The Function Of Art

October 17, 2008 at 9:45 pm | Posted in poll | 20 Comments
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  1. Your answers are silly Squires. Maybe if we ever define art completely we shall destroy it? I prefer to be in blissful la-la-land with my art, along with the pixies and the leprechauns and the tooth fairy and that old hunk Santa Claus.

  2. Well, I wouldn’t exactly want to say that your answers are “silly”, but that’s the one I had to choose because I wanted to put mine in the comment box.

    And actually it’s pretty similar to Mary’s; but yes, we all have our own reasons, and it’s all very subjective and all that jazz, but art in itself is too infinite and something that doesn’t seem to have one primary function.

    But off late I have been glimpsing into the negativities of art, and so it’s sort of disillusioning. Words, for example, are merely symbols to aid us to allude towards or communicate something we feel or experience. They are always written with something in one’s mind. Always with a pointed edge.
    But as a student of literature, and even as a self-proclaimed writer-of-sorts, I find it extremely absurd when we try to make tautological interpretations based on our subjectivities, detaching the artist completely from the work of art, and hence detaching also the pointedness or intentions of those words.

    Which is not to say that there is anything “wrong” in that; any more than there is anything “wrong” in taking out a magnifying glass on a highway to analyse the next milestone or signpost. We may learn a lot about that signpost, but it wouldn’t aid us in reaching wherever it was intended to point towards.

    And so as a poet, though it is tempting for me as well to try and use words that could deliberately mean many things at the same time; this fun comes at the cost of people sometimes getting deluded into the illusions.

    Where I stand currently at the moment, at a point where I say that I have come to the end of a very long journey (or the beginning of a new, different-kind-of a journey); where I am deeply convinced of the truths (about life) which I have realized and come to, deep down within me, whether or not I am able to convey them to or convince another; I look back in retrospect at all the words spoken or written by all the wise men from all the various traditions, and I see all of them trying to say the same thing. Trivial differences, but astounding commonalities.

    But due to the limitations of our vocabulary (which arise due to the limitations of our experiences as a collective society), when some experiences are tried to be explained with these limited words, all that results in is misinterpretation and the formation of dogmatic institutions or theologies which fight over the milestones or the signposts of the highway, not seeing that they are alll perhaps pointing towards the same thing.

    I see this and then I see all the people who get lost within their own created illusions; and then I have to ask what the fuck does art do to help them? Just confuse them more?

    But the dichotomy is that I still end up loving art, for inscrutable reasons, and still end up calling myself an artist. Perhaps just because of the infinite possibilities it possesses to glorify beauty, even if at the cost of mystifying it. There is a time for everything. And there is a time for art too.

    Perhaps I didn’t make any sense. If so, then I’m on the right track! 🙂

  3. Could art create its own world of beauty or sadness

  4. Sumedh, what a wonderful comment and a delight to read.

    ‘I see this and then I see all the people who get lost within their own created illusions; and then I have to ask what the fuck does art do to help them? Just confuse them more?’

    i care not one tiny nothing that im perpetually confused, it makes life taste stronger, cut a little more bluntly and ring louder. i think i am lucky to think this way as rejoycing the little things is like a delicious secret all of your own.

    i am not an artist, i don’t think so, but i play and if other people want to watch me playing then that is lovely.

    silly: lacking in common sense or judgement; foolish; trivial or frivolous; weak minded; helpless or defenceless.

    you are more a silversmith,

  5. I opt for the inspiration of it all. Frequently the things I write are after witnessing something extraodinary…like reading one of your poems. 🙂

  6. For me the primary function of art is survival. I use it to cope, so I can breathe another day. So maybe it’s an allusion.

  7. well you have to be able to dance to it…

    art gives my life deeper meaning and complexity, makes me think, reassures me, comforts me, encourages me, challenges me. art reflects the past and embraces the future. it is universal and personal. it is pleasurable and disturbing. gives joy and sorrow.

    as my tagline on my blog says, quoting coleridge “the aesthetic is that which engages the whole soul”–

    i guess if i could vote again i’d choose to change the world.

    as a writer, i want to have an impact, to move someone toward an understanding, to feel more.

    when i experience art, i want to feel that impact, to be changed.

  8. art on its own is a mysterious world of vast origins, but every budding art seedling begins in our creativity.

    these amazing seedlings needs no reason to justify its existence, apart from the fact that it is, amazing

  9. It depends on the medium. I think poetry helps us to clarify thoughts and to understand the mental leaps we make.

    It’s playful tool for lexical acrobatics – this too is based on the mental associations.

  10. I do not think the options were silly, just a little simplistic. A more elaborate answer will combine them, but I think the previous comments did a great job on elaborate the answer…

    Why were the answers our Squires provided as choices simplistic? Well, I believe like Wittgenstein 2 that in order to talk about things like art we need metaphors and not definitions. Definitions are for things such as alcoholic drinks were we could name the “essence” with one word (and we do know that word, don’t we?).

  11. it is human at its best or worst and animals like it too didja see the cat painter the elephant who makes footprints the child prodigy lets ask them
    they might answer without thinking, very cool post

  12. Sumedh. That is just sensational, I just highlighted one sentence there because of focus. Young people experiment and learn and experienced dogs focus, you are a sensational artist. Dead balanced prose and improvised, amazing, Australian standing ovation, somebody buy that man a beer,

  13. If there was one more choice “all of the above and more” I would have chosen that.. but for the time being, being in the relaxed, time to get my sleep mood that I am in, I have settled with Expressing oneself. Art is very relative to the person’s understanding and exposure and is very subjective. I dont think there is a real measure of what art is.

    I have to agree with Sumedh about the Illusion we create with all those words in different languages and being lost in them, the formation of institutions/theo/ideologies and fighting for them and the sameness said differently almost like the same gift packaged in a different wrapper/coloured paper.
    In all of those things I note the insecurity we feel when we feel like we arent unique and the effort we make in trying to prove we are unique, in the grand scheme of things somehow making it seem mediocre. I also agree with the Dichotomy, that inspite of knowing that there is a sameness in the seeming difference, that when something is produced for commercial purposes there is a sense of mediocrity and a lack of finesse or sense of originality, there is something very appealing about art in its various forms.

    I guess I am cynical, for I feel that there isnt anything that is original in our world, cause someone, somewhere at sometime in history has said or done the same things. But we in our unawareness and ignorance, tweek the same things to fall into today’s prescribed format and feel impressed. But I still wouldnt trade enjoying the engagement of my senses in all the art forms, for anything. It does make my life much more colourful.

  14. Why?

  15. the primary function
    tho i understand the premise the idea does not sit comfortably
    that there should need to be named a primary
    it will be a different color to each individual perhaps
    aside from that, i would like to addendum the above cavalier remark of my earlier comment:
    since doing artwork is my primary occupation, for me it is about the process
    it is similar to the idea of a more spiritual nature that of the journey itself less of the destination (forever now)
    however the reason i ask not to think is because it seems to get in front of the primary experience
    i especially agree with sir sumedh has said about “detaching the artist completely from the work of art” my sensiblity understands that division and the politics that create it seem to be about history, that is, in this time we are looking at art as a separate entity and less of a viable portion of real life experience.
    i also see wisdom in what mysoul said about the commercial object and art. fresh out of art school i went to work (and so did andy warhol for instance in advertising) in the field of product develpment design and illustration. in that portion of artdoing there were several important elements that had to be defined in some way: the applicabilty of the design idea to the parameters/limitations of the product, the common denominator factor which would ensure its sale in the broad market, and the art itself, which was further enveloped in a process that requires modifications for a manufacturing process. the issue became how beautiful can you make this textile or china pattern or lampbase or whathaveyou given those restrictions. a artist is doing that work. an artist is actually sweating blood to make that potholder you have scorched by the bakepan that you look at indirectly every time you use it whose energy is infused somehow into your household items. it is indeed an art form.
    that in many cases an artist employed in a corporate setting does not have the advantage of assigning his/her signature to the object, it is copyright listed under the umbrella of the company. it is a secret noone knows who did it, it appears on the shelves in the shop as if it created itself. ha.
    but then we have museums where the finest of the acknowledged importance of the art is highlighted. in there too you will find furnishings and textiles which are antiquated examples of fine craftsmanship (art) alongside the reaching exploring and mission statements of painting sculpture film music etc etc etc
    a friend who is a sculptor/painter represented by galleries and featured in a museum writes in his artists statement
    “my work is about process and energy. i approach it with a sense of mystery. the imperfections on the surface of the material (wood stone etc) begin my creative process, i identify with the natural essence of the material.the physical and emotional forces that drive my ideas continue until i feel satisfied that every part of the work speaks to me with a sense of completion. in that way it becomes also a spiritual process.”
    the sense of that spiritual process is there when one views the art.

  16. communication, sorting out thoughts, expressing things that can’t be expressed other ways, for the fun of it?

  17. the primary function of art, even written or spoken art, pales vocabulary
    its value esoteric
    it is the social conscious striving for understanding

    or i’m drink
    o forget which one

  18. See the reason I get into so much trouble is going, oh no, expressing oneself is winning and it won’t let me vote again, bugger, this is not a democracy. This is my blog and I want the function of art to be mythologising the tiny self big enough to scare large ideas into existence, that’s what I wish was true…

  19. then it is true, certainly

  20. To change one tiny bit of the world, oneself, and the reader.


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