Sunday, January 25

Got A Question For You

<- Click here

I've been wondering... What is the use of art? Matching the couch? Covering a hole in he wall? I know that a large number of furry little rodents decorate their burrows. Ditto the way a lot of birds weave stuff into their nests. Hmmmm.... are some animals driven to decorate? How do they decide between worthwhile decorations and junk?Are there more, um, fascinating decorations? Do some decorations resonate more than others? Is there a collection instinct? If there is, upon what is it focused? How do collectors of decoration decide? Do they have advisors? Are there experts? Critics? Educators? Analysts?

Apparently all human cultures collect art just like those cute rodents. Even ancient peoples seem, well, driven to decorate their graves with shiny things, drawings and statues. Decoration seems to be almost a necessary condition of human-ness.

So what are the uses of art? Body decoration? Balancing the palette in a bathroom? Is the value the picture, or inside the picture? Is art an object or a package?

Okay... my head is hurting now. Think I'll go find a Rolling Rock.


Oh yeah, the picture here: I took it at dawn in Wellfleet on Cape Cod as the tide gurgled in under my feet. It actually does gurgle and hiss, oozing seemingly out of the muddy ground. Charming though, and it makes the sort of picture that blown up and framed... Well it goes pretty damned well with the couch, huh? :)


Andreas said...

Oh yes, it does :)

What are the uses of art? Well, I guess much of what's considered "Art" is seen as a kind of investment, and much of what's not considered "Art" is used to matched a couch.

Given the fact that to be a high-priced Artists requires you to

a) either be dead, or

b) to be extremely lucky and to produce after a template (aka style) and into a narrow niche,

given those facts, I find the thought of the couch extremely charming :)

Or, in other words, when I turn the question around and ask myself how I want my art to be used, then I am pretty satisfied when it makes someone's day brighter, or causes someone to think about it, in short, is used at all. Seen like that, many Van Gogh, locked away in a safe, have a life at least as miserable as that of their creator. No, I guess the couch is really OK :)

Andreas said...

Oh, and, the picture is awesome :)

Marti said...

Hi Ted,

Great question for all of us. I do very much agree with Andreas' assessment -- something to match the couch IS really OK. And, it should definitely be displayed, not locked away.

I would also like to think that it's use is to make us feel a bit better about our environment or ourselves. I have a painting hanging over my fireplace that I loved when I first saw it -- it just made me feel good. So, I repainted the room to match one of the minor colors in the painting! Painting the room was cheap compared to the joy the painting gave me. But, I did not purchase a new sofa!

So, I suppose, when we find a piece of art that appeals to us, for whatever reason, we bring it home to brighten our living space -- whether a grand hall or a tiny burrow.

And, the image you posted is lovely! It evokes a warm feeling in me of growing up near the marshes in Florida and fishing with my Dad. I love the warm colors of the sky, water and the light on the grasses, contrasted with the cool blues of the boat.

Barry Armer said...

Stunning photo Ted!


MikeH said...

I think the use of art is about making statements. Artist use their art to express themselves and I think we might buy a piece that represented something we wanted to say about ourselves. Weather its look how much money I have or look I know how to coordinate colors. Not exactly where you were going, but I have spackling.

Ted said...

(Andreas) Art without imagination is merely craft. I don't think price has anything to do with what art is... it does follow some art... and a lot of junk. The money doesn't turn the junk to art any more than a title makes a jerk important.

Who gets money for art is not determined by artists. It is determined by collectors, educators, critics, media, gallery directors, museum curators, and interior designers. Artists are rarely part of that loop. In fact when any of those people attempt to do art, they are ridiculed by the others. Um, with the exception of some practitioner educators. They are the definers of academic art, however not a lot of academic art breaks into the art circle. It merely defines what you need to get tenure and then rank. The academics that matter are the art historians and academic curators. They get invitations to the right parties and commissions for appraisals.

My conclusion about your art is that it packages questions/ideas/feelings... Which is important enough to change couches rather than picking your objects to compliment a wall color.

(Marti) I've reacted to your comments in a reply to your recent email. Thanks for your warm reaction to this image.

(Barry) It's so flattering to have you flatter my work. Thanks Barry.

(Mike) I agree Mike. Art is a communication media which speaks in a non verbal language that communicates emotion compressed into ideas or vice versa. Again, as I reacted to Andreas, I agree that art is a channel independent of monetary value. Oh, and by the way... there is bad art, and disturbing art (very different things) neither of which may ever find a commercial market but each of which may powerfully resonate with others. And it's that resonance which goes beyond technique and aesthetics... Without resonance, it is merely craft (which paraphrases my opening remark to Andreas up above, eh?).

THANK YOU ALL FOR THINKING AT ME... You've all caused me to wonder more. Um, which I suppose is something else that art does, eh?

mcmurma said...

Hi Ted,

First of all, great image. It really evokes a lot of groovy things like serenity and warmth, and is an absolute delight to trace around the frame.

Now about that insidious art question... Well, I have to pardon myself from this one. There have been times when I struggled with it, but I finally decided that if what do with "my" art is good enough for me, then OK. I get a lot of personal therapy from creating a piece, however simplistic, and the reaction of the rest of the world, whatever I try and "do" with it, is a distant second.

Good thing I have day job :)

Oh, and thanks a gillion for your unrelenting support of my work. You flatter me WAY to much though!

Ted said...

(Michael) (1) Glad you like the grooviness ... love to max out on groove.. Heh heh heh. Seriously, your take on my work is important... thanks.

(2) Yeah, your decision re. art is a good one. I seem to be developing a similar strategy with respect to the news media. They seem to tell me so little that is in many respects useful, and in another respect anything over which I have any control. Consequently I am discovering that ignorance of their preoccupations is not in any way hurting me. Regardless of MSNBC, CNN, FOX, PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, New York Times, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, The Philly Inquirer, or the Boston Globe crusades... life here in the City Of Lancaster goes on... I've increasingly reduced my information inputs to competent business/financial/and special interest media written by people who are actually experts in things as opposed to people with journalism or English degrees who have experience in nothing.

(3) Yes a Day Job is a good thingee and

(4) I support your work because it is among the most insightful. No, I don't support it.. I exploit it. I am pissed however that you refuse to do more of it. Please correct that problem, okay? :-)

John Roberts said...

First of all, this is another image for you "greatest hits" album. Your understanding of the importance of the quality of light really shows in this one. If you had clicked the shutter a few minutes earlier or later than the instant you chose, it probably would have been a lesser image.

I guess there are as many uses for art as there are users. For me as a photographer, it is to attempt to share what I was feeling when I made the exposure. There was something that made me want to take the time and effort to make the photograph. I may have found the scene, object, or person interesting or beautiful, but something made me want to stop and make the exposure. That "something" is what I want to share with a viewer. Although I don't feel I'm always successful in communicating that "something", the challenge of it is what keeps photography fun and interesting to me.

Ted said...

(John) You are one of my most favorite artists. What you choose to put in front of your lens, how you choose to do it, and what you choose to do with it once you've done it... Causes me to feel... differently. You can communicate auras of the creators of things. It is often as if you have found n long-lost 78 rpm vinyl recording under the mud and vines of time and used your camera and imagination like an equally long lost playback system.

I can feel the feelings of the people who made that disc. You have channeled them, just a surely as a medium might at a seance. Or you have created them with your imagination. Either way... well, you are one of my favorite artists and I appreciate your take on this question. Thanks a lot John, I shall go off now and ponder it.... :-)