Re: Robin's Arts Post (Was Re: Extropic Flare In NY Art Scene

E. Shaun Russell (
Fri, 24 Sep 1999 22:24:08

Robin Hanson wrote:

>In art, multiple dimensions seem more salient. There seem to be many
>things people are trying to signal, and these signals interact in more
>complex ways. In some ways people seem to signal raw artistic ability,
>the sort of ability that doesn't change much with time or context.
>And in other ways people seem to be signaling their wealth and free
>time. Rapid changes in art also suggest to me that people are signaling
>the quality of their social information, showing that they find out
>before others what's going to be "hot." And different communities have
>different ideas of "hot," suggesting that people are also trying to
>signal allegiance to various groups. But what exactly determines the
>group that one feels allied to, I have little idea. It all seems
>very complex, and so very interesting.

There seems to be a dangerous dichotomy at work here: whether art is a reflection of society and environment (indicating a subconscious calculation) or whether art is fully self-contained within the artist (indicating spontaneous inspiration). For art (or, on a larger scale, society) to progress, both must exist.

While it is easy to group artists in categories and periods such as Romantics, Modernists etc., not all artists are reactionary, and most artists who are considered really *good* have stretched the current boundaries of their genres...and ultimately caused new genres in their wake. However, not all of the artists who push the boundaries of their genres and attempt the avante-garde succeed in creating mass appeal for their groundbreaking. So Robin's question of what makes an artist or art movement popular or "hot" is a very valid one. An even deeper question (and one which I have never been able to answer for myself) is *why* an artist creates in the first place. Is it to prove one's ability? If so, why is it necessary to attain popular approval for one's own creations? Is not self-gratification enough? Why does an artist feel the need to either conform to or react against popular culture? And again, what *is* the purpose of art? Is the language of art --any art-- truly universal?

In all art there is a balance between subjectivity and objectivity. When an artist creates, s/he usually has a specific thought process attributed to his/her creation; however, this thought process is undeniably different from the interpretations of all who perceive the creation. So when talking about popular art, is there a lowest common denominator of sorts to determine what people will like or want to see?

E. Shaun Russell	Extropian, Musician, ExI Member	 <KINETICIZE *YOUR* POTENTIAL>

"The reason I'm involved with to end the carnage."
				      -Robert Bradbury, Extro-4