Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1st Blog (I hope i did this right)

1.) In class we discussed the "Sugar Water Shower Video." We went around and everybody shared their interpretation of the video, and displayed a visual representation of the video. It was very interesting to see just how differently everybody in the class interpreted the video. After discussing the video it still seemed to be pretty confusing and the class really did not come to a consensus about the video. I felt as if the one group was correct in their analysis that the video was linear and just being played backwards in the right hand frame. When we watched the video again I only watched the left hand frame and I believed that interpretation to be correct. After watching the director of the video describe its making it was clear that the video was meant to be a palindrome, which I believed to be an interesting and clever idea.
    After the "Sugar Shower" video we discussed the reading which dealt with the meaning of art. This transitioned into us looking at various images and discussing whether or not they were art, and why. This was an interesting discussion which raised some good questions. The most interesting to me was what is making art? Someone mentioned giving an elephant a paintbrush makes the individual who gave the brush to the animal the artist. This is did not believe in. It was said that this is like calling a camera an artist. I think that a camera is a tool; the artist does the work lining up the shot and pressing the shutter. Putting a brush in the hand of an elephant or a dolphin hardly requires and forethought, skill, or effort. Does this mean that the animals are the artists? They are doing the work. I guess it all goes back to what is art and what makes an artist, which is what we were talking about. I don't really think it can be defined. What one person calls art, might be nothing to someone else. I personally do not find anything special about a single triangle or dot painted on a canvas. Do I consider this art, no but that does not mean that it does not mean something to someone else. I think that art is too broad a topic to be defined by one person, and that art must be defined by the person looking at the piece in question. At least that is what I got out of the class.

2.) I kind of stared discussing the reading during 1.), but overall I believe that it was a discussion of the importance of art, and what art is. I didn't really know what to make of the reading; I thought that at times the author presented conflicting viewpoints saying art was both important and unimportant. The section I focused on was the end. The quote about the cat I though was a good way of describing art. The indirect way that art interacts with its observer is similar to the way in which cats behave. They make you take a round about to get to them making the reward (petting and kitty snuggle time, in the case of the cat) more rewarding and enjoyable. Here I thought the author makes a great point. I find that interpreting something and figuring things out makes the overall process, whatever that may be, more enjoyable. I feel like the author was implying that this is true for art as well, and I agree with him.

3.) My first question is can animals be artists? What does your answer say about what art is and how it should be interpreted?

My second question is, can a work of art still be considered great/ beautiful if it is not fully understood by its observer? In other words understands necessary for the full appreciation of art?

4.) I am very interested in the cave paintings. I could find much on them, there does not seem to be much on their origins or purpose. My first instinct was that they were some sort of expressive message. It seemed to be to be some kind of documentation that travelers or visitors to the area could look at and see what sort of game inhabited the region, and maybe even gauge the importance of certain animals based on the way that they are drawn. This would make the drawings both functional and expressive. I do think that we can only discuss this to a point, eventually the idea of accuracy will come up and I think it is difficult to determine what was accuracy to these early people?, and even if accuracy was something they thought of or were aware of. This idea ties into our discussion of language and if language changes perception. On this topic I do not know, what I do know is that the cave paintings to me seem like some sort message, displayed in an artistic manner.


  1. I like your question about whether or not something can be considered art depending on whether the perceiver understands it. I too also like the art metaphor with the cat. When I read that part I had to re-read it, but it made surprising sense.

  2. Like you, I think that the metaphor of a cat illustrates the nature of art very well. I'd like to expand on that idea, though, with an anecdote of mine:

    I have a cat very similar to the one described in the book. She loves interaction but only from a distance. Most of the time she will follow you around the house just out of arm's reach, but sometimes if you're just sitting around she will wander off to another room. Once she's in the other room she will call for you in the cutest meow possible, and if that doesn't work it becomes an "I'm-about-to-die" meow, so eventually you will get up and come to her-- even if its just to check that she's not seriously hurt. Once you get there she'll remain out of arm's reach again and walk fancy against some walls and roll over on her tummy to look cute. I mean, she calls to you to come look/interact with her but when you answer, she remains elusive.

    In a way I think that we can extend the cat metaphor from this: art begs to be looked at; it calls to you. Otherwise, what are the gilded frames, the museum walls, the movies posters, etc. for? A requirement for art is that it is interacted with, and perhaps for this purpose it tries very hard to catch your eye in some way, shape, or form. Just an idea. (o:

  3. Perhaps the "art is a cat" comment is also a reference to how hard it is to pin down a definition of art since it continues to expand and change as it responds to our changing culture.