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Not 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.
Fleetfootphil
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Re: Not Art

Post by Fleetfootphil » January 25th, 2013, 8:54 pm

I see the "suffer for art idea" as totally bogus. Who cares what you put into it- heart, soul, whatever. That has nothing to do with anything. Nor do deprivation, solitude, sexual escapades, isolation, bohemian lifestyles and the rest of the artistic dogma. All you really need is a human brain/mind and, possibly, some materials.

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Re: Not Art

Post by Belinda » January 29th, 2013, 8:02 am

I agree with Fleetfootphil that what he describes is what art is. There is no mystique. Art is a dimension of human experience which may be described objectively in the style of anthropology or art history.

I submit that what Enio Anon describes is what we commonly call 'works of art'. I know that msot people in this discussion call art what I would prefer to call works of art, but unless we define our terms we will not move on.
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XavierAlex
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Re: Not Art

Post by XavierAlex » January 29th, 2013, 12:59 pm

There seems to be no agreement on what is art in this thread. I think the problem lies in that what was once art and had criteria for art no longer applies in a postmodern pop culture. As long as it sells as an artwork it can be claimed to be an artwork--despite our judgement of it. Some of the greatest songs were written in an hour or a weekend, so the idea that an artwork takes time isn't necessarily case. Perhaps an artist needs to practice for a long time before they create an artwork in a short period of time. To answer what is not art, there would have to be agreement, a sort of social contract, saying something is not art. Usually, there are a few consensual agreements on what is not art, because the group agrees it isn't. Most would argue that masturbation is not an art-form. But if it is agreed and SOLD as artwork--otherwise called erotica--then it is an art-form.

Here's a question: are documentaries art? Or are they truth? Or both?

Fleetfootphil
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Re: Not Art

Post by Fleetfootphil » January 31st, 2013, 9:10 pm

Documentaries could be art, hell, anything could be art. Are they truth? Rarely. Usually, they are a reflection of something, although they will always be truth in the sense of being themselves. But that is not the same as truth in their expression of documenting an existing thing.

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Re: Not Art

Post by Misty » February 1st, 2013, 8:03 am

[quote="XavierAlex wrote,

Here's a question: are documentaries art? Or are they truth? Or both?[/quote]


Documentaries are sometimes art, truth, both, lies, neither!

When a child I saw a local trash collector truck with this written on it: "Your trash is my bread and butter". Art is all about perspective.
Things are not always as they appear; it's a matter of perception.

The eyes can only see what the mind has, is, or will be prepared to comprehend.

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Re: Not Art

Post by Belinda » February 1st, 2013, 11:44 am

Fleetfootphil wrote:Documentaries could be art, hell, anything could be art. Are they truth? Rarely. Usually, they are a reflection of something, although they will always be truth in the sense of being themselves. But that is not the same as truth in their expression of documenting an existing thing.
I agree with Fleetfootphil and Misty and I would like to comment on their ideas. Documentaries are a medium for expressing both facts and feelings. By virtue of skillfully epressing feelings with a goodly admixture of sincere and courageous truth any documentary is a work of art. The documentary is an example of an art form. Nobody could deny that a documentary can ever be 100% objecticvely true; but then, no knowledge about an event is ever 100% true.You would have to be God to make a 100% true documentary.
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Fleetfootphil
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Re: Not Art

Post by Fleetfootphil » February 1st, 2013, 5:00 pm

But then people like Michael Moore don't even try to do truth, they just make up stuff so their documentary will appeal to those who have similar viewpoints and to persuade those who don't that they are wrong- while raking in a personal fortune.

I read a short story last night in which the author said art's responsibility is to show truth to power because everyone else is too frightened. I can see that as almost desirable but but not credible and, in the end, just plain false. People like Moore show lies to power and everyone else. Art is not about truth, it's about art.

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Re: Not Art

Post by Misty » February 2nd, 2013, 6:55 pm

A little bit of truth, mixed into a bunch of lies, is just enough to fool many.
Things are not always as they appear; it's a matter of perception.

The eyes can only see what the mind has, is, or will be prepared to comprehend.

I am Lion, hear me ROAR! Meow.

Hughsmith23
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Re: Not Art

Post by Hughsmith23 » February 3rd, 2013, 7:23 pm

Belinda wrote:I agree with Fleetfootphil that what he describes is what art is. There is no mystique. Art is a dimension of human experience which may be described objectively in the style of anthropology or art history.

I submit that what Enio Anon describes is what we commonly call 'works of art'. I know that msot people in this discussion call art what I would prefer to call works of art, but unless we define our terms we will not move on.
Just because art 'may be described objectively in the style of anthropology or art history' it does not follow it has no mystique. In fact, if you were to read a book of the anthropology of art, you would not be experiencing art; at least, the book would be making no attempt to provide an artistic experience. You could argue that the experiential core of artistic experience is the experience of mystery. The reason I keep looking at paintings and reading books and listening to music is because there is something 'left over' in them, which I don't understand. This is a bit like Burke's sublime. If there is no mystique, and art is only a 'dimension of human experience', what distinguishes from other dimensions of human experience? If nothing, then you must dismiss it is a category of human experience all together. If it is possible to analyse something as a social glue, it does not mean that something is a social glue; in fact, the reason it functions as a social glue, is that it disguises its function. If no one experienced at as mystique, or beauty, there would be no art. Anthropologists describe marriage, but they also get married, and they do not confuse the two experiences, though they may inform each other.

-- Updated February 3rd, 2013, 6:27 pm to add the following --
Fleetfootphil wrote:I see the "suffer for art idea" as totally bogus. Who cares what you put into it- heart, soul, whatever. That has nothing to do with anything. Nor do deprivation, solitude, sexual escapades, isolation, bohemian lifestyles and the rest of the artistic dogma. All you really need is a human brain/mind and, possibly, some materials.
The 'suffer for art idea' can be read, reasonably I think, in historical terms. There are some periods, particular ones of upheavel, where to become a skilled artist is a sacrifice - it is necessary to life a bohemian lifestyle because there is no social structure which provides training, encouragement, any market. Similarly, because art is expressive, it is more likely to be problematic in relation to one's family background; if you start drawing pictures of your naked mother, your father may not like it, and may stop giving you pocket money. If you obey your father and repair his car on Monday, he will be less angry at you. The 'all you really need' argument fails to account for diversity in artistic expression - its range, from great, to rubbish. I don't mean that art is a choice of suffering, but some people who have chosen art have suffered as a result; social exclusion, poverty, familial exclusion.

-- Updated February 3rd, 2013, 6:31 pm to add the following --
XavierAlex wrote:There seems to be no agreement on what is art in this thread. I think the problem lies in that what was once art and had criteria for art no longer applies in a postmodern pop culture. As long as it sells as an artwork it can be claimed to be an artwork--despite our judgement of it. Some of the greatest songs were written in an hour or a weekend, so the idea that an artwork takes time isn't necessarily case. Perhaps an artist needs to practice for a long time before they create an artwork in a short period of time. To answer what is not art, there would have to be agreement, a sort of social contract, saying something is not art. Usually, there are a few consensual agreements on what is not art, because the group agrees it isn't. Most would argue that masturbation is not an art-form. But if it is agreed and SOLD as artwork--otherwise called erotica--then it is an art-form.

Here's a question: are documentaries art? Or are they truth? Or both?
Do you mean by saying that great songs are written quickly that historically, this 'art is made quickly' thing has not happened before? Its likely that many of the most famous poems were written quickly; in fact, the format of a short poem seems designed to reflect a short period of composition (10 lines, 14 lines... - particularly after say 1600). Also, market forces have always been behind a lot of art; Dickens, Balzac, many novelists wrote because they wanted their writings to sell, so that they could live. So I am not sure you characterised postmodern pop culture as distinctive.

XavierAlex
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Re: Not Art

Post by XavierAlex » February 3rd, 2013, 7:38 pm

Fleetfootphil wrote:But then people like Michael Moore don't even try to do truth, they just make up stuff so their documentary will appeal to those who have similar viewpoints and to persuade those who don't that they are wrong- while raking in a personal fortune.

I read a short story last night in which the author said art's responsibility is to show truth to power because everyone else is too frightened. I can see that as almost desirable but but not credible and, in the end, just plain false. People like Moore show lies to power and everyone else. Art is not about truth, it's about art.
I agree with mostly everything here. However, I bring up the documentary because I think they are rhetorical in most cases. And dishonest too. But here's where I differ. I think in film truth is most found in fiction. In cinema, there are expressions, like in music, moments in film, like moments in music, that are more true than the cut-and-paste argument of a documentary. More truth in a movie (or play) like Glen Garry Glen Ross than in Fahrenheit 911. (One pet peeve I'm trying to get over is "Based on a True Story"--which I believe is just a selling point). It can be hit or miss with Hollywood though, because it churns out lies upon lies.

Hughsmith23
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Re: Not Art

Post by Hughsmith23 » February 3rd, 2013, 8:02 pm

XavierAlex wrote: (Nested quote removed.)


I agree with mostly everything here. However, I bring up the documentary because I think they are rhetorical in most cases. And dishonest too. But here's where I differ. I think in film truth is most found in fiction. In cinema, there are expressions, like in music, moments in film, like moments in music, that are more true than the cut-and-paste argument of a documentary. More truth in a movie (or play) like Glen Garry Glen Ross than in Fahrenheit 911. (One pet peeve I'm trying to get over is "Based on a True Story"--which I believe is just a selling point). It can be hit or miss with Hollywood though, because it churns out lies upon lies.

Certainly fiction is more likely to succeeding in representation truth mimetically (e.g. by imitation). Documentary makes no attempt to represent life mimetically - e.g. fiction tries to the mirror the form of a life, from beginning to end. Documentary tries to give information about a life, rather than to turn life into form. Fiction is more real. Of course, if we went back and recategorised certain art forms in light of the rising concept of 'documentary' some realistic fiction might be considered documentary. In Herman Melville's Moby Dick, there are pages of description of the natural history of whales - does that make it documentary?

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Re: Not Art

Post by XavierAlex » February 3rd, 2013, 9:05 pm

Moby Dick is epic. Its portrayal of whales I would classify-I guess- as undergirding the narrative. Call documentary you could, but its larger in scope than documentation.

I've seen certain documentaries claiming to be authentic truth, some don't, but many make that pretense. So I don't think documentaries just plainly give information. There is editing, directorial and production choices. I am highly critical of them like I am of 'reality tv'.

-- Updated February 3rd, 2013, 9:15 pm to add the following --

Also much fiction doesnt entertain to represent life. I feel nowadays life is imitating fiction more so. Its a very classical notion to believe that art imitates life. I would say that in a global political system where presidents are in film and actors are politicians, a postmodern blur or effect occurs that is more of the absurd and surreal.

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Re: Not Art

Post by Fleetfootphil » February 4th, 2013, 12:31 am

Fiction has freedom to explain the expanses of life while documentary, if being true to its subject, is necessarily limited.

XavierAlex
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Re: Not Art

Post by XavierAlex » February 4th, 2013, 8:46 am

Fleetfootphil wrote:Fiction has freedom to explain the expanses of life while documentary, if being true to its subject, is necessarily limited.
This is true. A good documentary will use those limits though. I'm thinking not of the Michael Moore kind, but the PBS BBC kind. In this sense, however, I see it as journalistic and not necessarily as art. If PBS is interviewing physicists to explain time, then whether it is true or not, fiction or not, art or not, seems less important.

But one stark example of documentaries v films is The Doors, the film. Many claim Jim Morrison and the Doors were not like how they were in the film. Oliver Stone had invented Jim Morrison, so to speak; while a documentary of Jim Morrison showed a much different person, and more tragic than Stone's portrayal.

If you have seen The Doors, the film, it is a good film, but untrue to the life of its characters for the sake of art. My question is, if Jim Morrison is much different than the one in the documentary, which is better to believe as truth?

The actual truth may be not as important to the iconic and legend in the fictional film.

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Re: Not Art

Post by Fleetfootphil » February 4th, 2013, 11:29 am

Yeah, I get that about Jim Morrison and the movie. There is a cliche that, paraphrased, says when confronted with a truth or a fiction about a topic, believe the one that makes the better story. I suspect that is how we get folklore and the like, even Biblical stories. Probably, way back, someone or something unusual occurred and in the retelling it became embellished to the point that it became almost axiomatic. The better story lasts longer and presumably contains more lessons.

Journalism is different from art, as are medical healing and a few other personal-career categories, like militarism. Sadly, in our present state of affairs, journalism has slipped in its ability to remain neutral and simply present information for consideration. The delivery apparatus of current journalism has coupled it with amusement and entertainment, but we all know that. I expect it will clean itself up before long.

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