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jfutral

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Everything posted by jfutral

  1. I know you are talking about something specific, but the use of the word "system" I think is appropriate overall, vs genre or style. That is what most any art movement addresses, the system of art that has gone on before and become the system that everyone has gotten used to. This includes the viewers as well as the critics and schools. That's where the frustration comes in with the notion of novelty (as in something new, not something trivial). When culture or society as a whole has gotten used to something, then the something new can take time to get used to. Sometimes people never get used to something. I learned I could never again make bulgogi for my in-laws when they visited. For another couple, a soup I thought of as simple and earthy (corn, wild rice, and summer sausage) was too spicy, even though there are no spices added. I think all the points you make are what Scruton opposes about contemporary art. While I was happy to be corrected when I read the excerpts Amazon provided from his book where he seems to point out beauty does not only mean pretty, I did learn a bit more about MLeary's charge of Scruton being anti-Turner award. "Tension" is a good word to use. I am reminded somewhat of the other thread here on snobbery. When is developing a taste for something or preferring one brand of scotch to another being elitist vs just being indicative of your tastes? I think it comes when one views with disdain those who do not share one's taste. I see that it in Scruton, many modern artists, and many ballet dancers when they look at modern dancers. When is that elitism really frustration that others not only can't or won't appreciate what you are doing, but actively combating what you are doing? I think for some people this is a natural tendency when they have spent the better part of their lives sacrificing their life for the pursuit of what they feel is important. It is not difficult to feel offended when someone comes along and you feel like they are telling you what you pursued, the skill you worked so hard to develop or the qualities you studied in others for so long is not or no longer important or primary—never mind if the offense is real or perceived. I find Scruton's appeal to Plato and then deriding the affect of the Enlightenment to be ironic. He seems to make no connection to the humanist underpinnings shared between Plato, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and Modernity. Joe
  2. So, do you think Scruton's issue is primarily realism/representational vs abstract? Sure, and most people would rather be entertained than be challenged. That does not mean the challenging material is without merit or value. Nutcracker is more popular than Concerto Barocco. More people would rather watch a Coppelia than Paul Taylor's Aureole or Tudor's Dark Elegies. Most ordinary people seem to prefer Lady Gaga over John Coltrane. So is your point most ordinary people prefer the easy or approachable rather than the challenging? I agree. I know I do, more often than I like. Does that mean the challenging is without value or elitist or has no place in society? I don't think so. Are there modern artists and critics who are arrogant and elitist? Sure. But so were many of the historic representational masters and critics. That is nothing new. The artists I come across that I consider excellent, in skill and/or inspiration, seem to be pretty much split down the middle between exhibiting humility or hubris. Doesn't matter. Modern art, whatever that means, is only one style or genre. It exists along side a multitude of other styles and genres. Maybe not always in the same geographic location, but in the story of art it is merely one voice. And hardly exists to the demise of representational art or whatever art of which Scruton is a proponent. And just like the historic masters, time will more than likely winnow out the less noteworthy. I think Scruton's frustration is misplaced. I heard one person say, there is no art, only artists. Scruton touches on this sometimes in that documentary. But I think when he rails against the art of the modern artists, they aren't creating his problem as much as they are more symptomatic. If the modern artists are throwing away old notions of beauty, then the question needs to be asked "Why?" He gets to that question occasionally but seems to believe it is less significant than exposing evil intent and conspiracy in artists/humans. To a degree, I feel like I am reminded more of Francis Schaeffer than anything else. Joe
  3. What I think contributes to his air of elitism is his alarmism. The art he rails against is still a fraction of the art world. He speaks as if that is all that is being produced anymore and all the great works of the past are left to be buried in dust if they still exist at all. Modern art is a small part of major museums like the Met. Even museums that specialize in Modern art like the Guggenheim and MOMA, the art he speaks of is often a special exhibit, not ongoing collections. I remember when MOMA made a deal of exhibiting a DADA show. The masters still dominate the museums of Europe, at least the ones I visited, such as in Florence. The smaller galleries like Pace West and the others on that block in NYC are a small part of the whole. Even throughout his documentary, he seems to continually refer to the same works over and over. If the world were turning as he states, seems like he could have found a greater range of work to demonstrate his point. While I share a similar disdain for the hyper-indiviualism of Modernity, no, the world is not coming to an end because of it. There is no artistic armageddon on the verge of annihilating our senses. And I have no problem with teachers and professors (of art or otherwise) encouraging their students to find their own voice, to expand their imaginations and creativity beyond what has gone before, and to find new ways of expressing beauty. Joe
  4. Yes, I do agree with him here. After reading I Drink Therefore I Am, I decided that I loved this guy, and now I've started reading Beauty, which is turning out to be just as good. It's on Amazon here - What I don't understand is how you think his viewpoint from the above documentary is elitist or somehow cares about what social class an artist is from. Scruton's arguments are purely philosophical. He believes "beauty" is a very important value, and he believes (and is told by people he interviews) that they are trying to do away with the idea of "beauty" altogether (whether for trendy cultural reasons in an art museum or for purely practical utility reasons in architecture). He, as any reasonable man would, objects to this. What other goals of art should there be (re: the discussion with the sculpturist about the difference between conveying beauty and conveying an abstract idea). Beauty is an important value. I agree. I don't agree that beauty only means pretty and I don't believe pretty is the only goal or value art should strive for. Not everything in scripture is pretty. But it has value. I also believe art, or rather, artists are also valuable as prophets. I've heard it said that artists are today's prophets by default. I do believe one valuable aspect of art is questioning and exposing—questioning what we think has value, questioning definitions, exposing presuppositions for what they are. What people think is beauty is not always beauty. I would say doing away with beauty as equating exclusively to pretty is very important. Sometimes ugly needs to be exposed or explored, especially when it is wrapped in beauty. Why do I think he is taking an elitist POV? He says as such several times in the first video, for instance when he mockingly says everything can be art and everyone can be/is an artist. Well, yes. I happen to firmly believe everyone is an artist, some trained, some not. I come across his idea (and make no mistake he is trying to perpetuate an idea as much as any artist, whether artists to his liking or not. In his case, what should be considered beauty) from classically trained ballet dancers who believe Modern or Post-Modern choreography is ugly or not art, classically trained musicians who think only classical music is of value (King David was a blues man. Nothing "pretty" in many of those Psalms), or when I come across Christians who think the only art of value is art that depicts scripture or scriptural values (but not the ugly ones). Of course there is the long standing dispute between realism and abstract artists. He wants to put art exclusively in the hands of the properly trained when he discusses what he thinks is true/good art. I can sympathize. I think he and Suzi Gablick would have an interesting conversation. I believe, philosophically, much of Modernism, within art, has done a great disservice. But I still find the art that came as a result of that drive/search of discovery and understanding to have value and to value beauty and to be beautiful. I do think he nails some of society's disillusionments. But he wants a return to Egypt as the solution (which may or may not have existed at all, but he has constructed a universe where all true artists are of his mind). His problem seems to boil down to "art should be beautiful" by his definition of beauty. Then everything he goes through is to justify that. Philosophically, he is also going around the fringes of (or maybe actually directly into) the universal/particular discussion. He believes there is a universal idea of beauty, it is art's purpose to reflect that idea, and any art that does not jive with his idea of beauty betrays that. THAT is the "beauty" modern artists are/were trying to do away with. And make no mistake, so were artists before them. Some more than others. Some, not at all. In some regards he is no different than people before him. Similar things were said of the impressionists, like Monet. Touching on architecture, some of the most beautiful works I've seen are firmly rooted in Modernism. Modern architecture is not about pure utilitarian at the expense of beauty, but it is greatly concerned with eliminating (perceived) useless ornamentation. Although, I would say some architects took the philosophy "function before form" or "form from function" too literally and too much to heart. Ironically it is (some) post-modern architecture that sought a return to ornamentation. Joe
  5. Not really sure what to say about all this, there is so much to rail against. What do you think? Do you agree? I think he has a very one dimensional definition of "beauty" and art. I completely disagreed with his labeling of Koons as kitsch. I also disagree that "beauty" should be the only goal of art. And heaven forbid the unwashed masses should think they can be artists! I don't disagree with what he considers art. I disagree with what he does NOT consider art and for his reasons that it is not art. It reeks of elitism. Joe
  6. There's a life lesson in there somewhere. Joe
  7. I usually reply "So the same people who can't handle welfare, health care, banking oversight, taxes, whatever other government program/service you can think of, is some how competent enough to pull off such a conspiracy and keep the general public blind?" Some times I'll tag on "That's impressive." But it usually ends the conversation and we go on to more important things like BBQ and the Braves chances at the world series. Now THERE'S conspiracies! Joe
  8. I'm probably the only person interested here, but being a low budget, DIY builder/modifier (I built my own tube guitar amp and I recently got the schematics for a McIntosh amp), deal scrounging, tech geek, I wanna know. What did you end up doing? Joe
  9. My friend and business partner was the movement coach for "Zombie school"! Pretty cool that it isn't just the story that is based in Atlanta, they are filming here, too. Joe
  10. This article in the NYT today reminded me of this discussion. Joe
  11. You are probably right. My typical viewing distance is about 8-10' and my TV is native 720p. I just can't imagine 1080i or p being that discernible with those parameters. But I could be wrong. I can't tell the difference between 720 and 1080 with TV signals. But maybe movies are different. And maybe it is the computer interface. And maybe it is my cheap ass self regarding what I am willing to spend on a TV. I still can't bring myself to spend more than $250 on a TV. It's a TV for goodness sake! Although HD has made me a fan again. I was about to dump the TV altogether. I have dropped cable. I wouldn't use an iMac for a TV. Not that it wouldn't be convenient. But I've noticed computer monitors, as sharp as they are from a typical desk working distance, start to wash out slightly at 8'. Still not too bad and work great in a pinch and no doubt which model you have makes a difference. The biggest problem I had when I used a computer monitor LCD for my display, however, was viewing angle. When I sit on the floor to watch TV (and I do that a lot), there can be a severe adverse affect. I also noticed it with some cheaper LCD TVs, so I had to view the prospective new TV from all possible angles to make sure that didn't happen. Vertical viewing angle variations seem to have a lower tolerance. Joe
  12. As long as you aren't in a hurry, scour Best Buy for open box/returned items from time to time. I got this receiver for $150. Then I went to Cambridge Soundworks website and picked up some decent main and surround speakers on clearance. And then I found a clearance Polk subwoofer somewhere, but I can't remember where. J&R maybe?. All told I came in just under $500. But my rear speakers are NOT wireless. That sounds sweet! Hooked it up to my Mac Mini which I use as our TV receiver with an Elgato EyeTV set-up. Use an iLink digital cable from the computer to receiver to get surround sound. I still can't bring myself to buy a BluRay player. I don't have a huge TV (26") so I figure most of the benefit would be lost to me. HD movies from iTunes is plenty. But I will say if you have the choice to listen to Dobly or DTS, DTS audio has sounded better every time I've tried it. Joe
  13. I love the typo of "vulture" for "culture" since, ironically, that is how systems sometimes appear. Here is where I got into issues with such delineations. Never mind the potential issues with _how_ one can make such distinctions, who gets to decide? Do you get to make that declaration on other people's work for everyone else? Does the artist make that declaration on his own? Do the critics? the collectors? the gallery owners? Who gets to become the elite decision makers? HT to another thread, there are people out there who firmly believe (and even have the track record to back it up) that it isn't art (much less Art) until they say it is. For myself, creativity is the ultimate expression of being created by a Creator and being made in God's image. Spirituality is about life. Art is about and from life. As I used to ask my students in Maine, how can you have art if you don't have a life? So get a life! (I was trying to get them to do things outside the theatre so they don't fall into that trap of theatre "life" being everything to them, then they even get to bring something to their craft and art! What a concept!) To me the single mother struggling to make ends meet and get her kids to school is as creative and artistic as any Artist genius. When does she get her $500,000.00 grant so she can create without the cares of life? I was loathe to bring this up because Schaeffer also points this out in his essays on Art and the Bible (and I know how several people on this board feel about him), but look at the Temple and the priestly garbs. How much "decoration" did God decree? Would you accuse God of not being spiritual? When we get into this kind of spiritual/decorative kind of discussion, it really is an artificial and arbitrary distinction to elevate someone's or their work's importance. The dance captain for Pilobolus and I went round and round about Rothko and Pollack. In the end, Rothko does it for some people (me) and doesn't for others (him). My friend nor Rothko is no less artistic because of that. Joe PS: I would say because art systems and artists have been making such distinctions as we are discussing is exactly why art has been separated from everyday life. While I am not a huge fan of public or site specific art, the art system has done an admirable job of making art something people have to leave their everyday lives to experience. The internet has done an admirable job of removing that barrier. Read the NEA report on electronic media.
  14. That's why I'm one of those postmodernists who isn't anti-Modernity. I love indoor plumbing. I love technology. My favourite art periods are still from the post-impressionists on, though I have a soft spot for Caravaggio and Raphael. And who can deny the impact of perspective or of depicting light? The revival of Greek-like humanism in art is quite frankly one of the most beautiful things to happen. I just happen to think that Modernism is too myopic and removes too much of what makes us human by saying that some things are superfluous or "merely" decorative/ornamental, in search of the unifying theory through reductionism/minimalism. The Enlightenment project's philosophical underpinnings are still at the very least responsible for magnifying, even if not initiating, the notion of the superiority of the self and the idea of bifurcating ideas such as sacred/secular, fine art/craft, rational/irrational, material/immaterial, natural/supernatural. I do think Krammes (and no doubt many other artists') proposition of "spiritual or decorative" is firmly rooted in this kind of thinking, which is where I think M.Leary was going. You know. That whole "either/or" thing you hate. Don't even get me started on the "particular/universal" discussion! I think the Enlightenment/Renaissance/Reformation was a needed corrective. I just think there is need for a new corrective. Not all things worth knowing are quantifiable. And, there is more to things than can be quantified. Speaking of distorted views of history, I do wonder how many realists understand the realism roots of abstraction? But that's OT. Sorry. Joe
  15. have you read the art instinct: beauty, pleasure and human evolution by denis dutton? in it, he does a pretty good job of debunking that myth. to grossly simplify (since i read it recently, but have yet to acquire my own copy to scribble in), his point is that in every culture, there are objects that are considered to be "art objects" because they are created by superior skilled artists. there are always examples that are, in fact, considered to be art precisely because of the degree of accomplishment/ skill involved in their making. it's a very interesting book in how it interrogates the idea of art, though particularly in western culture... Putting aside that Dutton's conclusions are still arguable, what myth is it that you think he debunked? As for Dutton's work, I haven't read the book, though it does sound interesting and has made it to my list of "to read", I did find his comment on his blog about a review of his book to miss the point: I think McCarter and Gould are exactly right. That is the pressing question, at least for the aspiring artist and art critic. As I asked before why does Van Gogh's sunflowers seem to inspire more so than a painting of sunflowers found over a bed at a hotel? Why Mozart over Salieri? What is the intangible (or maybe non-intangible if one believes it is pure skill and technique) in the great works that have made them great, important, and timeless? Not "why art" in general, but more precisely "why THIS art"? I think this is the question Krammes is seeking to answer (and thinks he has) with his comment. I suppose the argument could be made that if one answered Dutton's question it would lead to answer the other. But even Dutton seems to believe his answer falls short of completely addressing "why art?" Propagation as the answer only carried him so far in his quest. I am only aware of what he has written on his blog, not his book, so I could be wrong. Joe
  16. but didn't postmodernism as an architectural idiom embrace "decoration" and surfaces? Well, yeah, exactly. The postmodern movement was (at least partially if not primarily) and attempt to counter that Modern thinking of function being more important than form, thus ornamentation/decoration is superfluous and an unworthy pursuit. The postmodern movement made Julius Shulman almost give up photographing architecture. At least that what he says. Joe
  17. I also thought of the influence of (and what influenced them) Modern architecture and the whole elimination of "ornamentation", form following function mentality. Gehry, Lautner, and their ilk from the So Cal peeps were big about that thinking. The only obstacle might be how many people in the church, or even CIVA, think this is an area in need of examination? Joe
  18. It might be better to ask what does it mean for a work to be spiritual or decorative? "Or" pretty much makes it oppositional right out of the box. As I said, I think all art/creativity is spiritual. Some works explore more weighty ideas than others, but decorative is just as valid and necessary than more existential concerns. Even then, is there really such a thing as only decorative? How one decorates is as reflective of the person as anything else. Even _if_ one decorates says something. If you think of these ideas on a line graph, how far from decorative can you get before it is really no longer "only" decorative? A perspective from a performance POV. "So you think you can dance" is really kind of only two dimensional. They judge on technique and the immediate emotional FX, usually trying to hit a more sentimental emotion than a contemplative emotional process. Similar with Best dance crew. The dance arts community is pretty well divided, there doesn't seem to be middle ground on our reception of these shows. I happen not to mind them. They have created a relevance to the community the arts have forsaken. As I've said elsewhere, I think the problem of support for the arts today is as much artist created as not. Plus I don't find those shows at all pretentious. They are not trying to be something they aren't. This is quite unlike many Artists. The dancers and choreographers on those shows know what they are there to do and that is what they focus on doing. Many Artists think they are doing something profound, when more often than not they are only confounding. Krammes comment is more a reflection on what he thinks he should be doing. The question he needs to be asked is, is he actually doing it? And why does he feel everyone else should be doing it, too, such that if they aren't it is just chaff? Joe
  19. If one used a word other than "spiritual" and outside the context of the article, possibly. When the writer says "decorative chaff" that's not simply descriptive. That's a statement of worth, that some works of art are worth existing and other are not, and this judgement is universally true. As I said, I believe all creativity is spiritual in nature. So that needs to be reworded or defined. If we want to say in this discussion that we mean "decorative" is a work by someone not making any attempt in creation or use of art to do more than make something pleasant to put over the couch and "spiritual" is attempting to address some turmoil, universal, perception, or otherwise be more than it is. Ok. That's the question artists have been asking and trying to answer for a long time. Why does Van Gogh's painting of sunflowers affect one differently or more so than other artists' painting of sunflowers? Why does one note follow another? An additional difficulty is that there is never just the creator of the art, and never just the work. There is also the viewer/listener. Art is never a solo endeavor. Joe
  20. As a means of validation or justification, it still strikes me as a variation of secular/sacred, art/craft. It is an attempt to frame some work more important than others, especially the work of the artist doing the talking. Trying to show why his work is more important because it is spiritual and not "decorative chaff". Or as I heard one person put it, "work of eternal value". He meant that in a religious sense, not in the sense that he wanted his work to affect others long after he passed. Christian artists have long had to contend with the need for this. We were told for a long time that to be a Christian and to make art means we must make "Christian art". Literal is better. Etc., etc. We, here, have all seen it and been affected by it, I am sure. In that sense he is still trying to position his work in that kind of framework. I watched the movie _Painters on painting_ the other day. Got to hear Jasper Johns, de Kooning, Rauschenberg, Stella, and a few others talk. First time through I thought, either these guys have thought too long about this stuff or they are blithering idiots making it up as they go. Second time through, I actually understood what they were saying. (Like I've said before, I'm slow). One interesting thought was when Frank Stella essentially (Futral's paraphrase) said that the abstract expressionists gave him a newer point of reference. His work didn't have didn't have to go back to Matisse or the impressionists to stand up against. His work could stand up against Pollock and Rothko. Stella was one of the more lucid speakers, in that I understood what he was saying the first time through! :-) Krammes is trying to create an ideal to stand up against instead of a movement of artists, his own universal truth. Not that the movement of artists weren't creating or expressing their own ideal. Only that I think he is doing the same thing just not referencing a movement. Ultimately, it is still the work that must stand. I've not seen his work, so I don't know how well it stands, much less within his ideal. I just don't agree that decorative is somehow exclusive of/inferior to spiritual. I also don't agree that time is the great divider. Why shouldn't a work of art have relevance primarily to its own time? Why does it have to transcend a point in time to show importance? Some things really are important now. And if you have read my stuff before, I have been questioning my own thoughts on Art vs art. Joe
  21. Ahh. So this is a variation on "fine art" vs "decorative art". Joe
  22. I guess I am just not sure how this statement is different from the whole sacred/secular idea. If I consider "spiritual" as pertaining to or affecting the spirit, then decorative has an affect on the spirit, IMO. I just don't know how it can't. Then there is the thought I have of where does decoration come from? Decoration is not spiritually neutral. The idea of decoration or how one "decorates" (or creates), to me, needs to come from one's spirit. And since I think that all art emanates from a spiritual C/creator, all art is spiritual. Not that I was all that clear. But, I think you get what I mean. What does the article mean? Is this some sort of variation of art either serves a purpose, preferably the one pursuing a spiritual/supernatural experience, or it doesn't? I mean, positioning "decorative" against "spiritual" makes "decorative" sound kind of pejorative. Joe
  23. Not sure why "spiritual" and "decorative" are "or" positions. Joe
  24. HereMy link. Is the responsibility for creativity a burden too great for an individual to bear? Are we better off considering our moments of artistry as something on loan, given for a specific time and/or purpose? We've talked about and around the idea of artist genius here before. She poses an interesting twist that seems (don't know the actual history) based on history—having a "genius" rather than being a genius. Interesting thoughts, Joe
  25. I think the protestations of the artists speak for themselves. A huge march on the capital is supposed to take place today. Never mind neither body is in session. I heard one artist say to call our state senator and "beg". I have no intention of begging to anyone about this. Anyway, Joe
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