to art. His theory is an important amendment to the Intentionality Thesis.

My question is, is there any reason to denounce Tolstoy? Can art be completely emotionless?