Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Greta » January 3rd, 2018, 5:47 pm

Spraticus wrote:
January 3rd, 2018, 11:58 am
Greta wrote:
January 3rd, 2018, 7:09 am
Consider the boundary between visual and "conceptual" art. Visual art will necessarily have variable conceptual content and aesthetic appeal.
I suspect that everyone here would agree that all art has some sort of conceptual content. The conceptual movement has chosen to accentuate that aspect, to the point that the artifact can be done away with in some cases. The aesthetic element however, could go into negative territory so "appeal" might be the wrong word. In other cases, such as switching a light off and on, the aesthetic content is elusive to a point close to invisibility. (As is the contribution of the "artist".)
As one who has dabbled in free jazz and experimental music - each of which is routinely dubbed "not music" by artistic conservatives - I do not think beauty is necessary for art, not even a bit. It helps, and most great art has tremendous aesthetic appeal, but most art is not necessarily great, good or even competent. Incompetent art is still art, just as a "lemon" PC destined for use as a doorstop is still a PC. A child's kindergarten drawing is art too, just art with a limited audience, ie. the child's parents and desperately sentimental and twee types :)

Majority opinion need not necessarily act as a referent. Art - from shallow saccharine sweet blandness to gritty, uncompromising representations of chaos and absurdity - is created by people for the purpose of expressing mind or emotion or attempting to impress on the minds or emotions of others.

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Burning ghost » January 3rd, 2018, 9:24 pm

Greta -

That is something I have struggled to fit into my view of art. I do think "beauty" is deeply important to art, but it need not be "pleasant" to look at ... hard for me to consolidate my thinking here because it seems quite contrary.

I guess what I mean is if something is "ugly" then it is somewhere on the spectrum of "beauty". And as I previously mentioned a do not regard a flower as art because nature is not an "artist." Whether beautiful or ugly a piece of art is success if it draws you toward it, it reveals something emotional within yourself you'll wish to explore more closely (and we tend to want to explore the angels within rather than the demons.) It takes a considerable amount of time to find the "beauty" it what is emotionally disturbing - that is why I think we call things ugly in the first place; it is just a matter of being unwilling to see "beauty" in the darkness of the human spirit.

To reveal something of what I mean, someone could draw a picture of a horrific scene and do so beautifully. That is where art seems to reach its peak. When it lays bare what is most disturbing to us in a beautiful way. Something like when we listen to melancholic music and drown in the sorrow of it, we do so and feel catharsis - we are opened to the dramatic landscape of human emotions and it makes us feel awe at ourselves simply because we reveal our own existing being.

With an artist eye it is possible to regard all human experience as being both beautiful and ugly in this manner. To feel sorrow for the plight of the decomposing sandwich and beauty in the process of decomposition too. The narrative of the artistically framed item is revealed by framing it.

I would say it is very much down this kind of path the "conceptual artist" has gone. They are looking at the "frame", but they don't yet understand that they are doing just that or are unable to recognize what it is they are doing because they're too caught up in the "doing", they are themselves too entwined in the narrative to partition themselves from it. We simply watch them like confused creatures reflecting our own intimate confusions (again here is where catharsis allows their very existence maybe?)
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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Greta » January 3rd, 2018, 9:47 pm

I suppose it's just labels. You call it "not art", I call it "uninspired art". I try to avoid the "true Scotsman" logical error in this area.

To some extent, galleries have been so keen to stay with the cutting edge that they gave prominence to works that didn't deserve it, like the much-more-adventurous music industry in the 60s. The art world has always been far more adventurous and progressive than in music, probably due to music's far greater physical impact; the bigger the weapon, the more care is needed in its handling.

Today, many works that are ostensibly art, some with a degree of beauty, are nothing more than box checking, lacking any originality and sincerity, but rich with clichés proven to attract consumers. Personally, I would rather Yoko Ono's goofy installations than formulaic, mainstream commercial art.

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Burning ghost » January 3rd, 2018, 11:24 pm

I agree. I imagine when I say "beauty" it would be handier of me to hark back to the Greek "kalos" instead. I think we could do with further delineations in the English language when it comes to discussing "beauty" and what is "beautiful". We all know there is a difference in how we use this term, but to date language has not found a way to construct some form of separation that is of colloquial use.

I guess this is due to the general populaces education and valuation of "art" as a whole. It seems we're more inclined in todays world to compartmentalize things in a more material way rather than in a aesthetic or qualitative way.
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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » January 18th, 2018, 12:02 pm

Spraticus wrote:
January 2nd, 2018, 3:48 pm
"It's performance art, related to theater." That is the problem. I don't object to it existing, I just object to it being called what it isn't.
Don't understand what you're getting at, are you saying conceptual art is not art? It should be called theater instead? or "activities related to theater where the artist writes the script if there is one, and does the acting wherever she likes, that is, not necessarily in a theater"?
fair to say

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » January 19th, 2018, 12:23 am

Burning ghost wrote:
January 3rd, 2018, 9:24 pm
With an artist eye it is possible to regard all human experience as being both beautiful and ugly in this manner. To feel sorrow for the plight of the decomposing sandwich and beauty in the process of decomposition too. The narrative of the artistically framed item is revealed by framing it.

I would say it is very much down this kind of path the "conceptual artist" has gone. They are looking at the "frame", but they don't yet understand that they are doing just that or are unable to recognize what it is they are doing because they're too caught up in the "doing", they are themselves too entwined in the narrative to partition themselves from it. We simply watch them like confused creatures reflecting our own intimate confusions (again here is where catharsis allows their very existence maybe?)
Well this is pretty poetic. I like your frame ideas. The conceptual artists not understanding what they are doing... It's funny, I have an axiom for myself: If you know what you're doing you're not making art.

I think artists are not thinking of these issues, they are just making art as best they can, as you say.
fair to say

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » January 19th, 2018, 12:31 am

People get freaked out about performance art/conceptual art. They're ok with theater, art, a musician playing somewhere, but they don't know what to do with an artist presenting a rich physical, metaphor laden scenario of some kind, perhaps with their own body. I said before that performance art is related to theater. It's also pretty close to standup comedy. But it definitely is a thing.
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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Burning ghost » January 19th, 2018, 1:52 am

3uGH7D4MLj wrote:
January 19th, 2018, 12:23 am
Burning ghost wrote:
January 3rd, 2018, 9:24 pm
With an artist eye it is possible to regard all human experience as being both beautiful and ugly in this manner. To feel sorrow for the plight of the decomposing sandwich and beauty in the process of decomposition too. The narrative of the artistically framed item is revealed by framing it.

I would say it is very much down this kind of path the "conceptual artist" has gone. They are looking at the "frame", but they don't yet understand that they are doing just that or are unable to recognize what it is they are doing because they're too caught up in the "doing", they are themselves too entwined in the narrative to partition themselves from it. We simply watch them like confused creatures reflecting our own intimate confusions (again here is where catharsis allows their very existence maybe?)
Well this is pretty poetic. I like your frame ideas. The conceptual artists not understanding what they are doing... It's funny, I have an axiom for myself: If you know what you're doing you're not making art.

I think artists are not thinking of these issues, they are just making art as best they can, as you say.
Well, not exactly what I was saying, but I kind of agree to a point. The more "traditional" artist knows what they feel when they are expressing themselves. If the decomposing sandwich is beautiful to them they express this through their art. The "conceptual" artist is not working within the "frame." They are trying to make the frame the focus of attention directly, whereas the traditional artist doesn't necessarily have to play with such attempts at the intellectualization of aesthetics.

In a sense, they can be said to have stopped making art and starting trying "reproduce" the making of the making ... see what I mean? They are conflating intellectualism with artistry (if that floats your boat though so be it.)
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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » January 19th, 2018, 12:22 pm

Well, there's the Marina Abromowicz piece with the bow and arrow. She holds the bow, Ulay holds the arrow, and they lean apart, the arrow pointing at her chest. It's a spectacle. The work of Chris Burden also comes to mind, getting nailed to the back of a Volkswagen.

I don't think of intellectualism when I see these pieces, but the art content just floods in. Can you say they have stopped making art?
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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Burning ghost » January 19th, 2018, 1:06 pm

3uGH7D4MLj wrote:
January 19th, 2018, 12:22 pm
Well, there's the Marina Abromowicz piece with the bow and arrow. She holds the bow, Ulay holds the arrow, and they lean apart, the arrow pointing at her chest. It's a spectacle. The work of Chris Burden also comes to mind, getting nailed to the back of a Volkswagen.

I don't think of intellectualism when I see these pieces, but the art content just floods in. Can you say they have stopped making art?
If someone **** in a bottle and calls it a commentary on the times, then ... yeah! Of course there is "art" in everything if you have an artists eye.

I think it is a funny crossover area. Some things they do know do make people think and they are fun and interesting. I am just not so sure that just because something is interesting and fun it can be called art as easily as other mediums like dance or comedy. I think English mixes up a lot of terms and we've found ourselves stuck between concepts of "art", "technique", "craftsmanship" and "skill."

If you walked into a room and your friends were messing about with a bow and arrow what would you think? I wouldn't be amazed by it, yet if they'd built a twelve foot rubber duck I would be more impressed.

The test for me is simply if you take something and place it in a public space and people stop and look then it doesn't mean it is or is not art. It is a curious thing.
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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » January 19th, 2018, 1:56 pm

ok. nevermind, different strokes. best, 3uGH
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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Greta » January 19th, 2018, 7:43 pm

Having made both visceral and conceptual music, I see the idea of gatekeeping "art" in this way as pointless and misses the point like "Mary" did until she left her monochrome room.

Art is ultimately entirely subjective. If something, anything - from a grand view to a musical composition to a poop in a bottle - affects and stimulates a person in the way that art generally does, then it IS art - for that person at that time.

If we gained a majority informed view about the matter of what art is or isn't, then we might formulate what we call "objective standards". That would be a vote, and would always be subject to change. By the same token, "objective standards" have always varied from culture to culture and changed over time in all cultures throughout history.

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Burning ghost » January 20th, 2018, 12:14 am

Greta -

If this were true people wouldn't be objecting to calling X or Y "art." There is no formula for what "art" is we've rigidly established, that doesn't mean we shouldn't bother and take on an "anything goes" attitude (IMO.)

Having different likes and dislikes shouldn't be the determining factor it whether a fish is a fish. The reason we have "conceptual art" is because we at least recognize that it isn't simply "art."

This is not merely gatekeeping it is the process of how we fashion conceptual understanding. I've heard "music" that I wouldn't call "music." My definition of "music" insists that there is some semblance of rhythm and tone.

The oldest philosophical question stem from these kinds of enquiry; like is a car a motorbike if it has two wheels. There is something of the ship of Theseus about how we manage our words and alter their use I think.

It is a VERY curious thing and I don't think we'll ever fully get to grips with aesthetics to the point where everything can be categorized as X or Y.
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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Greta » January 20th, 2018, 2:57 am

Burning ghost wrote:
January 20th, 2018, 12:14 am
This is not merely gatekeeping it is the process of how we fashion conceptual understanding. I've heard "music" that I wouldn't call "music." My definition of "music" insists that there is some semblance of rhythm and tone.
That's just traditionalism. My jam pal's elderly Mum who plays violin in a local orchestra might agree with you. That is just gatekeeping and the music that you deem "not music" really is music - such as free jazz, noise music and musical concrete.

There are a number of elements of music and not all need be present - melody, harmony, rhythm, dynamics, texture, timbre, tempo and meter. Some of the more oblique forms focus on texture, timbre and dynamics rather than the traditional elements, often as a challenge to the public's highly conservative conceptions of music as compared with art. There is far more tolerance for radicalism in art than in music. I think this is because music is the more potent form. One can turn away from a violent artwork but violent music is all-encompassing, much more intrusive. So the kind of radicalism in art movements early in the 20th century is still far beyond that which is generally tolerated in music a century later.

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Burning ghost » January 20th, 2018, 3:18 am

I was thinking more along the line of 20 minutes of silence followed by 10 seconds of white noise.

I am not what I, nor anyone else, would call "conventional" or "traditionalist." I've stated before that I am some kind of self tyrannical anarchist - meaning I oppose my own authority with a tyrannical attitude. Occasionally the sea settles and I sneak in some more moderate moments of "freedom" though.

:D

I have recently been studying the Poetics by Aristotle. It has been an interesting exploration. I remember adhering to the view of open interpretation when I was younger. Not so sure now, and I'm still forming a dialogue about that whole messy area of aesthetics and hermeneutics.

My point being, here at least, that if we're going to call all noise music then why not just call music "noise"? There is a delineation and it may be illusionary. The greater the precision of the boundaries may lead to some new discoveries. One example one be the beginning of the "contemporary art" movement to give but one example.

What is fascinating to me is how these terms are "living" embodiments of current attitudes and that they morph and shift with the times. We may look back on some of these with fonder memories than others. Every generation grow up saying "That's not music!" when they hear Elvis, Captain Beefheart or Sami throat singing.

Another example is when you go to a restaurant a part of the experience is the décor and presentation. These things effect the taste of the food. You see where I am going so I'll leave it there.

What we mean by "art" is not something I feel we yet have the words to articulate in a proper manner; and I'd say that we'll necessarily never be able to, but by saying so I am reaching for it. Much like scientists used to say we'd never know what the Sun was made of unless we travelled to it, we're never really in any position to say what we can know.
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