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You may be right. Some people may confuse visual stimulation with art. But their doing so is not what I've been talking about, and it's not what I experience. When I look at abstract art that I like, it's not an issue of my "trying to make sense" of a "riot" of shapes and colors, but of enjoying the emotional expressiveness of forms and color relationships, of proportion and composition, much in the same way that Rand said she enjoyed musical compositions.

The same argument could be made about music by people who don't respond to it emotionally. I've known several people who think that most operatic works, for example, are nothing more than meaningless patterns of sounds (some pretty, and some shrill and annoying). Would you agree with them if they were to say that people who claim to find deep meaning in such music are confusing mere aural stimulation with art?

In fact, was it your intention to imply that music isn't art and that people who think it is are confusing art with the sensation of trying to make sense of meaningless aural stimulation? If so, I think that some of Rand's comments could be used to support such a position, such as her statement, "When music induces an emotional state without external object, his subconscious suggests an internal one," or that the experience of music is "induced by deliberately suspending one's conscious thoughts and surrendering to the guidance of one's emotions."

J

You really need to relax. Your emotionalism is getting in the way of understanding what I wrote. I said some people, if you are not one of those people then disregard.

Because I find nothing of the artist in blobs or scribbles of paint on a canvas I said so. Your overly emotional defence of your opinion is not going to change my opinion.

I said nothing about music and although I really don't enjoy opera I'm sure I would if I knew the story or in some cases could understand the language. I do admire the skill of opera singers though. Put the best Pop singer beside a good tenor

to sing a duet and listen to the difference in tone pitch and depth.

Conversely put most modern art up beside a Renoir and the skill of Renoir makes the difference in the two stark.

Do you think Rand would say the same thing about thrash metal? Her reference to music inducing an emotional state without external object presupposes that the music is worth listening to.

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Why did Ayn Rand believe that certain types of modern art, certain types of modern dance, certain types of modern music have a disintegrating effect on consciousness? Why is integration/“dis”inte

No, she didn't "identify" anyone's psychology. A person would have to actually meet and get to know another person in order to identify his psychology. She merely psychologized about people who like a

Rand's recognition that there is not an objective "conceptual language of music" is the recognition that music does not present objectively identifiable, intelligible subjects and meanings, as is her

I use the term "as much meaning" because abstract art is often dismissed by certain Objectivists as allegedly conveying no meaning, or at least not enough meaning to qualify as art, while, at the same time, music is accepted as a valid art form despite the fact that the same Objectivists can't identify anything more specific in music than others can identify in abstract art (at least not while avoiding "outside considerations" such as titles, librettos or other means of gaining knowledge of a composer's intentions).

The "meaning" one gets is entirely irrelevant to what art is. This is why I would buy a Mondrian piece but not call it art. I truly like balanced and calculated placement of color to produce a particular aesthetic effect. I can get emotional meaning from a rainstorm, but that does not mean a rainstorm is art. The question is, is there any meaning as far as a metaphysical value judgment is concerned? As I was trying to explain before, "abstract art" is too broad a term to use when you're questioning if certain pieces of work should be considered art. Kandinsky and Pollock are so different that I honestly hate categorizing them *both* as abstract art. If your point is simply that some people do get meaning out of the works of painters you mentioned, then I agree with you.

It doesn't? Rand's theory of music depends on getting emotion out of it. Objectivism holds that emotion is music's means. Emotions are the things that are allegedly being "re-created" in music. Finding meaning in music has everything to do with getting emotion out of it.

I should re-read I think the 3rd essay where music is discussed, but I should be able to give an answer here. In music it is a recreation of reality as sound, emotion cannot be a part of reality that can be recreated. Emotion is only an aspect of reality to the extent that it is "felt". Emotions don't exist the way sound and light waves do, which both can be recreated. An emotion cannot be directly created, it entirely depends upon an evaluation of something. In art, this would mean an evaluation of something that had been recreated. Feeling or not feeling an emotion is not sufficient for something to be art, though. If Rand specifically claimed that emotions are the things being recreated in music, please point it out.

And sandwiches could be art according to Objectivism if we just assert with absolute certainty that one day someone will discover an objective conceptual language of the culinary arts.

Sandwiches as such, definitely not. This is assuming we're talking about things like two foot long subs, not sandwiches used as a medium for a sculpture. I do wonder if it could be possible to convey a metaphysical value judgment through taste, though.

Edited by Eiuol
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This conversation will continue when you decide to share that alleged meaning. Until then, any challenge to the idea that abstract art is meaningless is laughable.

Here are scans of two abstract paintings that I've occasionally posted and discussed in other online forums:

369315155_6fca71f322_o.jpg

369315152_66ac0e08b7_o.jpg

The first gives me the feeling of energy, determination and action. It's meaning is that mankind should be strong and bold, and pursue his passions. The specific angularity and proportions of the shapes is what conveys motion and rising to me, the dramatic contrasts and bold colors suggest passion, heat, pressure and struggle, and the bulk of the forms and the roughness of the textures give me the feeling of strength and rugged durability. I see it as a very physically masculine painting. It's extroverted, dominant, serious and aggressive. It's like Atlas pushing upward.

The second image gives me the feeling of serenity. It's meaning is that peace and gentleness are important human qualities. The colors are subdued and calming. There is practically no drama or contrast -- the forms are delicate and faint, and they convey a soothing gentleness, playfulness and weightlessness. The image is like a visual whisper. I see it as a very physically feminine painting. It's withdrawn and introverted, and anything but aggressive. It's like a mother caressing a child.

J

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If your point is simply that some people do get meaning out of the works of painters you mentioned, then I agree with you.

No, my point isn't merely that some people get meaning out of the works of painters that I mentioned, but that they get as much meaning as Rand felt that she got out of music -- meaning on a "metaphysically" significant level. The point is that it is art to them, just as music was to Rand.

If Rand specifically claimed that emotions are the things being recreated in music, please point it out.

I think you're right -- apparently I went a little beyond the evidence in suggesting that Objectivism holds that emotions are being "re-created" in music. Rand's emphasis on emotions in music, and her statements that music doesn't re-create via the conveyance of existential phenomena, led me to assume that emotions would be the only thing left for her to claim as the things being re-created. That and I've heard other Objectivists claiming that emotions are what music re-creates. But I shouldn't allow my assumptions and other Objectivists' opinions to taint my impression of Objectivism.

So, what are we left with then? Apparently Rand offered no explanation of what music allegedly "re-creates," but left it up to future researchers to discover. But, since elsewhere she stated that it was "vicious" to equate a "potential" with an "actual," I have to conclude that until those future researchers actually discover that music is indeed "re-creating" something, and they specifically identify what it is, and demonstrate that they can reliably and objectively identify it even in music that they personally dislike or don't respond to emotionally, then music is only currently a potential art form according to Objectivism.

Some people (Kamhi & Torres, Bissell, etc.) have suggested that what music "re-creates" is the effects of vocal expression or human action, and I think there's at least some merit to their views in regard to at least some music. But then again, there's even more merit to similar views involving abstract visual art: it "re-creates" human motions, gestures, personality traits and various other aspects and characteristics of reality. In fact, the shift from realism to abstraction in the history of visual art was clearly the act of isolating what the artists thought were the essential characteristics of expression and eliminating the non-essentials. If an artist wished to express the feeling of the grace of a woman walking, for example, he might recognize that her form was irrelevant to the image, and that only the path tracing her motion needed to be shown.

So, essentially, abstract visual art is currently at a state of being much more easily objectively explainable than music is, and the history of its development and creation is much more closely tied to mimicking or isolating identifiable aspects of reality than music is. I think that if we remove emotional bias from the equation -- if we don't use Rand's emotional responses, or lack thereof, as the basis for determining what is or is not art -- then music should properly not currently be considered an art form according to Rand's definition and criteria, and abstract visual art should.

I do wonder if it could be possible to convey a metaphysical value judgment through taste, though.

I think that the sense of taste is as valid as any other sense, and that some preparations of food can rise to the level of art.

J

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Conversely put most modern art up beside a Renoir and the skill of Renoir makes the difference in the two stark.

I agree, but the same could be said of putting a photorealist's work next to a Renoir. It would show that there's quite a stark difference between the level of skill that the photorealist displayed and that which Renoir lacked, but obviously the enjoyment of great technical skill is not what art is about for most people -- Renoir's art can be considered greater than a photorealist's.

J

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The first gives me the feeling of energy, determination and action. It's meaning is that mankind should be strong and bold, and pursue his passions. The specific angularity and proportions of the shapes is what conveys motion and rising to me, the dramatic contrasts and bold colors suggest passion, heat, pressure and struggle, and the bulk of the forms and the roughness of the textures give me the feeling of strength and rugged durability. I see it as a very physically masculine painting. It's extroverted, dominant, serious and aggressive. It's like Atlas pushing upward.

The second image gives me the feeling of serenity. It's meaning is that peace and gentleness are important human qualities. The colors are subdued and calming. There is practically no drama or contrast -- the forms are delicate and faint, and they convey a soothing gentleness, playfulness and weightlessness. The image is like a visual whisper. I see it as a very physically feminine painting. It's withdrawn and introverted, and anything but aggressive. It's like a mother caressing a child.

J

The first painting looks like a kitchen tile floor to me. Its splashy color palette and angular lines evoke a mental image to me of the "futuristic" design style employed in the 60s, and I associate it with a "modernized" house where technology is able to save time and energy for the housewife. The colors are playful and make me think of children. So what this painting evokes for me is 1960s on-the-go mothering.

The second painting is very cold and sparse, and the wavy lines make me think of readings on an instrument panel of some kind. It's as if some scientists are in a lab measuring a phenomenon in their clean white lab coats and everything is very clinical. In keeping with the 60s-esque style I see in this painting of course all the scientists are going to be men with cropped hair and spectacles, and I feel like it could be used as the first panel of a "careers in science!" educational video.

I'm not trying to be contrary here, but is my interpretation any less valid than yours? I'm not completely making this up. I really do get this from these paintings much more so than your interpretation. I never would have seen these pictures the same way you do in a million years (not that anything is wrong with that).

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I'm not trying to be contrary here, but is my interpretation any less valid than yours?

No, I don't think that your interpretations are less valid than mine. Nor do I think that your interpretations, or someone else's lack of interpretations, invalidates my or anyone else's responses to the paintings, or the meanings that we get from them.

I'm not completely making this up. I really do get this from these paintings much more so than your interpretation. I never would have seen these pictures the same way you do in a million years (not that anything is wrong with that).

And I think that you're just as unlikely to get the same things out of any work of music that I do, or that Rand did.

J

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No, I don't think that your interpretations are less valid than mine. Nor do I think that your interpretations, or someone else's lack of interpretations, invalidates my or anyone else's responses to the paintings, or the meanings that we get from them.

And I think that you're just as unlikely to get the same things out of any work of music that I do, or that Rand did.

J

My point is, don't you think it says something about a piece when exactly opposite interpretations of that piece are both equally valid? I think, to me, this is the crux of the "non-objectivity" label when applied to art.

I am not much for a visual art person, unless you count my expansive geeky love for all forms of comic media and animation. So I don't know too much about paintings as such and I don't spend a whole lot of time looking at them (in fact I spend far more time listening to music). But the point I suppose I'm trying to make is this: can't you think of some forms of art where exactly opposite interpretations are NOT equally valid? Take a book, which would fall into Rand's definition of art as literature. Let's take a well-known book like Catcher in the Rye. There are many interpretations we could make of this book, but there is absolutely no textual evidence to support the conclusion that Holden Caulfield is a happy, well-adjusted and functional kid who is getting along just fine in life. There is no textual evidence to support that it is all a fantasy in the mind of his dead brother Allie, who is not really dead at all and is picturing the pain his older brother would be in if he was to die. In other words, some interpretations are CLEARLY not supported by the actual work itself. I think you could even say this with music. Would anyone seriously argue that "Black" by Pearl Jam is a cheerful, lively tune? For anyone not familiar with "Black", let's just say it lays on the E minor chord pretty thick and here are some of the lyrics:

I take a walk outside, I'm surrounded by some kids at play

I can hear their laughter, so why do I sear

And twisted thoughts they spin round my head, I'm spinning

How quick the sun can drop away

And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass

Of what was everything?

All the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything

Can you say that there are any interpretations of these two abstract paintings which are clearly unsupported by those paintings, other than just silly things like saying that blue is actually yellow?

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My point is, don't you think it says something about a piece when exactly opposite interpretations of that piece are both equally valid? I think, to me, this is the crux of the "non-objectivity" label when applied to art.

Are you under the impression that it is uncommon for people to have wildly differing interpretations of art, including literature?

...But the point I suppose I'm trying to make is this: can't you think of some forms of art where exactly opposite interpretations are NOT equally valid?...Can you say that there are any interpretations of these two abstract paintings which are clearly unsupported by those paintings, other than just silly things like saying that blue is actually yellow?

Right, I think that clearly there are interpretations of works of art that are not supported by the content of the art, but I also think that, much more often than not, different interpretations are supported by the content. And that's true of Rand's art as well. See here for a recent discussion on the morality of Howard Roark's actions. I think that people who interpret Roark as ultimately behaving irrationally and not in accordance with Objectivism have legitimate grounds for their interpretations. The fact that they place more importance on his lack of ethical integrity, where I (and perhaps you?) place more importance on his aesthetic integrity, is not an issue of anyone deviating from the content of the art.

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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I have a friend who’s an artist and he’s some times taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say, "look how beautiful it is," and I’ll agree, I think. And he says, "you see, I as an artist can see how beautiful this is, but you as a scientist, oh, take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing. [...] I see much more about the flower that he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside which also have a beauty. I mean, it’s not just beauty at this dimension of one centimeter: there is also beauty at a smaller dimension, the inner structure…also the processes. [...] It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts." which also have a beauty. I mean, it’s not just beauty at this dimension of one centimeter: there is also beauty at a smaller dimension, the inner structure…also the processes. [...] It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.

The artist uses paint rather than microscopes to translate the flower into his work. The artists work is to preserve the flowers visual presence at the height of bloom. I agree that the scientific has its beauty as well.

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I disagree. As I see it, we have a choice: we can either be sticklers and strictly adhere to Rand's requirement of objectively identifiable, intelligible subjects and meanings in art, or we can follow her lead in the opposite direction and grant exceptions for the non-objective art forms that we like. Personally, I prefer the latter.

So the choice is either dogma or disagreement with her viewpoint? This is a common false dichotomy which leaves no option for rational agreement with her viewpoint stemming from understanding it.

See, the problem is that if we opt to be sticklers, then music should also not be considered a valid art form under Rand's criteria, since it is no more objectively meaningful than abstract paintings.

As Rand said, music "cannot tell a story, it cannot deal with concretes, it cannot convey a specific existential phenomenon, such as a peaceful countryside or a stormy sea...even concepts which, intellectually, belong to a complex level of abstraction, such as 'peace,' 'revolution,' 'religion,' are too specific, too concrete to be expressed in music."

She also said that "until a conceptual vocabulary is discovered and defined, no objectively valid criterion of esthetic judgment is possible in the field of music," and, therefore, that our musical tastes and judgments must be treated as a "subjective matter."

Denying that music is art can only come as a result of having no inductive understanding of what art is. It's like saying "until we can understand what specific genes evolved to get one species from another, we will deny any evidence that evolution is real. :)

The characteristics of art is that it tells something about the nature of man and of the world, about what kind of entity man is, what kind of world man lives in. It communicates abstractions though physically perceivable things like vocal vibrations, a painting, physical movements (in dance) and so on.

If something does not do that - it is not art. Not because "Rand said so" - but because this is the essence of art. If you lose sight of this common denominator you are left with no concept of art at all and then all you can have as a definition is "well, art is something with a frame, that you hang on a wall and it has colors and shapes, or it is a bunch of people moving while standing on a stage, or it is sounds which someone plays on the radio and it takes roughly 5 minutes and the broadcaster says it is music". Well, good luck with that! But I'll tell you, it is this kind of distinction of what art "is" that belong with a "stickler's" mind.

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So the choice is either dogma or disagreement with her viewpoint? This is a common false dichotomy which leaves no option for rational agreement with her viewpoint stemming from understanding it.

Rand didn't have a single "viewpoint" about art. She had contradictory viewpoints. So the question is, which viewpoint is the more rational one? To resolve her contradictions, one must either throw out a bunch of art forms, or revise her definition and criteria. I'm in favor of the latter.

Denying that music is art can only come as a result of having no inductive understanding of what art is. It's like saying "until we can understand what specific genes evolved to get one species from another, we will deny any evidence that evolution is real."

Personally, I don't deny that music is art, not do I believe that we should deny that architecture, dance or abstract visual art are art, at least not according to my criteria. My point is that I think its important to be consistent and coherent. If a person wants to require mimesis and objective intelligibility in art, that's fine, but then music, architecture, dance and abstract visual art are not art by her criteria.

The characteristics of art is that it tells something about the nature of man and of the world, about what kind of entity man is, what kind of world man lives in. It communicates abstractions though physically perceivable things like vocal vibrations, a painting, physical movements (in dance) and so on.

What do you mean by "communicate"? If you mean to objectively convey specific information as it is intended to be understood, then music does not communicate, and Rand recognized that fact. That people feel emotions while listening to music does not mean that it has objectively communicated.

If something does not do that - it is not art.

Well, since you think that music is art, then I can only assume that you must agree that abstract visual art is also art, since it can "communicate" as much to me and millions of others as music did to Rand.

What all of this really comes down to is that I think that Objectivists who are interested in aesthetic theory should decide what is more important to them, hating abstract visual art so much that they're willing to employ double standards in order to deny that it's a valid art form, or being rational and consistent. Either you accept all art forms which lack an objective "conceptual vocabulary," including music, dance, architecture and abstract visual art, etc., or you reject all of them. If you accept your personal emotional responses to a non-objective art form like music as valid grounds on which to classify it as art, then others' emotional responses to other non-objective art forms are also valid grounds. If music is art because Rand asserted that in the future someone will discover an objective conceptual vocabulary of music, then the art forms that she rejected are also art because I am asserting that in the future someone will discover objective conceptual vocabularies that apply to them.

Not because "Rand said so" - but because this is the essence of art.

But abstract visual art was rejected by Rand because she "said so." She was bored by it, she didn't feel anything while looking at it, and she found no meaning in it, and she ignored the fact that others do feel something and get meaning out of it.

If you lose sight of this common denominator you are left with no concept of art at all and then all you can have as a definition is "well, art is something with a frame, that you hang on a wall and it has colors and shapes, or it is a bunch of people moving while standing on a stage, or it is sounds which someone plays on the radio and it takes roughly 5 minutes and the broadcaster says it is music". Well, good luck with that! But I'll tell you, it is this kind of distinction of what art "is" that belong with a "stickler's" mind.

I think you need to make up your mind. In the paragraph above, you seem to be saying that definitions are very important, and that without them, words don't mean anything. But then when I point out that music, architecture and dance don't fit Rand's definition of art, suddenly the idea of sticking to definitions is not important, or we don't need to consider revising or refining the definition in the name of consistency and coherence. Suddenly its okay to live with contradictions, double standards and imprecise definitions.

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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What do you mean by "communicate"? If you mean to objectively convey specific information as it is intended to be understood, then music does not communicate, and Rand recognized that fact. That people feel emotions while listening to music does not mean that it has objectively communicated.

Ayn Rand's view, as I understand it, is that music objectively communicates specific emotions - and those emotions, in turn, are tied to concepts, ideas and a story in the listener's mind. She said that the emotion communicated may be experienced as pleasant or unpleasant depending on the listener's sense of life.

The part which requires further establishment is the physiology of the brain in translating certain sounds and combination of sounds into specific emotions. However, even without this understanding it is still visible that music does communicate certain emotions that correspond to a certain sense of life - a certain view of man and man's place in the world.

Trans music for example, communicates that the world is a big, scary place, alien to man's existence and unknowable to man. It communicates a state of mind of someone under the influence of hallucination drugs - a feeling of being lost in a vast, strange world.

Now, no one has the understanding in what way that combination of sounds triggers the emotion of estrangement and loss of control, but denying that it does is just going against what IS available for us to perceive.

IMO facial expressions are the same. People may interpret them differently - and there is no study to show which combination of muscles communicates what emotion, however, one would have to be some kind of emotional retard not to be able to identify a joyous smile contrasted with a tragic face.

Well, since you think that music is art, then I can only assume that you must agree that abstract visual art is also art, since it can "communicate" as much to me and millions of others as music did to Rand.

The only communication going on is a wishful one or one of an indoctrinated mind, trained to strain itself to see meaning where there is none. One can only extract meaning from a blob of paint if one is engaging in self-deception (either intentionally, or unknowingly, as a result of accepting modern philosophy).

I have a question for you though. Could you explain what criteria you use to determine what is art and what is not?

Why, for example, do you call sculpture and dancing art - what do they have in common to deserve being put under the same category?

Edited by ifatart
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IMO facial expressions are the same. People may interpret them differently - and there is no study to show which combination of muscles communicates what emotion, however, one would have to be some kind of emotional retard not to be able to identify a joyous smile contrasted with a tragic face.

And I think that one would have to be something along the lines of what you call an "emotional retard" to claim to be able to recognize all sorts of emotional expressiveness and meaning in the abstract forms, textures and proportions of architecture, and then turn around and claim that no such emotion and meaning can be conveyed in exactly the same forms, textures and proportions when the utilitarian function is removed. I also think that one would have to be rather mentally incompetent to not see the rather obvious expressive characteristics in the two abstract paintings in my post #28 above, especially after I've very objectively pointed them out and explained them.

The only communication going on is a wishful one or one of an indoctrinated mind, trained to strain itself to see meaning where there is none. One can only extract meaning from a blob of paint if one is engaging in self-deception (either intentionally, or unknowingly, as a result of accepting modern philosophy).

I see. As was true on this thread, you're still being smugly presumptuous and telling others what we do or do not experience when looking at art, simply based on what you've experienced or failed to experience. If people feel emotions from a medium which stimulates no emotions in Ifat, then, according to Ifat, those people are lying or deceiving themselves. Ifat's limits are the universal limits of mankind.

And your presumptuousness isn't limited to your lack of response to abstract art (or to what you erroneously think is abstract art). You exhibited it in this post as well by not only telling me that I didn't know what another poster meant by "melted" since you didn't know what she meant, but also by assuming that my posting a tutorial on perspective was just "some explanation" that I had "come up with" to "justify an opinion." In other words, since you have basically no understanding of perspective, you didn't think that proper perspective was important in visual art, and you didn't think that others could see perspective errors that you couldn't see. Apparently to you, your limits of knowledge and experience are the limits that all others share.

I have a question for you though. Could you explain what criteria you use to determine what is art and what is not?

I generally use the same criteria that you do, and that Rand did, with the exception that I'm not solipsistic about it, by which I mean that, along with my own emotional responses to art, I accept yours and Rand's as real and as valid, even though I may not always share them in specific cases, and I accept everyone else's emotional responses as well. When someone says that a work of art made them feel strong emotions, and that it has deep meaning to them, I don't smugly inform them that, since I don't experience the same things in those works of art, their minds have been indoctrinated and they are deceiving themselves.

J

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Is the work of M.C. Escher art? And if it is art, is it objective or non-objective.

On this thread we've been talking about the means through which art is presented as opposed to the content, so I'd say that, by what I take to be Rand's meaning of "objective," Esher's work is art, and it's "objective" in its means, since most of it presents identifiable likenesses of things from reality.

As for content, I think it's a toss-up as to whether or not Rand would have judged his work to be objective or non-objective. I think her opinion would have depended on how she interpreted his art and whether or not she liked it. She might have seen it as subjective, irrational nonsense, or, if she liked it and was in a good mood, she might have seen it as playful expressions based on geometry and optical illusion, and praised it as representing imagination and the deceptiveness of shallow appearances.

J

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How about you explain it to me in your own words? What do sculptures, music, paintings, dancing all have in common to be called "art"? Please don't quote Ayn Rand.

What do they have in common? They are all means of artistic expression -- they express, conceptualize, symbolize, represent or evoke emotions and ideas that their creators felt were in some way important and worth experiencing.

There are some minor exceptions, but generally I think Rand's idea that art is a "re-creation of reality" gets to the core of art's means, only I think she could have chosen a more precise term, or one that doesn't need as much explanation. I think a better way of putting it would be that art simulates aspects of reality. A few art forms, such as music, architecture and abstract paintings and sculptures, simulate aspects of reality much more indirectly than literature or figurative paintings and sculptures do, and claiming that they "re-create reality" doesn't sound quite accurate. It implies an expectation of a level of specificity of mimesis that's frankly unrealistic for the art forms that are more about evoking general moods than conveying specific, detailed information (like literature can).

I'm a magician - I can make people disappear! :D

That, or you happened to post your last message while I was traveling and busy with more important things. In the future, before congratulating yourself on how devastatingly brilliant your comments must have been in order to drive me to awed silence, you might want to keep in mind that I'm often busy, and I'm sometimes absent from online forums for days or weeks at a time.

J

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What do they have in common? They are all means of artistic expression -- they express, conceptualize, symbolize, represent or evoke emotions and ideas that their creators felt were in some way important and worth experiencing.

There are some minor exceptions, but generally I think Rand's idea that art is a "re-creation of reality" gets to the core of art's means, only I think she could have chosen a more precise term, or one that doesn't need as much explanation. I think a better way of putting it would be that art simulates aspects of reality.

Video games rule, but why are you describing them in this thread?

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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Video games rule, but why are you describing them in this thread?

Your question is just as apt of "a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments."

Were you under the impression that interactive "selective re-creations of reality" can't be created "according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments"? Interactivity doesn't prevent something from being art, at least not according to anything that I'm aware of in the Objectivist Esthetics. In fact, Rand's play, Night of January 16th, was interactive. It had different endings depending on how jury members (who were chosen from the audience) voted.

J

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What do they have in common? They are all means of artistic expression -- they express, conceptualize, symbolize, represent or evoke emotions and ideas that their creators felt were in some way important and worth experiencing.

First, this is not the concept of art Ayn Rand is describing. This is a subjective concept, saying, essentially, that everything someone happens to feel something about is art.

Secondly, this description does not work because it is too broad - there are many thing that people do that express their feelings, but nobody classifies them as art. Like decoration on bicycle or a ring with a sentimental value or just kicking someone - that's an expression of feelings as well but it's not dancing.

Thirdly, "important and worth experiencing" is subjective as well - important to whom? What makes something worth experiencing?

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First, this is not the concept of art Ayn Rand is describing.

Yes, it is.

This is a subjective concept, saying, essentially, that everything someone happens to feel something about is art.

No. When you quoted me above, you left out the next paragraph that I had written. If you'd bother to read it, you'd see that I was indeed talking about the same thing that Rand was describing. I was very clear in focusing on the idea of art being a simulation. If art is a simulation, then non-simulations would not quality as art, and therefore, contrary to what you suggest, I cannot be saying that "everything someone happens to feel something about is art."

Secondly, this description does not work because it is too broad - there are many thing that people do that express their feelings, but nobody classifies them as art.

Who do you mean by "nobody"? You mean you, don't you? There are a lot of things that people other than you classify as art, so let's not pretend that you speak for everyone, or that the majority of people share your views. Your opinions about what is or is not art are actually in the minority, and a very small minority at that.

Like decoration on bicycle or a ring with a sentimental value or just kicking someone - that's an expression of feelings as well but it's not dancing.

A decoration on a bicycle or a ring might be art. "Just kicking someone" is not a means of artistic expression or simulation.

Thirdly, "important and worth experiencing" is subjective as well - important to whom? What makes something worth experiencing?

So apparently you're saying that Rand's notion of metaphysical value-judgments, which, in her own words, pertain to what an artist feels is important and worthy of attention or consideration, is subjective? And that her definition of art is therefore subjective?

J

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  • 10 months later...

I'd like to add a quote by Ayn Rand regarding what is and is not art, to demonstrate why Jonathan's view has nothing to do with Objectivism (or with reality), and to also provide an answer to those who claimed that any "selective recreation of reality" (such as a smiley icon) is art:

Some sort of philosophical meaning, however, some implicit view of of life, is a necessary element of a work of art.

The quote is a small part of a huge discussion which supports and illustrates this point.

The core of the book describes what art is and what is its function - which is - to concretize man's widest abstractions and allow him to contemplate them outside his mind by experiencing them in some physical, concrete form.

So while a hamburger is a selective creation of materials, as many other things, a hamburger (to some people's amazement, perhaps) is not art.

Furthermore, Ayn Rand identifies the psychology of those who like abstract paintings. She explains that the style of an artist reveals his method of cognitive functioning with which he feels at home. She explains that clarity of the subject in art is a demonstration of a mind that functions in focus and with cognitive effort, while those works which are unfocused and unclear are evidence of an unfocused mind. She says that modern art is an attempt to escape from identity and to get away with faking reality.

I agree. It's exactly what it is.

__________

A while back I've made several great posts analyzing paintings and explaining what metaphysical abstractions they communicate by analyzing the subject and style of rendering. It would be far better to read those than to just quote Ayn Rand. However, I can't find those posts anymore (seems like all content before a certain time is no longer available?), so the above is all I can offer now.

However, I understand what art is very well. I understand what Ayn Rand is describing in full and I can demonstrate it by analyzing works of art. In other words, my knowledge of the subject is reality-based, not just book based. It would take time and effort I don't have, but I may start a blog about it.

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Furthermore, Ayn Rand identifies the psychology of those who like abstract paintings.

No, she didn't "identify" anyone's psychology. A person would have to actually meet and get to know another person in order to identify his psychology. She merely psychologized about people who like abstract paintings.

She explains that the style of an artist reveals his method of cognitive functioning with which he feels at home. She explains that clarity of the subject in art is a demonstration of a mind that functions in focus and with cognitive effort, while those works which are unfocused and unclear are evidence of an unfocused mind.

I like many abstract paintings, but, as an artist, I usually paint with a level of realist clarity that would qualify me as having one of the most focused minds in the world according to Rand's criteria. But I also sometimes create abstract paintings. So, using the childish method of pychologizing that you're using, I suppose that I'm a person of "mixed mindsets"? I apparently go from absolute clarity of mind to absolute lack of clarity of mind (despite the fact that I don't) because you say so, and because you know my mind better than I do based on my tastes in art? And you expect to be taken seriously?

She says that modern art is an attempt to escape from identity and to get away with faking reality.

I think she was coming from the same sort of limitations of knowledge that you were coming from when you thought that I was faking reality by explaining the perspective errors in a realist painting. When it comes to my being able to see things that you don't, it doesn't appear to matter if a painting is abstract or realist: If I see and understand anything that you can't, why, I must be making things up or faking reality!

It seems that it's very upsetting to certain people that others have knowledge that they don't, and that others have the ability to experience and understand things that they can't. Rather than recognize and accept their own limitations, they lash out at those who aren't so limited, and they claim that the knowledge that is being imparted is an act of faking reality. Pitiful.

J

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