Thanks to all who came tapping tonight. We won’t have tapping for a couple weeks, so I’m glad we were able to discuss art before break.
- So were we able to define art? I am not sure, but I think we were able to at least say a few things to lead us in the direction of understanding how art “works.” Most of us were ready to admit that to attempt a complete definition of art would always fall short of encompassing all of what we understand to be or claim is art in our existence. Some attempts were made to define art objectively, but most of these were too limiting in nature, or that would somehow too strongly limit what we refer to as art in actuality. An attempt was also made as defining art as a subjective experience of something called art, which is a very productive idea of art that connects to the hermeneutic metaphor that I posited in the original topic. However, I think we would want to say that the object itself is also art outside of this sort of subjective holy moment where one “experiences” the art in a certain way.
- I think that the most hotly contested way that we attempted to define art that I think bears on much of what contemporary art has to offer is the idea of authorial intentionality. At first I wanted to say that because the artist is going to present a piece of art as art, that this is the criteria for art. Then there was a story that Loretta related to us about people treating a bowl of salt that someone left near an exhibit as a piece of art, even though it was not intended in this way. Here I wanted to argue that the bowl’s presence within that context could be considered a statement of sorts, and if we are willing to grant that the bowl SAYS something, then it is not that much further to claim that the bowl is art. So I posited a criterion for art claiming that art is art if someone says it is art, or interprets the thing, whatever it is, as art. However a lot of people had problems with this definition of art, claiming that it wasn’t really a definition at all, and really relied too much on criticism to define art, instead of art having some inherent characteristics that defined it. I sensed that there was resistance to this idea of criticism being the totalizing definition of what art is, because there are a lot of examples of art that are not defined critically. Also, I think people wanted to avoid what I called the “emperor has no clothes” scenario, where a bunch of people look at something, say that it is defined in a certain way, when it is blatantly obvious despite popular consensus that the rumors of this something being defined in that particular way are greatly exaggerated, simply by observing the phenomenon itself. I can understand this response, but I think that the emperor’s no clothes scenario is actually a way that authorial intentionality can play a role in defining art. Even though the art could be considered a lacking of art, the authorial intention of art being art is still present enough to make the object or event art.
That’s all I got right now. Happy thanksgiving, if you’re into celebrating colonialism, and I’ll see you after the break!
Love and Peace,