Field Theory by Hadyn Green

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Field Theory: A post about art (sort of)

503 Responses

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  • Rich Lock,

    those Ancient Greeks and those slightly less Ancient Romans had no word for art

    Just like certain native groups having no word for snow?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Isn't it true that people had tools before they grouped all those things together as "tools"? Doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to say "that thing is an axe, but not a tool". "Art" may be different; I don't know.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    that thing is an axe, but not a tool". "Art" may be different; I don't know.

    Ohh, (sucks index finger) I dunno. Maybe ;)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6357 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Perhaps more like looking at a roadsign and assuming it is an abstract painting,

    No.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4947 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    John Boardman (one of the greatest historians of Greek art) wrote: "'Art for Art's sake' was virtually an unknown concept; there was neither a real Art Market nor Collectors; all art has a function and artists were suppliers of a commodity on a par with shoemakers."

    Eirc Havelock "...neither 'art' nor 'artist' as we use the words, is translatable into archaic or high-classical Greek."

    Shiner again: As offensive as it may be to our postromantic sensibilities, Aristotle belived that the artisan/artist takes a particular raw material (human character/leather) and uses a particular set of ides and procedures (plot/shoe form) to produce a product (tragedy/shoes)

    The grouping together is the making of the construct. Just as the Greeks grouped the arts and crafts together (albeit trying to make some distinctions between the imitative and the merely mechanical acts), so we have put them apart and (in the late 19th Century and today) brought them back together.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Now I know why Gio disappeared from that other discussion that was going down this very road. It must start to feel like sandbagging against a Tsunami at times.

    Has anyone mentioned cave paintings?

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    My opponents in this argument are taking the essentialist and universalist lines

    One can be subjectivist or intersubjectivist without agreeing with you.

    I don't know if it's worth trying to clarify my argument from earlier; I'm confident it won't advance things. But what the hell.

    The thing that sounded flawed wasn't that things that weren't art before are art now. It's that, if we reasses them retrospectively, they can go from not having been art to having been art.

    I actually kind of feel like Paul has a point, at least in a capital-A Arts sense, though some of the resulting exculsions seem unhelpful. I just think it works more as a description than a definition.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1096 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Has anyone mentioned cave paintings?

    I did, but that was like years ago.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7412 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Surely a definition of something being Art or not is whether it can be Copyrighted...

    Ok everybody...
    RUN!!!

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4947 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Ohh, (sucks index finger) I dunno. Maybe ;)

    ... Was that sarcasm?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I actually kind of feel like Paul has a point, at least in a capital-A Arts sense, though some of the resulting exculsions seem unhelpful.

    Given that he's clearly having a discussion about a different definition of 'art' (as you say, capital A) than (I think) everyone else was discussing (actual art objects) I've moved on.

    Given the original discussion was about "who should be on the list of people who we approach to make public art", I dislike where he's ended up with his exclusionary definition. If the European tradition of art doesn't like what gets put up, it can go shove it. :)

    Since Nov 2006 • 6227 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Ohh, (sucks index finger) I dunno. Maybe ;)

    "Art is not a mirror held up to reality,
    but a hammer with which to shape it."
    - Mayakovski

    art, truth, knowledge...
    this off-episte(mology) run is fraught
    with thin ice to be skating on...

    I mean how come when one is artful
    they are actually crafty...?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5169 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    I did, but that was like years ago.

    This is me resisting quoting you out of context. Yeah, literally years ago. Who knew?

    [I'll stop saying that soon Ben, I promise;-) ]

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Somehow the quaint colonial mindset that "art" requires a functioning capitalist market for oils and busts along with universities full of nonces just like the homeland seems to have survived exposure to our local Auckland University art history department - here's what they say about themselves:

    ART HISTORY explores visual culture and offers ways to learn about images and how to understand them.

    We study art from many different periods and places, giving insight into a wide variety of different cultures, ranging from antiquity to the contemporary, from Europe and America, to New Zealand and the Pacific.

    variety of cultures?, antiquity?, Pacific?
    gasp, splutter

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Given that he's clearly having a discussion about a different definition of 'art' (as you say, capital A) than (I think) everyone else was discussing (actual art objects) I've moved on.

    I am really only stating a description of art that is more or less standard, with the added PoMo twist of identifying art as a construct.

    If the European tradition of art doesn't like what gets put up, it can go shove it.

    The proposed statue is in a European tradition, just not a very pleasant one: it looks like a monument to the victors of the Great Patriotic War on the outskirts of Omsk. Why should observing the European tradition to the extent of employing a real artist be so difficult? Why not show some awareness of what is going on in contemporary public sculpture? And hey, we have many Maori and Polynesian artists working as artists, so it does not have to look like a Rodin.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    Somehow the quaint colonial mindset that "art" requires a functioning capitalist market for oils and busts along with universities full of nonces just like the homeland seems to have survived exposure to our local Auckland University art history department...

    Oh look, here comes Anti-Intellectualism on a pale horse. What is the problem with studying a "wide variety of different cultures?" What would you have us do instead?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I just want to report that my daughter has just asked me for some "Mona Lisa". She meant mayonnaise. Ah, art...

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7412 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Anti-Intellectualism on a pale horse.

    I just want to report that my daughter has just asked me for some "Mona Lisa".

    Don't you mean Mona Lisa on a pale horse? Well, next to it at least.
    Who... Nahhhh!

    I'm just trying to be helpful. No, really.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    My one-time superviser, David Novitz- who would have enjoyed this conversation, but carved it up with a butter-knife- used to tell a story about taking his son to see the Mona Lisa.
    It was a long tedious day at the Louvre. Not cheap to get in. Queues and cold weather. They traipsed corridors that seemed endless, but finally they were there: standing quite close to the Mona Lisa itself. David observed with some satisfaction the intent look on his son's face. When they eventually moved on, he noticed his lad was half-skipping and quite excited.
    This stirred him deeply. After all, he'd spent a large part of his life engaging intellectually with ideas about art.
    "That was pretty good eh" he said. "What do you think?"
    "It was just great!" his son gushed. "Now I can tell all my friends I've seen real bullet-proof glass."

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1599 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    She meant mayonnaise.

    Exquisite taste!

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6357 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    I agree with Paul and Robyn about Weta's attempts at... sculpture being... less than successful. And I think Robyn's description of the rugby sculpture as looking like one of those Father's Day things is pretty accurate.

    But I disagree with you Paul on a couple of points. First, that indigenous cultures did not create objects that were neither practical, ceremonial nor anything but objects of beauty.

    The explorer Charles Waterton describes (in Waterton's Wanderings) seeing an incredibly valuable stone bead necklace that belonged to a chief in the Amazon. Each bead took two lifetimes to carve. The investment of time was a measure of the incredible value of the piece. The only point of the object was its beauty and the status of "wealthy" it conferred on the wearer.

    Also - the assertion that primitive art was static is mistaken - the style was not static, and both Hamish Keith and Anne Salmond have written about this odd and inaccurate assumption.

    Hamish Keith is especially vocal on this point in The Big Picture and he describes quite specific styles and periods of art in Polynesian culture.

    There is always a lot of public art in Vancouver - maybe instead of Party Central the waterfront in Auckland could have outdoor art installations from around the world. I may have grown up around some of the ugliest architecture on earth:

    The Tomahawk

    - great onion rings though...

    ... but the art and the green spaces (Auckland could use a few) more than compensate...

    Vancouver Biennale

    More from Vancouver Biennale

    Here is a neurobiological definition of art, which for me comes closer to defining the term than any other frame of reference.

    The Science of Art

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    What is the problem with studying a "wide variety of different cultures?"

    Nice try sunshine - not me who seems to have an issue with culture being plural

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    But you are the one who is condemning my Department for being full of "nonces" (do you really mean to say we are sex-offenders?) with a quaint colonial mindset. But my Department has people teaching and studying art from many cultures, so what is your problem?

    And still you think I have a issue with culture being plural. My point is plurality: that the Western construct of art does not naturally occur in other cultures, historical or geographical.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    But I disagree with you Paul on a couple of points. First, that indigenous cultures did not create objects that were neither practical, ceremonial nor anything but objects of beauty.

    But, as your example indicates, they were status-objects. The public notion of art, that it is something shared by a culture, is part of the Western construct.

    Also - the assertion that primitive art was static is mistaken..

    I agree: there are evident changes over time and space, which follow patterns of migration; there are also practices which are unique to particular places, such as Chatham Islands dendroglyphs.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    I'm glad to see that this thread has more or less degenerated exactly as I predicted it would do, all the way back on pg 2...

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

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