What is considered art?

It seems that there are three ways that something can be considered art.  The first is art that is dependent on raw talent and skills.  This art is the result of innate ability and intelligence.  These artists can develop their skills to improve them, but they are ultimately born with it.   It comes to certain people naturally.  Art in this sense includes classical pieces such as Michelangelo’s work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.  This piece required skill, precision, dedication, accuracy, time, effort, and pure talent.  Work like this could not be done by just anyone.

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 3.20.26 PM

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 12.47.06 PM  Then there is art that is delivered through genius.  This type of art is more than it
appears to be.  The beauty is more subtle and open to interpretation.  Truths, ideas, and experiences of love as well as tragedy can be expressed through art produced by a genius.  Skill and talent are reflected more in fine art, but abstract and pop art incorporates  
artwork, which builds on ideas is more complicated and gives beauty to even mundane matter.  To the right is a pop art piece by Andy Warhol.

 

These are the more recent and modern forms of art, and there has been a movement from fine and classical art to more abstract forms of art.  In turn, the concept of art has a broader definition.  In one way, more people are capable of producing art now than before, and art schools can help channel the expression inner genius and ideas of student even if those students do not necessarily have innate talent, which may have been the focus previously.  Talent is not needed in order for a person to have passion and an appreciation for beauty.  In today’s digital age, the beauty of art lies in the truth that it expressed in an original way more than on the talent needed for the expression.  The talent in this case can be learned.

In addition to genius and talent, art is also subjective.  Whether or not something is considered art depends on the audience.  Differences in what various cultures consider beautiful illustrates this point.  An individual and his or her particular background and experiences will influence the manner in which that person views a piece of artwork.  Age, gender, religion, attitude, and outlook on life as well as a multitude of other factors can play a role while viewing art.  In this case, anything can be art and anyone can produce it especially in a digital age in which computers, cameras, and other devices can create the vision that a person has in mind.

The Internet generates a place where the works of true artists and mediocre average individuals mix.  Then what it is that can distinguish real art from the rest of the collection? Well, how about experts? In science, journal articles have to be peer-reviewed before they are published and the findings are used for applications.  The most knowledgeable people in the field of study that the work was done on review those articles before they are printed and recognized as legitimate information that is worth sharing.  In the past, a museum would legitimize artwork and validate it as a beautiful piece of work.  Perhaps a virtual museum is needed to separate items of exceptional beauty from the less than extraordinary works.  Not only would a person’s work be certified, but it would get more attention and views this way as well.  A virtual museum overseen by experts in all different areas of art can review pieces submitted by anyone.  This might be the solution to the overload of information on the Internet.  Artwork produced with the help of digital devices will certainly lead to new forms of art, and for this we may just need new experts concentrating on this digital media and artwork.

Now this idea is not elitist because anyone can submit the work, and the site should be accessible to everyone.  Also, unlike the work shown in real museums, there is no need for it to be expensive or framed.  As a result, art would be democratized but not devalued.  Education was once a luxury for only the rich, but with the advent of the printing press, literacy spread and books were more available.  Literacy being more commonplace actually led to a great value put on education because people had less of an excuse for not being educated. Education become an expectation not an exception.  Similarly, there can be greater appreciation for art and beauty with greater accessibility through the internet…that is if people know where to look. With anyone being able to publish anything on the Internet, this is can be a difficult task.  Until there is a virtual museum of some sort, we will have to navigate our own way through this conglomeration of brilliant masterpieces and average works based on our own perspectives with a piece of work being validated by only our own opinions.

Advertisements

Is It Still Possible to Be a Child of the Book?

A Traditional Isle View from a Library

A Traditional Isle View from a Library

The library image from above is familiar to all of us.  It is the storehouse of information, the scholars retreat, the place where society accumulates the ideas of authors, researchers, and thinkers, the place where anyone can go to find something, as long as they know where to look.

This is also one of several public spaces that routinely are scrutinized by public officials to determine if there is enough funding to remain open, or in some cases if budget cuts or closures are necessary.  It is an increasingly depopulated place, with reduced hours of operation, and smaller staff members working to maintain the day to day operations.

Some have argued that continued reduction of social importance that public libraries have seen over the past several years is one part of a larger disinterest in actively engaging in thought, communication, and expression.  Other changes, such as the rapid disintegration of traditional newspapers and magazines, and the loss of independent booksellers to large chain companies or online corporations indicate that we are facing a new point in human history, one where reading and writing are not seen as a universal connection point between individuals and the larger society that they exist in.

Is this the End of Books?

Is this the End of Books? 

With the recent flood of apocalypse themed movies, television shows, and novels (think of Max Brooks’ “World War Z” and the popular “Left Behind” series) destructive imagery stands out – something or someone is facing some sort of annihilation.  It is out of this tidal wave of vivid imagery that we have witnessed two failed “end of the world” predictions (May 22, 2010 and December 21, 2012).  This pattern of thought has become vigorously attached to familiar modes of thinking and expression that have been a fixture of many societies since the invention of Guttenberg’s printing press.

The Printing Press of the Past

The Printing Press of the Past 

The Printing Press of the Future

The Printing Press of the Future

At this point, it may be useful to point out that the images of burning destruction that are so popular in contemporary apocalyptic scenarios is only part of an apocalyptic vision.  A genuine apocalypse contains a revelation of something new that will emerge out of something old.  Destruction is never the end of the story, but rather the beginning.  So, if we are faced with the end of traditional publishing, circulating, and accumulation of ideas, what is left but to look to what is emerging.  If we are no longer to be children of the book, as Richard Miller described himself in “This is How We Think,” then what will be children of in the digital age that is dawning?

 

 

Reproducing Art – Searching for Value in the Digital Universe

A Familiar Scene from a Museum

A Familiar Scene from a Museum

All of us can name a well known work of art, such as Henri Matisse’s “The Knife Thrower,” Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies,” Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” and Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”

The Knife Thrower

The Knife Thrower

We immediately see works such as these and we identify them as art works.  Sometimes we know the name of the artist, sometimes we don’t.  The original works are framed, housed in art museums and galleries, owned by private collectors and part of art collections maintained by well known foundations.

Water Lilies

Water Lilies

 

 

 

Art is traditionally understood as the outward expression of the artist’s inward genius, or the accomplishment of a strong creative impulse.  In some ways this is a romantic notion, that of an artist working tirelessly, in isolation, with the need to share their ideas with others.  This concept of art is closely tied to the means of creation by which an artist makes their art – a painter with a canvas, palette, and paint brushes, a writer with a typewriter and paper, a sculptor with clay and their carving tools.

DaVinci's The Last Supper

DaVinci’s The Last Supper

This has been the artist paradigm for centuries, but now we are faced with a radical shift – that of art emerging from anywhere.  The tools for creating a breathtaking photograph, a captivating film, or a throughly engaging story can be created via any number of programs that can be purchased and installed on a home computer.

The Scream

The Scream

This in itself is an incredible shift, but there is an even bigger change, which has not be fully examined, namely the manner in which we encounter art.  As art is freely moving out of the exclusive realm of the museum, people are viewing classic (even canonical) works of art on computer monitors, iPad screens, and gallery text books.  The experience of viewing artwork in a museum is something that could be likened to the religious experience of a believer inside a house of worship.  In some ways this may seem like an unusual comparison, but if you think about it there are certain similarities that connect the two.

As various modes of digital technologies become more entrenched in our daily lives, is it possible that art can be democratized?  Could this lead to a devaluation of art?  Is it possible that anyone can become an artist now?  How could this impact the future of art school programs and the study of art history?

Interestingly enough these are some of the same issues that Walter Benjamin was exploring over seventy years ago.   Could advancements in digital media be understood as being the realizations of Benjamin’s mechanical prophecies?  Are these developments even more complicated than Benjamin’s ideas?

Drawing of Walter Benjamin Standing Next to  a Printing Press

Drawing of Walter Benjamin Standing Next to a Printing Press

What are your thoughts?

Welcome to the Spring Semester

Dear Students,

Welcome to Literature and Technology – Creativity and Expression!  This blog will be a primary road for sections 1 and 2 of this course.  Some of you may be familiar with blogging, some of you may have never even looked at a blog, but by the end of the semester you will all be pros at generating posts on WordPress.

To begin we will be reading a piece by Scott McCloud and watching a video by Richard Miller.  What I would like us to be thinking about today is what we identify as creative, artistic, and scholarly work, and how those things are changing as a result of the digital landscape that we all find ourselves living in at the beginning of the 21st century.

Let the journey begin…