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12May/100

On the Question of Art

Consider the Critics of the Field...

The latest from the brilliant Karl Kerschl and his The Abominable Charles Christopher.

It's a question pulled into the fray by the evolving nature of our times and our culture.  What is Art?  And has there ever been a definitive definition agreed upon by all?  Sure, maybe there have been majority opinions on just what art is, but unless the opinion is unanimous, it cannot be considered definitive.  And why unanimous?  Because of what art is for.

Ostensibly, art has no other reason for creation but its own need for existence.  When it is created, there may be motive behind or influence towards its creation, a sort of impetus, whether from without or within, at work behind art's genesis.  But ultimately, art is the result of expression, the end result of framing thought and emotion and the raw negentropy at work within the human mind.  It is the end product of our human impulse, an impulse that also leads to conspiracy theories and optical illusions, to create order out of a disordered universe.  Art is a form of order.  It is a way for expression to be made whole, whether through words, read or recited, images or objects, in any number of dimensions, actions, whether bounded or not, sounds, of any source, style, or arrangement, or experiences, of the physical or mental nature.  Even this extremely open ended definition of artistic creation surely excludes an array of differing ways in which art is made.  The key, however, to all artistic expression, is order and not, at least in my opinion, appreciation.

The appreciation of art is merely a byproduct of its observation.  By interacting with art (and all art, as inviting or repellant as it aims to be, is in some manner interactive) we are able to have our own personal entropy ordered, if only for the briefest of moments, in the manner of another's conception.  We look at a Picasso and share his struggle with what it means to see.  We listen to jazz, experiencing the distillation and synthesis of the beat and the tremor and the timbre, raw and immediate.  We read the poetry of a Baudelaire and experience what Stephen King so accurately relayed in his On Writing as the magic of time-delayed telepathy, smelling the grit and smoke and musk of Paris in another age, though all we have are words.  Art is, from the creator and to the observer, a way of conveying order upon a disordered world.  What appreciation of art is, is our judgment, whether personal or societal, of whether the effect art has on us is correct, in any manner of "rightness," at a moment in time.  We can turn up our noses at a urine-submerged crucifix or gasp in wonder at a painting made of a woman rallying atop a pile of fresh corpses.  The important point is that this appreciation is a value inherent in the observer, but that the observation comes after the creation of art.  Whether one likes it or not, art is still art.  The question of appreciation is that which is argued over and over again.  Art is still art, whether you like it or not.

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