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Conceptual Art

  1. Jun 27, 2011 #1
    Ah. I get it. Yes, well, it spread to PF, so...

    The standard definition of Conceptual Art back in the day was: art in which the concept of an artwork was, itself, the artwork. This was a subset of Modern Art, one weird branch of it.

    One of the best known conceptual artists was a performance artist named Chris Burden. He had a famous piece called "Breathing Water" in which he came out in front of the audience, stuck his face in a bucket of water, and inhaled as much of it into his lungs as he could, thus demonstrating the concept of breathing water.

    Anyway, this thing with the invisible art is not where mainstream art is. It's retro, like some kids are trying to go back and be hippies.
     
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  3. Jun 29, 2011 #2

    fuzzyfelt

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    Re: It Finally Happened!

    They've given stuff away, like real money, sometimes. :)



    It garnered interest suffice to start a thread and also discuss categorisation. I don't know, has art you do agree with motivated you to start many threads on it and why it is art?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  4. Jun 30, 2011 #3

    fuzzyfelt

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    Re: It Finally Happened!

    Thanks for mentioning his name, I timed out trying remember!

    Regardless, there is precedence in art originally dismissed as non-art or ludicrous eventually being taken more seriously. I doubt that would happen if it wasn't heard of/discussed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2011
  5. Jun 30, 2011 #4

    fuzzyfelt

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    Re: It Finally Happened!

    There was some relevance, as the claims about modern art, the op links and 9/11, depend on some definition of art, which I don't think has been explained.

    Also, there is no clear indication of what is meant by “modern art”, as it could refer to all forms of art from around the mid C18th through to the 1960/70s, denying the artistic merit of, say, The Impressionists, Whistler, Puccini, Rimski-Korsakov, T.S. Elliot, Hemmingway etc., if that was intended.

    Since 9/11 was mentioned, I’ll post information about effects in artistic context, by the person responsible for much of the basis of institutional definitions (and well known as long-time art critic of The National), Danto.

    “I could not imagine that anyone not practically engaged in coping and helping was able to do anything except sit transfixed in front of the television screen, watching the towers burn, and of the crowds at street level running from danger and, later, trudging through smoke and detritus in search of someone they knew. I thought the last thing on anyone’s mind was art. But by day’s end the city was transformed into a ritual precinct, dense with improvised sites of mourning. I thought at the time that artists, had they tried to do something in response to 9/11, could not have done better than the anonymous shrine-makers who found ways of expressing the common mood and feeling of those days, in ways that everyone instantly understood.”

    He describes understanding according to Wittgenstein’s act of piety, serving “as an aspect of the question of what art is after all for, and how it, just as Hegel had said, serves, together with religion and philosophy, as a moment in what he called Absolute Spirit.”
    http://www.apexart.org/exhibitions/danto.htm
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2011
  6. Jun 30, 2011 #5
    Re: It Finally Happened!

    The game with this kind of thing is to stir up a lot of negative reactions while maintaining a straight face, insisting your art is serious and has integrity. The more outrage the better. The outrage, itself, becomes newsworthy. The art must then be put in some prestigious gallery show where the public can have a look and judge for itself. Someone or some institution with money will then feel some pressure to buy some of this controversial art to commemorate its place in the history of art: "This is the piece that had the N.Y. Art Scene in an uproar in the summer of '72", sort of thing.

    Not sure if you remember the artist who made such a stir a few years back by putting elephant dung on pictures of the Madonna. Catholics were up in arms, arm in arm with the non-catholic man on the street who just considered the idea repulsive. Plenty of artists were up in arms. It became big news.

    The bigger the news the more prestigious the gallery that decides it would be good business to exhibit this art. Art museums, even, might arrange a special showing. Being ridiculed and called ludicrous, does, in fact, feed all this. It makes people who feel they are classier and more educated than the hoi poloi want to buy some of it, not because they like it, but because the average guy hates it so much, or maybe just to be a participant in something that is newsworthy.

    I'm not sure how well this invisible art will do. It strikes me as somewhat too obviously a gimick to elicit the gut-felt rage against elephant poo on a sacred icon. But we'll see.

    The best thing to do if you don't like it is to ignore it and not tell your friends and relatives.
     
  7. Jun 30, 2011 #6

    fuzzyfelt

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    Re: It Finally Happened!

    Would anti-anti-art be art? :) What series of metrics do you mean?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  8. Jun 30, 2011 #7

    Ryan_m_b

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    Lol, defying art is infinitely recursive? Makes sense. By metrics I mean the measures by which we judge this act/concept to be good, off of the top of my head that could include but not be limited to;

    How original is the idea?
    What benefit does this idea have on the people who view it?
    What does this art add to society?
    Do I find this concept aesthetically pleasing?
    How technical is the implementation of this concept?
    What is the creators purpose (i.e to push boundaries or to make a buck)?
    Is this art satirical or taking the piss?
     
  9. Jun 30, 2011 #8

    fuzzyfelt

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    Great post!
    Sorry about the wait! There have been similar ideas, I was trying to find an example of one, (I'll keep looking) but this list is much more entertaining!
     
  10. Jun 30, 2011 #9

    turbo

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    Every summer, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture hosts at least one weekend gallery in the downtown (the school is actually located in the town of Madison, but oh, well). In addition to the visual arts, there are always some students that want to push the boundaries of conceptual (performance) art to draw attention to the exhibition. One year, when I was playing guitar and hosting an open-mic jam in a local tavern, a young disheveled-looking guy came shuffling into the bar through the front entrance and left through the side door. He was wearing black Converse sneakers, and his shoelaces (dragging behind him) had to have been at least 100 yards long. He had a confederate at each door, holding them open until his laces were clear before shutting them. It was pretty impressive. I had to think "How did he come up with this idea?" followed shortly by "Where did he manage to get his hands on hundreds of yards of shoelace material?". Some of the customers actually left the tavern for a bit to go check out the paintings, sculptures, etc in the store-front across the street, so his "street performance" was effective. He never said a word or changed his solemn expression, but everybody knew it was one of the art-school kids.

    http://www.skowheganart.org/
     
  11. Jun 30, 2011 #10

    DaveC426913

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    Skowhegan, now there's a clearing in a forest...I've been through Skowhegan several times - usually when headed back to Canada from New England.
     
  12. Jun 30, 2011 #11

    turbo

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    It ain't much, but it's the county seat/shiretown. Our last house was there, and my wife and I decided to bail out and move to the woods after our property taxes jumped 30+% in one year. Luckily, we sold the place at the height of the stupid real-estate market and made out fine.

    That town was ruined by the influx of large retailers like WalMart, and the part-time minimum-wage jobs that they brought with them. Young couples living in apartments and house trailers don't contribute much to the tax base, and their children are a real drain on the school budget. Since at least 50% of property taxes goes right to the school budget, it was getting really expensive to continue living there.
     
  13. Jul 1, 2011 #12

    fuzzyfelt

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    Really nice idea, and lovely post.
     
  14. Jul 1, 2011 #13

    fuzzyfelt

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    I now think in a previous post you’d said that you hadn’t actually wanted to go in to this - sorry! I’ll just respond again for now.

    I really like some of the things you’ve considered in your list, particularly about benefit. But, say, regarding purpose, I think that it is rather difficult or impossible to know the creator’s intention for certain, so that is a matter of interpretation (e.g. "Critics are sharply divided in their views of Koons. Some view his work as pioneering and of major art-historical importance. Others dismiss his work as kitsch: crass and based on cynical self-merchandising." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Koons) Or take, for example, two people working together to create an artwork (not untraditional, Renaissance painters worked in groups), one believes they are pushing boundaries, the other just out to make a buck. Or, given that, why it is important.

    Since I mentioned him, this is Danto’s (conventional) institutional definition-

    "Danto's definition has been glossed as follows: something is a work of art if and only if (i) it has a subject (ii) about which it projects some attitude or point of view (has a style) (iii) by means of rhetorical ellipsis (usually metaphorical) which ellipsis engages audience participation in filling in what is missing, and (iv) where the work in question and the interpretations thereof require an art historical context. (Danto, Carroll) Clause (iv) is what makes the definition institutionalist. The view has been criticized for entailing that art criticism written in a highly rhetorical style is art, lacking but requiring an independent account of what makes a context art historical, and for not applying to music."[2] (Stanford Encyclopaedia of philosophy)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Danto

    And the lists I was thinking of are clusters, not one and not necessarily all, but some subsection, so different from a precise definition. Of these, I think Dissanyake’s is more interesting, but still can’t find it, so this is another, e.g.-
    (1) possessing positive aesthetic properties;
    (2) being expressive of emotion;
    (3) being intellectually challenging;
    (4) being formally complex and coherent;
    (5) having the capacity to convey complex meanings;
    (6) exhibiting an individual point of view;
    (7) being original;
    (8) being an artifact or performance which is the product of a high degree of skill;
    (9) belonging to an established artistic form;
    (10) being the product of an intention to make a work of art.
    (Gaut, 2000)
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2011
  15. Jul 2, 2011 #14

    Ryan_m_b

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    Interesting list, part of the problem I feel there is with definitions of "art" is not just the entirely subjective nature of something but the separation of art and art world. In the case of the latter an in circle of people decide what is good art and what is bad and stick it in galleries. I find this a bit of a conflicting thing for one group to decide what is "art" when it is so subjective as to have very little meaning beyond "I think this falls under the category of art for me because..."
     
  16. Jul 2, 2011 #15

    fuzzyfelt

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    Indeed, and I think Derrida had similar sentiments too, along the lines of art determined by the art-world, determined by art being circular.

    I should have also attributed some thoughts in the discussion about intention to Barthes’ “Death of the Author” ideas, too.
     
  17. Jul 10, 2011 #16

    fuzzyfelt

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    It's occurred to me I made at least a couple of careless mistakes: I meant to say "mid 1800's" and "The Nation".
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2011
  18. Oct 3, 2011 #17
    My working definition of art is:
    Meaningful human communication embodied in a compelling form.

    While it's true that there are different subjective responses to art, isn't it true that part of the challenge of coming up with a definition is to include the different opinions about it that make sense. I mean, it's not just about being exclusive, it's about being inclusive too.

    I also wonder about the rest of your comment. Who do you think the "in circle" of people are?

    I'm really curious about this. I am wondering if art is viewed as elitist, or something that people need to be educated in to understand. If it's the former it seems ironic to me in a way, because I think for the past fifty years many artists have been trying to get art off the walls, out of the elitist position, and mingle it more with life, they've been trying to obliterate the boundaries between "high" and "low" culture. If it's for the latter reason, I wonder if the lack of art education has crippled people's understanding of art.

    Either way, I don't quite agree that it's a single group of people deciding what's art, because the art these days that's getting shown is more diverse and eclectic than, I think, ever before in history. You can find avant-garde work, traditional academic work, abstract paintings, representational paintings, conceptual art, pop art, performance art, formalist art, neo-expressionist art, and on and on.

    And, ultimately it's market driven. Anyone can open a gallery and choose to exhibit whatever he or she wants. People do this out of their apartments and garages. Anyone can choose to curate a show like this and be among the "in circle." But to continue and pay the rent you need to find people who will purchase the work. So, ultimately, it's the consumers, as in every other sphere of business, who decide what kind of artwork is going to be made and shown. Not totally (and artists may not like to hear it), but this is largely true.

    I see the current field as diverse, largely driven by the people who are interested in it, supporting it through purchase, and run by people who love it, are consumed by it, who study it and live it. Anyone that actually cares about it can get into it and be involved in some way and contribute.

    What do you think?
     
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