Re: Extropic art: symbolism, interpretation & association
Sun, 16 Mar 1997 21:25:02 -0500 (EST)

In a message dated 3/16/97 8:18:50 PM, Sarah Marr wrote that my professed
bemusement with sweeping claims (by unnamed parties) about "Extropic art",

>seems to imply that I made such a claim.

This looks like a good example of the variance between a sender's intent and
a receiver's interpretation! I in fact concur with Sarah's argument that,

>since interpretation is observer dependent, []
>sweeping claims cannot be made except as statements of intent on the part
>of Extropian artists.

One corollary of the indeterminancy of interpretation: "Extropic art" (if
defined by content) can come from decidedly non-Extropian sources. (Beauty
in the beholder's eye, and all that.)

Another corollary: A self-proclaimed "Extropic artist" could (under the same
definition) produce decidedly entropic art. All too often, artists fail to
communicate what they intend.

These observations undergird my uneasiness with a content- or intent-based
definition of Extropian art. Such a definition operates in the same way that
"Christian art" might; it comes uncomfortably close to describing propaganda.

Now, I like effective rhetoric as much as the next rabble-rouser. Many types
of art, however, simply do not lend themselves to predictable
interpretations, and thus do not work well as propaganda. Compare a dance to
an essay. So a content- or intent-based definition of Extropian art will not
prove useful for many modes of communication.

Compare that sort of definition with one based on the community that gives
rise to the art--"Christian art" versus "American art", say. Such a
definition loosely defines content, and yet avoids the possibly censorious
consequences of a content- or intent-based definition. "American art" loses
nothing by attacking American institutions. Such criticism characterizes the
community of artists in question.

I'm not saying I embrace the definition-by-community view; I just wanted to
point out an alternative to the content- or intent-based definition.
Personally, I think that trying to define art accomplishes embarassingly
little. Far better to just create it, share it, and enjoy it.