What is art?

What is art? What is beauty?

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Conde Lucanor
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Re: What is art?

Post by Conde Lucanor » Sun Jul 02, 2017 10:09 pm

I do think that those particular natural instincts which we see in the animal kingdom, specially in the more evolved species, are present as well in the human species and have everything to do with our human ability to create art. Just the same as there are natural features of our species that allowed the invention of scripture, the development of languages and the creation of tools. For their basic survival activities, primitive humans had to deal with shapes, colors, sounds, etc., and their senses were configured by nature so that they fitted those purposes or functions. We use symbols and build things, but the best of bees in no match to the worst of architects, and it is not a difference of degree or level, as the architect is able to create the structure in his/her imagination before building it.

Art involves a practice inserted in the domain of culture, and there isn't culture until humans arrived.

Belinda
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Re: What is art?

Post by Belinda » Mon Jul 03, 2017 10:33 am

Greta wrote:
Yes, humans tend to assume a universe of difference between themselves and other animals, yet not so long ago we and those other species were peers competing for resources. Also, of course, we are not talking about fine art here; it's entirely base.

Obviously humans have taken art to another level. However, I find our story more profound, interesting and comprehensible when pre-human behavioural roots are seriously considered in many more contexts than is usual. Others here seem to only find the human story interesting, believing humans to have moved so far beyond other species that any reference to non-human evolutionary history is considered irrelevant.
I think that nobody can predict the evolutionary end of history for humans. We seem to be permanently engaged in hubristic power struggle. Artists, that is those makers who deserve to be called "artists" , try to show us what we have been and predict what we perhaps can be. Leaving aside domesticated animals, wild animals are unlikely to have the sort of art that mirrors nature as does human art. The 'art' of wild animals does not mirror nature: it is nature.


The reason that wild animals' aesthetic behaviour is nature but does not mirror nature, is that wild animals are not evolving any more, that is, not unless and until their environments force them to evolve from their status quo. Bacteria and insects evolve fast which makes them useful for laboratory work. Mammals, birds, and fishes evolve more slowly . The human mammal is not a wild animal but an artificially cultured animal. The human mammal may not yet go in for genetically breeding our own species but we do selectively breed by way of market forces, colonisation of natural and weaker human environments, and class warfare. Artists are alone among professionals in showing the quality of what we are and what we should be.

ssastry1111
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Re: What is art?

Post by ssastry1111 » Mon May 11, 2020 6:38 am

What is happening when my brain converts the sound vibrations of a Mozart sonata or Maria Callas aria into electrical signals and experiences them? Why does it generate a nice feeling, pleasure? Also, the sensation of joy does not need anyone else to be present, not even the performer. Other than enjoyment, it does not convey any information. It is unlikely that such a complex characteristic would be an accident or vestigial. So why have we evolved to create and experience certain combinations and sequences of sound in an enjoyable way? How does it support our existence?
From what we observe about the creation, reception and effects of music, it could serve multiple purposes for human life.

Art could have evolved in one of several ways, based on its utility for life. One role it could play is to make the registering, analysis, retention and reuse of event sequences that we experience. For example, it rains heavily, and there are mudflows, the hut collapses. Or the cock crows and it is dawn and time to wake up and get going. Drawings and paintings help humans record events and causes and effects. Musical notes in specific sequences create a melody the mind can focus on and follow. Like it can track the flight of the deer and the chase of the lion. In this role, art is a teaching aid for the brain.

The other function it could have is to increase the capacity of the more advanced parts of the brain by exercising them (e.g. the cortex), although they may have evolved a lot before art came into the picture.

Another possibility is that it could help calm the more reactive parts of the brain (which meditation and mindfulness do too).

Art could also, in a secondary role, strengthen the bonding within social groups. The Arts represent the more complex emotions of humans and sharing the experience of music, dance and art could strengthen the bonds within human groups. To the extent that some other species also exhibit the capacity for music and dance, it applies to them too.

Our perception of Art is intimately tied to our senses. Therefore, its existence, form and value are entirely relative to our species. For any other species on our planet, it may be similar but will not be the same. For an alien species with very different sense organs and evolutionary needs, art may not exist or will be very different if it does. In a cosmic sense, our art cannot have inherent value. It is in the context of humans on earth, their sense organs, brains and the developmental state in time. When this absolute context is true, everything at a lower level must be contextual.

Sunsets over the ocean look good to us. Is it because it is a sign that everything is fine with the world? The life-giving sun is there, just right for us. There’s water, even if it is salty. Music sounds good to us. Is it because it resembles the sounds of natural things that are wholesome for us, such as flowing water, singing birds, flowing air? Is the ability to create and enjoy art only possible when we have leisure time? And because leisure is a sign of satiation, comfort, shelter and safety, does art enhance it by generating positive feelings and make us strive for such conditions?

Then what about sad songs? How are they good for us? How about paintings of war and death? How are they good for us? One answer could be that they remind us of what we should not be, what we should not do. So, art could also be serving the function of reflection and teaching. And it may do it for many of us together. In effect, it could be a way for us to agree on what is right for us and what is not.

In summary, either art makes us more fit for survival directly or pushes us to such behaviour that the enjoyment of art becomes possible in our lives. Either way, it is utilitarian. As an enabler or as a source of pleasurable sensations that accompany healthy activities.

Nick_A
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Re: What is art?

Post by Nick_A » Sun May 17, 2020 7:07 pm

ssastry1111 wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 6:38 am
What is happening when my brain converts the sound vibrations of a Mozart sonata or Maria Callas aria into electrical signals and experiences them? Why does it generate a nice feeling, pleasure? Also, the sensation of joy does not need anyone else to be present, not even the performer. Other than enjoyment, it does not convey any information. It is unlikely that such a complex characteristic would be an accident or vestigial. So why have we evolved to create and experience certain combinations and sequences of sound in an enjoyable way? How does it support our existence?
From what we observe about the creation, reception and effects of music, it could serve multiple purposes for human life.

Art could have evolved in one of several ways, based on its utility for life. One role it could play is to make the registering, analysis, retention and reuse of event sequences that we experience. For example, it rains heavily, and there are mudflows, the hut collapses. Or the cock crows and it is dawn and time to wake up and get going. Drawings and paintings help humans record events and causes and effects. Musical notes in specific sequences create a melody the mind can focus on and follow. Like it can track the flight of the deer and the chase of the lion. In this role, art is a teaching aid for the brain.

The other function it could have is to increase the capacity of the more advanced parts of the brain by exercising them (e.g. the cortex), although they may have evolved a lot before art came into the picture.

Another possibility is that it could help calm the more reactive parts of the brain (which meditation and mindfulness do too).

Art could also, in a secondary role, strengthen the bonding within social groups. The Arts represent the more complex emotions of humans and sharing the experience of music, dance and art could strengthen the bonds within human groups. To the extent that some other species also exhibit the capacity for music and dance, it applies to them too.

Our perception of Art is intimately tied to our senses. Therefore, its existence, form and value are entirely relative to our species. For any other species on our planet, it may be similar but will not be the same. For an alien species with very different sense organs and evolutionary needs, art may not exist or will be very different if it does. In a cosmic sense, our art cannot have inherent value. It is in the context of humans on earth, their sense organs, brains and the developmental state in time. When this absolute context is true, everything at a lower level must be contextual.

Sunsets over the ocean look good to us. Is it because it is a sign that everything is fine with the world? The life-giving sun is there, just right for us. There’s water, even if it is salty. Music sounds good to us. Is it because it resembles the sounds of natural things that are wholesome for us, such as flowing water, singing birds, flowing air? Is the ability to create and enjoy art only possible when we have leisure time? And because leisure is a sign of satiation, comfort, shelter and safety, does art enhance it by generating positive feelings and make us strive for such conditions?

Then what about sad songs? How are they good for us? How about paintings of war and death? How are they good for us? One answer could be that they remind us of what we should not be, what we should not do. So, art could also be serving the function of reflection and teaching. And it may do it for many of us together. In effect, it could be a way for us to agree on what is right for us and what is not.

In summary, either art makes us more fit for survival directly or pushes us to such behaviour that the enjoyment of art becomes possible in our lives. Either way, it is utilitarian. As an enabler or as a source of pleasurable sensations that accompany healthy activities.
Hi Ssastry

We know the power of vibrations. There are those who radiate positive energy and plants thrive around them while negative qualities kill plants. Experiments have been done which show how heavy metal rock kills plants yet they will thrive on Mozart.

Animal Life reacts to the impulses of vibration but is that art? We may like this or that but is this reacting to art or just conditioned impulses?

Art for me is the transmission of objective human values rather than conditioned reactions to selective impulses. Such a transmission is timeless since objective human values are timeless.

We can experience impulses about a chair. Do we like or dislike a painting of a chair? If it is in the right frame and costs a lot it is called art. Yet painting which reveals the value of the concept of chairs which gives it meaning is art.

How do we paint value rather than selective impulses we identify with? Pornography can be aimed at arousing selective impulses but how does an artist paint the objective value of a naked woman from a universal perspective. One of the great benefits of art in society is that it can remind us of "values" as we increasingly respond to devolving impulses.

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Sculptor
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Re: What is art?

Post by Sculptor » Sun May 17, 2020 9:03 pm

ssastry1111 wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 6:38 am
What is happening when my brain converts the sound vibrations of a Mozart sonata or Maria Callas aria into electrical signals and experiences them? Why does it generate a nice feeling, pleasure? Also, the sensation of joy does not need anyone else to be present, not even the performer. Other than enjoyment, it does not convey any information. It is unlikely that such a complex characteristic would be an accident or vestigial. So why have we evolved to create and experience certain combinations and sequences of sound in an enjoyable way? How does it support our existence?
From what we observe about the creation, reception and effects of music, it could serve multiple purposes for human life.
I think it might be possible to say HOW this all happens but I do not think it is possible to say why. IN fact I'm not sure it is a useful question. On the evolutionary question I think we tend to try to give absolutely everything a "selective purpose", but natural selection can carry a multitude - an "infinte variety" (to use Darwin's own phrase), of useless or semi-useful series of traits that provide little or no selective advantage. The key here is that so long as any given trait does not negatively affect reproductive success then the species can carry it from generation to generation with no penalty.
Imagine two communities one with music the other without, clashing in warfare. Things like aggression, strength, weapons technology and numbers (the ability to replace losses), would predict success far more than music.
It is likely that we have inherited a musical sense from the traits of the early primates system of whistles, whoops and calls, that are no longer selectively important but have grown alongside successful clades of humans as they have moved out of Africa over the last million years or so.
Now we love music because composers having the same traits know what might please others. And the culture of music grows.

Art could have evolved in one of several ways, based on its utility for life. One role it could play is to make the registering, analysis, retention and reuse of event sequences that we experience. For example, it rains heavily, and there are mudflows, the hut collapses. Or the cock crows and it is dawn and time to wake up and get going. Drawings and paintings help humans record events and causes and effects. Musical notes in specific sequences create a melody the mind can focus on and follow. Like it can track the flight of the deer and the chase of the lion. In this role, art is a teaching aid for the brain.

The other function it could have is to increase the capacity of the more advanced parts of the brain by exercising them (e.g. the cortex), although they may have evolved a lot before art came into the picture.

Another possibility is that it could help calm the more reactive parts of the brain (which meditation and mindfulness do too).

Art could also, in a secondary role, strengthen the bonding within social groups. The Arts represent the more complex emotions of humans and sharing the experience of music, dance and art could strengthen the bonds within human groups. To the extent that some other species also exhibit the capacity for music and dance, it applies to them too.

Our perception of Art is intimately tied to our senses. Therefore, its existence, form and value are entirely relative to our species. For any other species on our planet, it may be similar but will not be the same. For an alien species with very different sense organs and evolutionary needs, art may not exist or will be very different if it does. In a cosmic sense, our art cannot have inherent value. It is in the context of humans on earth, their sense organs, brains and the developmental state in time. When this absolute context is true, everything at a lower level must be contextual.

Sunsets over the ocean look good to us. Is it because it is a sign that everything is fine with the world? The life-giving sun is there, just right for us. There’s water, even if it is salty. Music sounds good to us. Is it because it resembles the sounds of natural things that are wholesome for us, such as flowing water, singing birds, flowing air? Is the ability to create and enjoy art only possible when we have leisure time? And because leisure is a sign of satiation, comfort, shelter and safety, does art enhance it by generating positive feelings and make us strive for such conditions?

Then what about sad songs? How are they good for us? How about paintings of war and death? How are they good for us? One answer could be that they remind us of what we should not be, what we should not do. So, art could also be serving the function of reflection and teaching. And it may do it for many of us together. In effect, it could be a way for us to agree on what is right for us and what is not.

In summary, either art makes us more fit for survival directly or pushes us to such behaviour that the enjoyment of art becomes possible in our lives. Either way, it is utilitarian. As an enabler or as a source of pleasurable sensations that accompany healthy activities.

Belinda
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Re: What is art?

Post by Belinda » Tue May 19, 2020 9:53 am

I find when I analyse an art form I can better explain how it works.

Classical art forms such as Mozart's music , or the poetry of Pope, depend for much of their appeal on classical ideas of proper balance of tone, rhythm, melody, and harmony.

Romantic art forms depend on the above but have a large injection of the ethic of individualism in the form of individual feeling. E.g. music of Beethoven, Chopin. The poetry of Keats, Wordsworth. Novels of the Bronte sisters.

Individualism still keeps its influence in Western taste.

seeds
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Re: What is art?

Post by seeds » Wed May 20, 2020 6:30 pm

_______

What is art?

First of all, each human mind (or at least the “agent” therein) is not only in possession of infinite creative potential, but is also the owner and controller of an infinitely malleable substance that is capable of being formed into absolutely anything imaginable.

Secondly, the entire outer dimension of the universe seems to be constructed from what is basically a higher and more ordered version of that very same inner substance.

Thirdly, the mind’s agent will oftentimes form its own inner substance into fantastically strange or wonderfully beautiful manifestations of reality that simply do not exist outwardly in the universe, and that no other agent has ever seen before.

In which case, I suggest that art...

(in the form of idealistic paintings, or sculptures, or music, or literature, or [especially] CGI movies, comics, and anime, etc.)

...is simply the end product of the effort taken by the mind’s agent to grasp the infinitely malleable fabric of the outer dimension of the universe and shape it into that which resembles what the agent has created inwardly so that other agents can experience (by proxy representation) something uniquely strange (or beautiful, or horrifying, etc.) that only exists within the mind of the particular agent.
_______

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