What is art?

What is art? What is beauty?

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Greta
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Re: What is art?

Post by Greta » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:40 am

Belinda wrote:
Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:44 am
Greta wrote:
Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:02 am
I was watching a documentary where a grouse species in Montana were shown practising their mating dance in the snow. Their performance in the spring when a female is around is critical, so they must refine what can be thought of as animal art - the art of dance. The females assess the dancers' efforts, presumably choosing based on signs of health, strength, vitality and good coordination.

Perhaps here we have objective art - where there are definite standards set with success and failure unequivocal.
I suggest at least a big quantitative difference between animals' learned behaviour and human art. Human art , unlike animal art, is mostly based in learned ideas which are transferred through time and space by means of human artefacts. Music and other performance art is most like animal behaviour; however performance art, unlike animal behaviour, is cultural to an extent that other animals cannot do. I think other animals cannot do what we call art because humans adapt their behaviour via learned responses much more than other animals do.
I think you vastly underestimate other animals, as humans almost always do. The lessons of research in recent years are that other animals, especially birds, are far more sentient than we realised. However, I am not trying to compare simple animals with humanity, so at this stage I won't be comparing the grouse's dance with Nijinsky or Fred Astaire.

I'm just pointing out some objective art exists that had not yet been considered. The birds' dances are intended as communication and there are certain required aesthetic requirements in that communication with objective results - the bird attracts a mate or not. I don't much care about the labels - "art", "proto art" or "animal scratching its bum" - bird display dances can be creative, complex, amusing, beautiful and/or exciting. The females certainly become excited by exceptional performances, not miles from the effect of John Travolta strutting his moves in Saturday Night Fever.

Belinda
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Re: What is art?

Post by Belinda » Thu Jun 29, 2017 10:00 am

Greta wrote:
I think you vastly underestimate other animals, as humans almost always do. The lessons of research in recent years are that other animals, especially birds, are far more sentient than we realised
Perhaps, probably.
I'd take issue with you about what you mean by 'creative'. I'd mean by 'creative' that creative behaviour is novel to the extent that nobody else has thought about it , said it, or done it before.

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Greta
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Re: What is art?

Post by Greta » Thu Jun 29, 2017 2:31 pm

Belinda wrote:
Thu Jun 29, 2017 10:00 am
Greta wrote:
I think you vastly underestimate other animals, as humans almost always do. The lessons of research in recent years are that other animals, especially birds, are far more sentient than we realised
Perhaps, probably.
I'd take issue with you about what you mean by 'creative'. I'd mean by 'creative' that creative behaviour is novel to the extent that nobody else has thought about it , said it, or done it before.
I see creativity as problem solving, necessity being the mother of invention etc. Each bird is the first with their particular genetics to develop their dance to advantage. I small bird is going to work at looking bigger. An athletic bird will use more daring moves while less athletic birds would do well not to be so adventurous as to stumble and effectively advertise their weaker athleticism. Of course it's not strategic on the birds' behalf, rather a natural response to circumstances, eg. small animals trying to make themselves appear larger, athletic animals displaying their abilities.

I suppose the take home message is that dance may well have been the first art form because the medium is ideal for conveying stories without the need for complex language. Since the evidence for prehistoric dance comes from prehistoric drawings, it would be difficult to prove that dance predated drawing.

Belinda
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Re: What is art?

Post by Belinda » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:14 pm

Greta, I accept what you say and I now think that creativity does not help to define art. Creativity is nature just as much as it is nurture.
The selection by the bird of a novel place to do its dance is creative.The application of a bird's nut cracking skill in various situations and at various times is creative.

Nick_A
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Re: What is art?

Post by Nick_A » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:17 pm

A work of art has an author and yet, when it is perfect, it has something which is anonymous about it. (Simone Weil)
This is an idea that a secularist psychologocally tied to the world will deny but the universalist who recognizes the world as a part of higher wholes will appreciate as common sense. When a work of art has the potential for objective rather than purely subjective, emotional communication. it will include something anonymous closer to the source of conscious objectivity.

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Conde Lucanor
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Re: What is art?

Post by Conde Lucanor » Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:16 am

It's hard for me to think of a bird's dance as art. Whatever animals do that we can value from our human artistic perspective, is not art. The same way a sunset is not. Art implies a praxis which evolves in time and a key element is innovation, but our bird here most probably dances just the same as its ancestors thousands of years ago. Maybe the higher primates can do art.

Belinda
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Re: What is art?

Post by Belinda » Sat Jul 01, 2017 7:01 am

Conde Lucanor wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:16 am
It's hard for me to think of a bird's dance as art. Whatever animals do that we can value from our human artistic perspective, is not art. The same way a sunset is not. Art implies a praxis which evolves in time and a key element is innovation, but our bird here most probably dances just the same as its ancestors thousands of years ago. Maybe the higher primates can do art.
Do you think that innovation defines art? If so, what differentiates innovative art from innovative science?

Belinda
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Re: What is art?

Post by Belinda » Sat Jul 01, 2017 7:05 am

Nick_A wrote:
Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:17 pm
A work of art has an author and yet, when it is perfect, it has something which is anonymous about it. (Simone Weil)
This is an idea that a secularist psychologocally tied to the world will deny but the universalist who recognizes the world as a part of higher wholes will appreciate as common sense. When a work of art has the potential for objective rather than purely subjective, emotional communication. it will include something anonymous closer to the source of conscious objectivity.
There isn't any need to be mystical about "higher wholes". That which seems anonymous about a great work of art is closeness to truths which are relevant to a great many people.

uwot
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Re: What is art?

Post by uwot » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:47 am

Conde Lucanor wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:16 am
It's hard for me to think of a bird's dance as art. Whatever animals do that we can value from our human artistic perspective, is not art. The same way a sunset is not. Art implies a praxis which evolves in time and a key element is innovation, but our bird here most probably dances just the same as its ancestors thousands of years ago. Maybe the higher primates can do art.
Early on in this thread, I suggested that art was anything that is presented as art, and takes more than two seconds to decide whether it actually is art. Having spent more than two seconds wondering whether a bird's dance qualifies as art, the thing that occurs to me is that while the basic steps of birds' dances may or may not have evolved, something in the performance distinguishes one suitor from another. Apparently, there are good dancers, and not so good.

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Greta
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Re: What is art?

Post by Greta » Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:01 am

uwot wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:47 am
Conde Lucanor wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:16 am
It's hard for me to think of a bird's dance as art. Whatever animals do that we can value from our human artistic perspective, is not art. The same way a sunset is not. Art implies a praxis which evolves in time and a key element is innovation, but our bird here most probably dances just the same as its ancestors thousands of years ago. Maybe the higher primates can do art.
Early on in this thread, I suggested that art was anything that is presented as art, and takes more than two seconds to decide whether it actually is art. Having spent more than two seconds wondering whether a bird's dance qualifies as art, the thing that occurs to me is that while the basic steps of birds' dances may or may not have evolved, something in the performance distinguishes one suitor from another. Apparently, there are good dancers, and not so good.
The quality of the dance is determined by mating success. Humans' artistic mating display behaviours seem not wildly different. I suppose pop art and naive art to some extent are the bridges between the simple aims of bird dances and human "mating dances" and more abstract and refined arts.

uwot
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Re: What is art?

Post by uwot » Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:26 am

Greta wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:01 am
The quality of the dance is determined by mating success. Humans' artistic mating display behaviours seem not wildly different.
Well indeed. Birds use a variety of mating strategies: dance, song, home building, wealth, deceit and no doubt others that don't spring to mind. All of these require some sort of resourcefulness that looks uncannily like intellect. Some also resort to physical prowess and in some cases violence. What distinguishes humans, is that they do all of them. As far as I am aware though, there is no such creature as a philosopher bird; it may simply be extinct since, as I can confirm, philosophy is not a very successful courtship practice.
Greta wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:01 am
I suppose pop art and naive art to some extent are the bridges between the simple aims of bird dances and human "mating dances" and more abstract and refined arts.
That really depends on the bird.

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Conde Lucanor
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Re: What is art?

Post by Conde Lucanor » Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:32 pm

Belinda wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 7:01 am
Conde Lucanor wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:16 am
It's hard for me to think of a bird's dance as art. Whatever animals do that we can value from our human artistic perspective, is not art. The same way a sunset is not. Art implies a praxis which evolves in time and a key element is innovation, but our bird here most probably dances just the same as its ancestors thousands of years ago. Maybe the higher primates can do art.
Do you think that innovation defines art? If so, what differentiates innovative art from innovative science?
As I said earlier, two elements are essential to art. One of them is concerned with the human activity itself, the praxis that evolves with some level of autonomy because of individual and social contributions. Innovation, of course, takes part on that praxis. But the other essential element that defines art is that it's concerned with form. So that differentiates innovative art from innovative science.

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Conde Lucanor
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Re: What is art?

Post by Conde Lucanor » Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:50 pm

uwot wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:47 am
Conde Lucanor wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:16 am
It's hard for me to think of a bird's dance as art. Whatever animals do that we can value from our human artistic perspective, is not art. The same way a sunset is not. Art implies a praxis which evolves in time and a key element is innovation, but our bird here most probably dances just the same as its ancestors thousands of years ago. Maybe the higher primates can do art.
Early on in this thread, I suggested that art was anything that is presented as art, and takes more than two seconds to decide whether it actually is art. Having spent more than two seconds wondering whether a bird's dance qualifies as art, the thing that occurs to me is that while the basic steps of birds' dances may or may not have evolved, something in the performance distinguishes one suitor from another. Apparently, there are good dancers, and not so good.
A bird's dance is not that much different than a flower displaying some colors and shapes, or a peacock displaying its colored feathers. It is a thing of nature, not of culture. If you use the first as a defining criteria of art, then absolutely everything is art, including a tree's bark.

There won't be a history of bird's dance, as it is based on instincts, not on learning. I'm sure some humans could teach any bird to dance in a particular way, but it's not part of the nature of birds to pass new dancing techniques to following generations.

Dubious
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Re: What is art?

Post by Dubious » Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:55 pm

Conde Lucanor wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:16 am
It's hard for me to think of a bird's dance as art. Whatever animals do that we can value from our human artistic perspective, is not art. The same way a sunset is not. Art implies a praxis which evolves in time and a key element is innovation, but our bird here most probably dances just the same as its ancestors thousands of years ago. Maybe the higher primates can do art.
I can't see what it's got to do with art as well. It's simply the ritual of a mating practice as a prelude to sex upon which the survival of the species depends. To read more into it than that is somewhat silly.

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Greta
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Re: What is art?

Post by Greta » Sun Jul 02, 2017 2:11 am

uwot wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:26 am
Greta wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:01 am
The quality of the dance is determined by mating success. Humans' artistic mating display behaviours seem not wildly different.
Well indeed. Birds use a variety of mating strategies: dance, song, home building, wealth, deceit and no doubt others that don't spring to mind. All of these require some sort of resourcefulness that looks uncannily like intellect. Some also resort to physical prowess and in some cases violence. What distinguishes humans, is that they do all of them. As far as I am aware though, there is no such creature as a philosopher bird; it may simply be extinct since, as I can confirm, philosophy is not a very successful courtship practice.
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.

A question: is the image in an artist's mind before being rendered to material form art?

Philosophy is the domain of the loner - maybe a useful mating strategy only at MENSA and other specialised enclaves :)

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