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Artsy Fartsy

  1. Jun 6, 2007 #1
    What a great video.


    I love charlie Rose, and I love Richard Serra. What an articulate guy. He speaks amazingly well.

    If you think art is stupid or does not make sense, watch this video as he explains the art to you...... What an amazing speaker.

    52:13 :rofl: "Contrary to fact, conditional" - Priceless.

    Last edited: Jun 6, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 6, 2007 #2
    I would like to watch that video through but the audio was rough. Too hard to understand much. Any other links by some chance?

    Thanks in any case.
  4. Jun 6, 2007 #3
    Yeah, I dont know why the video got all f'ed up. It wasnt like that when I watched it on TV last night. Part II came on today, so it should be online tomorrow.
  5. Jun 6, 2007 #4
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2007
  6. Jun 7, 2007 #5
    Articulate. Very articulate. *is envious* It's amazing how simple his art seems at first glance until he walks you through it. Clearly the kind of art to experience.

    I'll probably look for any books he might have written. *heads off to BnB*
  7. Jun 7, 2007 #6
  8. Jun 7, 2007 #7


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    At one point he says that the function of art is to change meaning through perception. This implies sort of a bottom-up kind of process where what you see changes how you think. I think this is backwards. A more accurate statement would be that art functions through a process where perception is changed by meaning (which may, of course, go on to further change meaning). In other words, it is a top-down process. What you see only changes how you think if you are in the proper kind of mindset to begin with, particularly when viewing abstract art.

    For my part, I am not in this kind of mindset by default. I have to artificially induce it in order to have a shot at getting anything out of modern art. But this mindset feels unnatural, arbitrary, and forced to me and so I am put off from trying to induce it. (And at its worst, others espousing this mindset can come off as pretentious and impossible to take seriously, particularly with the kinds of language they use. I find it hard to take seriously someone who takes the phrase "the potential of weight" seriously.)

    So I think it is off track to expect people to listen to things like this and suddenly come away with an appreciation for modern art. I believe many people do not like modern art not because they don't understand it, but because the mindset required to appreciate it is off-putting for various reasons. A couple of these reasons may be that the concepts involved seem like arbitrary nonsense and that others who take the mindset seriously sometimes come off as pretentious. Of course, other folks may have an easier time putting themselves into that sort of mindset and if they do, more power to them. It's not that the mindset itself is inherently good or bad, just that appreciation of abstract art hinges on having that mindset, and in turn different types of personalities will take to that sort of mindset differently.
  9. Jun 7, 2007 #8
    I like modern art because it forces you to open your mind to new ideas and expressions in a nonlinear way of thinking. Its not a photograph that makes you say war is bad, or fight AIDs, or any other cause. Its something thats self-induced. You have too see it for yourself, and what you get out of it can be your own. Its not like a painting where most people will say, ahh, this piece is about x,y,z, and (most) people see it and walk away with (x,y,z) in mind. For modern art, it might be polar opposite to what someone right next to you sees in the work, or even what the artist had in mind.

    Its a way of thinking outside the box.

    But that is exactly what he is doing in his work. He has 50-ton slabs of steel. The function changes its meaning. You physically see something that is light, stretched, drawn out. It looks like sheets of paper that you can blow over with one breath. On the contrary, they are massive pieces of steel and you need a crane to move them. The meaning and preception of steel (hard, cold, heavy) is EXACTLY changed via the process (light, warm in color, etc).

    I dont recall him saying that. He talks about potential and weight and gravity, but I dont think I heard him say "the potential of weight"
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2007
  10. Jun 7, 2007 #9


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    I think this is only the case if you're looking for it. If you are going into it thinking all these things about design and form and such and expecting to have some profound sort of message sent to you, you will likely find one. But only if you're looking for it, and to properly look for it you need to be in the right mindset. Otherwise, your reaction might be something more like "what's the big deal?" or "give me a break."

    Now, maybe it's the case that some people are just naturally in that sort of state of mind. Which is great for them because I'm sure it's interesting. But I just want to point out that this is something more about the viewer than the work itself.

    Charlie Rose says that at one point. Though on the whole the interview wasn't so bad. However, I do find the artsy jargon found accompanying pieces in most art museums to be rather pretentious and annoying. I think part of it is how they matter-of-factly state some interpretation that seems completely arbitrary.
  11. Jun 7, 2007 #10
    This is exactly what my art theory professor went over when I took the course. Art is not like a story or a movie that you "pick up and read/watch."

    In art, you have to walk in with the mindset, and know the history, what has art tried to accomplish up to this point, how is this artist changing art itself. You need to be educated on art to enjoy art. Thats why many people say things like "give me a break", or "what's the big deal?"

    Art has a very real message and view its trying to get across and its your job as the viewer to do your homework to try and get the message.

    Again, if you follow art closely (Which I dont), you should get the message.

    To be fair, you are making complaints someone would make about physics. Physics is hard, they use big words and long equations that I dont understand. They state it as if its matter of fact.

    ....well, it is, to us. The same can be said of art. In a sense, you diminish art with what you just said.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2007
  12. Jun 7, 2007 #11


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    Fair enough, though I think this is antithetical to Serra's statement that the function of art is to change meaning through perception. But maybe I am taking that too literally.

    But more generally, I want to resist the idea that people who are not enthused with modern art will suddenly appreciate it if only it's explained to them. Because again, I think the issue is not necessarily so much about having the proper concepts as it is about appreciating the state of mind that entertains those kinds of concepts seriously. I may explain to someone why my favorite sport is so great, and they may understand what I'm saying, but they may still lack the connection I have between my conceptual understanding of the sport and my aesthetic appreciation of it. I think that kind of connection is something that ultimately comes down to personal taste... not the piece of art itself or the way one thinks about it.

    The difference being that the methodology of physics supports ways by which claims and challenges to claims may be refuted, and the discipline functions by rooting out those claims that may be refuted. Now this is not going to be fair, as I am speaking of plaques in art museums rather than academic critique on art per se. But when I read something to the effect that the spatial tones of a block in the corner of a room functions to inspire a sense of dim anxiety and dread (or whatever), I have to roll my eyes, and I am skeptical that any measure of studying art history would change that. I am missing concepts that I could acquire, but I am also missing an affinity for those kinds of concepts that I likely cannot acquire. Of course, the truth value and overall relevance of statements in physics do not depend on one's affinity for the concepts involved.
  13. Jun 7, 2007 #12
    Not at all. It is still in line with what he's saying. His art changes the meaning of the medium he uses through your preception of the art as you walk around it. That does *not* mean you can just walk up to his art with no proper background (not background in *his* art, but backgroudn in art in general).

    Again this is wrong because its not "Modern" art. As opposed to what? Art is something that evloves. What is here and now will always be "Modern". Art is a progression that changes. There are periods of change. If you want pictures of fruit in a bowl, its been done (lots of times) and by great artists. The point of art is not to show you fruit in a bowl. If you want that, take a photograph, it will be far better. Art has a purpose and a meaning, and that purpose and meaning changes and evolves through time as art itself changes.

    You cant have the proper mindset for art without studying the history and theory of art. Period. It just cant happen.

    You dont have to like a particular piece of modern art, but you cant say you dont like modern art. Modern art is all around us and you do like but might not realize it, or you take it for granted.

    But art is the same way. Art and artists at one point are considered good can be stuffed away in the basement of a museum later. Art is fluid in the sense that it changes as well.

    You would be surprised. Art theory class opened my eyes to Art and showed me how to 'look at art'. -not just stare at it.

    But thats not the case for art. There are some truths and overall relevance statements in art. Thats the point of art! Its just not something you can detect by glancing at it or saying "thats a nice bowl of fruit, it looks real to me, good job painter!"
  14. Jun 10, 2007 #13


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    Thanks Cyrus, that was good.
    I do disagree with Serra’s view, that buildings are not art, I think they can be.
    The discussion about the order of perception and meaning is of great interest, I should leave it where it was left, but can't help myself! I wonder what Hypnagogue’s thoughts are exactly about sense and reason, and where they sit in relation to Kant’s Copernican Revolution

    or Arnheim ‘I consider art to be a means of perception, a means of cognition. Perception makes it possible to structure reality and thus to attain knowledge. Art reveals to us the essence of things, the essence of our existence; that is its function’,

    or Gombrich, ‘Gombrich thinks that there is no vision without assumptions, no innocent eye. In relation to the "truth" of our perceptions, or images, we are always faced with the problem that there is no unmediated "visual world" against which we can compare our perceptions. If vision is as much a product of experience and cultural determination as the making of images, then what we com-pare pictorial representation with is not reality; rather, it is a world already clothed in our representational systems.’


    Also, whether he is talking of a level of meaning, like those described by Panofsky http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irwin_Panofsky
    or, say, Barthes?

    As for the pretensions of the language,there are some precise definitions that I don’t bother with mostly ( but for example ‘modern’, ‘contemporary’, ‘abstract’, ‘non-figurative’, ‘non-representational’ etc., are not equivalent ), and there can also be floweriness when translating something necessarily metaphorically which is metaphorical itself. I have seen this abused to various ends, but there is often little alternative with difficult concepts.

    Personally, I am more familiar with this language than the language of discussions of consciousness,(which I think can also be abused) and even though I value the wisdom of those involved in the long thread about it, and want to read it, every time I look at it, I’m instantly away with the pixies. I do hope to be in the right frame of mind to read it one day. Incidentally, I have a bit on in real life, and probably shan’t get around to that, nor posting here again, for a good while.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2007
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