Thursday, September 10, 2009

What does the word "art" mean?

The barrier of taste is gone, of course.  Craft is pretty much gone too.

Debate continues over subtler issues like authorship -- does art need an artist?  "Artist", of course, is a much simpler word.  It uncontroversially signifies one whose intention of action is the production of art.
But then we're still at "art"...

Subjectively, I don't feel the controversy, since I have a definition of art I find sufficiently satisfying.  And I even grant it some movement toward "truth", since I feel (and have argued) that it represents the threshold of what is both sufficient and necessary, without an ounce of extra fat.

Essentially, to me "art" represents the relationship between an observer and an observed.  If you're looking at Voice of Fire and attempting to relate to the work as an artistic piece, there is art -- in that space where your intentionality as audience connects with the presence of something observable (which would include even ostensibly empty space).

Aside from being relatively tidy, I feel that this extends the most generous plausible grounds to each end of the artistic interaction -- the art and the experient of the art.  It presumes goodwill on the part of the latter and potential value within the former, and the unique quality of every singular experience degrades any good vs bad art considerations.

It also has the effect of bringing into the big tent such things as random events, natural objects, inadvertent performances, readymades, brut, anti-art, commercial art.  In opposition to the rules of competition as they apply to finance, this open view would, I believe, enhance the role of the artist in society, not diminish it.

If I demand realistic craft in my painting, I will approach Voice of Fire with suspicion, and declare it a paint-roller job.  Regardless of the failure of the work to meet my subjective criteria, the work was approached by me with the intention of perceiving it as art, thus I had an artistic relationship with that work.  The details of my legitimacy checklist are irrelevant at the macro level, what matters is the joining of the object with my intentional perception.

So a tree, a bag whirling in the wind, a thrift store painting-by-numbers, a blank sheet of paper, the sound of a car idling -- all of these are art the moment we ask the question.  The depth of the art can be debated, but it becomes impossible to disqualify the work from contender status.

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