Art is something very hard to define. Personally, I don't really like trying. It's so subjective and up for interpretation that it's just annoying listening to people make blanket statements about what they think it is or isn't.
Right now, I'm attending an Art Institute in South Florida. Because it's an art school, there are a lot of eccentric people... but not nearly as many as one would expect. Honestly, a lot of them look like they walked right out of MTV and the most profound "conversations" I overhear involve a lot of Family Guy quotes or the latest news about some celebrity. Fine. I don't care if people like those kind of shows... they're funny... but when the only words slipping from your mouth are movie or sitcom quotes, I really have to wonder... and, I just think they fail to meet the criteria for being an artist. But hey, who am I to judge? Good job, Ai, for duping a lot of people into thinking they're talented and should spend an assload of money on tuition!!! *gives a thumbs up*
We were watching a biography on Andy Goldsworthy in my Concept Development class. Admittedly, I don't like this class. I want to feel like I'm actually learning something that I don't already know or haven't already covered in some other course. But, this movie was actually pretty interesting. The guy goes into nature and creates art from stuff lying around. He'll spend hours or days creating some kind of rock or twig sculpture, and then nature almost instantly consumes it back into itself. Seems pointless, but... I mean... art, in itself, sort of is pointless. To me, art is for no one other than the artist. I may not like it or appreciate it, but... it wasn't meant for me anyway. In any case, I thought what he made was cool and striking.
Here... I'll have my own go at defining art. Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbs (look at me quoting a comic strip! lol) says, "People always make the mistake of thinking art is created for them. But really, art is a private language for sophisticates to congratulate themselves on their superiority to the rest of the world. As my artist's statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance. "
Granted, that may be taking it a bit far... but seriously, art is self expression and not necessarily for the benefit of anyone else but the expressor. My Art History teacher says art ceases to be art when it fails to be functional in society or original. Really? I'm pretty sure art IS imitation and, for the most part, it is NOT functional. Sure, the Mona Lisa is pretty and recognized globally, but... uh... it's not functional. If it were the first portrait ever done, it is still imitating life. Conversly, there IS functional art... cavepaintings and inscriptions on Egyptian tombs were/are functional (communication); modern/contemporary furniture is art but it is also functional. But, cavepaintings were meant to be functional when they were created; not necessarily for simple, self-expression. NOW it's art because it has ceased to be functinal... or has no real meaning to us in our time beyond appreciation or curiosity.
But I digress. This guy, Andy Goldsworthy, gets a lot of spiritual (please forgive the allusion to religion) satisfaction from what he does and very little satisfaction from interaction with people. He's got some ideas that would be considered strange to most people, but... DUH! All artists, throughout history, are freakin' weird! They cut their own ears off and run around naked in the woods. No one EVER understands them, at least not until they die... and even then, I don't think they do. People just like to feel important when they recite their own enlightened opinion, "Oh. I think he was feeling the blackness of his soul emerge out of the depths of the red!" What?! Really? Shut up. Only the artist is allowed to spew that nonsense about their own work (I think).
I'm going on because I was sooo annoyed with the guys in class who were complaining about the movie. I don't care if you don't like it, but... use your little pea-brain, you self-important asses! These kids think they're artists but they're conformists to the ‘inth degree. Don't they have any clue that art originated in the mud and dirt? That it was primitive man trying to understand himself and the impressions nature gave him? Sorry! Not everyone lives in a plastic world of regurgitated concepts to claim as their own.
And I'm just stunned that these kids don't get it! There are a lot of social-rejects at this school... a lot of "misunderstood" individuals. Their ostracizing attitudes exactly mirror the attitudes of those who persecuted artists in the past. How dare they? I mean... I don't appreciate or understand why a black canvas with a red dot is considered art, or why Jackson Pollok's splatter paintings are world renown, but... to each their own. I don't want to hear someone's opinion on an artist's work, but I do like to hear the artist's opinion on their own work.
But... I guess what really makes me mad is their lack of thought; that they don't see that what this guy is doing is EXACTLY what we should consider art. He lives in tune with nature, and whatever he adds or modifies doesn't disturb nature in any way, it merely complements it. He puts the mark of humankind on the earth and it is beautiful, even if no one ever sees it. I truly believe this is actually the way we should conduct our lives... we shouldn't be worried about making a permanent mark, because decay is natural and good. We should leave things better than we found them or unaltered.
Whatever. Feel free to disagree.