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Kant and Aesthetics

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Thomas M. Miovas Jr.
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Again, it depends upon what one's objectives are, but here are a few: Sensitivity to edges (lost and found edges), which is particularly important in still-life and figure work.

You imagine that you can identify an artist's sensitivity to edges by looking at scans that are 4 inches wide at a resolution of 72 pixels per inch? Heh.

And you believe that only artists who use photo reference lack sensitivity to edges? Double-heh.

Sensitivity to color -- this goes across the board, but is especially noticeable in landscape work and in flesh tones (although in the case of the latter, many artists in the past employed conventions as opposed to actual color. The impressionists of the late 1800s were concerned with actual color).

The above is an example of the atelier mindset that I've been laughing at. Avila just can't comprehend that I would choose to select my own range of values and colors rather than recording the actual colors that I see in reality. After all, there are rules to be followed! To Avila, the artist's job is to be moved by the beauty of things in reality and to then try to accurately record that beauty. Nothing more! Dare not warm up a scene, or cool it down!!! If you do, you will be disobeying the established rules of art!

Oh, by the way, it should be noted that the images of mine that I've posted here may no longer be completely accurate color-wise. I posted them years ago, and I see now that the color profiles that they initially contained are no longer embedded. They'd look pretty accurate on anyone's monitor which has been calibrated to press-quality print production, but other than that it's hit and miss. (In other words, Avila, if you know as little about monitor calibration as you do about photography, perhaps you're seeing a very distorted representation of what my work looks like.)

Sensitivity to values -- one of the characteristics of artists who rely too heavily upon photography is the flattening out of values, with a preponderance of mid-tones.

But, again, that opinion is based on your false assumption that artists who rely on photography must have your level of knowledge of photography. And it is also based on the unwarranted assumption that you know what the lighting in a room actually looked like in reality, without having been there, as well as what it would look like on film if shot by a novice like you.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of my painting "Pensive" next to a version of it that I just altered in Photoshop so that it has the values and colors that would be seen in a photograph taken by a novice like you using a camera's default programmed metering:

6863176408_2c1b7ae011.jpg

That's what my painting would look like if I had copied it from photos taken using your level of knowledge.

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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Here's a side-by-side comparison of my painting "Pensive" next to a version of it that I just altered in Photoshop so that it has the values and colors that would be seen in a photograph taken by a novice like you using a camera's default programmed metering:

6863176408_2c1b7ae011.jpg

That's what my painting would look like if I had copied it from photos taken using your level of knowledge.

J

So, if you gentlemen don't mind, and since we have this painting for reference in our thread, I have a couple of questions regarding it:

@Jonathan: what was the process you used to compose this work? Were photographs used at all, or did you work exclusively from life (or was it something else)? Why/how did you select this particular process for this piece?

@Avila: what do you find specifically lacking in this painting, which you attribute to Jonathan's use of (or rather, reliance on) photography? What changes do you desire made, and how would those changes make this work better?

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"@Avila: what do you find specifically lacking in this painting, which you attribute to Jonathan's use of (or rather, reliance on) photography? What changes do you desire made, and how would those changes make this work better?"

DonAthos,

We have guests visiting this weekend and staying overnight, so I won't be able to answer until Sunday evening or Monday. But I would be glad to give a critique of Jonathan's piece -- I will approach it as I would any student's work, pointing out the good as well as the not so good. I think it would be best if I can compare and contrast this with artwork that has a similar theme, but is better executed. I really am a bit of a Luddite, so I doubt I can post images of the pieces I have in mind that can best illustrate the deficiences I see in Jonathan's work -- I might be reduced to posting the URL of particular images. Bear with me...

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I'm very hesitant to get back involved in this thread, as I find there are too many art skeptics on board. I would highly recommend a re-reading of The Romantic Manifesto, because Ayn Rand answers all of the questions being raised here in that one book. Since we observe existence in terms of entities, their attributes, and their actions, all of the arts must be geared towards this aspect of human cognition -- including music. Now, as Miss Rand explains, music per se does not depict particular entities, their attributes or their actions, but what does happen is that as one listens to a particular work of music (without words,just instruments) the human mind tries to "fill in the blanks" with one's memories and one's imagination. For example, when I listen to Rachmaninoff's Symphony #2, I experience a type of space epic, starting from a sunrise and a rocket standing tall and an astronaut walking towards it and climbing on board. As the music progresses, the rocket takes off, heading for the moon, and as the music plays I see him looking over the instrument board and pressing button to the rhythm of the music. To make a long story short, the final movement is him heading back to earth, entering the earth's atmosphere, with the flames of re-entry adding a sense of danger and excitement and triumphing over these with technology. So, unlike Ayn Rand's description of one's mind searching for a depiction that matches the music, my mind tends to settle on one scene or series of events -- and this is very enjoyable.

I will say that this does not happen with every type of music I listen to -- it has to match both my psycho-epistemology and my sense of life for me to get this mental effect. I listen to rock while I am driving in my car as background music, and this type of effect does not happen because I have to concentrate on the road. But when I have the time and the quiet surroundings, my mind does search for or create and entities orientation in my imagination. Likewise, there are certain music that brings up great memories for me, like Aerosmith - I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing (Armageddon), which I watched with a girlfriend and it became our theme song. Everytime I hear it, I think of her fondly, even though she rejected me in the long run and married someone else. And the other arts don't do this for me regarding memories of particular people or life events.

The point is that Ayn Rand had a very integrated understanding of the arts, so The Romantic Manifest is not about "art as it might be and ought to be" it is about art -- what is and is not art, and why. After all, she refers to Vermeer as the greatest artistic painter, even though he lived hundreds of years ago; and makes references to classical music works that are also hundreds of years old.

Regarding architecture, it is not there to depict an entity per se, but rather to make the dwellings and building suitable *to man* -- to his scale and awareness of existence -- as her descriptions of Howard Roark's architecture indicates. And no, a building is not an "abstract form."

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So, if you gentlemen don't mind, and since we have this painting for reference in our thread, I have a couple of questions regarding it:

@Jonathan: what was the process you used to compose this work? Were photographs used at all, or did you work exclusively from life (or was it something else)? Why/how did you select this particular process for this piece?

I don't like the idea of explaining how and why an artwork was created, since I think doing so has the effect of killing the art and the illusion, so I'm not going to go into to great detail. But I will say that: 1) I did not copy photographs, 2) I used three women to model for the figure at the piano, selectively choosing which features from each that I felt best served the art, and 3) the scene does not exist in reality -- it was drawn from a combination of real objects from different locations, as well as from my imagination, and was plotted out in projection perspective (using paper, a mechanical pencil and a T-square) based on detailed plan and elevation drawings that I made of the imagined scene (which, from what I've seen online of the information at ateliers' websites, as well as by looking at the art created by atelier faculty and students, is apparenly a method that is not taught at many ateliers -- instead most of the ateliers appear to teach an approach to perspective that is akin to what I learned in junior high art class in combination with the comparatively inaccurate method of sight-size and guesswork).

J

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"@Avila: what do you find specifically lacking in this painting, which you attribute to Jonathan's use of (or rather, reliance on) photography? What changes do you desire made, and how would those changes make this work better?"

DonAthos,

We have guests visiting this weekend and staying overnight, so I won't be able to answer until Sunday evening or Monday. But I would be glad to give a critique of Jonathan's piece -- I will approach it as I would any student's work, pointing out the good as well as the not so good. I think it would be best if I can compare and contrast this with artwork that has a similar theme, but is better executed. I really am a bit of a Luddite, so I doubt I can post images of the pieces I have in mind that can best illustrate the deficiences I see in Jonathan's work -- I might be reduced to posting the URL of particular images. Bear with me...

I'm looking forward to this. Will Avila finally get around to answering DonAthos' questions, or will he continue to make non-specific generalizations based on nothing more than his own lack of knowledge of photography, and his Dunning-Kruger act of trying to impose his own incompetence on me as well as the medium?

Avila, when you give your critique, please identify the standards that you'll be using to judge the art, and explain how and why you chose those standards, and why they should apply to my art.

Also, in addition to identifying which apsects of my art you think are proof of photographic copying, please identify specifically which objects have been altered. There are many which do not appear as they would in reality or in photographs. For example, which parts of woman did I make wider or thinner? Which objects did not exist in reality, but were drawn from imagination? Which of the objects had patterns in reality, and which pattern or patterns did I create from imagination in two-dimensional form and then plot onto the objects?

And, finally, since you refuse to show your own art, let's test you knowledge and abilities in another way. There is a portion of an object in my painting which intentionally deviates from proper perspective. When I was drawing out the scene, I noticed that this portion of the object, when rendered in proper perspective, was conflicting with the abstract composition of the art in its entirety, so I altered it. Anyone who has more than a junior high level understanding of perspective, or more than a sight-size/guesswork hodgepodge knowledge of perspective, would be able to identify it. Why haven't you done so already? Now that I've made you aware that it exists, please point it out, and be specific (I'd ask you to visually demonstrate that you know how to do what I'm talking about, but I'm sure that you have all sorts of excuses for not doing so).

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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I'm very hesitant to get back involved in this thread, as I find there are too many art skeptics on board. I would highly recommend a re-reading of The Romantic Manifesto, because Ayn Rand answers all of the questions being raised here in that one book.

Where does she explain how something which she says "does not re-create reality" can qualify as something which "re-creates reality," and how that is not a contradiction?

Since we observe existence in terms of entities, their attributes, and their actions, all of the arts must be geared towards this aspect of human cognition -- including music.

Finding meaning in attributes is how abstract art works. Do you not know that in the development of abstract art as an art form, attributes were abstracted from objects (and in the earliest forms of abstract art, the attributes were still quite easily identifiable), but that the same was not true of the development of music?

Now, as Miss Rand explains, music per se does not depict particular entities, their attributes or their actions, but what does happen is that as one listens to a particular work of music (without words,just instruments) the human mind tries to "fill in the blanks" with one's memories and one's imagination.

A human mind "filling in the blanks" with one's memories and imagination is what is known as subjectivity. That which is contributed by one's own consciousness is by its definition subjective. The act of "filling in the blanks" is the grounds on which Rand rejects abstract art. That has been the point of this discussion! Rand has a double standard: she accepts art forms as valid when she experiences the subjective filling in of the blanks, but asserts that others are frauds and liars when they claim to experience the filling in of the blanks in response to artworks which do nothing for her.

For example, when I listen to Rachmaninoff's Symphony #2, I experience a type of space epic, starting from a sunrise and a rocket standing tall and an astronaut walking towards it and climbing on board. As the music progresses, the rocket takes off, heading for the moon, and as the music plays I see him looking over the instrument board and pressing button to the rhythm of the music. To make a long story short, the final movement is him heading back to earth, entering the earth's atmosphere, with the flames of re-entry adding a sense of danger and excitement and triumphing over these with technology. So, unlike Ayn Rand's description of one's mind searching for a depiction that matches the music, my mind tends to settle on one scene or series of events -- and this is very enjoyable.

What you've just described is your subjective response to an abstract art form. It is not objectively contained in the music itself, but is contributed by your own consciousness. Do you not understand the difference between the objective and the subjective?

I will say that this does not happen with every type of music I listen to -- it has to match both my psycho-epistemology and my sense of life for me to get this mental effect. I listen to rock while I am driving in my car as background music, and this type of effect does not happen because I have to concentrate on the road. But when I have the time and the quiet surroundings, my mind does search for or create and entities orientation in my imagination. Likewise, there are certain music that brings up great memories for me, like Aerosmith - I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing (Armageddon), which I watched with a girlfriend and it became our theme song. Everytime I hear it, I think of her fondly, even though she rejected me in the long run and married someone else. And the other arts don't do this for me regarding memories of particular people or life events.

Again, you're describing subjective responses. I and others experience the same thing in abstract visual art. The difference between you and us is that we don't tell you that you're a fraud, a liar and a destroyer of man's proper method of cognition when you claim to experience in various art forms what we do not.

Regarding architecture, it is not there to depict an entity per se, but rather to make the dwellings and building suitable *to man* -- to his scale and awareness of existence -- as her descriptions of Howard Roark's architecture indicates. And no, a building is not an "abstract form."

In the above you're apparently confusing architecture's utilitarian function with its aesthetic function. Its utilitarian function is to make dwellings suitable to man. Its aesthetic function, on the other hand, is the same as the other arts: to be artistically expressive. In architecture's role as art (which is our only concern in this discussion), and not in its separate role as a utilitarian object, it is an abstract art form: it deals with abstract forms and relationships.

J

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I disagree with your assertions of music just conveying a subjective response. Yes, my particular version (a space epic, say) is subjective in a sense, since I supply the references to entities, but the music is what does it, not my mind apart from the music. For example, I think the final movement of Rachmaninoff's Symphony #2 conveys falling rapidly, but in a controlled manner. I think *that* is contained in the art -- the emotional projection of a combination of fear and excitement but controlled, like falling -- while my mind contributes the actual entities falling. I don't do sky diving, but I think it would be a blast to listen to that movement while sky diving. And I disagree with your assessment of "abstract art" though I realize many people like it, since I worked in picture framing galleries for about 25 years. And none of them could explain to me why they liked it. But it is difficult talking about music without actually having a playing of a piece of music in the room to point to passages and ask what are you experiencing with this bit, because we don't have the objective language for music yet. And shapes of buildings are not "abstract shapes" whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. A ball is a sphere, a ball is not an "abstract shape" it is a definite shape; just as buildings are a definite shape and do convey man's relation to existence. There is a whole difference of what is conveyed in the outside of a Gothic Cathedral versus a modern sky scraper, and this is contained in the building as understood by a rational mind.

By the way, Yaron Brook, back when he ran an Objectivist club in Texas, put together a slide and music show that was stupendously beautiful. He would play classical music and project slides of photos of paintings and his coordination between image and music was superb. Unfortunately, he couldn't record the episodes because he didn't own the rights to either the music nor the images; but it did demonstrate the objective component to music quite clearly.

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.
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For example, when I listen to Rachmaninoff's Symphony #2, I experience a type of space epic, starting from a sunrise and a rocket standing tall and an astronaut walking towards it and climbing on board. As the music progresses, the rocket takes off, heading for the moon, and as the music plays I see him looking over the instrument board and pressing button to the rhythm of the music. To make a long story short, the final movement is him heading back to earth, entering the earth's atmosphere, with the flames of re-entry adding a sense of danger and excitement and triumphing over these with technology.

That's a silly rationalization, trying to fit music into the category of "selective re-creation of reality" by bringing up subjective associations by the listener, totally unintended by the composer. Rachmaninoff did not write a selective re-creation of reality in the form of a space opera, that's your subjective association, that's the essential difference! Anyone can have memories and associations with almost any kind of stimulus, including abstract paintings, but for example also with clouds or street noise or a particular odor or taste (Proust!). So following you reasoning not only abstract paintings, but also clouds, noise and odors are examples of art.

Subjective associations are irrelevant to the enjoyment and judgment of art. So can a musical person enjoy music in its own terms, without having recourse to some accompanying story or pictures. Music is not a selective recreation of reality.

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I disagree with your assertions of music just conveying a subjective response. Yes, my particular version (a space epic, say) is subjective in a sense, since I supply the references to entities, but the music is what does it, not my mind apart from the music. For example, I think the final movement of Rachmaninoff's Symphony #2 conveys falling rapidly, but in a controlled manner. I think *that* is contained in the art -- the emotional projection of a combination of fear and excitement but controlled, like falling -- while my mind contributes the actual entities falling. I don't do sky diving, but I think it would be a blast to listen to that movement while sky diving.

I've similarly described the attributes contained in works of abstract art, and objectively explained how and why they add up to meaning and emotional responses. I've done so many times here at OO (on this thread, for example) as well as on other Objectivist websites. In contrast, I've challenged Objectivists to do the same with realist still lifes, and they've perfomed very poorly at it -- they can't find meaning in realist still lifes where I and many others can easily identify it in abstract paintings.

And I disagree with your assessment of "abstract art" though I realize many people like it, since I worked in picture framing galleries for about 25 years. And none of them could explain to me why they liked it.

Indeed, many people find it difficult to explain why they like abstract art, and what it means to them, but the same is true of the abstract art forms of architecture, music and dance, as well as many realistic art forms (as I've described above, Objectivists usually have great difficulty with still lifes -- not to mention the problems that I've identified Objectivist art lecturer Luc Travers as having with the painting of Joan of Arc).

But it is difficult talking about music without actually having a playing of a piece of music in the room to point to passages and ask what are you experiencing with this bit, because we don't have the objective language for music yet.

We're much closer to having an objective language of abstract art, as I've pointed out numerous times. Abstract art is currently much more objective than music has ever been. Kandinsky's writings on the subject made it more objective than music since its invention.

And shapes of buildings are not "abstract shapes" whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. A ball is a sphere, a ball is not an "abstract shape" it is a definite shape; just as buildings are a definite shape and do convey man's relation to existence.

Then a sphere in an abstract sculpture or painting is a definite shape. A triangle is a triangle. A square is a square. A smear is a smear. Therefore, by your own standards, the "abstract shapes" in abstract paintings are not abstract shapes, but are identifiable entities.

J

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Re-read the section of TRM that talks about music, and she clearly states that the music projects a specific emotion to the listener and the listener's mind tries to identify the particular entities or events he would have to be aware of in order to have that particular emotional reaction -- making it objective insofar as one's emotional reactions are objective (based upon one's value premises, which can be explicitly identified). Other people would still experience the excitement and enthusiasm contained in R 2nd Symp, but would have differing images because one's response to music is personal (not subjective).

As to geometric shapes in and of themselves conveying meaning (that version of "abstract art"), yes a triangle is a triangle, but to say that a triangle here and a sphere over there by itself conveys something about existence, I don't think so; not by itself. I challenge you to present one of your "abstract" geometric painting images and explain to us what it means.

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Before debating what constitutes good art (or architecture, dance, music, etc.) it is useful to understand why we would have the discussion in the first place. Meaning, what is the underpinning of the aesthetic experience?

My 25 year study of architecture has led me to understanding that aesthetics is based upon the neurological capacity to sense, at an almost pre-conceptual level, the "state of mind" of other living organisms. This is based primarly upon the structures located in the limbic system of the brain, a structure which is shared by both mammals and birds -- but not found in reptiles, fish or amphibians.

When this neurological capacity is CONSCIOUSLY directed towards non-living objects, such as architecture, music and non-representational art, we are still capable of projecting a "state of mind" on to those objects. These states of mind can be enhanced by a cross-modal association of similar traits (i.e. openness, confinement, light, dark, rough smooth, bright, cool, etc.). The associations are capable of triggering emotive responses in us every bit as real as when we respond to the emotions projected by living organisms.

Edited by New Buddha
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There is a portion of an object in my painting which intentionally deviates from proper perspective. When I was drawing out the scene, I noticed that this portion of the object, when rendered in proper perspective, was conflicting with the abstract composition of the art in its entirety, so I altered it. Anyone who has more than a junior high level understanding of perspective, or more than a sight-size/guesswork hodgepodge knowledge of perspective, would be able to identify it.

Oooh, oooh, a challenge! May I play? :)

I do not have any understanding of perspective, so this is just based on "looking for something off." My guess is hidden below:

The piano's keyboard. I suspect that it is "angled down" to provide a better look at her playing.

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Art is based upon man's conceptual capacity, not his lower brain functions. I suggest reading Miss Rand's essay in The Romantic Manifest entitled "Art and Cognition" where she shows that art is a concretization of an abstraction -- a conveyance of a concept in material form, not merely some reactive response to something like what New Buddha is talking about.

And once again, regarding architecture, in response to 13's continual evading the point, Ayn Rand clearly demonstrates that architecture done properly is a form of art due to the concepts a building can convey in its design in The Fountainhead. No, it doesn't "re-create reality", so Miss Rand put architecture in its own category, though still being art due to the fact that it can convey abstractions, concepts, thoughts about existence and man's place in it.

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Thomas, there is nothing "lower" about the emotional centers of the brain. Without the ability to read emotions (empathise) a mother (human, bird, dog, etc) could not know that her offspring is frightened, or if a predator is hungry and poses a danger - and no one could enjoy any form of art. Without those centers, a person is little more than a psychopath.

I stated above that aesthetics is "based upon" an "almost" pre-conceptual level of cognition. Yet you read into my post that it is "merely some reactive response...." This is not my position.

And yes, architecture can be appreciated on many levels. For example, Wright's Fallingwater. I can appreciate how Wright employed vertical stone as a compressive element which physically anchors the cantilevered horizontal, reinforced concrete terraces. Stone excels in compression but has little tensile strength, while steel reinforced concrete can resist tensile forces when cantilevered. This dynamic interplay of compression vs. tension and solidity vs. plasticity was further exploited by the roughness of the stone vs. the smooth, plastic nature of the concrete. The appreciation by viewers of the interplay of the many dynamic elements employed by Wright occurs at a cognitive level that many cannot put into words. And a good artist exploits this "reactive response" in the viewer. This is true in all the arts.

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Re-read the section of TRM that talks about music, and she clearly states that the music projects a specific emotion to the listener...

Rand only asserts that music projects a specific emotion. She offers no scientific proof that when deprived of what she calls "outside considerations" people experience the same emotion, or the emotion that the composer intended to communicate.

Besides, when discussing abstract art, she claimed that the mere emotions and "moods" that people claimed to experience in it were not enough to allow it to qualify as art. For consistency's sake, the same should be true of all art forms, including music.

Also, Rand stated that emotions are not tools of cognition, and that they are not a valid criterion of aesthetic judgment. Something which depends on emotion as its means, such as music (according to Rand's theory), cannot qualify as art. In other words, all of the reasons that Rand used to dismiss abstract art apply equally to music (and to dance, architecture, etc.).

...and the listener's mind tries to identify the particular entities or events he would have to be aware of in order to have that particular emotional reaction -- making it objective insofar as one's emotional reactions are objective (based upon one's value premises, which can be explicitly identified).

Ah! So your emotions (and those of people like you) are objective and therefore your emotional responses to music allow it to qualify as art? Sorry, but, no, music doesn't become objective just because you've decided to assert that you're so rational and special that even your emotions are purely objective. Heh

Other people would still experience the excitement and enthusiasm contained in R 2nd Symp, but would have differing images because one's response to music is personal (not subjective).

Yeah, that's what I thought: When your consciousness contributes content to a work of art, it's somehow "objective," but when others' consciousnesses contribute content to a different work of art (which does nothing for you emotionally), it's somehow "subjective." You're much more arbitrary and whimsical than you accuse Kant and your other enemies as being.

As to geometric shapes in and of themselves conveying meaning (that version of "abstract art"), yes a triangle is a triangle, but to say that a triangle here and a sphere over there by itself conveys something about existence, I don't think so; not by itself. I challenge you to present one of your "abstract" geometric painting images and explain to us what it means.

I've already done so. Didn't you follow the link in my last post? If I have time later today, I'll provide a link to the specific posts. Better, yet, since you probably won't follow the links, I'll directly repost the messages on this thread, and then repost them again later when you tell me that I haven't posted them.

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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And once again, regarding architecture, in response to 13's continual evading the point, Ayn Rand clearly demonstrates that architecture done properly is a form of art due to the concepts a building can convey in its design in The Fountainhead. No, it doesn't "re-create reality", so Miss Rand put architecture in its own category, though still being art due to the fact that it can convey abstractions, concepts, thoughts about existence and man's place in it.

If it's acceptable to take something which contradicts one's definition and criteria, and to put it into a special "class by itself" of entities which contradict one's definition yet somehow still qualify as conforming to the definition, I hereby employ that method and declare that birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic, egg-laying, vertebrate animals, and that rocks qualify as birds even though they are not feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic, egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Rocks are a type of bird which are in a class by themselves!

J

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Oooh, oooh, a challenge! May I play? :)

I do not have any understanding of perspective, so this is just based on "looking for something off." My guess is hidden below:

The piano's keyboard. I suspect that it is "angled down" to provide a better look at her playing.

Hi Tyler,

No, it's not the keyboard. The keyboard is the only object in the painting which has edge lines which conform to the perspective's Z axis, so it would be very obvious if it were altered.

The section that I'm talking about is more subtle than that. It doesn't have edge lines running directly to the Z axis. In order to spot the deviation, one would have to have advanced knowledge and experience in dealing with the effects of scale, elliptical angles, skewness, etc. It's the kind of thing that those who don't know how to plot projection perspective -- or those who may have taken classes on it but only temporarily learned enough to pass their classes and then never used it again, and therefore have very little experience at it -- wouldn't be able to recognize it.

J

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Hi Tyler,

No, it's not the keyboard. The keyboard is the only object in the painting which has edge lines which conform to the perspective's Z axis, so it would be very obvious if it were altered.

The section that I'm talking about is more subtle than that. It doesn't have edge lines running directly to the Z axis. In order to spot the deviation, one would have to have advanced knowledge and experience in dealing with the effects of scale, elliptical angles, skewness, etc. It's the kind of thing that those who don't know how to plot projection perspective -- or those who may have taken classes on it but only temporarily learned enough to pass their classes and then never used it again, and therefore have very little experience at it -- wouldn't be able to recognize it.

J

Lol! Well in that case, I withdraw from the challenge! :)

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13, Never mind, since your replies show that you do not comprehend what Ayn Rand was saying about music in the least bit. I, nor she,said that your emotional reaction *to the music* (such as you like it or you don't like it) makes it either art or not art. The music itself conveys the emotion, it is not an emotional reaction to the music. And she clearly states that since there is no causeless emotion in man, then the human mind seeks to identify the emotion in terms of one's value hierarchy -- i.e. what would I have to observe or do or experience in order to feel this particular emotion projected by the music?

And I didn't say that one's emotions were tools of cognition, but rather that they are objective in the sense that they can be traced back to one's value hierarchy, making that an objective (clearly identifiable) process by means of introspection.

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13, Never mind, since your replies show that you do not comprehend what Ayn Rand was saying about music in the least bit. I, nor she,said that your emotional reaction *to the music* (such as you like it or you don't like it) makes it either art or not art. The music itself conveys the emotion, it is not an emotional reaction to the music. And she clearly states that since there is no causeless emotion in man, then the human mind seeks to identify the emotion in terms of one's value hierarchy -- i.e. what would I have to observe or do or experience in order to feel this particular emotion projected by the music?

And I didn't say that one's emotions were tools of cognition, but rather that they are objective in the sense that they can be traced back to one's value hierarchy, making that an objective (clearly identifiable) process by means of introspection.

I think I understand what you're getting at, and I think that I generally agree. A certain piece of music can be "sad," not simply on account of what I feel when I listen to it, but according to its composition. And I could invent some story or other which corresponds to the emotions that the music elicits (though I don't know that I always do so, when I'm actually listening to some classical composition).

But my point of confusion/contention is this: if music operates in this manner, then why cannot abstract images operate in like manner? Just as a section of slow notes in minor key may produce a sad effect (though I do not guarantee that they always will, context depending), couldn't... I don't know, but certain shades of deep blue, via smears of paint in some deliberate manner, be relied upon to produce a like effect?

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13, Never mind, since your replies show that you do not comprehend what Ayn Rand was saying about music in the least bit. I, nor she,said that your emotional reaction *to the music* (such as you like it or you don't like it) makes it either art or not art.

I did not say that Rand's position was that liking or not liking a work of music is what makes it art. Rather, my point was that the emotional content that you may believe is contained in the music cannot be shown to be contained in the music. As Rand herself said:

"In listening to music, a man cannot tell clearly, neither to himself nor to others- and, therefore, cannot prove- which aspects of his experience are inherent in the music and which are contributed by his own consciousness."

The same is true of the abstract art forms of architecture, dance and abstract painting and sculpture.

The music itself conveys the emotion, it is not an emotional reaction to the music. And she clearly states that since there is no causeless emotion in man, then the human mind seeks to identify the emotion in terms of one's value hierarchy -- i.e. what would I have to observe or do or experience in order to feel this particular emotion projected by the music?

Again, Rand said that, "In listening to music, a man cannot tell clearly, neither to himself nor to others- and, therefore, cannot prove- which aspects of his experience are inherent in the music and which are contributed by his own consciousness."

And I didn't say that one's emotions were tools of cognition, but rather that they are objective in the sense that they can be traced back to one's value hierarchy, making that an objective (clearly identifiable) process by means of introspection.

Then the emotions that people (other than you) experience when looking at abstract art are objective in the sense that they can be traced back to their value hierarchy, making that an objective (clearly identifiable) process by means of introspection. As I've said many times, your position on abstract art is based on nothing but that fact that it doesn't convey emotions to you. The fact that it conveys no emotions to you is irrelevant. Your inability to get emotion and meaning out of abstract art is not the universal standard for determining what is or is not art. And the same is true when a piece of music which doesn't succeed in conveying emotion to you. That piece of music doesn't cease to be art for all of mankind just because you get nothing out of it.

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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From The Romantic Manifesto:

Music conveys the same categories of emotions to listeners who hold widely divergent views of life. As a rule, men agree on whether a given piece of music is gay or sad or violent or solemn. But even though, in a generalized way, they experience the same emotions in response to the same music, there are radical differences in how they appraise this experience—i.e., how they feel about these feelings.

On a number of occasions, I made the following experiment: I asked a group of guests to listen to a recorded piece of music, then describe what image, action or event it evoked in their minds spontaneously and inspirationally, without conscious devising or thought (it was a kind of auditory Thematic Apperception Test). The resulting descriptions varied in concrete details, in clarity, in imaginative color, but all had grasped the same <rm_53> basic emotion—with eloquent differences of appraisal. For example, there was a continuum of mixed responses between two pure extremes which, condensed, were: "I felt exalted because this music is so light-heartedly happy," and: "I felt irritated because this music is so light-heartedly happy and, therefore, superficial."

Psycho-epistemologically, the pattern of the response to music seems to be as follows: one perceives the music, one grasps the suggestion of a certain emotional state and, with one's sense of life serving as the criterion, one appraises this state as enjoyable or painful, desirable or undesirable, significant or negligible, according to whether it corresponds to or contradicts one's fundamental feeling about life.

When the emotional abstraction projected by the music corresponds to one's sense of life, the abstraction acquires a full, bright, almost violent reality—and one feels, at times, an emotion of greater intensity than any experienced existentially. When the emotional abstraction projected by the music is irrelevant to or contradicts one's sense of life, one feels nothing except a dim uneasiness or resentment or a special kind of enervating boredom.

As to whether or not this applies to perceived colors, not that I am aware of. I certainly have my favorite colors, and I prefer moderate to bright colors, as opposed to dull colors. But I am not aware of there being any sort of general agreement about colors conveying an emotion in the same way that music conveys an emotion re the above. Some people tend to think that bright, primary colors are "happy" colors, and like to get those colors for their infants to look at;but I don't know that, say, brown, conveys sadness or grey conveys firmness of one's convictions or anything like that. What I do know from my 25 years experience in dealing in art at various picture framing galleries is that some people definitely do have an emotional attachment to certain "abstract paintings", but I think that shows the nihilism of our day.

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.
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I did not say that Rand's position was that liking or not liking a work of music is what makes it art. Rather, my point was that the emotional content that you may believe is contained in the music cannot be shown to be contained in the music. As Rand herself said:

"In listening to music, a man cannot tell clearly, neither to himself nor to others- and, therefore, cannot prove- which aspects of his experience are inherent in the music and which are contributed by his own consciousness."

The same is true of the abstract art forms of architecture, dance and abstract painting and sculpture.

One of the places you and I may continue to differ here is: don't you think that there are certain elements of these abstract works (such as the "slow notes" I'd mentioned earlier) which may be relied upon to produce certain effects (i.e. sadness) in he who partakes of it?

In other words, if I was composing music, and I wanted to evoke a certain feeling of sadness in my intended audience, I wouldn't merely throw up any random pattern of notes and hope for the best. I would work to find a musical sequence to achieve that effect.

I don't know a lot about music (insert joke here about how I don't seem to know anything), but I have enjoyed the musical scores of John Williams since I was young. In his Superman theme, I believe that he has captured some of Superman's soaring spirit. And in his theme for Schindler's List, I hear much of the melancholy and sadness that I associate with the events of that film. Now... perhaps this is due in part to my pre-existing knowledge of the stories to which those themes are associated? Or perhaps there are other aspects of my consciousness that are in play here? Perhaps.

But I think that the Superman score and the Schindler's List score, of themselves, have a certain character. And that it was this character for which John Williams was searching. (And in that he found them, and realized them, he is great at what he does.)

***

To follow up on my last post for Thomas, I've been thinking about... childhood trips to the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, and their thrilling laserium shows. Typically they would associate music with abstract visual patterns -- multi-colored lights and shapes.

Generally the lights and shapes would help to emphasize the... emotional impact of the musical selections, and I would assert that their goal was to do so. If someone in the employ of the Observatory could make intelligent decisions as to which abstract visual patterns better emphasized X musical composition in this regard, then isn't this an argument that such visual patterns can deliver the same kind of artistic experience as music?

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As to whether or not this applies to perceived colors, not that I am aware of. I certainly have my favorite colors, and I prefer moderate to bright colors, as opposed to dull colors. But I am not aware of there being any sort of general agreement about colors conveying an emotion in the same way that music conveys an emotion re the above. Some people tend to think that bright, primary colors are "happy" colors, and like to get those colors for their infants to look at;but I don't know that, say, brown, conveys sadness or grey conveys firmness of one's convictions or anything like that. What I do know from my 25 years experience in dealing in art at various picture framing galleries is that some people definitely do have an emotional attachment to certain "abstract paintings", but I think that shows the nihilism of our day.

I'm certainly not going to try to lay out a theory on which colors produce which emotional effects. :) I mean, if colors do have that function, even in the abstract, then that's a job for the visual artists... and I'm not among them.

But can't we observe that there are certain general associations for colors? You've pointed out that some people consider certain colors to be "happy." Bright colors are often held to be "bold"; pastels are seen as "soft." I believe that artists speak of warmth or coldness, and I can imagine that this might be designed to convey certain information, or a particular impact. And as for grey...? Don't we talk about things being "grey" when they're uninteresting, or boring, or muddled/unclear? Isn't red often associated with passion? White with purity? Black with death? I don't know -- I'm speaking out of my bottom again.

As for peoples' attachments to certain "abstract paintings," I can't speak to that either. I'm still at the level of just ascertaining what "I like" and what I don't. What I can guarantee (which you can take or leave, at your discretion) is that I'm no nihilist. That's not where I'm coming from at all.

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