I have been very distracted lately with finals and my thesis and have not been able to continue the discussion I and Everett have engaged in recently. Well I have time now and here is my response to his most recent post on the ownership of art.
Everett concludes his thoughts with:
“So what is left? The reader is not useful for the Art, for whatever personal growth he gains from a work, it is useful only to him; the Artist is only useful while writing– and only limitedly then, because he knows only partially what he is doing, sometimes less than that– leaving behind… what? In the end, all we are left with is the work itself, with its vast ambiguities and questions. And really, here is a central aspect of Art: ambiguity. It’s one of the significant distinctions between Art and Entertainment: Entertainment is inherently reductive. If we are to escape, we do not want to think about complex items: we want life simplified into a compact story, whether it is a comedy, a romance, an adventure. Entertainment succeeds when it does not challenge us: it may surprise us, but the surprises occur in a frame, so to speak. Spiderman is shocked– as are we– by the sudden arrival of an enemy, but it’s not that we didn’t expect an enemy….”
This has been a topic of our discussion for some time now, the role the artist and the reader play in defining art. Everett is of the opinion that the reader does not play a role in making it art, that is not to say that the reader is not important, far from it, but rather that the reader or viewer in the world of visual arts, is a critic following the establishment of the piece, therefore he does not partake in leveling it up to the world of art (if I am misunderstanding you let me know Everett). Here is where I have a problem with his argument. I agree that the artist is fundamental to the creation of the piece, but then we are left with that good old tree in the forest question. If the artist creates art and no one is around to see it, does it exist as art? My answer is no. It cannot be art without a viewer. At the same time I can easily be persuaded to say yes, especially if someone was to say that if they placed Guernica in the middle of the forest is it still art, yes obviously, but its artistic merit was already established before its placement in the forest. To me this goes back to when I was a physics major: you can’t measure what you can’t observe and by observing, you are altering what you observe. Thus I see the same in art, when we observe a piece we add to it, when we comment on it; we alter its existence and therefore redefine it.
Everett earlier brings up the interesting element of works of art that are “open” that is works that were or are never finished. But he suggests that they become finished upon the death of the writer, an obvious fact. However if I may suggest here that this the new power of blogs, here we have works of art that are both timeless in that they exist as long as there are contributors and interactive in that they are expanded upon by the involvement of the readers.
So for me as Everett did mention, art exists on its own, even the artist passed creation doesn’t own his art, he simply become another critic. But at the same time I return to my original idea which comes from the Reader-Response idea that Everett brought up; that art really exists in its interaction between the object and the observer, because each time that interaction happens it is different and when you replace either party, the interaction is different. Thus with this understanding we lose the categories of art and entertainment, it is up to each person to decide whether something falls in one or the other category, or neither.
Just some earlier (should be studying for my test) thoughts, sorry it took so long Everett to respond,