“What is Art?”
The question has and will continue to vex as long as individuals ask it. So, I am not about to offer the ultimate answer. Rather, I intend to put across my suggestions and perhaps a framework in which to ponder the matter.
Firstly, how does one access Art? I suggest there are three ways: using our senses; thinking; and, responding to or with emotion.
[Image description: screen-shot of my tumblr blog, "criquaer: uncensored"]
I am reaching nearly twenty-five thousand posts on my tumblr blog. This prompted me to look at the various items I have posted to my scrapbook of images. Straightaway this led me to consider the senses. I almost exclusively post imagery (sight); but many bloggers also post items containing sound (hearing). However, I suggest that other senses can also be involved in or activated by Art (such as taste and touch). This naturally may even involve some synæsthesia whereby Art incites or tricks other senses to become engaged. It is important that all senses are an option for Art, as only then can it be accessed by all, including those of us with any sensory impairment.
Art will most likely make one think: perhaps changing one’s perceptions or opinions; alternatively maybe re-enforcing them. Thinking may not always occur at the time Art is encountered. Art may seep into one’s conscious or unconscious and stir waking thoughts, daydreaming or dreaming whilst asleep. At other times Art may be quite in-one’s-face and agitate for some quick-thinking reaction.
Propaganda is included on my list (below) of potential art-forms as it, like advertising or rhetoric, has the ability to manipulate our thinking as well as our emotions.
Quite naturally, as it is our nature to be emotional, our emotions will be touched by Art. Political Art might stir up feelings of anger and a desire for justice. Erotica can stir sexual impulses. Some artworks create a sense of tranquility and help calm the viewer or listener or toucher.
Comedy, to my mind at least, is a clear example of an art-form that elicits emotional responses, although it often stirs thought also.
The Purpose of Art:
The next issue is to explore what Art is for. I suggest that for Art to be considered such, it ought to contain two or more of the following elements:
* challenge &/or reflect preconceptions of culture & the Zeitgeist;
* æsthetically please &/or prompt an æsthetic response;
* stimulate one or more of the senses;
* aid expression of thought &/or emotion;
* highlight &/or improve our environment.
I posit that Art is effectively a record - either for posterity or ephemerally - of a thought, an emotion or a sense.
Artist v. Art-Work:
Whilst Art may reflect the artist’s intentions, it is the interaction of the individual to the specific piece that is paramount. The art piece is like a child, once raised it has to be let go to make its own way in the world; whilst the hand of the parent will always be upon the individual, for good or ill, it is the child we encounter. It may be interesting to know about the artist and his or her or their intentions, however it is the meeting with the artwork itself that is of primary importance. Of course, I am not denigrating artists; but they are not gods to be worshipped. Most artists consider that it is the Work, their Art, Art that comes first.
As interacters with Art we are living, constantly changing, often contrary beings. However solid we perceive ourselves, we none of us know how we might act until our metal is tested. We never fully know ourselves. When a new employee joins the team, each of the pre-existing members sees different things about the newbie, based on their own judgment, emotions, experience, exigency… In quintessence Art, like the artists who create it, is ever-changing, multi-faceted and impossible to pin down. So what exactly is Art? One cannot exactly say.
An Alphabet of Art-Forms:
I have provided a list of potentially what can be or might be considered art-forms. It is not exhaustive. Inclusion on the list implies no moral judgement whether for good or ill.
Either work through the list or pick a letter at random and ponder whether, within the parameters I have set out, such can be considered in some way a form of Art.
Feel free to engage in debate or simply comment below.
On 1st May this year, for the international Blogging Against Disablism Day 2016 (#BADD2016), if all goes to plan, I shall be hosting a gallery of images pertinent to disabled folk. Additionally, I intend to blog on "Art for All" at the same time. I do hope the reader might care to return at said time.