Art, poetry, digital art, photography, criticism and essays.

3 Oct 2009

An Art of Doing; Considering a 21st Century Renaissance

We can no longer have art, in the sense that we have known art and anti-art and therefore if we have known art and what it is not, then why should art in any sense continue?
In the sense that we understand art, there will be no art. Art and artistic activity will, of course, continue, however it may be difficult to understand that the new art form(s) are art at all.
In a similar way, we will all be famous. However, once we have all achieved fame then we are no longer famous, at least not in the way that being famous once meant. Fame will be the norm and therefore it will not be fame, but a continuation of human relationships and recognition after the reign of the extended family and via modern technology.
Art now, if we wish to have an avant-garde, is an art of doing. Otherwise we rehash the art of the 20th century using 20th century techniques or faux, digital techniques - art by proxy. Digital art has proved it has a niche of its own, but ultimately it is no more than an extension of traditional art rather than an avant-garde.
The art of doing is simply that. Doing. Art is doing anything that one does and its capture (through painting, dance, film, photography, etc.) is no longer art. This is its medium of reportage - an art by proxy. Art actuel is the doing, regardless of media that communicates it.
This idea must sound incredibly odd! After all, art is communication so how can communication no longer be art? The answer is simple, communication is no longer artistic, at least not in a sense of avant-gardism. If we wish to continue creating art and artistic works/performances in the manner that we have, then we can call the media of art, art and the doing of art its practice, in order that ideas are communicated.
If we wish to embrace the actuality of now, then we have to shelve our ideas of art and concede defeat regarding the "specialness" of communication and media. Technology has made craftsmanship virtually redundant. Skilful paintings are not today's art, but yesterdays art, regardless of the contemporaneousness of their subject-matter.
That I do, is similar to "I think therefore I am", as Descartes wrote. However, now that we all think (meaning thinking that is discriminated as worthwhile) and we can all communicate our thoughts (our evidence that we exist) then thinking is no longer special enough to be regarded as "truth".
Truth, now is no longer universal, it is arbitrary. The personal is public, so to create something that is true to ourselves (regardless of dogmatic truth) we must do as we do and recognise that this is truth by occurrence and truth by personal expression. If we are to use media to communicate this truth then we risk losing the truth of our doing, as our actions are lost in the capture and communication.
Communication is not a simple means any more. Communication is distorted by technology, altered philosophically, deconstructed intellectually and distanced emotionally. Communication is something that we can all do, today (n.b.; author notes illiteracy as a problem in both Western and Eastern countries, but to a lesser extent than previously) so its specialness is lost. "Reality by proxy" or the ability to deconstruct media and the events that it communicates and the (more recent) ability to play creatively with the actuality of reported occurrences, leaves us highly suspicious of truth.
For art to be art, we have to find the philosophical drive that encourages intellectual curiosity. The new artist may find him or herself considered a scientist (objective art) or some other curator of truth.
Finally, I would like to state that I don't necessarily condone an "art of doing" rather than an art of communicating through questionable media, but I do think it is necessary if we are to have a new art that expresses the flux, uncertainty and cultural melting-pot that is today. The unreality of the application of modern technologies and its ability to allow us to constantly alter the rudiments of Western thought, truth, perception and "reality", is something that we have to consider. Do we wish to live in a detached, artificial world, or do we wish to experience reality as fully as we can?
The art of doing is the beginning of the independent (personal) enquiry into the nature of the above, our comprehension of these occurences and, ultimately we will find solutions to help us cope with these occurrences.

In 2 or 3 parts this isn't very well written, however I have picked up some flu-bug! Will revise later. Just finished performing musical which was both nerve-racking, to start, and great fun :-)


  • At 12:01 am , Blogger michelleFRANTOM said...

    I had to read this a couple of times as there is a lot to absorb. Interesting... I really like your comment:

    'For art to be art, we have to find the philosophical drive that encourages intellectual curiosity. The new artist may find him or herself considered a scientist (objective art) or some other curator of truth'.

    I guess I have always considered myself a type of scientist looking for 'truth'. I recognise it as my truth but still think it can be shared. I think our culture has become so cynical that they don't believe in truth and this is possibly because of some of the things you mention.

    In the academic art circles that I encounter there has been a push for several years now for art practice to be taken seriously as research. I have to deliver a conference paper early next month and will be talking about this very thing in relation to my own area of interest. We are still being dominated by the rational materialist slant on things so it is not an easy argument to make.

  • At 11:26 am , Blogger crescent said...

    Thanks Michelle - I must check out your link to the Crash Research.

    Absolutely agree with you about the rationalist/materialist bias on thought/enquiry. Commensensically, it isn't too difficult to see that the imaginative arts, humanities, science and religion/spirituality are all connected and are different approaches to comprehending ourselves and our world. They seem to move in and out of fashion over decades and centuries.

    Ultimately, the Greek-text (mainly Plato/Aristotle) based, objective side of enquiry, that grew out of a more holistic approach to enquiry, is now used to prop up a masculine, Western power-base that is struggling to keep its power.

    Fascinating to see Plato communicating his philosophical concerns through poetry and imaginative literature. The connection between imaginative arts, philosophy, science and the humanities are in his texts for everyone to read :-)

  • At 1:25 pm , Blogger michelleFRANTOM said...

    I have come across a bit about Plato but must check him out a lot more thoroughly (I am looking forward to not doing this thesis and being able to intellectually wander more)

    And yes, humanities don't seem to be in vogue at the moment, haven't been for a while. There was so much money around in the 80s for the arts (those were the days, sigh....)

    The CRASH thing is new to the uni I am studying with and I really like the sound of it. Haven't got too much into it yet, (feel somewhat out of my depth sometimes with all those academics even though I am supposed to be one!)

  • At 3:40 pm , Blogger crescent said...

    I know painting by movement and its chance of sense....


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