Re: Extropic art: symbolism, interpretation & association

Sarah Marr (
Sun, 16 Mar 1997 16:24:07 +0000

At 09:07 15/03/97 -0600, Gregory Houston wrote:

>As an expressive vehicle the artist acts as the barometer of an era. The
>artist defines the personality and psychological condition of that which
>the artist represents.

The representation created by the artist is open to interpretation by
observer. Whilst the artist facilitates such interpretation and, in some
cases that interpretation will concur with the artist's intent, the artist
_may_ still remain unable to define a condition definitively, except to
his- or herself.


> The statement of
>an artist is first and formost a statement of condition, a state of
>mind, a status of society. It is the testemonial of an organization's

But since open to interpretation the statement of an artist is a statement
of conditionS, stateS of mind, statusES of society.

>Encountering an alien organization, we would first attempt to gage their
>technology, the potential threat of the encounter. But its through their
>collective art that we will be able to percieve their intentions.

'Perceive' is the key here: this would be a perception; an interpretation.

>through their art that we will be able to see what kind of people they
>are. Art is the professor of truth in that it cannot be shackled. It is
>what it is. It reveals the fixations, pleasures, motivations, and
>general concerns of that which it represents.

Art is the professor of multiple truths, in that it cannot be shackled by
the artist. It reveals multiple possible fixations, pleasures, motivations
and general concerns through the multitude of things which it may be
interpreted as representing.

>The aesthetic runs through
>and directs the technology. Technology exists for the sake of art ...
>that which pleases us.

I've never found iron lungs or dialysis machines particularly aesthetically
pleasing. Equally, I'm not convinced that flint tools or spears came in to
use because they looked good: they were pleasing because they got food. Do
you define art as that which pleases us in any way (e.g. by saving our

>We create the technology because our
>pscychological [creative] condition necessitates it, and then the art
>reveals the condition itself.

I agree that art reveals our creative condition. On the other hand, what
demonstrates that this condition causes us to create technology, rather
than merely facilitating such creation, driven by a desire to survive?

>Thus [objectively] the importance of the artist is the artist's
>revalatory capacity.

Revalation is not objective. The artist has to reveal to someone (even if
that is the artist her/himself), and that requires subjective observation.

>The importance of a society's art is that arts
>revealing of its society.

Art may serve just as an important role in shaping the society, as in
revealing it.

>We create a system, and as members of that system we generate art, and
>if that art shows problematic signs of neurosis, then we can and should
>rethink the system. This is how the artist truely questions and further
>aids to define that which is represented.

I presume your talking about 'art' collectively here: the art of one artist
could just be a result of his/her own neuroses.

>Art is the ergonomics of technology. It is how the technology "fits" the
>people. It is an ecquisitely insightful reflection of the people.

As a reflection of people art is only as insightful as those who interpret it.

>Subjectively: Art is the manifestation of our pleasures.
>Objectively: Art is the status of our condition.

You're going to have explain your meanings of subjective and objective
before I make sense of those two statements. But, either way, art is merely
an interpretation of our pleasures, and an interpretation of the status of
our condition (both by artist _and_ observer).

>Art can only aid in the self-definition of an organization to the degree
>in which that organization is sufficiently aware of art's reflexive
>capacity. To the degree that an organization uses art reflectively, to
>that degree will art define the organization.

True. I was more concerned with external, than self-definition. The actual
use of art as a reflector is as much a function of the observer's
interpretation as it is of the artist's intent.

>Thus, what role should art play in Extropian thought?
>Subjectively: It should take full advantage of cutting edge technologies
>to manifest our refined pleasures, which includes the expression and
>transmittance of Extropic memes, a certain pleasure, while seeding
>interest in the development of new technologies which will further
>enable the manifestation of our progressively evolving pleasures.
>Objectively: It should be persistently analysed in order to access and
>refine the psychological condition and ramifications of the
>organization. [This is the responsibility factor; self-evaluation.]

Back to the subject/objective dichotomy. What do you mean by this? Your
definition of a subjective role may be correct, but at most you describe
what Extropic art _should_ aim to do. You can never define what it _does_
do, more than saying the majority of people will interpret a piece in a
certain way (after its display), or that you expect them to so interpret it
(before its display).

Your objective definition seems to propose an 'objective' analyser. But
since this is self-evaluation, how can it be objective? That means all
creators of art would be objective, and yet I'm sure they would disagree
with each other. Unless by self-evaluation you mean evaluation by
'Extropians': but again, such a homogenous interpretation is unlikely,
probably impossible, within such a group.

>The latter [objective] use of art should be expected from any
>individual, organization, nation, or society. Its merely a refined sense
>of self-awareness.

But my self-awareness is not objective, is it?

>One last quick statement on censorship. Censorship is a denial of
>problematic symptoms.

I don't agree. Firstly, you cannot define a symptom as universally
'problematic'. At most you can say that censorship is a denial of syptoms
considered problematic by the censor. But then, how can that be a denial.
It is not a denial of the symptoms at all, merely an action designed to
suppress those symptoms. (It _may_ be a denial of the underlying _causes_
of the symptoms.)

>Censorship itself is a symptom of an organization
>or society which is unwilling to take responsibility for that which it

You're personifying 'organization' and 'society'. In fact, it seems
unlikely that the society or organization would both manifest and censor
the art. If the organization or society has control over censorship one
would have thought it would prevent production. The point is that within an
organization or society there are individuals, and it is difference between
the thoughts and relative powers of these individuals which allows
censorship to occur.

>Censorship may put a bandage over art, but the "pimples" will
>continue to emerge and inflame until the organization accepts its
>responsibility in initiating that which is the cause of the art,

Surely that which is the cause of the censored art has already been
initiated, even if that cause is stated as a negative. That is to say, even
if the cause is non-performance by the organization, that non-performance
is an initiated cause. The organization (by which _I_ mean those with power
to effect change) may respond to the art, and hence to the cause of the
art; it doesn't initiate that cause.

>thus when that organization seeks something greater than a topical
>solution. The alternative to censorship is acceptance of responsibility,
>and re-assessment of idealogy.

What if the outcome of such acceptance and responsibility is a decision
that censorship is the best mode of action? (e.g. Making child pornography
illegal, effectively censoring it, doesn't seem such a bad thing to me, and
many others, even when I accept my responsibility and re-assess my ideology.)

>Art which tests the limits of our experience, tests and redefines the
>limits of our existence.


>Explore and play!



Sarah Kathryn Marr