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  #1  
Old November 13th, 2006, 08:23 AM
Guy Tal Guy Tal is offline
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Default Let's start with definitions

Sorry for my prolonged absence but it's great to be back to such lively discussion. I skimmed through some of the recent threads and what impressed me the most was that nobody with the exception of Ben Lifson actually attempted to define what "art" means to them.

How about we each take a crack at it? It may help the discussion to know how others perceive the concept and where they're coming from.

To me art is not about the process or the tools or the skill or the subject. Art is about one thing - the artist's intent.

To that extent the question "can monkeys create art?" is a very different one from "can monkeys create something that may be perceived as art?".

This is especially true for abstract art where by definition something is omitted, or left absent - entrusted to the viewer to fill in with meaning (some might say this is true of all art but that's another discussion). A patchwork of ink blots or a single line on a piece of paper can be perceived as art by those who imagine them to mean something even when in reality they may be entirely accidental. The difference is not in the objective evaluation of the final product but rather in the thought that conceived it.

Art to me is the deliberate expression of an impression.

Guy
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  #2  
Old November 13th, 2006, 09:18 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Tal
....Art to me is the deliberate expression of an impression..
Hi Guy,

How about a slightly different definition: "art is the deliberate expression of an intention"?

Regards,

Cem
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  #3  
Old November 13th, 2006, 09:56 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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A welcome back to us! It's like the return home of a son that traveled on a journey.

Now the response. Mine is steadfast. These are then my postulates.

Art is a tool to assist man on his life's journey by entertaining, informing and providing signposts and even invitations to revisitng places or exploring new territories. I articulated this numerous times here in OPF and referenced Auguat 1st 2006 to my blog:

http://theeyeofthelens.blogspot.com

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman July 31st 2006
The rulers by which any art is measured are in fact, "conceptual" only. We carry an endless supply of them in our back pockets, all with different scales and for our different purposes.

So critique must be given carefully. One should state by what standards or indicators the work "succeeds" or not. The word "succeed" itself, deserves separate discussion.

We must keep respect for the photographer, his intent and artistic choices.

Art MUST represent the intent and concept of the artist, not the recipient, who either does or does not get it.
I postulated then argued that intent is implemented in an Arc of Intent and is completed on viewing/hearing/touching by a person. The latter reacts by feelings, movement and thought, which at least to the artist reflects some essence of original intent.

Our reactions are governed and informed by genetics and experience. These constitute our instinctual, experiential, cultural and socio-political programming. We develop "rulers" by which, at every level, the mind measures art and then initiates a cascade of responses.

Energized thus, the success of the art involves the recipient's mind relegating to it some level of beauty, significance, utility, and entertainment.

In the most successful and profound art, the completion of the arc in the recipient's mind significantly supports, questions, challenges, refutes or adjusts our view of ourselves and our world and what needs to be done. The ultimate art propels one to react so strongly as to change our minds and precipitate a new intent and actions.

Asher




See my further postualtes on Purpose, Reinvoked Feelings and Thoughts, Post-Reception Impact and Deception in my following post, below.

Last edited by Asher Kelman; November 13th, 2006 at 12:06 PM.
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  #4  
Old November 13th, 2006, 10:02 AM
Dierk Haasis Dierk Haasis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Tal
[...] nobody with the exception of Ben Lifson actually attempted to define what "art" means to them.
I remember having written something tho the extent that anything somebody calls 'Art' is Art. Put a blender into a museum of Art (not technology!), say it is a work of Art and you got it; perhaps even give a title, so viewers and critics can search for the deeper meaning.
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  #5  
Old November 13th, 2006, 11:54 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dierk Haasis
I remember having written something tho the extent that anything somebody calls 'Art' is Art. Put a blender into a museum of Art (not technology!), say it is a work of Art and you got it; perhaps even give a title, so viewers and critics can search for the deeper meaning.
Dierk,

Yes, there's that, Dada and Duchamp included!

However, it doesn't alter my own view of art:

Art is a language with a purpose.

It requires an author, the artist, an Arc of Intent and implementation to a form.

The form must be experienced at least by the artist. The art is validated only by completion of the arc of intent with the induction of unique cascades of responses.

These responses, in turn, include feelings, actions thoughts and intentions which are, at least in part, re-invoked facets of the author's original intent.

The special nature of art is that there is a post-reception impact. In this we find a wish and even a need, drive or in the extreme, a compulsion to re-experience and explore the work further. It is that which gives art, in all forms, special value in our society.

Given the right circumstances, opportunity, skill and fortune, the work of art gains currency and can be bought and sold, treasured, made public, kept private and re-experienced time and again.

When we visit a gallery, we presume that we'll likely experience art. However, this may or may not occur. It could be that there never was intent, except to exploit. That then is a lie no different than any other deception humans often use to gain advantage.

You may then declare that there is no art in the exhibited "piece of concrete" or "a blender in[to] a museum of Art" and its value is merely just commercial currency. That argument is fraught with error. One has no knowledge, only opinion on that matter. That a work is "commercial" is easiest to test and prove.

Monetary value is proven in the market place.

That it's also genuine art* is harder to judge. Art, genuine art can be affirmed only.

* Representing a language with transferable meaning and consequence through the artist's "Arc of Intent".
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  #6  
Old November 13th, 2006, 01:44 PM
Nicolas Claris Nicolas Claris is offline
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Quote:
Art is a language with a purpose.

Thank you Asher, for once we do agree!
I like that definition. Simple enough though so deep when you come to dig about all the possible meanings...
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  #7  
Old November 13th, 2006, 04:22 PM
Ray West Ray West is offline
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The question is - what does art mean to me. small 'a', small 'm'.

'creation' at any level, including destruction. I could write this, to bring a tear to your eyes, if it were the number of words that was the art.

I am in two minds whether or not to post two images, something you may not even relate to, and say which I consider is art, and which is not, and then two more, and so on. But it would be the creativity involved that I would be aware of, not just the look of the final object. If it is art, for me, the creativity is embedded in it.

Thanks, for getting a focus, Guy.

Best wishes,

Ray
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  #8  
Old November 13th, 2006, 04:46 PM
Ben Lifson Ben Lifson is offline
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Default Ray and "Creativity"

Ray says

it would be the creativity involved that I would be aware of, not just the look of the final object. If it is art, for me, the creativity is embedded in it

We're getting close.

We're certainly close to Susanne Langer's definition of art:

"Art is the creation of forms symbolic of human feelings." [Italics mine]

"Creation" because those forms didn't exist until the artist created them.

The forms of the five female figures in Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907) didn't exist until Picasso created them.

The forms of Charis Wilson's naked body in those five or six Edward Weston photographs of her lying on the sand didn't exist until Weston created them.

An artist's creations, then, the forms symbolic of human feelings that he creates, are nowhere but in the look of the final object. In fact, they define the look of the final object, They are the look of the final object.

But creativity is not in the look of the final object.

It is not embedded in the final object.

Creativity is a human faculty. Like intelligence. Like empathy. Like intuition.

Picasso is dead.

Edward Weston is dead.

We can't talk to them and infer their creativity from what they say.

We can't observe them at work and infer their creativity from what they do.

Only their works survive.

In these works, Picasso's and Weston's respective creativities are expressed by the forms they created.

Art is the creation of forms symbolic of human feelings.

Those with creativity can create those forms.

But the creativity is not in the works.

Only the creations are in the works and are in fact synonymous with the works.

This is not splitting hairs.

Creativity is one thing, creations are another.

yrs

ben

www.benlifson.com
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  #9  
Old November 13th, 2006, 05:05 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Ben,

Then this agrees with what I have said above,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman
Art is a language with a purpose.

It requires an author, the artist, an Arc of Intent and implementation to a form.
The in-common presentations of art are the syntax by which ideas are conveyed.

Asher
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  #10  
Old November 13th, 2006, 06:04 PM
Ray West Ray West is offline
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Ben,

You're on the wrong train, but I'm glad you're here.

I read you saying 'I am getting close', I was going to say - 'you are getting close', but in truth you said 'we are getting close'. We were never apart. Its just a bit of water, and a lifetime of differing experiences.

I am agreeing with you (although I have not read the writers you mention). Until you say 'Art is the creation of forms symbolic of human feelings' its the symbolic of human feelings that I stick on.

However, I read Guy's question as small 'a' and small 'm', meaning little art and little me. I see your reply as tending to wards Art, with a big A, which I have this picture in my mind now of that damn ceiling, and I can't see the little me very clearly. This is my problem, as much as yours. as you said we are all pretty near to each other, just got to knock a few corners off to get it to fit together, not too many corners knocked off, no fun in smoothness.

But hang on a minute, I wasn't asked to query what you thought. Lets leave it for Guy to try and summarise it, see if we can get some conclusion on the small 'a' side of it. Hang on another minute, you said about my views, Nicolas said he agreed with Asher - now thats a first needs a new forum, like Mary's cat....

Anyway, can we revise these entries, can we summarise somehow, in say a week? I like rules, 'cos then we can think about breaking them...

Best wishes,

RRay
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  #11  
Old November 13th, 2006, 06:37 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray West
Ben,

You're on the wrong train, but I'm glad you're here.

I read you saying 'I am getting close', I was going to say - 'you are getting close', but in truth you said 'we are getting close'. We were never apart. Its just a bit of water, and a lifetime of differing experiences.

I am agreeing with you (although I have not read the writers you mention). Until you say 'Art is the creation of forms symbolic of human feelings' its the symbolic of human feelings that I stick on.

However, I read Guy's question as small 'a' and small 'm', meaning little art and little me. I see your reply as tending to wards Art, with a big A, which I have this picture in my mind now of that damn ceiling, and I can't see the little me very clearly. This is my problem, as much as yours. as you said we are all pretty near to each other, just got to knock a few corners off to get it to fit together, not too many corners knocked off, no fun in smoothness.

But hang on a minute, I wasn't asked to query what you thought. Lets leave it for Guy to try and summarise it, see if we can get some conclusion on the small 'a' side of it. Hang on another minute, you said about my views, Nicolas said he agreed with Asher - now thats a first needs a new forum, like Mary's cat....
Bold emphasis by me, Asher
"Until you say 'Art is the creation of forms symbolic of human feelings' its the symbolic of human feelings that I stick on."


Ray, do you not accept this? You have a problem with symbolism here? What is the sticking point?

"Hang on another minute, you said about my views, Nicolas said he agreed with Asher - now that’s a first needs a new forum, like Mary's cat*...."

What does that mean, I'm lost?

Also how is it "like Mary's cat"?

Asher


*For the uninitiated, Mary (the indefatigable photographer who shames people a quarter of her wonderful age), shocked me by posting a cat, (which to me is symbolic of the obnoxious lens-hoarding and testing excesses of the fora we hopefully left behind).

We've made few rules other than, by example, to value each other’s success. Still, I was faced with what to do with Mary's cat. This cat, BTW, had listened through many musical pieces, so essentially was rather educated over the years, more than many of us here. So on the basis of this, it was decided to grant Mary's cat honorary membership, in OPF and memorialize this with a polished iridium mahogany-edged frame, worthy of the new status.

Unbeknown to me, the floodgates were now open and no end of rulings would have stemmed the tide of pet images that needed to be posted. That led to the forum for Photographs of pets. Some of which are now demonstrating a better selection of subject, design composition and mood such that the photographer has made a picture that conveys feelings that move us. So only good came out of Mary's cat!
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  #12  
Old November 13th, 2006, 07:18 PM
Ben Lifson Ben Lifson is offline
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Default Asher, Mary, Edward Weston and Cats

In the current Edward Weston exhibition at Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum (one of America's oldest and most distinguished art musems) there are three 4x5 contact prints each showing one of Weston's cats. (There may be more but I didn't see the whole exhibition.)

They're very good pictures. Very good indeed.

The cats in some of Weston's other pictures that are not exclusively about his pets but about his place in California -- cats in the room, cats on the windowsill... These cats, incidental details in larger pictures, are also well drawn and very beautiful forms.

Paul Gauguin made a charming oil painting of four puppies around a bowl of milk. It's at the Museum of Modern Art, which used to sell a postcard reproduction of it. Maybe they still do. It's worth studying.

Also worth studying are the mid-19thC French painter Gustave Courbet's hunting dogs. He was very good at them. Two paintings of them are at the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

Chinese and Japanese painters are among the best at depicting small animals and birds, both in pictures and in small sculptures. One can learn a great deal from them.

The French novelist, Colette, was great at describing animals, especially cats. There is more beauty and feeling in any of her brief descriptions of, say, a cat stretching in the sun than in most best-selling novels.

Her Sept Dialogues des Betes (Seven Dialogues of the Animals), conversations about her between her dog Toby Chien (Toby Dog) and her cat Kiki la Doucette (Kiki the Sweety) are charming, witty, perceptinve and, strangely enough, convincing as views of a human being from the perspective of her pet cat and dog.

In short, animals, including cats and dogs, have immemorially been noble subjects of art.

yrs

ben

www.benlifson.com
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  #13  
Old November 13th, 2006, 07:38 PM
Ben Lifson Ben Lifson is offline
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Default Ray and Human Feeling

About Susanne K Langer's "Art is the crreation of forms symbolic of human feelings" Ray says

its the symbolic of human feelings that I stick on.

But he doesn't say why.

It's not enough to say you object.

You must say why.

Do you not think that art is about and/or affects the feelings?

The world is against you and has been at least since Aristotle wrote that tragedy inspires in the audience the feelings of fear and pity.

The writer Vladimir Nabakov (author of Lolita) hazarded two definitions of art that I know of.

Art, he once write, is "sensuous thought."

It's pretty accurate.

At another time he defined art as "Beauty plus pity. Pity, because beauty dies. Beauty always dies. The manner dies with the matter; the world dies with the individual."

This too is accurate.

The reason we feel great empathy with Dickens' character Bill Sikes (Sykes?) in Oiliver Twist, when he's trapped on the roof of his tenement after brutally beating his girlfriend Nancy to death and feel pity for him when he tumbles off the roof and is hanged on his dog's leash, and the reason we pity ***in, in the same novel, as we see him in his cell the night before he's hanged -- ***in, the corrupter of youth, the homosexual predator of young boys, the evil pursuer of Oliver, paid by those who want Oliver out of the way--the reason we pity both these evil brutal corrupt characters is that they are beautifully drawn.

We can't care for a character in art, whether painting or novel or film or short story or ballet, unless he or she is beautifully drawn, becomes a beautiful form. And one reason we do care for them, pity them, is that we know that even beauty dies. So, once they are beautiful forms we can care deeply for them and feel empathy for even the most evil among them.

This is in part why great novels and paintings fill us with such large, deep, complex and often contradictory feelings.

Who can not pity that rat Vronsky even though he leaves Anna?

So I'd like to know why Ray objects to "human feeling" in Langer's or anyone's definition of art.

yrs

ben

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Stephen Foster expressed something of the same thing in the song Oh! That the Red Rose Live Alway:

Oh! that the red rose live alway
To shine over earth and sky;
Why does the beautiful ever weep?
Why does the beautiful die?
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  #14  
Old November 13th, 2006, 08:26 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Ben,

Yes, we know these pieces. In fact Mary just discovered a wonderful book on cats in photography by various masters. The Photographed Cat
Great Photographers on Cats

Henri Cartier-Bresson * Arnold Newman
Jill Krementz * Bruce Davidson * Andre Kertesz
Carl Fisher * Leonard Freed * Duane Michals * Ruth Orkin
Barbara Morgan * Bill Hayward * Jill Friedman
Philippe Halsman * Peter B. Kaplan * and many more
Edited by J.C. Suares
Text by Chris Casson Madden


The current forum on Pet Photography is designed to deal with Commercial Photography of Pets and photgraphers pictures of their own animals.

Photographers appear to have have endless enthusiasm for sharing their their mementos; snapshots or their own pets. This Pet forum forum also directed to more considered images.


The latter have been crafted to have more impact and meaning and thus convey more than "a cat".

If you explore the various posts in that forum, you will see that there is range of effort in OPF in Pet Photography, from minimal and questionable to better work, worthy of more attention and revisiting. If you read the accompanying critiques you will identify parts of the image might work and we try to find what that is and where the photographer might look to making the picture (s)/he wants.

Informed critique in this respect, BTW, would be helpful from everyone who feels capable of observing what is in the image and what works.

Now back to Guy Tal's subject and intent for this thread!

I have detailed in recent posts above what art means to me and I use this in the art I make.

You have presented from an historical and comparative perspective, that common features exist embedded in works of art. These appear to be trans-cultural and enduring. They apparently code for feelings and thoughts that become made into the art form.

I suggested that such coding provides the syntax by which emotive feelings and thoughts are encoded in what I have described as the artist's "Arc of Intent". without which art is not formed.

This arc starts with the artist’s vision and continues through mental and physical processing to make a form. Only when the work reignites feelings with lineage to the author's intent is that work of art complete. Usually it occurs when the artist returns to observe his work and has the sense it is complete. In fact, he knows the feelings he is trying to transfer can be transmitted successfully. The art then works. Others may or may not get it, even with encoding, since the expressions might be obscure else be absent a successful context for comprehension.

Asher
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Old November 13th, 2006, 09:12 PM
Ben Lifson Ben Lifson is offline
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Default P.S. to Ray on "feeling" w/ a P.S. on Reading

The word "aethetics", which is the philosophy of art, comes from the same ancient Greek root that gives us the word "anaesthetic" -- the lack of feeling; the substances given to surgery patients to keep them from feeling pain. The philosophical discipline of aesthetics has always concerned itself in part with the feelings produced in us by the work of art.

As for reading in relation to this and art itself another important document is William Wordsworth's "Preface" to the 1802 (I think it was) edition of Lyrical Ballads. In any case, it's a famous document, a key document, in fact, for the study of the art of literature, and is almost always reprinted in large volumes of Wordsworth's poetry.

The feeling we derive from art that Wordsworth concentrates on is the feeling of pleasure.

This, too, has always been acknowledged as part of the experience of contemplating a work of art.

Wordsworth talks about different kinds of pleasure connected with art.

It's an important and, I would say, necessary document for anyone interested in the nature of art.

That's it!!! The emphasis here should be not on a definition but on the nature of art.

What mysifies me, though, is why serious people are discussing this subject in this thread and trying to come up with their own definitions of art when art has been defined and its nature explained by a large body of central critical texts to which all scholars, historians and critics of art refer.

What's going on here is sort of like several people trying to re-invent the wheel, none of whom can see or fully understand the others' designs. In the mean time the wagon is stuck..

The definitions are there. The explanations of the nature of art are there. Before launching out on our own -- I myself have no definition of my own and have derived my knowledge of the nature of art from two sources: art itself and the best minds that have turned their attention to it -- it's best, I think, to see what's already been said.

"I could see so far," said Sir Isaac Newton, "because I stood on the shoulders of giants."

We're benighted here by our own shadows.

It's a crazy downside of the Protestant Reformation: asserting the right to interpret Scriptures for ourselves without having read them or even owning them.

yrs,

ben

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Old November 13th, 2006, 09:58 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Lifson
......What mysifies me, though, is why serious people are discussing this subject in this thread and trying to come up with their own definitions of art when art has been defined and its nature explained by a large body of central critical texts to which all scholars, historians and critics of art refer.

What's going on here is sort of like several people trying to re-invent the wheel, none of whom can see or fully understand the others' designs. In the mean time the wagon is stuck..

The definitions are there. The explanations of the nature of art are there. Before launching out on our own -- I myself have none of my own -- it's best, I think, to see what's already been said.

"I could see so far," said Sir Isaac Newton, "because I stood on the shoulders of giants."

We're benighted here by our own shadows.

It's a crazy downside of the Protestant Reformation: asserting the right to interpret Scriptures for ourselves without having read them or even owning them.

www.benlifson.com
Ben,

There's nothing mystifying or mysterious going on here! Guy asked for "what art means to us".

He didn't ask what it means for scholars of art. He asked what it means to us. My answer is exactly that. I have set for myself certain artistic goals and a methodology for achieving them. My set of guiding rules comes from what I have articulated for myself and which others might, or might not find useful. We are not reinventing a wheel.

Anyway that is a poor metaphor for this circumstance, because we both ascribe to the notion of some aspects of the human nature, the making of art, which have trans-cultural enduring meaning and has existed a very long time. This then does not require a person to wake up one morning and invent coding for art as one might "invent a wheel". That meataphot implies that until someone thought about, the wheel and made it, there was no wheel in human society.

Well we agree that this is not so with the aspects of art we discuss.

Again the Newtonian reference. Newton did not just climb on the shoulders of others! He also had to climb over them since a lot of were in opposition.

In the case of Newton, at least, gravity was not waiting to exist by Newton discovering it. The wheel however, or our own art is in fact a work result completely dependant on particular thinking people.

When we share out thoughts on "What art means to us", then we are merely referring to the value of that word and the work it represents in our separate life. To me it is as I have said, the construction of an intent, then the mental and physical process to make a form, which can be transferred to re-invoke the emotions and thoughts, embedded therein, with degrees of social consequence.

I have not seen nor sought a definition of art outside of my study of art, visiting many galleries and returning to favorites for re-experiencing the feelings and searching for meanings that might yet intrigue me.

Just like walking and smile, I do not need to have read any treatise on Art to appreciate what I see and feel. I always enjoy learning others gleanings from their studies and bodies of critique, yet I'm still able to have my senses satiated.

So I can, without falling into some dis-Newtonian category of the deluded, use my own ideas, to express what art means to me.

For sure, it will be refined each day I wake up, however, it works, like gravity and predates all the current artists and those that studied art, and will do so when they are all gone.

"What art is to me" is an essential part of my life, a credo, a set of postulates that guide my efforts.

Even though we share common machinery and as analysis proposes, common symbols, then it these aspects will exist in us, like gravity exist for us, irrespective of whether or not we acknowledge it.

So what on earth is wrong with a sentient person from sitting down and independently describing to himself "What art means to him"? After all, who else can say what art means to each of us except each of us?

Still, when you disclose, "what art means to you, Ben Lifson, (even when you declare that it is not your own invention). I'm more than interested. I'm eager to stock with more goodies.

I will then process that independently to the extent of my intellect. Thus, I’ll have, perhaps a better idea of art and a more refined concept of "What art means to me", or else, I may be damaged by the very process.

So Ben,

Why can't we express "what arts means to us" with out being considered to be "reinventing the wheel"?

When I say what a beauty means to me, I'm not, after all reinventing beauty, just expressing my own ideas on that word, the part beauty plays in my life and how I adapt to it.

Asher
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  #17  
Old November 14th, 2006, 01:09 AM
Dierk Haasis Dierk Haasis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Lifson
"Art is the creation of forms symbolic of human feelings."
There's a lot in that sentence that has been challenged by close to every philosopher of art since at least Kant.

Why 'feelings'? Isn't it at least conceivable that an artist creates a work of Art without trying to convey ot invoke feelings? Actually - as long as we don't try to empty the word of any meaning by widening it to put in everything - most works of [classical] Art went for truth instead of feeling. And this truth meant a realistic, observational truth, something like empiricism.

Why 'human'? It is now an accepted fact that the very intricate buildings bower birds create to impress females are purely artistic in the sense that they don't serve any purpose other than being impressive or beautiful. They are rather personal expressions of the individual male.

Why 'symbolic'? The only sense I can make of that in this context is the semiotic one, defining everything as symbolic which is not the thing itself. Sure, Donatello's David is not the actual being - neither the mythic one nor the probable real model -, hence it is an image [Abbild, not painting]. In a very hollow sense you can set 'symbol' for 'image', unfortunately a symbol stands for something, it is not just an image. For those in need of an example: letters, number signs, traffic signs are or use symbols. A pinting is not a symbol.

Why 'forms'? Again I see a very strange use of the word, either it is impoversihed by applying it to too much or it is obviously wrong. Many great works of art are anything but form.

So, the definition given above is either very narrow, applying only to representational Art, or it is hollow, giving up on any sensible meaning of the words used.
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  #18  
Old November 14th, 2006, 01:22 AM
Dierk Haasis Dierk Haasis is offline
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Originally Posted by Asher Kelman
Given the right circumstances, opportunity, skill and fortune, the work of art gains currency and can be bought and sold, treasured, made public, kept private and re-experienced time and again.

When we visit a gallery, we presume that we'll likely experience art.

You may then declare that there is no art in the exhibited "piece of concrete" or "a blender in[to] a museum of Art" and its value is merely just commercial currency.

Monetary value is proven in the market place.
Seems we are now moving the target ...

You bring in 'skill' again, begging the question since you now have to define what constitutes skill. The problems inherent I have already mentione numerous times, but even if you can circumvent them, you are stuck with defining 'skill' such that any work of Art is included [that is, we need an inclusive not exclusive definition, don't we?]. Which amounts to equaling 'skill' with 'Art'. Nothing gained.

Whatever you have in mind when using the term 'currency' [and you make that clear later], it's just another word for value, which we, I think, agree upon that it has no place in a definition of Art - or we again get an exclusive instead of an inclusive one leaving out lots of acknowledged works.

Any commercial value is of no importance whatsoever, I cannot see why you drag that into this. At best one can say monetary value is a token for endurance. So, van Gogh did not produce Art in his lifetime but his works are now Art because some folks burn their money on auctions?
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Old November 14th, 2006, 01:33 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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You are both right concerning commercial value and skill. But it is not about art, the creative essence.

The skill I refer to is in merchandising art. Sales are not necessarily related to the art, just to the sale of the art LOL!!! I don't consider sale of art any proof of artistic worth as of the piece! You must surely agree!

Ray, not me invokes "skill" in creating art(I gather he means craftsmanship, and Alain Briot pushes the same concept) as being essential. I don't see it as essential because quantifying it is too difficult and, I believe not anyway necessary.

Asher
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Old November 14th, 2006, 03:49 AM
Mary Bull Mary Bull is offline
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[QUOTE=Dierk Haasis]
Quote:
Quote:Originally Posted by Ben Lifson
"Art is the creation of forms symbolic of human feelings."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dierk Haasis
There's a lot in that sentence that has been challenged by close to every philosopher of art since at least Kant.

Why 'feelings'? Isn't it at least conceivable that an artist creates a work of Art without trying to convey ot invoke feelings? Actually - as long as we don't try to empty the word of any meaning by widening it to put in everything - most works of [classical] Art went for truth instead of feeling. And this truth meant a realistic, observational truth, something like empiricism.
The poet John Keats commented on this in his great "Ode on a Grecian Urn."
Quote:
Cold Pastoral! ...
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'
http://www.bartleby.com/101/625.html

It would be worth anyone's while, who is reading and posting here, to read the entire beautiful poem at the above link.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dierk Haasis
So, the definition given above is either very narrow, applying only to representational Art, or it is hollow, giving up on any sensible meaning of the words used.
A very telling comment, Dierk, and one that I myself do agree with.

Further, I like all the rest of your analysis:
Quote:
Why 'human'? ...
Why 'symbolic'? ...
Why 'forms'? Again I see a very strange use of the word, either it is impoversihed by applying it to too much or it is obviously wrong. Many great works of art are anything but form.

So, the definition given above is either very narrow, applying only to representational Art, or it is hollow, giving up on any sensible meaning of the words used
You are right, I think, Dierk. It is either narrow or hollow. I hope we can take it as narrow.

Art, I think, may evoke human feelings, but it is about beauty and truth. It may, in Keats's lines, written after viewing the Grecian urn which moved him so, "be a friend to man" but in essence it is beauty* telling the truth.

*Of course, now I have to define beauty. I don't mean Ray West's "prettyness." "Guernica" offers us powerful beauty and truth-telling without any shadow of prettyness or truthiness.

Mary
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  #21  
Old November 14th, 2006, 05:18 AM
Dierk Haasis Dierk Haasis is offline
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Originally Posted by Mary Bull
Art, I think, may evoke human feelings, but it is about beauty and truth. It may, in Keats's lines, written after viewing the Grecian urn which moved him so, "be a friend to man" but in essence it is beauty* telling the truth.
Sorry, but I don't think Keats should be your source for rational argument - he detested empiricism and rational thought. His most famous quip about this is the accusation Newton took the poetry out of the rainbow by unweaving it with his prism experiments.

I have no qulam whatsoever with Ray's definition of beauty, equaling it to pretty and appeal. It's the common sense meaning and, as with Dr. Langer's approach, broadening a term is like extending ones theories ad hoc. You cannot just redefine beauty so things fit under its umbrella because they have to.

A lot of photographs are concerned with the ugly, probably more so than paintings and drawings. Just because, say, the Dying Soldier is a work of Art, even a significant one, and you appreciate it as such does not make it beautiful. George Grosz would be turning in his grave if you call his drawings 'beautiful', as I guess, would Edvard Munch.

Perhaps it is the time to spell out a distinction in appreciating Art I thought obvious the whole time: Trying to find an objective criterion by which to categorise an artefact or event [Christo!] as Art does not diminish any subjective criterion. Thus, Daniel is quite right when he writes he is only interested in photographs that appeal to him [he actually wrote something about beauty, and my phrasing here may be a bit too condensed with respect to 'only']. Nobody needs to like something just because somebody else or the majority of people like it.
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  #22  
Old November 14th, 2006, 05:26 AM
Dierk Haasis Dierk Haasis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Lifson
[...] when art has been defined and its nature explained by a large body of central critical texts to which all scholars, historians and critics of art refer.
Just stumbling over that now. Where do you take the confidence from to postulate this? Even a cursory look into the rich literature on art and Art should show that there is no one and agreed upon definition of the terms in question. Neither 'art' - except in the sense I use it: non-natural - nor 'Art' or 'nature of art' have a canonical definition.

For all those not having an extensive library of philosophical texts available, I may suggest to get yourself the very good Oxford Companion to Philosophy, which helps in many other dscussion but has two rather long articles on aesthetics [something on philosophy of art is also in there], one about its history, one about its problems.

BTW, the technical term for the pragmatic, declarative definition I use is 'institutional definition of Art'.
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  #23  
Old November 14th, 2006, 05:42 AM
Ben Lifson Ben Lifson is offline
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Default Dierk and Form

Dierk says

Why 'forms'? Again I see a very strange use of the word, either it is impoversihed by applying it to too much or it is obviously wrong. Many great works of art are anything but form.

"Many" and "great" are strong words with a ring of authority. Yet Dierk names not one great work that is "anything but form."

If he indeed knows of "many" he should be able to cite by name at least 10 "great works of art that are anything but form".

I eagerly await the list and hope that it has considerably more than ten names. A hundred would persuade us that "many" is accurate. (We're talking about great works of art from at least a five-thousand year history of art with thousands of great works, so "many" can't be three or four. Out of thousands, three or four would be a drop in the bucket.)

He also says

So, the definition given above is either very narrow, applying only to representational Art, or it is hollow, giving up on any sensible meaning of the words used.

"Applying only to representational Art" is demonstrably false.

One has only to look at the paintings of the pioneering abstract painters Vassily Kandinsky and Kasimir Malevich to see that they are full of forms and that these forms create and are united by the larger form of each painting's composition.

The same has been true of abstract painting ever since.

10 c:the structural element, plan or design of a work of art; specif : the combinations and relations to each other of various components (as lines, colors, and volumes in a visual work of art or themes and elaborations in an aural work of art) <~consists in a pattern of relationships that gives unity to a complex of perceptual elements--F. S. Haserot>--often contrasted with content. d : a r elationship between or among elements of raw subject matter (as in a painting) which is sensed and made structural by the artist; also : a visible and measurable unit defined by a contour : a bounded surface or volume or a system of visible elements e (1) : the structural pattern of a musical composition (2) : a specific type (as rondo, fugue, sonata) of such pattern. --Webster's Third International

And so we talk about form in music, which is a non-representational art.

A poem, a novel, too, is an aural work of art and its forms include structural elements like alliteration, rhyme, line length, meter, stanza form (quatrain, rhyme royal, the sonnet, the Spenserian stanza, ottava rima etc) the sentence, the paragraph, the chapter, prose rhythm (consider only Sir Thomas Browne),

When my daughter, Hannah, was seven we waited outside the stage door after a Broadway production of The Mikado, to see the actors come out w/o make up and in their street clothes. An actress stopped to talk to Hannah.

"Where did you sit?"

"In the balcony"

"Oh, good! You got to see all the pictures clearly.!" [emphasis mine]

There were no pictures, considered as pictures in frames or even, as there often are in plays, painted representations of pictures or even decorative patterns on the walls of the set, for the set had no walls ... It was made up of ramps and blank screens etc.

What the actress (she had played Katisha) meant was the pictures created by the actors by virtue of where they stood in relation to each other and to the shape of the area of the stage floor and to the space of the stage itself.

These pictures involve the solid geometrical figures projected to the audience by the relationships between standing and seated actors in the deep space of the stage.

They also involve the plane geometrical figures projected onto the stage floor, the actors' respective positions on the stage representing the figures' points and the distances between them its lines.

They also involve the postures of the actors as they stand sit and gesture: the "visible and measurable" shapes and units of volume "defined by" the respective "contours" of the actors' bodies--which postures, on stage, correspond to the poses of the figures in a painting or photograph.

These pictures, defined in all the above ways, are forms.

The forms created by actors on their stages are similar to those created by dancers in classical ballet and modern dance on theirs but move and change at a slower pace and rate.

yrs

ben

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  #24  
Old November 14th, 2006, 05:44 AM
Mary Bull Mary Bull is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dierk Haasis
Sorry, but I don't think Keats should be your source for rational argument - he detested empiricism and rational thought. His most famous quip about this is the accusation Newton took the poetry out of the rainbow by unweaving it with his prism experiments
As always, you bring commonsense to my flights of fancy, Dierk.
Quote:
I have no qulam whatsoever with Ray's definition of beauty, equaling it to pretty and appeal. It's the common sense meaning and, as with Dr. Langer's approach, broadening a term is like extending ones theories ad hoc. You cannot just redefine beauty so things fit under its umbrella because they have to.
No, I can't--unless I'm in Alice's Wonderland, acting like Humpty-Dumpty, who demolished her arguments by claiming that a word meant what *he* said it meant. Which position I by no means intend to take.
Quote:
A lot of photographs are concerned with the ugly, probably more so than paintings and drawings. Just because, say, the Dying Soldier is a work of Art, even a significant one, and you appreciate it as such does not make it beautiful. George Grosz would be turning in his grave if you call his drawings 'beautiful', as I guess, would Edvard Munch.
Well, I have probably made people turn over in their graves before, and no doubt shall do that in the future--as well as make living people's hair stand on end, or living cats fuzz their tails.

But, I am guilty as charged. I did say up-front in my footnote that I guessed I had to define "beauty." And I don't, I find. It will have to stand for whatever meaning it can convey, in the various contexts in which it is used.
Quote:
Perhaps it is the time to spell out a distinction in appreciating Art I thought obvious the whole time: Trying to find an objective criterion by which to categorise an artefact or event [Christo!] as Art does not diminish any subjective criterion. Thus, Daniel is quite right when he writes he is only interested in photographs that appeal to him [he actually wrote something about beauty, and my phrasing here may be a bit too condensed with respect to 'only']. Nobody needs to like something just because somebody else or the majority of people like it.
That's reassuring to me, because I don't , of course, like something just because other people like it.

And, conversely, I don't dislike something just because other people dislike it.

Daniel, whom I knew early on is 21 years old, is very straightforward and self-confident, and I am glad to hear you say that he is quite right in what he wrote about "appeal" being his yardstick (paraphrasing here).

I knew that Daniel is 21 because I had a look at his profile when he began offering me support in the Entry Digital Photography forum. He said it was okay for me to like my own photo of the red maple leaves above my neighbor's house gable.

I'm still waiting for that one to come back from the framer's, to see if the triple matting actually did pull it all together, as I hoped it would when I chose to have it framed.

So, here we are, entirely and subjectively talking about me again. Can't help it. I was never very good at writing academic essays.

But I appreciate immensely your correcting my reasoning, Dierk.

Mary
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  #25  
Old November 14th, 2006, 06:27 AM
Ray West Ray West is offline
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Hi,

Going back to what was started,

I admit I am not responding to the rest of the posts, since my earlier one, because I feel that it would trigger more discussion, away from Guy's original question. which I thought was about 'art and me'. I couldn't help but comment on Ben's take on the question, I was not blaming, or praising anyone, thought I'd mention it, realised it didn't help, but mentioned a couple of other things, sort of trying to say 'I agree with much of what you say, I want, if you want, to discuss it further, but it is sort of away from Guy's question. It was a post-it note, for later attention. I did not want it diverting attention from the nub of the question.

Mary's cat, was not a comparison, other than it was 'a first' as Nicolas said he agreed with Asher, iirc, and Nicolas said that was 'a first'.
Quote:
Thank you Asher, for once we do agree!
Is it necessary to pick on every word, examine it for every possible nuance, compare this with that, just when we're sitting round the coffee table having a chat? That was a rhetorical question, no answer required, a question I ask myself, you ask yourself, no point at all, unless you agree or disagree, or ignore.

I thought the idea was that we said what art meant to us, as individuals, not dissasemble each other's maybe personal feelings on art. I was hoping that could come later, if necessary.
Also, my view is, once its said, once its here, it belongs to us all. There is no right or wrong, just improvement, (and disapprovement...)

The trouble is, we all know when we see it for us, but its a ****** to explain it in easy terms to anyone, ourselve's included.

Best wishes,

Ray
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  #26  
Old November 14th, 2006, 06:47 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray West
Hi,

Going back to what was started,

I admit I am not responding to the rest of the posts, since my earlier one, because I feel that it would trigger more discussion, away from Guy's original question. which I thought was about 'art and me'. I couldn't help but comment on Ben's take on the question, I was not blaming, or praising anyone, thought I'd mention it, realised it didn't help, but mentioned a couple of other things, sort of trying to say 'I agree with much of what you say, I want, if you want, to discuss it further, but it is sort of away from Guy's question. It was a post-it note, for later attention. I did not want it diverting attention from the nub of the question.

Mary's cat, was not a comparison, other than it was 'a first' as Nicolas said he agreed with Asher, iirc, and Nicolas said that was 'a first'.

Is it necessary to pick on every word, examine it for every possible nuance, compare this with that, just when we're sitting round the coffee table having a chat? That was a rhetorical question, no answer required, a question I ask myself, you ask yourself, no point at all, unless you agree or disagree, or ignore.

I thought the idea was that we said what art meant to us, as individuals, not dissasemble each other's maybe personal feelings on art. I was hoping that could come later, if necessary.
Also, my view is, once its said, once its here, it belongs to us all. There is no right or wrong, just improvement, (and disapprovement...)

The trouble is, we all know when we see it for us, but its a ****** to explain it in easy terms to anyone, ourselve's included.

Best wishes,

Ray
That Ray, for me, hits the nail right on the head (hence the full quote of what you have written).

I have followed this discussion with great interest and I am learning from all the wisdom out there. But I feel like we have passed a point along the way which makes it increasingly difficult for me to cope with the arguments put forward, some of which go way above my head.

Let's be honest, the way I look at art (or what I consider to be art) will not change because of what's being written here. So what is the point, one might ask? I persevere because I want to learn from you. It would make it easier if you could break the seemingly vicious circle of “picking” on each and every word just like Ray has written.

Thanks a lot for all the valuable information you’ve been sharing with us, I really appreciate it :-).

Cem
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Old November 14th, 2006, 07:26 AM
Ray West Ray West is offline
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Cem,

I have to leave for at least a few hours, but I bet your way of looking, your ideas will change. You will gain an appreciation, hopefully of how other people feel, on just one little item, of no real significance to many, but important enough for others across the whole wide world to be thinking, 'how do I see this' . Somehow, we want to collect those ideas, the ideas you can't get that in your 'corner specialist shop'.
' More input, more input'.

Best wishes,

Ray
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Old November 14th, 2006, 07:38 AM
Dierk Haasis Dierk Haasis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Lifson
I eagerly await the list and hope that it has considerably more than ten names. A hundred would persuade us that "many" is accurate.
So,

1. Number beats it?!
2. I actually need only one single instance of a work of art that does not fall under Dr. Langer's definition as given by you. And actually something like a late Jackson Pollock would do it - unless you redefine ad hoc what form usually means just to incorporate my example.
3. Was my argument really about numbers or was it much closer to the heart of the matter.

Quote:
"Applying only to representational Art" is demonstrably false.
Again only one instance is needed to show that my criticism of your choice definition is correct. surely there are numerous works of Art falling snugly into Langer's definition. Your further choice of some paintings from the Abstract school does not prove that every work of Art needs to show form.

My criticism was that 'form' is either wrong - because there are paintings, even statues, surely movies showing no form - or is used vacuously. I forgot who it was but there is a modern artist painting black (if you cannot imagine it, think of Derek Jarman's movie Blue) and nothing else onto his canvas. If you include the canvas itself, this surely has form - but then the term would have no meaning anmyore.

ATM I get the impression we are not trying to find a common ground on which to play. If the sole purpose of this discussion is to come up with some perceived ultimate definition excluding what one does not like, I am out. I don't see a persuasive argument, yet, to abandon my stance that a piece of art becomes Art by simply declaring it such. I also stand with my notion that the greatness of a work of Art has nothing to do with. Any other definition needs to show that it includes everything we know as Art already.*

On a personal note: Since I smell a small ad hominem in your last entry, Ben, let me retaliate on that level. Recently you claimed that the matter of defining Art has been settled. When I answered to that I thought you honestly believed that. I am now not too sure if it was an intentional misinformation. You are, TMK, an expert on photographic creativity and theory ...

If I am wrong abpout any of the claims of the paragraph before that, accept my apologies.


*For the sake of peace I would not argue that it needs to encompass every conceivable work of Art.
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  #29  
Old November 14th, 2006, 10:01 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cem Usakligil
That Ray, for me, hits the nail right on the head (hence the full quote of what you have written).

I have followed this discussion with great interest and I am learning from all the wisdom out there. But I feel like we have passed a point along the way which makes it increasingly difficult for me to cope with the arguments put forward, some of which go way above my head.

Let's be honest, the way I look at art (or what I consider to be art) will not change because of what's being written here. So what is the point, one might ask? I persevere because I want to learn from you. It would make it easier if you could break the seemingly vicious circle of “picking” on each and every word just like Ray has written.

Thanks a lot for all the valuable information you’ve been sharing with us, I really appreciate it :-).

Cem
Again Cem, I quote you completely to address your points in full.

I am learning from the opinions and rational arguments. I am too. This alone is worthwhile. We are exchanging more than 100 years of personal experience, study and thought on "What is art?" and refining it to "What is art to me?”

Difficulty in following paths of responses and arguments. One can get the sense by scanning the last post. Often, as in Ray's post, the ideas there are a good signpost as to where you are.

"the way I look at art (or what I consider to be art) will not change because of what's being written here." That cannot be true since all the opinions we have are constantly tested and recalibrated inside our heads against new information (that we have measured as having some validity). This happens whether or not we are aware of the process.

I persevere because I want to learn from you. I do too! I try to govern my own artwork by my own postulates and dogma on "What is art to me", believing too that my own ideas might be useful to others.

Ray, just for you: My concepts as formulated are fairly original, succinct and instructive to me, at least and to Nicolas. That he said, "I agree" is not trivial. It is reassuring to me that perhaps I have made a useful tool for others too.

seemingly vicious circle of “picking” on each and every word We do this because some key words have different means in different contexts as every word is really just a metaphor with long roots back in our cultural and linguistic history.

Even simple words like "up", "jumping" or in now famous presidential history, "is". "It depends what you mean by "is"?"

Some of the parsing is meant more for fun and bluster. However, some questioning of meaning of words is genuine and essential for me, at least to fully interpret an argument I wish to comprehend.

We have all found some information worthy of interest.

I plan to summarize these ideas on "what art means to me" to a more user-friendly form. Others can post in one simple phrase like "art is beauty and truth”. They can thus bypass if they wish, all the erudite and trivial discussion above.

Dierk already does this from time to time.

Unfortunately our own efforts to be perfectly clear with what we mean makes our discussions seems over the top with nit picking. Still, the essence of all this can be received.

I hope this answers you Cem,

Asher
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Old November 14th, 2006, 10:10 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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I'd like to add some rationale for my more detailed expression of "What art means to me?" as opposed to a simple phrase like "To me art is beauty truth and I know it when I see it." When I am able to compress my own thoughts to such a phrase I'll celebrate. Certainly I'm working on it.

My postulate of "The Arc of Intent" (see posts #3 and #5 above in this thread), might possibly be useful to others. The idea is to share a more conscious practical framework to make art. Futher, if desired, it might then hopefully be appreciated and valued by others and even facilitate earning money with it more readily. By disclosing my own ideas on art, I hope to get feedback and further instruct my understanding and directions.

I say nothing about the details of any codes, rules or the details of postulated syntax in art. That I will attempt to approach later.

I have not, as yet, probed how my postulated "cascade" of reactions might work triggering our responses to art.

Asher
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