Re: Extropic art: symbolism, interpretation et al

Gregory Houston (
Tue, 18 Mar 1997 14:30:56 -0600

E. Shaun Russell wrote:

> When one looks at a
> piece of art (lets take the Mona Lisa for example), they can either feel
> that it is good or bad. Objectively, --this is what I mean by objective
> subjectivity-- the person looking at the Mona Lisa should have this feeling
> of good or bad regardless what critics or anyone else thinks.

and ...

> The same holds true for this thread. There need not be any
> definition for art, nor for that matter, any definition for a definition of
> art. Anyone can get something out of a piece of art, just as anyone can get
> something out of a puffy white cloud floating across the periwinkle
> perimeter of the sky; just as anyone can get something out of an inkblot.
> It is really quite a simple concept. There are no rights or wrongs to
> someone's kosher interpretation.

E. Shaun, you are very clearly missing the gist of this argument. This
is not an argument about how someone should appreciate a work of art. We
all agree that this should be left to the individual. This is not an
argument about right or wrong aesthetic interpretation of art. I
believe we all agree, though an artist may have a specific intent for an
opus, the artwork may be freely interpreted by the individual. This is
what you so have so fondly called objective subjectivity. Call it what
you will, this is the laymens approach to encountering art.

This argument is about the fact that their is yet another use of art
that has nothing to do with the appreciation, enjoyment, or judgement of
art. It amazes me at how difficult it is for people to realize or
recognize this use, even after I have explicitly stated it several
times. This is the objectively scientific, or the psycho-archeological
use of art. It is the non-judgemental interpretation of art, the
objective observation and recording of what is explicitly present in the
art. It is the corrolation of that data with the data of previously
conducted scientific experiments, in order to ascertain a scientific
prediction of that individual's psychological condition. The same can be
done with collectives of art, e.g., the art of an organization, a
society, a nation, or even a world. Archeologists very commonly use art
in this fashion when studying ancient cultures.

On an aside E. Shuan, I hope that you are not implying that art can only
be appreciated as either good or bad. This would be an extremely shallow
appreciation of art. In the same way that a person who only percieves
things in life as either strong or weak, a person who only percieves a
piece of artwork as either good or bad is shallow. We attain degrees of
depth in perception and appreciation by being able to evaluate things
from different vantages. The easiest way to do this is to increase the
number of dichotomies and continuums we shift between when appreciating
or analyzing something. An extremely shallow person, Joe, might only use
one dichtomy, whereas a normal person, Bob, might generally shift
between 2-5 dichotomies when percieving something of general interst;
another person, Tim, might shift between 5-10 dichtomies, and then yet
another person, a genius perhaps, Albert, might shift between 10 to even
30, 40, or more dichotomies when evaluating something. This factor is
one which differentiates the cognitive intelligence of people greatly.
This same factor also differentiates the emotive intelligence of people

Where Tom defined art as something to be created, shared, and enjoyed,
you have defined art as something which either makes us feel good or
bad. In your refusals to directly define art, you have simply defined it
inadequately. Definitions DO NOT LIMIT things. Definitions make it
possible to question the limits of things. A refusal to define something
is a refusal to understand that thing deeply.

Explore and play!

Gregory Houston          Triberian Institute of Emotive Education