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paolo
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01 Sep 2007, 1:22 pm

I think that all productions in literature, arts, music , poetry etc. have their origin in a built in need, drive, desire to affirm the author’s cosmos as against the common, given for granted, unoriginal, second-hand versions of the world. The energies devoted to this effort are incommensurate and have something to do with the two strategies of life: one abundance and repetition (The number of grains of pollen spread by a tree to reproduce itself – a characteristic of plant life ); Two resilience, the capacity of animal forms to resist death and decay up to the inevitable end. Art, music, literature are strenuous efforts to resist death and decay. The will to power of Nietzsche perhaps.


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01 Sep 2007, 1:34 pm

Not unrelated, Ayn Rand defined art as "a SELECTIVE recreation of reality according to a artist's metaphysical value judgements. Sounds a bit like what you're proposing.



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01 Sep 2007, 2:05 pm

i wonder if artists, writers etc are just the instrument, really, rather than the creator. I think i'm saying that the source of creative work is divine, people just flatter themselves that they 'created' something, when they are only the tool.



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01 Sep 2007, 3:01 pm

" I think i'm saying that the source of creative work is divine, people just flatter themselves that they 'created' something, when they are only the tool."

That's a mighty big if you propose. If one accepts the premise of the divine, then it's easy to make that speculation. If one doesn't, then it become arbitrary. The psychological version of this is that the ego is just the tool of the subconscious, or, if you're Jungian inclined, the collective unconscious. But then, you can go on and on...what if the subconcious, or collective unconscious, or the Divine, is really only the tool of something even HIGHER? Or, gosh, the ego? But to work with the divine theory: well, the question still stands from the original post. Assuming that the "artist" is just a "tool" of something higher, well, what is that higher consciousness's goal via artistic creation? hmmmm....



paolo
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01 Sep 2007, 3:56 pm

I don't think the ego, or the self, or the subject really exist. After all what we call consciousness some time disappears and nobody can convince me that after death something persists except the chemical remains and, yes, some ideas produced by the self, the Cappella Sistina, the Iliad and such things. But consider the span of years that man as it is now has existed: 200.000 years et least. What is left of all this individual existences? some cave paintings. and they also will disappear with time. And what is the relevance for the millions of workers and farmers and officials, bureaucrats, children, prostitutes, soldiers who will die without knowing anything of the Cappella Sistina and the Iliad. What will be of all these things in two or three hundred years. Can you be assured that there will not be a nuclear annihilahion of humality? Only the DNA of surviving species will be there. Not the Cappella Sistina. Pessimism? I don't think so. Only perspectve inviting modesty for us and an appeal not to take on our shoulders the responsibity for the cosmos. The only mystery and gigantic effort and resilience is within the DNA, where resides, I think, the most unestinguishable force, the will to power if you want, common to the ant, the fern and every other living creature.


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01 Sep 2007, 4:00 pm

"I don't think the ego, or the self, or the subject really exist."

So, who am I talking to?



paolo
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01 Sep 2007, 4:05 pm

Spaceplayer wrote:
" So, who am I talking to?

Who knows?



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01 Sep 2007, 4:47 pm

paolo wrote:
I think that all productions in literature, arts, music , poetry etc. have their origin in a built in need, drive, desire to affirm the author’s cosmos as against the common, given for granted, unoriginal, second-hand versions of the world.

Well, my brain has great need to delineate, differentiate, discern, dovetail "what is self" compared & contrasted with "what is other".
Constantly my brain perceives things & I ask myself "how much is this 'like me' and how much of this is 'not like me' ?". Am I having this emotional state (or thought pattern) in reaction to someone else's emotions (or thoughts) which they've shared with me & now I've absorbed these, did I come to this on my own, is it a mixture of both, and do I "really" feel or believe this ? I have some extra filters (psychological walls) but also am lacking some "standard issue" filters which leaves me overly permeable (psychological vulnerabilities).

Paolo wrote:
The energies devoted to this effort are incommensurate and have something to do with the two strategies of life: one abundance and repetition (The number of grains of pollen spread by a tree to reproduce itself – a characteristic of plant life );

I haven't the drive to recreate myself (no will to reproduce i.e. create offspring)-seems I'm in the minority on that. Intellectually, I comprehend the importance of having kids-however not all my choices fit with those made by majority of my species.
Paolo wrote:
Two resilience, the capacity of animal forms to resist death and decay up to the inevitable end. Art, music, literature are strenuous efforts to resist death and decay. The will to power of Nietzsche perhaps.

Am aware of the idea that people create things (monuments, books, archives & musuems, etc.) that will presumably outlast their own human (bodily) lives, as proxy for immortality. Having one's name on an airport or mountain, one's image engraved on a coin or stamp: the post-mortem promotion of certain people (and very simplified version of his/her biography as legacy).

Spaceplayer wrote:
Assuming that the "artist" is just a "tool" of something higher, well, what is that higher consciousness's goal via artistic creation? hmmmm....

Have no belief in greater being, religion or spirituality-though can imagine the function these conceptual systems provide for creatures with the kinds of brains we (humans) have.
I draw, that gets labelled as "creating art". I don't think I'm being original in anything I write, say, or draw. It's all been said & done before, whether or not I'm aware of it. I'm not intentionally copying, just that I'm a unique combination (as a single life) of cumulative things that have come before, genetically & in interaction with the environment.
Scientists have plenty of sensible theories of evolutionary purposes/uses for being motivated to "make art". I don't know why I specifically do what I do, other than I'm good at it & enjoy it, but other people have their own varied reasons & explanations for "making art".


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01 Sep 2007, 5:05 pm

Self-consciousness and the power to think autonomously are the two things which seem to set us apart from other living creatures (to varying degrees, admittedly). If you are a Christian then these traits stem from the punishment inflicted upon Adam and Eve. If you put more faith in Darwin and Dawkins then perhaps it's just a natural result of evolution.

Either way, it seems to me that the best measure of success in life is this: how well do you use the abilities that you have? And how well do you turn the concept of guilt into something positive, by learning from mistakes and taking the feelings of others into account when decisions are taken?

It doesn't matter whether anything permanent is left behind. So long as you've made the world a better place, even if only by a fraction, then your existence has been worthwhile. This doesn't mean that everything has to be sugar-coated - sometimes shaking things up is the only way forward - it's the overall effect which matters. And if, eventually, all of the people you've known pass away, and no-one is left who remembers you, does that really matter? Some of your ideas and attitutes will live on, even if no-one can remember where they came from.


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01 Sep 2007, 5:36 pm

An awful lot of writers, artists, and musicians have lived lives that seemed to court death and decay.

I also wonder about what drives the consumers. A lot of art that's popular is also very good. Shakespeare comes right to mind, and Mark Twain, and Melville, and those movies you like. Is their experience the same as the artist's, a desire to share in those other worlds?

Abundance is not absolute in nature. A number of species produce very few offspring, putting much more care into each one, like elephants, bears, humans, and tsetse flies. I suppose that's just a different strategy to the same end.

Personally, I'm inclined to believe that a higher order of reality exists beyond what we perceive with our senses and their electronic and optical extensions. Rationality did not evolve as a means to comprehend truth.


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emergingartist54
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01 Sep 2007, 10:08 pm

Oh so much to say! This is a very interesting discussion. Sticking my nose in, I will start with some bald propositions.

Art objects have no meaning by themselves. Meanings of various kinds are inferred and intended or extended by their makers and then other meanings, often quite different meanings, are perceived or suggested by later viewers.

Art objects appear meaningful to some receptive audience, whether large or small, over some period of time, whether hundreds of years or mere moments. The creation of meaning always involves some community. Meanings shift.

If we are speaking of an object that is intended to hold meaning for hundreds of years it is evident that those meanings will shift, sometimes changing entirely. The paintings of Rembrandt and the plays of Shakespeare for instance have acquired legendary significance and can carry meaning even for those who have never seen them. Even those who have seen them in this century cannot see them outside of the contexts which have preserved them, which are quite different from the societies and subcultures that produced them. Romanticism transformed Rembrandt.

Willem de Kooning, the great abstract expressionist, observed that artists have stupid ideas but they use them to make great art. He was thinking of the bewildering succession of modernist movements and anticipating the collapse of the modernist project.

Art is a funny business. Until relatively recently the primary intended subject matter and symbolic content of art was never chosen by artists. Much of the decisions artists make involve ways of avoiding thinking about meaning. Various formal qualities, sensual qualities, methods result in a "meaningful" object for various audiences. If you want to talk brain, the brain has a prejudice that causes it to perceive patterns and ascribe meanings to them.


As Marcel Duchamp observes, the audience makes the meaning. In fact, when considering meaning the artist is also part of the audience.



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01 Sep 2007, 10:12 pm

art is dead, maybe that's what nietzsche meant to say.

i think duchamp knew this. so did a lot of the surrealists (think of 'the exquisite corpse'). a lot of people are still figuring it out. a lot of people a dressing and painting the corpse.



paolo
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02 Sep 2007, 3:07 am

CanyonWind wrote:
Abundance is not absolute in nature. A number of species produce very few offspring, putting much more care into each one, like elephants, bears, humans, and tsetse flies. I suppose that's just a different strategy to the same end.

Its a doomed strategy. I dont'know about tsetse, but all big animals caring for a few offspring are under danger of extinction. Man is apart, because its explosion is due to tecnique (medicine and production of food), not to internal drives. Anyhow there are natural laws establishing equilibrium between population and resource. Some Wynne Edwards talked about this: "In Wynne-Edwards’ view, group selection operates by differential survival of populations. Those populations which showed self-restraint in reproduction and exploitation of resources, survived longer than more profligate groups, so that self-regulation of population size developed during the course of evolution"
Anyhow man disrespect natural laws through the shortcut of tecnique. Some time man is going to pay for his "being apart". The fact that there are more people on the planet that there ever existed is sobering. Scientists talk about colonizing other planets. But this is sheer nonsense. We don't know if the astronaut woman of Alien will make it to the Earth with her cat, we childishly hope so.

Anyhow abundance is mainly a strategy of plant life. A fir three spreads billions of pollen grains around. But also some animals thrive on abundance: female cochroaches may generate 50,000 little cockroaches in a year. And the future may be a future of cochroaches for the earth, like it or not.



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02 Sep 2007, 3:25 pm

You might want to check out "Adaptation and Natural Selection," by George Williams. It's a short book, simple, and very clearly reasoned. Primarily, it's a refutation of Wynne-Edwards, whose ideas had achieved a large following. It became an instant classic.
Williams' main point is that cheaters always prosper. Among a hypothetical population exercising reproductive restraint, those individuals who choose instead to maximize their own reproduction will pass on more of their own genes than the ones being responsible, and pretty soon, the population will no longer be exercising reproductive restraint.
Wynne-Edwards seems from the "goodness and wisdom of nature" tradition, those who never contemplated wasps paralyzing spiders and laying eggs inside them, so the young wasps could grow up eating through the insides of their paralyzed living prey.
Nature is as cold hearted as we are.



paolo
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02 Sep 2007, 4:28 pm

The controversy about Wynne-Edwards thesis risks to be too technical for me: I don't know anyhow if to speak of nature as good or cruel makes much sense. Probably nature is both solidary and cruel. It's blind (the blind watchmaker) and at the same time consistent in pursuing its goals of survival whithin an acceptable degree of harmony (Gaia).
I don't know if this is part of a design (certainly not in the creationist fashion), but while there is a huge amount of predation among species and even within species (human history is a history of predation within the species), there are also diffuse istinctive feelings of solidarity and communication among differente species. Fish eats fish, but also people would risk their life to save their dog from danger).
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emergingartist54
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02 Sep 2007, 7:06 pm

Postperson wrote:
art is dead, maybe that's what nietzsche meant to say.

i think duchamp knew this. so did a lot of the surrealists (think of 'the exquisite corpse'). a lot of people are still figuring it out. a lot of people a dressing and painting the corpse.



Neitzsche meant that God is dead for Europe, and he was making a powerful critique of scientism.....that is to say he was suggesting that the idea that we could confidently abandon the concept of God as unnecessary was wrong....we would pay a terrible cost in loss of boundaries, loss of certainty and psychological security, but the loss may also be unavoidable, because a childish view of religion is increasingly hard to sustain. That's what I think Neitzche was up to, but I am sure he was not saying that art is dead, only that without a secure concept of God we are likely to do terrible things. He was certainly proven right in that by some of his countrymen who fancied themselves Supermen, among others.

He was not saying that art itself is dead, because even if the art of a given society is sick or perverse or maudlin or otherwise decadent, (now there is a can of worms! it will certainly not disappear. Decadent societies (19th century Europe was preoccupied with the idea of decadence, America fancied itself vital and innocent despite all the evidence) are individualistic and produce all manner of self conscious expression as well as all the unselfconscious expression that insures there will always be all sorts of innocent art produced by children, psychotics, et cetera.

Now I don't really know Neitzshe that well, I just have the Viking Portable Neitzsche and I haven't read it from cover to cover.

On Duchamp I am on firmer ground. 8)
Duchamp stopped painting about 1913 but he was very interested in producing Art with a capital A! His procedures were radical and a critique of aestheticism. He did NOT say that art was dead. {I guess I should proof-read my posts more carefully!) Rather he demonstrated that an artist could make something art just by naming it art. This is a serious procedure, oddly enough, and Duchamp was probably the most influential artist of the 20th century, however much Clement Greenberg disliked him! Duchamp emphasized and demonstrated the social transactions that make art. He made possible a broader range of procedures and materials to be seen as art (rightly so I hasten to add) including chance procedures and all manner of appropriation. Duchampian procedures became increasingly important to contemporary art around 1960 and actually dominant by 1975.

But no style or procedure in art has ever killed of any other in the modern era (which begins, depending on who you ask, either with Romanticism and Classicism in the 1780s or with Manet in the 1860's).

What people have been saying since the late 1950's in New York is that Painting is dead. And there have been some interesting attempts to produce the last possible painting, and painting has been on its deathbed for my whole painting life....but it keeps getting up for a last drink of water.

Oh the Surrealists....they were a varied bunch, but for the most part they had very traditional views of their productions as art objects realized according to traditional aesthetic criteria. Of course they were preoccupied with death and sex. Everybody likes the big subjects, the Mysteries!

Have you ever made an "exquisite corpse"? I have. You should try it, it's a fun game. It is a form of collaborative collage. You get a few friends together and you decide that one person makes something that can stand for a head (it could be a photo of a cabbage, a realistic drawing of a human or animal head, absolutely anything) and then someone else makes the torso (again, anything that can conceivably stand in for a torso, putting it in the right position will make it work) and someone else makes the legs (ditto) the main thing is that each of you are supposed to make your part without looking at what the others are doing. In the end you put it together and see what you have. The disjunctions and the surprises create the frisson we expect from art.

If anything art has become easier, more available, less distinct from everyday life.

This makes possible wider participation and has facilitated the development of much work, including much that may seem silly, at least at first look, but also much work that is both popular and deep and widely seen as beautiful, from minimalist music and art to the entire realm of conceptualism, which includes the work of Sol Le Witt and Christo, both of them extremely popular for turning their art into an occasion for collective celebration. (google them if you aren't familiar) as well as performance and video art. Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg and John Cage also recognized explicitly a large debt to Duchamp.

Much of this art has a quality of detachment because it is generated by logical procedures rather than "expressive" intent. Much of it is also has a surprising life-affirming impact.


And Painting is not dead!

my website has samples. As you can see I don't speak any programming languages, sigh! I need to update my site in the next few weeks.

www.davidtaylorart.com

My icon is of course a much reduced image of one of my drawings, "Turn!Turn!Turn!" from '93.

I will post a larger version of it and some other things here very soon.



Last edited by emergingartist54 on 08 Sep 2007, 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.