What Is Art?

What Is Art?

So, after working through Unit 1 of DS106, I have put together my blog and am ready to explore creative expression in media on the web. The way DS106 is all about ‘an explosion of creative expression in media, on the web – from you’ draws me into the concept of it straight away. I love this description of it as it really makes me want to start getting creative and involved in the course, the use of the word ‘explosion’ . Due to this being about making art, it is time to start discussing the subject. DS106 have provided a number of videos discussing the concept of “what is art?”, I will pick ‘nuggets’ from each that really stand out to me.

Leon Botstein – “What is Art?”. Within this video, Botstein discusses his views on what is art.

Art transforms the everyday – As soon as I heard this line I was drawn towards it straight away, and I agree with it completely. Everywhere around us there is art, from designs within your home, to advertisements on the street as well as graffiti, buildings, and all kinds of creations. There are things all around us that have come from someones imagination, creating the concept of what art really is.

Through an imaginary world which we could create – This line also stood out to me. It suggests that we go into an imaginary world when we create art, which is true in many aspects. Art isn’t making something real, it is an interpretation of the real or a creation of the imagination. You can paint a landscape in front of you, but the painting will not be the real thing, it is an interpretation of what is real. But some art is created through pure imagination, taking the artist into that ‘imaginary world’. This is where some of the best art comes from, you cannot create something that is not in front of you without the imagination, making this a very special and unique thing.

The artificial manipulation of our sensibilities through the work of an artist – This is the last sentence that Botstein mentions within his video, which I think was a great way to end his journey through what art is. He discusses the way we get caught up in film as well as art, when we watch a film we get drawn into the storyline and think of it as something real that is happening, then go back to reality when it is over. This can go for art as well, we see the realism within it, but really it is just somewhat of an artificial manipulation. But this is what I think we should appreciate about art, it takes us somewhere away from reality and away from the real world for just a moment.

Stephen Johnson – “Where Good Ideas Come From”.

First of all, before discussing any of Stephen’s concepts within his idea of where ideas come from, I would like to touch on the way he has portrayed his explanations. The way he has hand drawn every single point he makes with things that relate to them but aren’t quite exactly what he is discussing is really clever. Like associating tortoises with the idea of ideas coming together slowly, creating metaphors.

Slow hunch – Stephen makes the point that it takes a long time to come up with great ideas, and these great ideas come from many slow hunches – this is where the tortoises come in. Good ideas come from the collision of smaller hunches, a great point that I agree with, it takes time for hunches to finally come together to create something amazing. What turns a hunch into a real breakthrough is the collision of another hunch from somebody else’s mind. All of these aspects of these hunches that Stephen discusses all make complete sense, and he discussed this through clear illustration that really gets the point across to his audience. Here is an example of his illustration of two hunches colliding:

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 17.36.16

What the internet is doing to our brains – He starts to discuss the concept of what the internet is doing to our brains, and makes a number of fair points. He describes it as an overwhelmed, always connected, and multi-tasking  thing that may create less sophisticated thoughts as we move away from the slower, deeper state of reading. But what the internet has done is allowed us to reach out and exchange ideas with other people, where we can use our won hunches, combine them with other peoples hunches, and make them into something new. We are more distracted but we now have so many more ways to reach out to people who have that missing piece to what you need. So what do I think about all of this? I do believe that the internet has opened up a whole new world of connecting, but it has also stopped us from really searching for our own ideas, because everyone else’s ideas are already out there for us to look at and make a different version of.

At the end of Stephen’s video, he ends with the point that the way we are all connected is a great way of improving our own ideas, and that that is the real lesson of where good ideas come from. He purposely makes all of his drawings create a shape of a lightbulb – an icon that we specifically associate with coming up with an idea. This is a very effective way of getting his points across. Great video.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 17.47.06

Rhett and Link – “Is This Art?”

Rhett and Link choose to discuss if a number of pieces of art they have researched can really be considered as art, and they make some great points about it. But they deliver this in a much more informal way, where they sit and discuss this whilst also joking with each other, which I suppose gives it a much friendlier approach to it’s audience to engage in. Rhett comments that art has to have a purpose, and spark a response and reaction from people. I don’t necessarily think art needs to have a purpose, by all means it can if the artist means to do so, but art can be produced when someone is least expecting it, and can be a very spontaneous and unexpected outcome. So I definitely disagree with their first comment but having it to spark a response, i believe is a fair comment, and that art should be able to bring a response out of someone otherwise really, what was even creative or artistic about it?

As they move past the discussion on what the actual definition is of art, they look at pieces of art and analyse whether this can actually be considered as art or not – the whole purpose of the video. Firstly, they discuss a piece of art which consists of a urinal, being put on its side, then signed by an artist. I 100% agree with them that this should not be classed as art, even though someone has taken it, and intentionally done something to it to turn it into some kind of art sculpture, does not necessarily class this as a work of art. But they then make the point that because it creates a discussion that maybe this can be considered art, but realistically, I can’t myself class this as art in my eyes, I feel that more imagination and creativity should be within a piece of art, more than just a urinal on its back.

I could continue to discuss the other pieces of art that these two discuss, but they are generally just very simple pieces that anyone could potentially do themselves. Very simple pieces that have been sold for over £1 million. That is something I would like to touch on though. The way a piece of paper, covered in blue scribbles, that a 3 year old could do themselves, that has managed to be sold for £1.5 million, is absolutely astonishing to me and something that I really cannot understand. The way that a piece of work this simple, has made that much money, when there are other people in the world producing work so much more meaningful and worth being in the world and having the potential to have a great effect on people around it, that do not make anything near to that much money is really quite sad.

After watching these videos and analysing them, I have definitely gained a clearer idea of what art is. I like the way we can think of it as a whole new world within your imagination where you can get lost in creativity and make something that no other has seen or experienced before. In my eyes, art is anything that comes from creativity whether its from the imagination or a reflection of the real. As long as someone has taken the time to create something that people can look at and appreciate, it is worth while and the artist has accomplished what they set out for.


1 thought on “What Is Art?

  1. Pingback: Unit 1 Summary! First Part of Bootcamp Complete. | My Blog

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