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art essential to society? canned ka ka

updated sat 11 jun 05


Rod Wuetherick on fri 10 jun 05


"Art is simply the communication of esthetics values."

Taken in context as you have written above the statement is simply

Definition of esthetic(s)

Relating to the philosophy or theories of aesthetics.
Of or concerning the appreciation of beauty or good taste: the aesthetic
Characterized by a heightened sensitivity to beauty.
Artistic: The play was an aesthetic success.
Informal. Conforming to accepted notions of good taste.
A guiding principle in matters of artistic beauty and taste; artistic
sensibility: “a generous Age of Aquarius aesthetic that said that everything
was art” (William Wilson).
An underlying principle, a set of principles, or a view often manifested by
outward appearances or style of behavior: “What troubled him was the squalor
of [the colonel's] aesthetic” (Lewis H. Lapham).
Art certainly is not simply the communication of esthetics. As the word
implicitly implies a relationship to such things as beauty, sensitivity,
taste, etc.

If arts sole purpose was to simply convey esthetics then is would be rather
mundane and pedestrian.

For a simple example how about Marc Quinn's fairly recent bust/portrait of
his new born son, cast in the very placenta that nourished the child in his
mothers womb. This frozen bust was displayed in a refrigerated plinth at the
Tate in 2002. By your definition of art then Marc Quinn's piece certainly is
not art. It is many circles is in bad taste, is it beautiful - that is
certainly subjective isn't it?. But then you added another word on the end
of your sentence, "value"

Who's value/values? What is esthetic value? Who assigns this value? Is it by
common denominator? Do Marcel Duchamp's ready mades have value? Do they
reference or convey a relationship to esthetics? If so - what are they?

We could split hairs all day on this because your argument could easily be
that esthetic value is in the eye of the beholder. But how can that be? If
you look above in the definition you see the word "principle" used many

Here is the definition of "Principles"

prin·ci·ple n.
A basic truth, law, or assumption: the principles of democracy.

A rule or standard, especially of good behavior: a man of principle.
The collectivity of moral or ethical standards or judgments: a decision
based on principle rather than expediency.
A fixed or predetermined policy or mode of action.
A basic or essential quality or element determining intrinsic nature or
characteristic behavior: the principle of self-preservation.
A rule or law concerning the functioning of natural phenomena or mechanical
processes: the principle of jet propulsion.
Chemistry. One of the elements that compose a substance, especially one that
gives some special quality or effect.
A basic source. See Usage Note at principal.

2.b shows that if esthetics are bound in principle then these principles are
based on a set of precepts bound by the common-denominator. This effectivly
and collectivly rules out another large set of modern conceptual artists.

Art certainly is not simply the communication of esthetic values. It is much
more than that - and it must be! Art is like making love. When you make love
does it roll off of the bed, onto the floor, etc.? What are we making? The
word is very abstract and it has to be. It can include Piero Manzoni in 1961
selling 90 cans of his canned shit to people. It is a concept isn't it? I'd
love to be able to can my shit and sell it. I've got lots of it. Does
canning your shit have esthetic value? Do the answers to the questions you
are bound to ask have aesthetic value. First one would probaby be, "Why?"
Perhaps that is the question he wanted you to ask!

Perhaps art is an idea! That idea can be bound into commonly accepted
aesthetic norms or it can push the envelope and ask questions - it can push,
probe, shock, disgust, repulse. It also can bring tears, joy, happiness,

The idea is that art is not simply "anything." It's relationship to society
more so now than ever before must probe and ask questions. Even if it is as
far away from esthetics as a can of shit from a Rembrandt.

Some great filmography by Harmony Korine, "Kids" and "Gummo" My god those
films are works of art. They are also morally, visually, and mentally
repulsive. I personally felt violated and emotionally altered for days after
seeing Gummo. BUT it made me think long and hard about many things I hadn't
spent time thinking about for a very long time.

So in short and in reality only a subset of art deals "simply" in the
conveyance of esthetic value. The rest deals with hopefully every aspect of
the journey called life whether it is pretty or pretty ugly.

There is much more to art and life than "esthetic value" ...

Nice thing bout' the 21'st century I don't have to can my shit - I can email
it ;)


Lee Love on fri 10 jun 05

Rod Wuetherick wrote:

>Nice thing bout' the 21'st century I don't have to can my shit - I can email
>it ;)
But those of us with integrity and a long view, will still call
"shit" shit. ;-) There is a Japanese saying that a person doesn't
know miso from kuso (soup from shit.)

We are lucky to stand on the shoulders of Giants.

We are in no position to know if our work will stand the test
of time, will transcend the narrow limits of our own culture, and be
recognized as art in the future. We can only use the measures that
have been tested over 30,000 years, and try to foster a view that goes
beyond cultural boundaries, to have some sense about what our work
means in the grander scheme of things.

Our culture's arrogance is only surpassed by its inability
to see itself in the mirror. I am afraid the future will look at our
"shit in a can" we call art and will only pity us. But I could be
wrong. I tend to be an optimist and think that things will "get
better" in the future.

There is a book out on the subject: "COLLAPSE: HOW
By Jared Diamond. I am currently reading his earlier "Guns, Steel
and Germs" before I go on to Collapse.

In the prologue, Diamond previews /Collapse/ in one paragraph
, as follows.

This book employs the comparative method to understand societal
collapses to which environmental problems contribute. My previous
book (/Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies/), had
applied the comparative method to the opposite problem: the
differing rates of buildup of human societies on different
continents over the last 13,000 years. In the present book focusing
on instead of collapses rather than buildups, I compare many past
and present societies that differed with respect to environmental
fragility, relations with neighbors, political institutions, and
other "input" variables postulated to influence a society's
stability. The "output" variables that I examine are collapse or
survival, and form of the collapse if collapse does occur. By
relating output variables to input variables, I am to tease out the
influence of possible input variables on collapses. (p. 18)

You can read more about it here:

For me, the whole point of making traditionally influenced
craft is for the purpose of preserving local culture, in the face of
ever expanding global consumerism.

If we don't do something, every place in the world is
going to be just like every place else, and the vast storehouse of human
knowledge will be lost to us. We will stop being creators and only be
consumers. Like the folks in Matrix movie, used as batteries to power
the non-life affirming "alien" grid.

I believe a traditional, time tested view of art can exist
beside the post-modern one. But post-modernist seem to see history as
a threat to where they want to take us all.

李 Lee Love 大
愛      鱗
in Mashiko, Japan Visual Bookmarks Zen and Craft

"With Humans it's what's here (he points to his heart) that makes the difference. If you don't have it in the heart, nothing you make will make a difference." ~~Bernard Leach~~ (As told to Dean Schwarz)