Saturday, August 11, 2012

What is art?

What is art, and when it is dependent on the skill of hand and mind, is it something different from when it comes from manipulation by machine? This morning on CNN.com there is an article questioning this matter in the creative use of photoshop. As programs become more powerful, the manipulation of images becomes less a matter of skill and more simply a matter of play that anyone with the right program and equipment can do in little time and with little effort and will thus become of little value. When you can do illustrations on your iPhone that resemble fine paintings without having invested in the skill to paint, is what the iPhone has created art? Perhaps only for those who know enough about technique to know the difference, and so in that the value of real work is subtly undermined.

Today I've been teaching how to make jigs and fixtures for box making. Like computer programs, jigs and fixtures are intended to make things easier as one gains greater experience in their use. Still, there are many ways to make mistakes, and many lessons to learn. In making things from real wood, the lessons have greater meaning for some. There is no button for undo. In real wood,mistakes may be more difficult to fix, and because the finished product may be more difficult to make it may also have deeper meaning. Some of my students today mentioned that one of the things they liked best was seeing me make mistakes. Knowing that a professional woodworker can make mistakes, fix them and recover from them is a valuable lesson.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

Doug Stowe said...

I keep having thai problem of accidentally rejecting comments. Sorry, this is from Raney

raney has left a new comment on your post "What is art?":

This is an interesting question. I think there's obviously some part of skill inherent in Art, but that skill isn't necessarily always technical craft or manual skill. The capacity to 'see' skillfully also produces some spectacular art, as in some of the best installation work.

I think that one of the key components - and arguably THE key component - of 'art' is its capacity to affect the viewer. Art at its most basic has a purpose - and that purpose is to cause some sort of response in the interaction between the work and those who see (or experience) it. Whether the response is anger, melancholy, or simply the warmth of standing in front of 'beauty', there is a reaction.

From that standpoint, then, there is a degree of 'uniqueness' required for art. The commonplace - and many photoshop techniques and styles are becoming ubiquitous - always breeds apathy. So as these sorts of work become more common, their capacity to affect lessens and they lose their effectiveness as 'art'.

However, the right person can always evoke reaction in some way or other, even with the commonplace. Finding ways to do that is at the heart of the notion of 'artist' to me.

Technique as a commodity can be devalued, as technology often does. But to me this is somewhat immaterial.

I know it when I see it. I know it by its effect on me.