January 05, 2004

Definition of Art

An excerpt from a debate I'm having by email with some friends on the definition of art:

Julie's first comments:
I am in the middle of a raging tempest of a debate with no end in sight. My brothers are against me and my definition of art. Just for a little help, those of you that have loads of time to think and type, could you send me a quick little definition of art according to you? I'm sure it would not just benefit me, but you too! Happy New Year! May you make resolutions that you can keep and may you keep the resolution you make.

The crux the argument is this: does art require a human artist with the specific intention of organization of elements(visual, auditory, verbal, etc.)for a specific purpose or is there the possibility of random art without an intentional artist? Can art be "accidental"?

My comments:

Well, well....circle the wagons. I've got some thoughts on this debate.

I've been considering this for a few hours in the back of my mind. I even went so far as to personally consult my esteemed colleague, Mr. Gerard, as to his perspective on the matter.

Not to move to a weak position, but I really do believe that it can be looked at through several different levels.

I do believe that for the one viewing the "work"---such as the hamburger example----could certainly be "creating" art in his mind as he looks at the piece. That is, he is enjoying the shapes, colors, and composition. He is analyzing what his is seeing and interpreting it. Within his own mind, this really is "art".

In order for a work to be "art", it would have to be either a) placed into view, exhibited, or shown in some way intentionally as a method of communication, or b) received AS art by the one who views it (whether or not someone put the work on display.)

A good definition for "created art"---that is, something an "artist" does:

It is a controlled (at some level) expression of an artist's personal view of Reality.

Now one could argue that EVERYTHING that exists is art. Yes, this is true. God made EVERYTHING. A glass of spilled milk is art in that is it "GOD'S controlled expression of Reality"--to quote the definition. All kinds of "controlled" laws have an impact on exactly what form the spilled milk takes on the floor--gravity, mass, weight, turgor pressure, the texture of the floor, the force behind the dropping of the glass. This is a controlled expression of the Creator---who leaves NOTHING to chance.

Now, as soon as the question, "What/Who is an Artist?" comes into play, things get sticky.

It's all in the semantics and underlying definitions----If we say that art only happens when MAN does the work of art, then we end up with an entirely different conversation.

If we say that art is ANYTHING that IS---including God's created works---then this is a rather wide open, basic definition that of course can easily swallow any definition of "art". That's OK if you want to zoom out to that big ultimate level. It's just that it's a completely different question you are debating.

Posted by at January 5, 2004 02:33 PM | TrackBack