What is Art?

Use this forum to have philosophical discussions about aesthetics and art. What is art? What is beauty? What makes art good? You can also use this forum to discuss philosophy in the arts, namely to discuss the philosophical points in any particular movie, TV show, book or story.
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Atreyu
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Re: What is Art?

Post by Atreyu » October 2nd, 2017, 1:28 am

Joshua 6:1-5 "Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in. 2And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. 3And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. 4And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. 5And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him."

Joshua 6:15-21 "And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times. 16And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city. 17And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD. 20So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. 21And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword."

Spraticus
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Re: What is Art?

Post by Spraticus » October 2nd, 2017, 5:15 am

Atreyu wrote:
Spraticus wrote: It's also very easy to misinterpret ancient art because there are often no documents remaining to explain the artist's objectives, making it very easy to impose your own meaning on the work.
Spraticus wrote: It's hard to guess how good the sphinx might have been but it was made for very particular reasons, dictated by a theocracy, to glorify a king who was seen as a link between gods and men. It is an expression of gigantic ego on the Trump scale. I am slightly awed by it, in that it was a huge piece of work for a very primitive society with only the most basic technology, but as art it leaves me cold. Koons' Puppy on the other hand is a piece of joyful kitsch that glories in its deliberate vulgarity and brings a smile to my face.
It's rare to find such a blatant contradiction in a post. (red)

As you suggested, the real meaning behind the Sphinx can't be known, but to think that it was all about vanity, theocracy, and the ego of self-important kings and nothing more is simply false. It was also saying something about Man and the Universe, but this is precisely what is difficult to extract from it.

What's in blue is quite interesting. Basic technology? Well, sure. Basic knowledge? Not at all. Modern man hasn't a clue how they built such large structures, usually resorting to "common sense" explanations like mass forced labor, and various "walking" techniques using ropes. The truth, however, is that they used a certain knowledge completely unknown to modern science to build them, namely, they knew how to manipulate objects using sound. Faint remnants of this ancient knowledge even lives on today in the snake charmers of the East....
There is no contradiction; in the case of ancient Egypt there is a huge amount of documentary evidence. If you really believe that the ancient societies had knowledge that we have lost then I can only say that it is probably futile talking to you.

-- Updated October 2nd, 2017, 4:36 am to add the following --
Atreyu wrote:
Spraticus wrote: It's also very easy to misinterpret ancient art because there are often no documents remaining to explain the artist's objectives, making it very easy to impose your own meaning on the work.
Spraticus wrote: It's hard to guess how good the sphinx might have been but it was made for very particular reasons, dictated by a theocracy, to glorify a king who was seen as a link between gods and men. It is an expression of gigantic ego on the Trump scale. I am slightly awed by it, in that it was a huge piece of work for a very primitive society with only the most basic technology, but as art it leaves me cold. Koons' Puppy on the other hand is a piece of joyful kitsch that glories in its deliberate vulgarity and brings a smile to my face.
It's rare to find such a blatant contradiction in a post. (red)

As you suggested, the real meaning behind the Sphinx can't be known, but to think that it was all about vanity, theocracy, and the ego of self-important kings and nothing more is simply false. It was also saying something about Man and the Universe, but this is precisely what is difficult to extract from it.

What's in blue is quite interesting. Basic technology? Well, sure. Basic knowledge? Not at all. Modern man hasn't a clue how they built such large structures, usually resorting to "common sense" explanations like mass forced labor, and various "walking" techniques using ropes. The truth, however, is that they used a certain knowledge completely unknown to modern science to build them, namely, they knew how to manipulate objects using sound. Faint remnants of this ancient knowledge even lives on today in the snake charmers of the East....
There is no contradiction; in the case of ancient Egypt there is a huge amount of documentary evidence. If you really believe that the ancient societies had knowledge that we have lost then I can only say that it is probably futile talking to you.
Greta wrote:My understanding is that the large pyramids were built by roughly 20,000 labourers working over a span of about 20 years.

Interestingly, it seems that in the case of at least some pyramids, the workers were most likely not slaves because there is evidence of significant medical interventions on them. As noted by the narrator, why would they go to so much trouble to fix the injuries of expendable slaves? Further evidence regarding the workers' living quarters suggested that their work carried some status.

Like gladiators of Rome, these workers appeared to have some status, so the status was accorded at least on part due to the sacrifices they were making for the overall group; significant malformations of the workers' spines and limbs were found due to heaving work. Their life spans were no doubt compromised by their vocation.

While I've not personally seen the pyramids, I am familiar with art whose most prominent feature is size - the ability to impact an observer. Those who have seen Spinal Tap will be most familiar with how much difference there is in artistic affect between a Stonehenge replica eleven feet tall and one that is eleven inches high.

Thus, we cannot fairly judge the art of the pyramids or other huge art (even Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles) via pictures. Let's face it, a pyramid isn't exactly a fancy shape but if you make one almost 150 metres high and comprising over two million massive stone blocks, it will not fail to inspire awe.
I would agree with that. Seeing a Pollock in a book and seeing it taking up the entire wall of the museum, are two very different experiences. The same goes for earlier works such as Monet's large Water Lilly paintings or Rembrandt's Night Watch. It was quite a shock seeing Boticelli's work in the Uffizi and discovering how massive it is.

I saw an interesting documentary on the pyramid builders' town that was excavated recently. There was lot of written evidence there about the lives of the workers. The ancient Egyptians seem to have been quite bureaucratic and recorded everything.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by LuckyR » October 3rd, 2017, 4:46 am

Atreyu wrote:
LuckyR wrote: Can you give an example of some of this true art? I'd love to see some...
It can usually only be found in ancient works. Stonehenge, the Pyramids, the Sphinx, etc. You can also find many works of real art in the East, and also in ancient American cultures such as the Incas and the Aztecs, among others. If you're intuitive enough, you'll feel something in these works of art that you won't feel in contemporary "art".
Well those examples are imposing, at least partially because they are made of stone and are architecture. Any examples made of a soft material and is not architectural?
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Spraticus » October 3rd, 2017, 5:56 am

LuckyR wrote:
Atreyu wrote: (Nested quote removed.)


It can usually only be found in ancient works. Stonehenge, the Pyramids, the Sphinx, etc. You can also find many works of real art in the East, and also in ancient American cultures such as the Incas and the Aztecs, among others. If you're intuitive enough, you'll feel something in these works of art that you won't feel in contemporary "art".
Well those examples are imposing, at least partially because they are made of stone and are architecture. Any examples made of a soft material and is not architectural?
The "something" that "intuitive enough" people are supposed to feel is entirely internal. It is an event in the brain of the person having this supposedly mystical experience and arises out of their own beliefs colouring their response to the artifact in front of them. This is normal. It is the reason that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But normal people don't imagine that there is some sort of spooky emanation from the artifact or that the "ancients" had mysterious skills and abilities that we have lost. They made things by purely mechanical means just as we do and were more or less successful at conveying their message just as we are. Where there is documentary evidence we can tell what they intended, otherwise we just have to guess. If you look at a small pottery animal dug up from a five thousand year old site you have to ask whether it was used in some sort of religious ceremony concerned with fertility or whether it was a child's toy. The context might give you a clue, but not always. Projecting onto the figure, religious ideas that weren't developed till two or three thousand years later, is simply silly.

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Atreyu
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Re: What is Art?

Post by Atreyu » October 3rd, 2017, 8:51 pm

Spraticus wrote:The "something" that "intuitive enough" people are supposed to feel is entirely internal. It is an event in the brain of the person having this supposedly mystical experience and arises out of their own beliefs colouring their response to the artifact in front of them. This is normal. It is the reason that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But normal people don't imagine that there is some sort of spooky emanation from the artifact or that the "ancients" had mysterious skills and abilities that we have lost. They made things by purely mechanical means just as we do and were more or less successful at conveying their message just as we are. Where there is documentary evidence we can tell what they intended, otherwise we just have to guess. If you look at a small pottery animal dug up from a five thousand year old site you have to ask whether it was used in some sort of religious ceremony concerned with fertility or whether it was a child's toy. The context might give you a clue, but not always. Projecting onto the figure, religious ideas that weren't developed till two or three thousand years later, is simply silly.
I don't think it's worth time continuing the "debate" with you. Your views seem to be fixed, a basic error in philosophy.

The "something" is definitely outside of the self, and is in the art itself, but not everyone, or even most people, are going to be able to sense anything different. Just like two men will walk by a church, one will feel something there out of the ordinary, while the other only notices the architecture, what people are wearing when they walk in, and other meaningless ordinary details. Apparently you are the second kind of man. Not all of us are. The feeling we get when we view these works of art are definitely emanating from the artist's work itself, but naturally, if one doesn't feel anything different one might just project oneself onto everyone else, and say that what is true for them is true for everyone.

But it isn't...

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Spraticus » October 4th, 2017, 12:24 pm

Meaningless assertions with no evidential base, whereas what I have said is consistent with the latest neuroscience research. You'll just carry on believing yourself superior to the rest of us, and the rest of us will go on ignoring your fantasies.

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Atreyu
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Re: What is Art?

Post by Atreyu » October 4th, 2017, 7:58 pm

Spraticus wrote:Meaningless assertions with no evidential base, whereas what I have said is consistent with the latest neuroscience research. You'll just carry on believing yourself superior to the rest of us, and the rest of us will go on ignoring your fantasies.
To think that neuroscience could shed any light on works of art is certainly an anomaly.

In this case, the evidence is personal....

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Re: What is Art?

Post by LuckyR » October 5th, 2017, 2:52 am

Atreyu wrote:
Spraticus wrote:The "something" that "intuitive enough" people are supposed to feel is entirely internal. It is an event in the brain of the person having this supposedly mystical experience and arises out of their own beliefs colouring their response to the artifact in front of them. This is normal. It is the reason that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But normal people don't imagine that there is some sort of spooky emanation from the artifact or that the "ancients" had mysterious skills and abilities that we have lost. They made things by purely mechanical means just as we do and were more or less successful at conveying their message just as we are. Where there is documentary evidence we can tell what they intended, otherwise we just have to guess. If you look at a small pottery animal dug up from a five thousand year old site you have to ask whether it was used in some sort of religious ceremony concerned with fertility or whether it was a child's toy. The context might give you a clue, but not always. Projecting onto the figure, religious ideas that weren't developed till two or three thousand years later, is simply silly.
I don't think it's worth time continuing the "debate" with you. Your views seem to be fixed, a basic error in philosophy.

The "something" is definitely outside of the self, and is in the art itself, but not everyone, or even most people, are going to be able to sense anything different. Just like two men will walk by a church, one will feel something there out of the ordinary, while the other only notices the architecture, what people are wearing when they walk in, and other meaningless ordinary details. Apparently you are the second kind of man. Not all of us are. The feeling we get when we view these works of art are definitely emanating from the artist's work itself, but naturally, if one doesn't feel anything different one might just project oneself onto everyone else, and say that what is true for them is true for everyone.

But it isn't...
I don't disagree with your description. But if you take it one step further, is the "artiness" of the piece in the actual art piece or does it reside in the viewer and the piece just unlocks (and therefore exposes) the artiness?
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Spraticus » October 5th, 2017, 4:55 am

I don't disagree with your description. But if you take it one step further, is the "artiness" of the piece in the actual art piece or does it reside in the viewer and the piece just unlocks (and therefore exposes) the artiness?[/quote]

Which post were you not disagreeing with? There are ways in which the artiness is in both. There is artiness in the intentions of the artist and in the expectations and experiences of the viewer. But the only things that emanate from the artifact are the photons of light that allow the experience.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by LuckyR » October 7th, 2017, 1:38 am

LuckyR wrote:I don't disagree with your description. But if you take it one step further, is the "artiness" of the piece in the actual art piece or does it reside in the viewer and the piece just unlocks (and therefore exposes) the artiness?
Spraticus wrote: Which post were you not disagreeing with? There are ways in which the artiness is in both. There is artiness in the intentions of the artist and in the expectations and experiences of the viewer. But the only things that emanate from the artifact are the photons of light that allow the experience.
I was specifically addressing Atreyu's posting, but as you insinuate these ideas are, if not universal, let's say are very common. It seems obvious to me that arts have something to say with their art and that artists make certain assumptions about how their art will strike their audience. However, if famous, the art is likely to reach audience members well outside the predicted audience and it is logical that their different experiences will bring a very different response and appreciation. If you don't believe me, ask the Robert E Lee statue sculptor.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Atreyu » October 7th, 2017, 2:39 am

LuckyR wrote: I don't disagree with your description. But if you take it one step further, is the "artiness" of the piece in the actual art piece or does it reside in the viewer and the piece just unlocks (and therefore exposes) the artiness?
I would say it is in both the artist and the work of art....

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Spraticus » October 8th, 2017, 1:29 pm

I think it is fairly clear, by definition, that the artists have artistic intention regarding their works, and they probably have hopes for how the viewer will react; certainly I do and other artists I know also do. But, we are also aware that what the viewer brings with them will influence their reaction. We can't control their life experiences.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Atreyu » October 10th, 2017, 7:46 am

Spraticus wrote:I think it is fairly clear, by definition, that the artists have artistic intention regarding their works, and they probably have hopes for how the viewer will react; certainly I do and other artists I know also do. But, we are also aware that what the viewer brings with them will influence their reaction. We can't control their life experiences.
That's correct. You can't do "objective" art. Neither could I, nor most people. Only a very few men can create works of objective art.

The reason for this is that only men of objective consciousness could do it, i.e. men who have attained a much higher level of consciousness than the normal. And such men will always be quite few, if any, in number.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Spraticus » October 10th, 2017, 8:55 am

Your use of "objective" is not the normal agreed use. There is no such thing as a person of objective consciousness as you claim. There are no higher levels of consciousness. These are all superstition. Rather than trying to define art you are trying to impose a classification within art.

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Re: What is Art?

Post by Atreyu » October 10th, 2017, 3:39 pm

Spraticus wrote:Your use of "objective" is not the normal agreed use. There is no such thing as a person of objective consciousness as you claim. There are no higher levels of consciousness. These are all superstition. Rather than trying to define art you are trying to impose a classification within art.
I believe the thread has gotten off topic. But I will still respond.

What is your general view of Eastern "gurus"?; or masters of yoga, the martial arts, or tai chi?; or men like Jesus, Mohammed, or Prince Guatama (founder of Buddhism)?

Were they and their followers all just a bunch of deluded quacks? And were their institutions, principles, and methods all just a bunch of insanity masquerading as something more?

In other words, do you see anything of value in any of these esoteric traditions? Or absolutely nothing at all?

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