Saturday, January 28, 2006

Imitation and a Cultural Aesthetic


You make a good point, China; there are certainly cases that art is imitative. I guess that what I resist the idea that it is *always* imitative. That is, there are many times (take Van Gogh's renderings of his Room at Arles) when an artist will paint a craftsman's work but ask us to view it differently. So while it has the capacity to imitate, like you are talking about, it is not in essence imitative, for it will not always do so. It's a fine line.

Also, speaking about culture and art - I think it is really easy to see how our aesthetic sense is culturally conditioned in fashion. I would argue that some of the "high" fashion houses' clothes are art (they are creative, often provocative, often beautiful). Looking at how fashions change from season to season, year to year, and decade to decade can be incredibly revealing. Every ten years or so, there are a couple of collections that re-attune our aesthetic senses; the pattern is clear, as one issue of Vogue pointed out. A controversial new shape enters the fashion realm and people hate it at first. But, as time wears on, they begin to see its beauty and indeed emulate it. Take Marc Jacobs Fall 2005 collection (follow link). Called "lumpenly ugly" and full of "prom dresses for pregnant teenagers," it sold remarkably well and is already rippling through other collections. A collection like this overturns and reconditions our sense of the beautiful.

I just find it really interesting to watch fashion as a cultural register of sorts, because it is so visible and updates itself twice a year. More conventional forms of art take much longer to sort themselves out - books take years to write and more time to publish, paintings must make their ways into galleries and then people have to see them, but fashion is thrown at us in magazines, on tv, and in stores.

Friday, January 27, 2006

A Preternatural Understanding of Creative Aesthetics




"Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem" is the collaboration between French Disco House artists Daft Punk, and anime artist Leiji Matsumoto. Both the album (which is widely accliamed as one of the best albums of this decade) and the animation we concieved together as a 'Fantasia' esque project. No dialogue and only the album's nuances provide the narrative. This film, of which many fans of either artist is entirely ignorant, displays a consumate understanding of both the aesthetics of dance music and the mindframe (emotionally and professionally) that allows it's fruition.

If any of you all want to watch it let me know. We are having a screening this evening.

Trying to befriend desparate parts of the reading.

Ok, so like, the readings:

"It is out of participtation in the general system of symbolic forms we call culture that participation in the particular we call art, which is in fract but a sector of it, is possible. A theory of art is thus at the same time a theory of culture, not in autnomous enterprise." Geertz 115

and

""We are interested in the intention of picutures and painters as a means to a sharper perception of the pictures, for us. It is the picture as covered by a description in our terms that we are attempting to explain; the explanation itself become part of a larger description of the picture, again in our terms." Baxandall 245

Though these are not in direct dialect, it is clear that they obviously dissent in several ways from each other. What is said that maintains continuity between the two (at least in my own phrasing) is the following:

Culture is an inevitable part of art, and an inevitable part of communication, and also of any representational system. So when we see a piece of art on our 'own terms,' their is an inference that we seek culture. Our opinion and perception, even prior to viewing the art is set by culture, and we are (as individuals) products of our culture. So when we set art interms of ourselves, and our view we both are culturally biased towards it, and it is culturally biased back towards us. Thus, if the culture we project upon the art is an object version of the cultural bias we innately possess, it will be prone to certain emphatic rejection or integration of the art.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Expanding on today's class discussion...

I love blogs solely for days like this, where I need to bring up a discussion point but don't form my argument until we're about to leave class...

Anyway, what struck me was the idea of not wanting to consider art an imitation because it's only half-complete if it has not yet been evaluated by an outsider. My response to that, in defense of art as imitation, is the question of what happens when the craftsman is able to evoke an emotional reaction with what he makes. Supposing the craftsman builds an object using the ultimate object as a model, and the artist creates an image of that object...if the craftsman built an object that made its consumers/witnesses strongly react, and the artist were able to capture both the object and the feeling it resulted in, then wouldn't that piece of art be an imitation of the craftsman's experience because the beauty conveyed in the art is beauty that resulted from the craftsman's creation? If you were to merely paint a picture of the craftsman's chair, for instance, it is unlikely that your painting would give your audience a brand new reaction not already associated with the craftsman's original chair, unless you completely skewed your picture of that chair, in which case you're not imitating the chair itself but any emotional reaction that you have over the chair and wish to convey. Ah...so in short, I do think art is imitation.