Friday, April 20, 2007

I am going back to some things I mentioned before in the blog... "In Bali they have no art, they do everything as well as they can." In the west, we have the terms "art" and "craft" to describe objects with particular personal expressive intent that contrast with the typical objects of daily life, which may be made near perfectly by machines with little or no human attention. These objects both "art" and "not-art" may be used for personal expression or to establish cultural identity, but are produced by companies or people separate and isolated from the end user.

If you go back to the time in which a cultural anthropologist asked the man in Bali about their "art," you would realize that nearly every object at that time was a form of personal expression. These objects would normally be made with a great deal of care, as the expression of care or caring is the fundamental value of a civilized culture.

In the United States, even art and craft are fundamentally estranged from the end user by a system of wholesale and retail distribution. We buy our objects and clothing with little regard to the specifics of their manufacture or distribution. The question, "what is art?" is a matter of endless debate and one that I wouldn't want to touch with a 10 foot pole, except to offer the following:

We are healthiest as human individuals when we are engaged in a creative process. You can call it art, craft or Tiddly Winks. I'm not talking about buying art, or owning art, or collecting art, but about the process of making. We would or will be healthiest as a society, when as in Bali, we have no art, but the objects that fill our lives are objects of our own making, or reflect the creative engagement of our friends.

I don't have time at the moment to go deeper in this, but it is a subject to which I will return.

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