Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Definition of an Artist

This following is not bullshit.

As far as I can tell, people who call themselves artists do little to create things that are "new". (There is nothing wrong with that, by the way)

I am of the belief that all that will or can be created exists in people's minds already in lesser forms.

An artist solely exists to notice things that are cool or important or relevant and to say "Hey, look at this people." Whether these are things that already exist (found art), or things they have amalgamated themselves, but already did exist in mental space, they are just noticing the cool things.

People who are good at this, according to measures of popularity, become better artists. And what they tell people to look at ("Hey, hey! Right here! Look at me!") is believed to be more artful or important than others, as is probably so.

There are no entrance requirements to be this sort of person. Just as there are no special privileges alloted once you are this sort of person.

Okay, I'm off to do some Advanced Math.


Jim Davies said...

The patterns that artists create, in any medium, are some amalgamations of more primitive symbols that people already have, but this is a very different idea from what you're suggesting-- that artists rarely do more than point out things we already know about (like stand-up comedians saying "How about the food on airplanes, huh??").

Works of art can and should be considered at several levels of analysis. Plays are made of letters, paintings of bits of paint, music of notes and timbre. But a play, for example, can show you something you've never thought of before. For example, a child watching "The Matrix" might have never before conceived that the world she sees everyday could be an illusion. Of course she had the primitive ideas needed to think the thought, but that's different from saying she had the thought before she saw the movie. She didn't, in the same way that I didn't have Hamlet in my head before I read it as a function of knowing the letters that compose it. The same goes for the words of Hamlet, the sentences of Hamlet, the themes of Hamlet, the traits of the characters, etc.

As artists think of novel combinatinons of these symbols, they create new patterns that audiences really like, deepening their understanding of the world. But to say they are usually not creating anything is cognitively over-reductionist as well a disservice to the abilities of artists.

Dustin said...

Sweet! As usual, I like what you say:

You referenced my general dislike of stand-up comedy, and showed how I was wrong.

I am a fan of conceptual models of infinite size. I am beginning to get a more specific understanding that a word represents more than just links to other similar words, but a "feeling" also (this is sort of lifted from an Latent Semantic Analysis)

An "artist" offers a new look into unexplored territory of meaning. I think one of the points that I am making is that one doesn't need to be afraid of being "creative enough" to be an artist. In fact, as Keith Johnstone points out for improvisation, fear of being creative enough can actually be paralyzing, as doing the obvious can be more interesting. I wonder, then, how easy it would be to program a computer to make art.