Discussing defining art. When, where, and why?

November 18, 2007

In a recent dinner event I attended, the question of this blog came up as well as the merit and value of the discussion, what is art? And how do you define it? Something in particular that was mentioned was the idea of waste. That this conversation is a waste if your pursuit in life is not to be an artist, that basically this is a question only artists should be asking.


Well beyond the general realization that that is wrong I would like to express my beliefs why this is an important conversation and then open it up to discussion. First one’s occupation in life should never dictate one’s intellectual passions, that is not to say that we should not strive to make them one in the same but we should not have to. I want to teach right now in my life and engage people in this conversation, I should not have to become an artist to do the latter.


But why have this conversation. I’ll start with what I perceive to be the obvious and go from there. This conversation and one’s approach to art in general is by no means restrained to only art. How we engage this topic and what we learn from that engagement carries over to everything else we do in life. The critical theory approach I have gained from studying literature will help me do what ever it is that I want to do, teach, maybe business or law, but the point is, this approach helps us grow. It allows you to look outside the box for answers, to see the context in which a problem arouses and it helps you bring in resources that might not be so apparent.


But beyond that, art is important to who we are. We have been shaped just as much by it and its history as we have shaped it. Therefore to better understand our history and our current society, we need to be constantly asking ourselves how we approach such topics, what makes us appreciate something more than something else?


Therefore I propose a challenge; I am willing to suggest that this kind of discussion leads to a better understanding of art and its history as well as its context in a larger societal history than any type of education one could receive from an art school. Basically what I am saying is that understanding why something is art is more important than understanding why something is Renaissance art.


Please continue this discussion, the world needs us to.


So discuss art, discuss it at dinner, in class, at work, at the movies, challenge our culture, challenge our leaders, let us all share our opinions. We are ALL qualified.





The Culture Industry, as Adorno sees it, well and Horkheimer too.

November 16, 2007

In Adorno’s essay, I mean Adorno and Horkheimer’s essay on mass culture titled “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” they outline what they think the culture industry is doing to us and how basically it interacts with us. It is one of many essays published in Dialectic of Enlightenment originally published in 1944. I want to bring this essay into the continued discussion of art because it suggests a new type of art, the art of the mass industry. This art is a business, the business of entertainment. It is not ruled by manifestos or schools but rather by the wallet. This industry holds no morals and is not tied to any tradition, it will do what ever it needs to turn over that profit, and that includes convincing you that it is about traditions and manifestos, Dali that is to you.


Let me stop here for a second and admit that I 1) don’t fully understand the inter-workings of Adorno’s arguments and 2) hold reservations against brandishing everything that has come out of the cultural factories as some subservient art, a “light” art as Adorno would like us to call it.


I bring this up though because there is something interesting in the idea of control. Are we controlled by our own industry? There is truth to it in that the industry creates need through desire that it dictates, we can easily live without all the luxuries of technology but yet we don’t and worse off we now swear by them. But is it control? Am I writing here because I am being forced to or because I want to? But is that want imposed by the industry?


I’d love some thoughts on this. Huysmans

Placing journalism in art. Can you?

November 15, 2007

Can journalism be art? And by that I have no intentions as to how to respond to such an open-ended question. But for myself I am asking from a few discussions I have recently partaken in. There is the aesthetic element that goes into reporting the news, but also there is the literary element. How you write, how you express your opinions, how you organize what is written? All of these have aesthetic elements but do those elements make journalism art?


The newspaper became part of art with Picasso’s collage. Where is it now and can a journalist be an artist? What about a news reporter? Benjamin wrote that it was fascism that made politics art and thus created Triumph of the Will. But perhaps journalism had something to do with it as well.



I don’t have answers yet as to the connection between journalism and art, but at the very least I do not think they are completely separate.