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  #1  
Old 11-04-2006, 03:54 PM
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Cantab Cantab is offline
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The Role of the Artist

A quotation -
"He was an artist when he saw fire, even a match head: an instinct in him acknowledged its elemental status. He was an artist when he saw society: it never crossed his mind that it had to be like this, had any right, had any business being like this. A car in the street. Why? Why cars? This is what an artist has to be: harassed to the point of insanity or stupification by first principles." Martin Amis, in The Information

I feel something for this point of view. How do others see the role of the artist?

Last edited by Cantab : 11-05-2006 at 07:17 AM.
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  #2  
Old 11-04-2006, 07:35 PM
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fritchie fritchie is offline
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Re: The Role of the Artist

Reminds me of Loren Eisley. Someone who sees infinity in every moment.
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  #3  
Old 11-04-2006, 07:47 PM
unigami unigami is offline
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Re: The Role of the Artist

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cantab
A quotation -
This is what an artist has to be: harassed to the point of insanity or stupification by first principles."
Excellent writing, but I don't agree that this is what an artist "has to be". There are just as many artists that don't fit this profile as there are artists that do.
I don't think it is possible to make a generalized statement about what it takes to be an artist or where the creative spirit and motivation comes from.

However, moving beyond the point of inspiration, I think the role of the artist is quite simply one of being a "problem solver"!

-unigami
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Old 11-04-2006, 09:35 PM
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Re: The Role of the Artist

I'm stimulated. The "first principles" could use elaboration and that could be interesting. "Harassed" also causes pause, but I don't feel like going into that now. "Role" almost forces a generalized statement and brings into question that pesky definition of the activity that is involved with the end results of creativity. In the final analysis, I think, it, the role, has to do with the probing of simultaneous realities that are hidden and suppressed by the demands of normality. Perhaps further thought may reveal phenomenlogy as under pinning many of the efforts of current "problem solvers", or what I prefer to call "explorers", as I think the "problems" are sometimes academically, as opposed to aesthetically emphasized by the adopted stance.

I hope this makes sense as I keep getting interrupted by the "problems" of family members so my thought flow is not as continuous as I'd like. So what the hell, we can clarify matters later.

jOe~
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  #5  
Old 11-04-2006, 09:53 PM
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Re: The Role of the Artist

Sounds a little melodramatic.
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  #6  
Old 11-04-2006, 10:37 PM
cooljamesx1 cooljamesx1 is offline
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Re: The Role of the Artist

I agree with unigami. This statement paints a picture of artists(no pun intended) as people with a crushing frustration with thier world.
i dont feel at odds with my surroundings. I don't consider my art an act of rebellion or the result of any considerable anguish or 'harassment'. I think that the inspiration for art can have as many variations as there are people.
I find that when peices of art are done for political reasons or to be satirical, the art's value is not so much in the shapes as it is in the idea behind them (see the work in the thread "god bless america"). Not to say that art can't be beautiful as well as political, but generally I find that art is more visually pleasing when it is created just for the beauty of the shapes and not to make a statement.
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Old 11-04-2006, 10:41 PM
cooljamesx1 cooljamesx1 is offline
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Re: The Role of the Artist

jOE- you used so many big and general words I honestly don't know what you said. in fact it's so general I'm not sure you said anything. I'd love for you to explain if you get the chance.

Last edited by cooljamesx1 : 11-05-2006 at 12:13 AM.
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  #8  
Old 11-04-2006, 10:57 PM
cmustard cmustard is offline
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Re: The Role of the Artist

Cooljames, I agree with you. Purely visual statments are very powerful on there own. In my opinion, the attempt to intergrade a literal message lessens the visual impact.
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Old 11-05-2006, 12:28 AM
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Re: The Role of the Artist

I agree with about all that has been said as reply on this thread so far, especially cooljamesx1, although I thought that I mostly understood what jOe was trying to say.

The original quote posted by Cantab could just as easily describe an inventor as an artist. I highly disagree with the part of the quote that says, "..this is what an artist has to be..." I may have an idea of what makes an artist, but I sure as heck do not expect every other artist to conform to my ideas, even if it were possible.

I think the best way to describe the role of an artist is to demonstrate by being one rather than creating theories about them. Each of us has a unique set of gifts, perceptions, temperment, background, etc. makes it tough to generalize.

GlennT
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  #10  
Old 11-05-2006, 11:00 AM
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Re: The Role of the Artist

Quote:
generally I find that art is more visually pleasing when it is created just for the beauty of the shapes and not to make a statement.
Quote:
Cooljames, I agree with you. Purely visual statments are very powerful on there own.
Hmm, thank you very much. That really elevates the status of my current avatar, the coat hanger. Is it art yet? Its simple and visual. (LOL) For me, nothing is purely visual. I can't disconnect my other senses, not to mention my memory of antecedents, associative memories, my thoughts. " Purely visual"...I'd suggest that you re-think that statement, but then that would require contradicting your premises.

jOe~
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  #11  
Old 11-05-2006, 11:20 AM
cooljamesx1 cooljamesx1 is offline
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Re: The Role of the Artist

I guess I see where you're going joe. I suppose that art is always connected in some way to the artist's background. If even subconsciously, every peice of art makes some kind of statement, even if it is just about the artist. maybe we need to more specifically define what "making a statement" is, at least in these context. I guess I just wasn't using the right words. I think cmustard best defined what I ment. From now on instead of "making a statement" let's say "making a 'literal message'".

I sometimes see some peice of art making a literal message and I figure it would have been more clear to just write the message down. other literal message art is like political cartoons; the value of a political cartoon is in the idea of the cartoon, and does not focus on the quality of the drawing.

I'm sure that somebody somewhere likes the IDEA of the work in the thread "god bless america" enough that they would hang it in their house, but I think it would be hard to find someone who likes it just because they think it's pretty.

disclaimer: of course, these are not a universal statements, and there are likely some beautiful peices of sculpture out there that also carry a literal message
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Old 11-05-2006, 11:35 AM
cmustard cmustard is offline
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Re: The Role of the Artist

Joe, I never said that purley visual was disconnected with feelings and emotions. If you understand that lines, shapes, forms, color come together in compositions that may exude feeling.

Just as notes in music without lyrics, can cause certian feelings to stir. My point was, when literal meanings are applied to an object the power of the object is diminished/limited. Why do we need words to reinforce what we say visually....unless visually it has not been said.
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  #13  
Old 11-05-2006, 12:02 PM
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Re: The Role of the Artist

Quote:
My point was, when literal meanings are applied to an object the power of the object is diminished/limited.
Amen. Nothing is literal. Not meanings, not objects. More power to the coat hangers(just kidding).

jOe~
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  #14  
Old 11-05-2006, 12:10 PM
mark pilato mark pilato is offline
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Re: The Role of the Artist

Dada, Dada, Dada,Dada....Wiselkamits into the blitz and into the airomix......

My role is to be, to explore all that is me, this is the way I role, an artist way.. Wiselkamits into the blitz.. flipity flipity mitz...

Last edited by mark pilato : 11-05-2006 at 07:03 PM.
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  #15  
Old 11-05-2006, 12:41 PM
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Re: The Role of the Artist

Quote:
Dada, Dada, Dada,Dada....Wiselkamits into the blitz and into the airomix....
mIND IF i QUote YoU? (LOL) . OK, I'll repeat myself by quoting myself:
Quote:
the role, has to do with the probing of simultaneous realities that are hidden and suppressed by the demands of normality
Talk seems to always mess things up , doesn't it? I hope that y'all got the joke about the coat hanger--some of you walked right into it by voicing(talk) strong opinions. OK Cantab, you were saying?

jOe~
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  #16  
Old 11-05-2006, 02:52 PM
cooljamesx1 cooljamesx1 is offline
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Re: The Role of the Artist

that's it I'm done with this thread...
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  #17  
Old 11-05-2006, 02:56 PM
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Re: The Role of the Artist

Making art is by nature, irrational. Irrational thoughts are insanity. Thus, the more insane a person is, the better the art....IF...it's directed. That being, application of insanity, derives art.

Art is the application of insanity.

I wish I didn't have to be anonymous. I sure would like credit for that statement!

The key in this statement is application. Application requires a degree of sanity.
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Old 11-05-2006, 06:59 PM
mark pilato mark pilato is offline
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Re: The Role of the Artist

is it something I said?
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Old 11-05-2006, 07:45 PM
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Re: The Role of the Artist

Just about everyone here is talking about poetry or music, speaking metaphorically. Art, and specifically sculpture, can and should carry many meanings or provoke many responses at once. That is a characteristic of all real art. I think the objection to “message art” expressed by many people shows they expect more subtlety.

The word that troubles me most in the original quotation is “elemental”. I’m not familiar with this writer, so I don’t get his meaning there.
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Old 11-05-2006, 07:59 PM
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Re: The Role of the Artist

Quote:
The word that troubles me most in the original quotation is “elemental”. I’m not familiar with this writer, so I don’t get his meaning there.
I take elemental to mean, basic, fundamental, primal,as in one of the basic elements.
Quote:
the objection to “message art” expressed by many people shows they expect more subtlety.
Message art? Where and when did that enter? I don't know how that misreading(?) crept in. Nothing I was thinking about.
jOe~
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  #21  
Old 11-05-2006, 08:01 PM
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Re: The Role of the Artist

Oscar wrote:
"Art is the application of insanity.

I wish I didn't have to be anonymous. I sure would like credit for that statement!"

It's off topic but I just had to say that you don't have to be anonymous. A lot of us here use our real names and reveal what we look like and where we live and what our art looks like.

My role as an artist is to look for beauty at portray it in a way that nature hasn't... to be unique- otherwise, why not just make a composition and take a picture of it? To had the human touch to the human form and show my interpretation of what I see with the stroke of my tools. Nature hasn't done it- these two artists hands have. The thrill of the artist is to create what hasn't been done before.

The role of the artist is to enrich the lives of the world with the skill of their hands.
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  #22  
Old 11-05-2006, 08:37 PM
G. Murdoch G. Murdoch is offline
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Re: The Role of the Artist

I believe is was Carl Jung who said "Creative innovation is not the product of the intellect. Rather, it is the result of the creative spirit at play."

I like the sentiment of the quote in Cantab's original post, but, like others have noted, I don't much care for the language of limiting definatives.

Graham
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  #23  
Old 11-06-2006, 05:18 AM
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Re: The Role of the Artist

I think Joe’s point about the artist’s ‘probing of simultaneous realities suppressed by normality’ isn’t far from the position Amis would take. For Amis, normality/the status quo is a fiction - ‘Why Cars?’ - and for him the artist’s integrity is at stake if s/he commits completely to the random structures that human beings create (‘throw up’, more like) and inhabit. A commitment to ‘first principles’, then, is a commitment to truths that underlie this randomness and that are primary features of being conscious agents in the world. To adopt the random fictions we create as real is to abandon consciousness for a ‘behaviour pattern’. That’s anti-art, and that’s why some people AREN’T artists. For them, the constituents of our society are FACTS, not fictions. I also think that Amis has a kind of ‘Hamlet’ mentality: he ‘sees through’ what we human beings are up to, and has made a fierce commitment to not being false and not contributing to the mess. So, when you’re in your car, ISN’T IT ODD?!! There’s nothing cosy and practical about a car for Amis – it’s an extension of our power and control, it’s property on the move, it’s our SELF with a hard shell. It’s an historical anomaly, like any other social construct.

For me Amis is important, and mainly, I think, because I initially learnt about art from an art teacher when I was about 12-13 years old, and he taught me to love Picasso and Braque before I got to know anything else. In Cubism these guys were exploring the nature of visual representation, how we construct reality on a canvas. Having deconstructed reality at the beginning of his career, Picasso spent the rest of his life as an artist reconstructing it in various ways. David Hockney was a master of this too – see his ‘Blue Guitar’ sequence. Reality is a created thing, and artists make a commitment to the creative process, not to the random constructions we throw up in our pursuit of self advancement.

I like Happy Sculpting’s approach to creative activity – “To look for beauty” and portray it. “Nature hasn’t done it. These two hands have”. These are good ‘fictions’, with a commitment to something worthwhile underneath. As for the car? Our children will come to hate us for that particular piece of insanity - creativity without underlying principles. I don’t want to offend GlennT here, but I think that all artists DO conform to certain principles. Amis’s angst may not be everyone’s cup of tea but artistic activity, for him, has to be distinguished from the frenetic self-obsessed rubbish that fills out our current state of normaltiy.

Sorry – don’t let this kill the thread! Please!
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  #24  
Old 11-06-2006, 07:26 PM
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Re: The Role of the Artist

Quote:
Originally Posted by jOe~
I take elemental to mean, basic, fundamental, primal,as in one of the basic elements.Message art? Where and when did that enter? I don't know how that misreading(?) crept in. Nothing I was thinking about.
jOe~
Cooljamesx1: “Not to say that art can't be beautiful as well as political, but generally I find that art is more visually pleasing when it is created just for the beauty of the shapes and not to make a statement.”

Cmustard: “Cooljames, I agree with you. Purely visual statments are very powerful on there own. In my opinion, the attempt to intergrade a literal message lessens the visual impact.”

OK, Joe - When I said "many people", it was these two, in a couple of cases. And I agree with the thought.

As far as "elemental", you do give typical meanings, but I don't see why the writer emphasizes that, or why Cantab picks this to quote. Earth, air, fire and water, or sometimes variants, were the four elements of the early Greek philosophers. Is this writer just leaping into the air about one of them? And, if so, why? He doesn’t elaborate, in this quote; it’s just a dangling thought.
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Old 11-06-2006, 10:08 PM
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Re: The Role of the Artist

Back with more thoughts: Let me try to get into some of what Cantab just posted about his interpretation of Amis’ views, and see where it goes. Exactly what part of contemporary life is “fiction”? Exactly what existing “random structures” are improper? Is language random, improper or harmful? Sure, we speak some thousand or so languages around the world. Many congregate in groups which are partly understandable to non-primary listeners, but most don’t. Would the proper artist erase all languages except one, or create even more?

What about this element fire? Taking that as a symbol of controlled action or motive force, should we surrender it to improve our state of existence? That would send us to the very beginning of communal activity, when simple preservation of life consumed each person’s supply of time and energy.

Eliminate cars, and trains, and airplanes? What about computers? Electricity, a form of tamed fire?

The whole picture is ludicrous. Certainly, an artist, or indeed any concerned person, should involve himself/herself in making the world a better place according to personal insights, but isn’t that just what Alexander, Caesar, Genghis, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and many other leaders did? How is one person’s activities distinguished in propriety from another’s?

The sane way out of this paradox is in Cantab’s statement “A commitment to ‘first principles’, then, is a commitment to truths that underlie this randomness and that are primary features of being conscious agents in the world.” That is to say, “Do unto other as you would have them do unto you”, or variants uttered around the world by wise men over the years.
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