What good is art without intention?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by emre, May 9, 2003.

  1. I have a simple philosophical question, and I am interested in hearing people's opinions. I was actually going to substitute the word "meaning" for "intention", but I think that makes the question too broad.
    1. Do you think art should be made with a purpose; to edify, document, entertain, etc.
    2. If so, how would you feel if you could not distinguish an artwork with intent from one without; e.g. you mistook a computer generated landscape for a real photograph?
    3. If not, then how do you create such artworks; purely by intuition? Does it not follow that a random creation can be an artwork? Would you invest time to comtemplate this artwork, when you could be investing your time on something with an intent?
     
  2. ...and when I say "computer generated", I do not mean "computer assisted", but really "generated by a heuristic algorithm with minimal human intervention".
     
  3. i create things that my mind leads me to. the intent to create, makes art, not the specifics of the intent.
     
  4. A shorter question is: Must art communicate? timber borcherding timberborcherding
     
  5. Art exists for art's sake. Why does it have to have a purpose? How about just for fun?

    As far as #2 goes, why would this matter - ART IS ART. You didn't specify only photography until now. Smells like that "purity" argument to me.

    And of course ANY random thing can be art. It goes back to eye of the beholder.

    Seems to me all you're trying to do is deinf what is art - something that no one in history has been properly able to do.
     
  6. Art imitates life.
     
  7. Art can be "found".
     
  8. 1. No. Art should be made when the artist wants, sometimes with the only purpose to express himself. Buy I think this is not one of the purposes you were considering.

    2.I wouldn't care that much. I would try to identify the technique and think if it pleases me, or not.

    3. "...purely by intuition?" Sometimes with a previous background and experience with certain kinds of art, you will have the technique to do so. So technique + intuition. And random creations are done very constantly, and of course are artworks and are appreciated.

    So, artwork doesn't need to have a specific purpouse other than to express the artists feelings. Some random artworks are beautiful without a purpouse at all.
     
  9. Allow me to me steer the discussion based on the responses...
    <p>
    I deliberately did not specify photography, for I am an artist; not a photographer. Among the art forms I know, I will pick the one suited to my intentions (I tried to avoid using the word, but what can I do!) As I am typing this, I realize that I consider the goal before I choose my tools. I may not end up where I initially decided, nevertheless I do not walk randomly.
    <p>
    Can one become a great artist--hope to create art of lasting interesting--without direction? Does it make sense to devote your time and energy on an artwork if the only outcome is that you may have fun creating it? What if that artwork takes a significant share of your lifetime? If one were immortal, it would not matter, but since this is not the case...
     
  10. Art can't be 'found'. Beauty can be 'found' but that doesn't make it art. The artist can take the grotesque and make it 'art' and it is in the act of creation that difference between the 'art' and 'discovery'. If there is no creation then there is no art.
     
  11. "I have nothing to say, and I am saying it." - John Cage
     
  12. Art does not exist without intent and purpose. Whether a landscape, or any other subject is computer generated, a traditional photograph or a painting is of no importance, it is the intent and purpose of the artist and the artwork that is key.
    www.keithlaban.co.uk
     
  13. Art is whatever I say is art, art is whatever you say is art, art is whatever he, she or it says is art.

    Wondering too much about it will lead to failing eyesight...
     
  14. Well, first off, I don't think there is such a thing as a "simple" philosophical question -- or at least no simple answer. If there was, it wouldn't really be philosophical, I think :)

    So then, in some sort of order:
    1) Should art be made with a purpose?

    I think all art has a purpose, whether its conscious or not. It may be to express a specific sentiment or it may just to be a conduit for some percieved beauty. My photography, if it can be called art, tends to be the latter. I mostly focus on nature photography, where the point is simple: show beauty. When I see something I percieve to be beautiful in the woods, I want to be able to capture it on film (well, bits) and make it permanent, so I can see it again and share it with others -- and hopefully pass on that perception of beauty with it.

    The simple act of picking up a camera, or a brush, or whatever -- that is intent. It may not be seen as intent by the person doing it, but there it is. The mere act of intermediating nature (or whatever your subject of choice is) gives it a purpose, whether its purely an excercise in using the tools, or to document, or to edify, or whatever.

    After answering 1), I'm not sure 2) really has an answer, but I will say this: A completely computer generated landscape is still intentional artwork. The artist (in this case the programmer -- believe me, software _is_ an art form) has an intent, even if it's just to test out some slick new algorithms.

    I think the answer I'm coming up with (slowly :) is that any time you express a vision through some form of intermediation (camera, paintbrush, or CPU), you have an intent. Trying to infuse it with a Message is another layer on top of it -- it's artwork either way, but it may not have been assigned a specific meaning by the artist. Bob Dylan generally infuses his work with specific meaning, but Aphex Twin doesn't generally seem to -- but both Bobby Zimmerman and Richard D. James are musical artists.
     
  15. Photojournalists "find" their art. Cartier Bressan walks and "finds" art in the juxtaposition of people and the architecture around him. I believe his "intent" is to open his subconscious to the "symbols" and order around him. He then xeroxes the moment with his Leica. Timber Borcherding timberborcherding
     
  16. What is "key" is that the artwork convey or communicate. That communication may use "public symbols" which communicate to many. Or, it may use "personally representative" symbols which only a psychotic person reacts to. There must be at least one personwho can "get it". If what the psychotic person "got" is different than what you and I "got", then it is still art. Art is not a classification. Art is not an intellectualism. Art is an experience. The intent of the person is not important.
     
  17. If there are no life to feel the heat of our Sun, is the Sun still "hot"? The whole of the "intent" issue here is to make the creator of the "artwork" here an "artist". This is a trophy pass and a handshake. True, many pro artists in advertising have the intent to communicate a message or experience, but this is control. They are artists. Amteurs often do not have the experience with symbols of the art world to be "produces". Yet, they still want to be called "artists". The argument here of "intent" is for amateur craftsmem. When "control" or "intent" happens for them, they get "raised up" a notch to "artist".
     
  18. Art is not a recreation, is more than representation and has nothing to do with decoration. But this is just the opinion of a self opinionated bastard and artist and is the easy bit, the what it is not bit. Who am I to argue if someone thinks that representation, beauty and decoration is enough? There are more definitions of art than there are artists. Each to his own.
     
  19. No object becomes recognised as art unless someone presents it as art. If someone
    finds a piece of trash and they call it art, it is they who transform it from trash to art.

    Art doesn't need to be made for a specific purpose to be considered art. Art is quite
    often divorced from the intentions and efforts of its creator. Someone creates
    something along a certain line of thought and presents it to an audience who has no
    connection to this line of though.

    A random creation can be considered art but it is the person who selects the item as
    art that converts the item from a typical object into art. People might show computers
    that generated an image, but who selected the image? Who programmed the
    computer? All intent comes from humans.

    Everyone's method of arriving at a piece of art is different. That doesn't mean that its
    purely intention that creates art, its just different for everyone.

    I think you need to read up on Marcel Duchamp.
     
  20. I think there's too much damn angst around here again . . .
     
  21. "True, many pro artists in advertising have the intent to communicate a message or experience, but this is control. They are artists".
    As an aside, having worked in advertising as an "artist" for more years than I care to remember, I would not describe any of the "artwork" I produced or any of my peers "artwork" as art. Art and advertising do not mix well.
     
  22. "for I am an artist; not a photographer"


    what in the hell is this supposed to mean?!

    I , for one, consider myself an artist who happens to be a photographer.
     
  23. i think the separation between artists and photographers has to do with their
    functions in society.

    many photographers are not artists. i think this is what the artsy photographers want
    to separate themselves from.
     
  24. Emre

    Well done for getting this thread into the Archived Forum. I and several others have started threads which have included the dreaded "A Word" and yet more often than not they have been shunted into the general sidings.

    Perhaps the icon is more than just a symbol after all!
     
  25. I don't think that humans create anything without 'intention' whether that is highly personal and not inuitively obvious to another person or not.

    What you suggest is that 'creation' of art happens randonmly... nothing via human behavior is 'random' in that sense...

    There is an oft quoted saying that goes something like "give a 1000 monkeys typewriters, eventually one of them will type Hamlet" which tries to make the point that given enough oportunity anyone can create something of beauty and long lasting worth... This notion was recently tested in a study in whic typewriters were put in the habitats of some chimps... the results? One of the researchers commented to the effect of "Well, the lead ape banged the hell out of the typewriter with some rocks and sticks... And they were really interested in defecating and urinating on the keyboards"...

    There's the difference between humans and those lower hominids even though they are very closely related to humans at a genetic level.
     
  26. "many photographers are not artists."
    and many painters are not artists. The point being?
     
  27. The word "art" is used for different purposes. For example, it is used to distinguish between the product of the commercial word and the work of independent individuals: i.e., The Beats, Hippies, Iconoclasts... It is used as a trophy: "Now THIS is ART!" Keep naming the ways.....That is why this thread seems to wander.
     
  28. I am an artist, I am not "artsy". This is one of the strangest things I have noticed on photo.net, this desperate need by so many to distance themselves from the word "artist". many of us here are artists, some are not...but why is it such a dirty word to some?
     
  29. Pro primo: As to intention, there's a saying, like "nature is the greatest artist". Is it true, or just another crappy saying?
    <br>
    [Of course, if you are deterministic enough, you'll say, everything in nature has its purpose and was "made" with intention.]
    <p>
    Pro secundo: Regarding photography: G.W.B. (B stands for Baselmans, not Bush!) once said " I'm *not* an artist. I know quite everything about the technical part of photography and I try to shoot technically perfect photos whenever I use my camera. I can enjoy my slides; my family, my friends can enjoy my slides. If I would produce art, other people could enjoy my photos as well."
    <br>
    Maybe this is it, maybe "art" is when you impersonalize things you produce, and you can make "other people" admire your work.
    <br>
    [Of course, there's at least one thing anybody can produce in his/her life, that will be appreciated by the "others". So - is everybody an artist at some moment?]
     
  30. 1. The "intent" of all art is to draw attention to the artist. That's what makes it art. I know of no anonymous art martyrs.<P>2. With respect to number one, there is plenty of anonymous illustration that is beautiful. Of course, if you think it is beautiful, that makes you one of the mindless masses. If you correctly identify it as anonymous illustration, that makes you an artist, probably a cynical and bitter one.<P>3.Philosophically, I firmly believe that those who either create beauty, or enjoy looking at it, or both, are looking for God. Even if they claim to be atheistic. <P>Those that toil endlessly to depict ugliness and despair, and despise beauty, are angry with God. There are few (if any) self-despairing artists who are atheists. Atheism is a product of complacency. <P>4. (If I may add a number four.) Like it or not, most of us here lie somewhere in between, filling the bottom of an inverted bell curve. Our art is the product of opportunity and convenience, or even if much effort and duress is involved, the result is nevertheless much more mundane than the artist himself believes.<P>Emre, I think what you are trying to come to grips with is Obsession vs. Opportunity. "Great" art is not supposed to happen without some measure of "urge". Important art that just happens is serendipity, for instance, images of a collapsing WTC tower. Galen Rowell could have climbed all the way to the moon and never gotten a magazine cover shot of a disintegrating space shuttle. We may have the "urge" to create (or "capture"; we can argue that if you like) such images, but few of us will. I'm not digressing into photojournalism, I'm just thinking like a photographer, and these are examples that come to mind. An example of what I think is great art AND talent (preparation and skill to take advantage of serendipity) AND beauty, is Dan Bayer's image of the comet and the windmill. Some may call it eye candy, but I happen to have a visual sweet tooth. If anyone had conceived such an image beforehand, to be created in the darkroom, in the computer, or on canvas, the structure would have probably been something altogether different, and probably quite hackneyed.
     
  31. what in the hell is this supposed to mean?!
    It means that I am not interested in the act of photography per se, but the result. Sometimes the occasion calls for a photograph; in others, a film, an essay, or simply some music etc. Therefore the desired result precedes (rather, decides) the method, or instrument. My choosing to call myself an artist is a reflection of my priorities (order of activity). As you can see, I am explicitly stating my position regarding my question. Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, "Photography is nothing, it's life that interests me".
    Yesterday I discussed the matter with a friend of mine who happens to be a jazz musician. The epitomy of Mr. Blair's definition of an artist, he noted that there are probably few precedents of great artists that did not have direction, whether or not they were conscious of this fact. I do not think it is impossible otherwise, but it is less likely. For reference, the apt quote about randomly replicating the works of Shakespeare belongs to the physicist Lord Kelvin. He was referring to the probability of improbable thermodynamic events. Neither my friend nor I could decide what to make of autists; perhaps they are the exception?
    It seems that the ambiguity inherent to most subjects of debate (art, in our case) leads to difficulty in making the debate reach a consensus. Nevertheless I believe such debate is useful because it enables us to consciously choose our position, if only temporarily, by observing that of those around us.
    I did not idly propose this subject for discussion; I am now undertaking projects that require considerable time to complete, therefore I must justify them to myself beforehand (see my third post). One does not need to ponder these philosophical questions when taking a photograph, because the act is over in a relatively short amount of time (even if you make your own prints).
    This is a broad topic, so in the interest of making progress, please address my questions before digressing. I am grateful for the references some of you have offered.
     
  32. A random creation can be "found art".
     
  33. 1. If you want...or it could be from an obscure impulse that doesn't become clear until years later, if at all. A free spirit doesn't always have to make sense, even to itself; when the great innovators were breaking new ground, they were often subjected to howls of protest from those who thought they were the arbiters of taste.

    2. I'd be fascinated. The programming necessary to create a computer - generated landscape indistinguishable from a photograph would be something *else*, and would almost certainly have fruitful applications elsewhere.

    3a. The Abstract Expressionists of the earlier 20th C were working largely by intuition (I think) and produced some very powerful work.

    3b. Only if it's any good; (interesting, moving, exciting, scary...)

    3c. Intent means different things to, say, a Toltec sorcerer, a backpacker, and a New York lawyer. Your use of 'intent' seems to be synonymous with 'message', or even 'slogan', and thus to have more to do with advertising or propaganda than the big A.

    I'm not saying no-one should have a clear mission statement (if that's what they want). I just think that the a-r-t itself comes from somewhere non-verbal, and the philosophising is necessarily post facto.
     
  34. gib

    gib

    I like Jackson Pollock's work. I am not sure what his intent was.
     
  35. I believe any human creation (the arts included) has purpose behind it even if the artist can't express his/her purpose in words. Was it Freud who said "every behavior is motivated"?
     
  36. Art is always made for a purpose. It might be to express an idea or a feeling, to make money, to entertain, for therapy, for the pleasure of working with the medium. The list goes on. <br>
    You can re-phrase 1 as "Who decides what is a valid purpose for making art". If the artist decides then anything is art where someone says "I am an artist and this thing I made is art", because if the artist thinks it is art they can't believe that it would be art if only they'd made it for a different reason. But does the reason matter ? <br>
    I've photographed some nudes recently. Reasons for doing this might include <br>
    *I am a visual artist and the body is what I choose to depict in my work<br>
    *I want to spend time in the company of naked women and photography is a socially acceptable way of doing it. <br>
    *I am having a mid-life crisis which includes trying to understand the nature of beauty<br>
    *I'm interested in all aspects of photography, and just wanted to photograph something I haven't done before to see if I could do it.<br>
    *I want to make a political statement about the relationship between the sexes <p>
    If I'm openly a dirty old man (or overgrown school boy) who does it to be around "Sexy naked babes" and doesn’t claim to do art, then if I produce something beautiful by accident does that stop it being art ? If I claim to be an artist but end up producing what someone here termed pictures of "Bimbos flashing the camera" is that still art?
    Take the case that I don't claim it's art. If the artist can say what is art then if they say what isn't, so if I say "Shucks what I do ain't art" then that's it case closed. <p>
    But what if you don't know what I said about it or why I did it – it's in limbo. Which would mean that since we don't know what Mozart was thinking, we don't know if his music is art; and that doesn't make any sense. <p>

    Let me ask you another question. I give you a work in a box – we're going down a sort of Schrödinger's art path here – now it can be in one of two states art or not art. If art is in the eye of the beholder it really isn't in either of those states until you look at it. Does that make sense ?<p>

    Now for question 2, must art be made with the intent to be art. But like I said before, if you don't know the intent you don't know if it is art. I like the "Turing test" in the artificial intelligence world, it says if after communicating with something for a while you don't know if is a person or a machine, you might as well consider it to be intelligent. Similarly with art, if you say these technique/intentions/processes produce art, and these ones don't then if you can't tell whether what's behind something is valid for art then it you can assume that it is. <p>

    And for 3. I've got flowers in my room and a picture of flowers. The picture is art (the artist and viewer agree on this because they are both me) , but the flowers are not art – odd thought, a flower on its own isn't art but an arrangement is. – why would I bother to contemplate only on of them ? I look at my fireplace from time to time – I doubt very much if the guy who built it for me called it art – it has no artistic intent. There's plenty of bad TV on which has artistic intent but I turn the TV off and enjoy the fireplace.
     
  37. My two cents.

    1. All great arts were be made with passion, not purpose. They can be made with purpose, but the purpose itself didn't make the art, artwork became art only when the audience feel the passion. The passion could be different from what the artist had put it, but it is the audience's own feeling makes the art alive. Without audience, there is no art.

    2. If you mistook a computer generated landscape for a real photograph, it is you who generated a piece of artwork, not the computer.

    3. Artworks are created from intuition, but intuition is only a seed, great art need lot of skill, experience and concentration from the artist. A random creation is a random creation, it could be art, or not.

    "Can one become a great artist--hope to create art of lasting interesting--without direction? Does it make sense to devote your time and energy on an artwork if the only outcome is that you may have fun creating it? What if that artwork takes a significant share of your lifetime? If one were immortal, it would not matter, but since this is not the case..."

    Art is an investment for collectors, but never for artists. An artist lives his life when he is working.
     
  38. "More matter, less art." - Gertrude
     
  39. "Madame, I use no art at all!" - Polonius
     
  40. I've read somewhere saying that the word "art" is taken from the word "artificial", another word meaning "man-made", or "creativity". If this means "yielding" something from nothing then we are facing with a very large scale of measurement, from negative feelings such as "horror, grotesque, dirty, trash" .. to positive feelings such as "tranquility, beautiful, exaltation" etc.. However, many of these feelings are based on shorterm memory (environmental knowledge) and many are based on longterm memory (inheritance), ie. objects and images making sense in one culture might not communicate anything to another(ie. throwing bad eggs on somebody might consider an act of demoralizing in some countries but doesn't make any sense in others, similarly images of naked bodies might consider artistic in the West and disgraceful in the East). Where do we stand ?

    To me, at the very basic level, photography is an effective means of recording life and communicating it to others. Whether people get any feeling out of images or not is difficult to say. If there are feelings generated then the image can be called a piece of artwork, if not, it isn't.

    On the scale of feelings, however, there are positive and negative sides. People tend to lookout for positive feelings such as "tranquility, beautiful, exaltation" etc.. so you can see now that the whole half of the scale is often obmitted. Children often like sweet and soft boiled eggs while adult can take a much larger range of taste.
     
  41. Wow, all this reminds me of the cartoon where the girl was answering the question, "What is the purpose of meaning?"
     
  42. After reading the responses here, I think a few of things need to be added- in postmodern art theory, which is the dominant theory since the 1960's, art exists unto itself. That is "art" is the arbiter of what is or is not "art." If a work is accepted as "art" then it is. This becomes a circular argument in logic, of course.

    But more than that, under the current oprators of postmodernism- denial of referent, denial of context and deconsteruction- the idea of internal intent or meaning in a work is eliminated and the ideas of intent, and by extension interpretation, are put solely on the shoulders of the viewer.

    The second point this brings up is that "art" is involved with the creation of aesthetic objects- which is why the flowers themselves are not "art," but the painting of the flower arrangement is.

    The third point under these operators is that art is to be enjoyed for itself- intent or interpretation should be totally unnecessary to the enjoyment of the work- it is the color, line, shape and texture used in the design of the art space that is truly important in the appreciation- i.e. reducing the effort to essentially exercises in design.

    ...and therein lie the problems, especially for photography.
     
  43. The critic Roland Barthes once famously said that 'Art contains no noise'. He was using the word 'noise' in a sense borrowed from communication theory, where it is contrasted with the term 'signal'. The classic example would be tuning in to a radio station, where the music is the signal and all the crackle and hiss of interference is the 'noise'. In everyday life, we often have to sort out 'signal' from 'noise' in an analogous way, to filter out all the 'information' around us that is irrelevant or distracting in order to concentrate on something we regard as important. What Barthes is saying is that we shouldn't have to do this when looking at a work of art. It is the artist's job to exclude everything that might distract from his or her message. In other words, unlike everyday reality, art should contain nothing that is not meaningful. So: a work of art not only contains traces of the artist's actions that went into making it, but all of these actions were purposeful - all of them were directed towards the same end. All of them reinforce each other.

    This is clearly not the case with photographs. They contain a lot of noise. In the nineteenth century, the painter Eugene Delacroix said, 'The artist is always concerned with a total view of the world. However, when the photographer 'takes a picture' … the edge of his picture is just as interesting as the middle, one can only guess at the existence of a whole, and the view as presented seems chosen by chance. The incidental details become just as important as the main theme - they often strike the eye first and confuse the whole'. To put it another way, it is impossible to distinguish precisely between what the photographer intended to photograph and what the photographer could not avoid photographing.

    The famous insistence of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston on 'previsualizing' their images was an attempt to fight against or deny this aspect of photography, and many studio photographers do indeed produce images that can be said to more or less eliminate noise. But there is another possible response to the problem, one adopted by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand, and many other street photographers, and that is to treat photography as a gambling game. The photographer's intention then becomes to find an equilibrium between chance and intention, or to 'put oneself in a state of grace with chance' as the Surrealist Andre Breton put it.

    To decide whether a photograph is successful (is 'art', if you like) therefore becomes an attempt to define the difference between winning and losing (a difference that is arbitrary and absolute - like the decision to trip the shutter). It also means thinking about why this difference should matter. Every such image makes a claim upon the viewer's attention, but it is up to the photographer to provide a stake sufficiently important to back that claim. The machine itself registers every scene with equal indifference, just as the roulette wheel does not care where the ball lands. This is where I get all existential on you, and I imagine the tolerance for that is very low among photo.net subscribers (though possibly higher than their tolerance for post-modern theory).

    It is true, however, that the uncontrollable, or chance, element in photography consists partly in not being able to define what constitutes a winning move in advance of playing. Photography is unique among gambling games because of this: that you make up (some of) the rules as you go along (and sometimes in retrospect). In other words, intention is more decisive in the editing than it is in taking the photo.
    By the way, Emre, I like your photos very much.
     
  44. Emre,

    Nice questions. I'll try to go direct to your points, as requested.

    1. I think art has been always done like that. As said above, there's
    always an intention in the creation of something, regardless of how
    much personal or ephemeral this intention might be.

    2. A computer generated graphics can be a 'work-of-art', IMO. Whether
    one appreciates is another story. In the same way, we are given brushes & canvas, films & cameras, clay & water, we can also be given
    an algorithm and a CPU. What one does with the tools and the corresponding intentions behind it is what makes it art or not.

    3. I believe intuition is part of every *creative* work. If ramdomness is used, the user had an intention to do so. People take
    the time to appreaciate whatever has a meaning or deliver a message to them. Early Modern Art *tends* to concentrate on perfection, beauty and harmony with low political and social content. Cubism breaks down some concepts. Dadaism's 'Art for the sake of Art' completely destroys the pre-conception that Art has to be beauty and harmonic.
    Their intention relys on the absence of a purpose (concept) in Art creation (but that's a purpose and with intention). It's actually the introduction of phylosophical meaning to Art, that goes beyond the object itself. The 'Art with meaning' reachs its peak with the Abstractionism and Constructivism, where the knowledge of a defined content is likely necessary for comtemplation and understading.

    There's an intent behind everything. A message doens't need to be concrete, but has to emcompass and to have a far-reaching. Otherwise, it's simply not Art for not being considered as such.
     
  45. mg

    mg

    Sorry for the long post, Emre... I do think that all this are highly interesting metaphysics, but it is just that - metaphysics. I also feel that there is something deeper than meta-physics in general, and one gets there, perhaps, by going beyond his questions. I also believe that it's exactly what most post-moderns attempted to do, and that their efforts have often been gravely misunderstood.
    <p>
    So let me first thank you for the breeze of fresh air, and let's get to the crunch... I have spent almost an our reading this entire thread and wasn't bored for a second. I would even say that I found here more smart answers to a difficult (and imo interesting) question, than I ever read anywhere else on photo.net.
    <p>
    Let me go slowly into trying to phrase my *answers* to your questions, though you might find there more new questions than real answers...
    <p>
    "1. Do you think art should be made with a purpose; to edify, document, entertain, etc."
    <p>
    I think I'd go for the following answer, which I read above: "I think all art has a purpose, whether its conscious or not. (...) The mere act of intermediating nature (or whatever your subject of choice is) gives it a purpose, whether its purely an excercise in using the tools, or to document, or to edify, or whatever." - Tom K.
    <p>
    Or this: "I believe any human creation (the arts included) has purpose behind it even if the artist can't express his/her purpose in words. Was it Freud who said "every behavior is motivated"?" - Robert Ash
    <p>
    Or that: "It (i.e Art) could be from an obscure impulse that doesn't become clear until years later, if at all. A free spirit doesn't always have to make sense, even to itself" - David Mount
    <p>
    Imo, all this is true, and fairly obvious. Then, let me go a little further with Matt K...
    <p>
    "No object becomes recognised as art unless someone presents it as art. If someone finds a piece of trash and they call it art, it is they who transform it from trash to art." - Matt K.
    <p>
    "Art doesn't need to be made for a specific purpose to be considered art. Art is quite often divorced from the intentions and efforts of its creator. Someone creates something along a certain line of thought and presents it to an audience who has no connection to this line of though." - Matt K
    <p>
    "A random creation can be considered art but it is the person who selects the item as art that converts the item from a typical object into art." - Matt K.
    <p>
    I agree with all these posts, but what I personally find interesting to understand is WHY any public identifying an object as "art" *automatically* makes it art... I think it's precisely because this public would then have somehow LEND an intention to the artwork. <p>
    Basically, what I'm saying is that the artist always puts SOME SORT of intention into his artwork - cousciously or not -, and that the public later INTERPRETES the work - cousciously or not, and in any way it wishes or feels compelled to. The public might read in an art piece something absolutely opposed to the conscient message the artist put into his work, and then there seems to be a "COMMUNICATION FAILURE", but this failure can still turn to be a success. There is the music played and the music we hear, and it might not be the same one, but who cares if the music as it is heard is lovely to this man's ears...?
    <p>
    Both writers Thomas Mann and Saint-Exupery phrased this same idea almost with the same words (though one in German and the 2nd in French): "Art is not a power, it's a consolation", they said... I think that is true in at least 2 ways...
    <p>
    1) Art has very little power to change the world, but it can still try and serve as aconsolation in that sense, eventhough it might probably fail.
    <p>
    2) Art is not a power, because all it is, is a message in a bottle thrown to the sea... The fun of it is that this message is actually often written with an invisible ink - by that, I mean that it is often APPARENTLY MEANINGLESS... Yet, it seems that this bottle always ends on some shore... Then comes a person who reads the visible message and feels a better person for reading it. "Art doesn't reproduce what's visible, said Paul Klee - it makes new things visible", and that is why we feel an increase of our knowledge or wisdom when this art piece "works for us"... Now, what's truly fantastic to me, is that a message written with an invisible ink, or just to written at all if you like, can still be read... Art is therefore not reallya power to communicate - though it is mostly that -, but it can also be a communication ex nihilo - if that makes any sense... Basically, the bottle can be sent with no message in it, but its emptiness can still mean something - and even something very deep and fundamental - to the person who finds the bottle...
    <p>
    Conclusion: art always proceeds from some sort of intention, but it creates all around itself much more than it was created FOR. The artist's purpose or intention and his possible "messages" are in fact just a few water drops in the sea of possible ways to acknowledge these messages... And to me, this is a very precious thing to understand as an artist. Why ? Because I find it very humbling, and it is also a very "comfortable and relaxing thought"... End of the day, if I have taken a picture that I like, I can be happy, no matter what I put in it and how, because anyway, viewers are unlikely to find in this dustbin what I have thrown in it. :) And yet, they may like it too !! Ain't that glorious ?! :)
    <p>
    I believe that the old way to understand what's a "communication" (De Saussure) is just dead, because it was dead wrong... We do not send a meaning to anyone when we talk, though we might indeed be trying to. What we really do is talking to the air - and to ourselves - and hoping to be heard. But in the end, we do not decide who will hear what, because that depends on the amount of noise out there as much as the amount of intimate noise in the mind of the viewer. Which is why I think that Samuel Beckett has understood communication almost better than the Palo Alto group. Read an absolutely amazing play he wrote titled in French "Comedie" - "Comedy"...?
    <p>
    "2. How would you feel if you could not distinguish an artwork with intent from one without; e.g. you mistook a computer generated landscape for a real photograph?"
    <p>
    Based on the above, I would feel any different than I would any other day in my life. Once one understands that communication is essentially a message being sent and a message received (together with some noise), and that both messages are not at all necessarily the same one, why worry about anything...? Misunderstanding an artwork is in fact as common as is the action of breathing in...:)
    <p>
    So, artists should do what they want and I shall see what to make of it... Case closed. No metaphysics needed.
    <p>
    "How do you create such artworks; purely by intuition? Does it not follow that a random creation can be an artwork?"
    <p>
    How about this, Emre...: given the above, all art is random, perhaps not at its creation, but once sent out, it becomes random...? You may put in what ever you like - your intuition, your conscious thoughts, your dreams -, it will still be received randomly by minds that just don't work like yours and by hearts that don't feel like yours. Art "is not a power", and as long as you don't believe this, you are going to suffer in arts... and unless this suffering makes you grow as an artist - I think it works that way for quite a few artists -, all you are going to earn yourself with such toughts... is Pain...
    <p>
    A few other points...
    <p>
    a) You wrote: "Would you invest time to comtemplate this artwork, when you could be investing your time on something with an intent?"
    <p>
    This question fails to reach me if you haven't defined very precisely what's an intent, and it evaporates anyway if I consider - and I do ! - that the subconscious mind has intents too, just not conscious ones...:))
    <p>
    "As I am typing this, I realize that I consider the goal before I choose my tools." - Emre S.
    <p>
    Yes, I often feel that way too, but in fact, do I really know which me chooses what to create this or that...? I mean, consciously, I might decide that I want to use a 3200 ASA B&W film for a dramatic usage of grain, because it fits the content I have IN MIND to represent... but if I step back, I might realize that I'm not shooting dramatic images for a clear and specific REASON. So, in such a case, do you actually call it a work WITH an intention, or is that WITHOUT intention...? We often have no idea WHY we really choose this subject or that one in the first place. I know that people buy my picture for my usage of contrasted lighting, but I have no idea why I shoot that way... I can explain why this and why that in this or that particular image I produced, but I can't possibly explain my way to look at things and to light them...
    <p>
    "I may not end up where I initially decided, nevertheless I do not walk randomly."
    <p>
    Well, same here Emre... but tell me, if we don't end up where we initially decided, does it really matter at all whether we get there
    randomly or via X number of amendments to amendments to plan A...? :) And besides that, we never know where exactly our plan A came from. We wanted this, so we did that - fine -, but why did we want this in the first place...? Why didn't we want to shoot a sunflower instead of this or that...? We think we know why, but in fact we don't.
    <p>
    "Can one become a great artist--hope to create art of lasting interesting--without direction?" - Emre S.
    <p>
    Yeah, sure we can... We can even win with a single lotto ticket... But then, do we actually play to win or do we really play to play...? :)
    <p>
    "Does it make sense to devote your time and energy on an artwork if the only outcome is that you may have fun creating it? What if that artwork takes a significant share of your lifetime? If one were immortal, it would not matter, but since this is not the case..."
    <p>
    Well, I still try to put myself into what I do, and to give it as much thought as I can, and the aim is part of my fun, but I have no illusions left that this aim is just part of the fun and that the fun is the real thing that justifies the aim and may lead to more than what I could have hoped for - and may not, too...:)
    <p>
    Besides that, I can't do any better than S. LIU for this fantastic reply (worth framing imo):
    <p>
    "Art is an investment for collectors, but never for artists. An artist lives his life when he is working." - S. LIU.
    <p>
    And here is another nice one I will conclude with:
    <p>
    "If there are no life to feel the heat of our Sun, is the Sun still "hot"?" - Timber B.
    <p>
    Metaphysics won't change this simple reality of Art... You may make a sun, and I may miss its heat, and see only how bright it is, and I may call it a moon and talk elogiously about its craters, but even then, you shouldn't call me a fool... just a happy viewer...:)
    <p>
    Besides that, as Scott Blair said so well: "Our art is the product of opportunity and convenience, or even if much effort and duress is involved, the result is nevertheless much more mundane than the artist himself believes." This is soooo true that we either learn to admit it and get an extra amount of humility from this sad reality, or are bound to fail for long in understanding who we are and what we do, as artists...
     
  46. I think that art has to reflect the vision of the artist. I do NOT think it has to "communicate" something - what does Abstract Expressionism communicate?
    But I do think that the art has to exist in the artist's mind FIRST, before it exists in his medium (paint, pixels, clay, whatever). So I agree that it has to be intentional, i.e., the pixels, the colors, the design, the brushstrokes, etc should all be there because the artist intended that they be there. I say this as a painter as well as a photographer.
    So just because a particular arrangement in the universe - a sunset, debris after a hurricane, a pile of trash after a party, HAPPENS to be pretty or moving doesn't make it "art".
     
  47. Art can't be 'found'. Beauty can be 'found' but that doesn't make it art. The artist can take the grotesque and make it 'art' and it is in the act of creation that difference between the 'art' and 'discovery'. If there is no creation then there is no art.
    I agree. The idea that "art can be found" means that ANYTHING or EVERYTHING can be art, which means that the term itself is meaningless so there's no point in having it in our vocabulary.
     
  48. Timber says: A random creation can be "found art".
    In the above sentence, define "creation".
     
  49. The "intent" of all art is to draw attention to the artist. That's what makes it art. I know of no anonymous art martyrs.
    This is complete ca-ca. Speaking as an artist, I have artwork all over the web. I have one image I created in Photoshop that enough people like that now almost 700 people are using it on their websites. But no one knows I created it and I'm fine with that.
     
  50. After reading the responses here, I think a few of things need to be added- in postmodern art theory, which is the dominant theory since the 1960's, art exists unto itself. That is "art" is the arbiter of what is or is not "art." If a work is accepted as "art" then it is. This becomes a circular argument in logic, of course.
    But postmoderist theory doesn't just say that about "art"; it says that about EVERYTHING. Postmodernist theory says that ALL vocabulary is context- and speaker- dependent so NO words have intrinsic or objective meaning: "justice", "death", "pixel", "Eiffel Tower", etc. As you say, it rapidly becomes circular, if for no other reason than that they can only use words to express their concepts.
     
  51. Photojournalists "find" their art
    Nonsense. The "art" in a HCB photo isn't the object or thing being photographed. It is the PHOTOGRAPH itself. If what you're saying were true then one of the greatest pieces of western art actually ceased to exist in the early 16th century. Because that's when Madonna Elisabetta, third wife of Francesco del Giocondo, died.
    (most people know her as the Mona Lisa)
     
  52. But if this idea that the photograph itself is the art object is true, then which photograph? The original print? the original print I make next week or the one I make on revisiting the negative next year? the poster? the gallery catalog print? the book print?

    If I have a beautifully executed photograph of a roll of chain link fence does that become an art object? or just a photo of chain link fence?

    And, Peter, of course you are right- postmodernism holds that nothing at all is known in certainty and all is realtive- I was just limiting it to "art" for the sake of discussion.
     
  53. But if this idea that the photograph itself is the art object is true, then which photograph? The original print? the original print I make next week or the one I make on revisiting the negative next year? the poster? the gallery catalog print? the book print?
    Each one that is a creation of the artist, of course! What makes you think they're mutually exclusive? Lots of painters do multiple renderings of the same scene (Monet's haystacks, for instance) or they do studies in charcoal or graphite before executing a painting, or they do a sculpture for a casting and then they sand or file each resulting casting.
    If I have a beautifully executed photograph of a roll of chain link fence does that become an art object? or just a photo of chain link fence?
    If the photo represented some artist's creative vision - his choice of composition, framing, lighting, etc then it's his art. (whether it's 'good' art is a matter of personal taste) If the photo was taken by an automatic camera by happenstance it's not art because there was no artist; no one with a vision of what the intended compositional result was supposed to be. Art requires intention.
     



  54. This discussion is interesting, although much and clever things has been said, I would like to add a couple of remarks as well. Emre ask us to answer his questions instead or before digressing. I assume that this discussion for him has practical implicancies such as : Does it make sense to devote your time and energy on an artwork if the only outcome is that you may have fun creating it? What if that artwork takes a significant share of your lifetime? If one were immortal, it would not matter, but since this is not the case... or Can one become a great artist--hope to create art of lasting interesting--without direction?. I think that a lot as been answered already, It seems clear that for a contemporary artist there is always an intention, whatever it is (fame, beauty, money, having fun). But it seems to Emre, and many others, that some intentions are better than others, not all of them are at the same level, some might be permanent. This is connected with a concern on making works of “lasting interest”. It is assumed that some intentions produce more permanent works than others. To put in another way, there is the doubt (hope perhaps?) that it would be possible to make an important artwork, of everlasting interest by hazard, or with bastard intentions, or by mechanical means or without a valid intention. This can be frightening indeed, what if we devote our lives to make such a work that finally is not perceived as a work of art whereas our neighbor who is a carpenter hobbyist, with no notion of what art is, end up with a piece of furniture exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, highly priced by critics and curators? …Not nice perhaps, we may find us cheated. This is not metaphysics, it is a darn practical question. If we examine the history of art we find any kind of intentions, “good” and “bad”, “legitimate” and “bastard” behind everlasting work of art. Think at Velazques, no doubt of his artistic accomplishments, whatever he did was great art, but his intentions were mixed, very much so: from one side he wanted to do good work of art, to explore in a new pictorial language, to render reality in a new expressive way etc. but at the same time he was socially arrivist, he wanted money and “respect” from nobility, painted to please the court, etc. His genius was above his intentions, positive or negatives and produced art in its highest form.

    On the other side you have artist that are dominated by artistic intentions, that means that their interest is mostly to produce new, in a way better art. Jackson Pollok and most of the New York expressionist were doing that, in fact they were running big risks going against the establishment, but they had an idea of what art should be in USA at that time. And on the contrary there have been artists that have less holly intentions producing great works of art (think of Toulousse Lautrec or Utrillo). Or you have artists like Caravaggio who painted religious work, meaning transmitting a religious message by means of painting being himself as atheist as could be possible in his time. Which was his intention then? He certainly had one, which was not visible in his time, besides having an innovative technique apparently he was communicating religious feelings, (being his paintings so emotional they are about feelings). Marc wrote about invisible ink, he is right and here applies to well. The point is that you don’t see it easily, even if you are the artist.

    What I am pointing to is that intentions are not a guarantee of producing good art, or durable art. You can produce outstanding art with lousy intentions. The question in my humble opinion is indeed a metaphysical one, it is “what is art”, and our concern is to produce art, if you wish so. I am not going into this subject, perhaps another time, besides I have written about enough here.
    One thing I would like to comment, Matt Kime said that If someone finds a piece of trash and they call it art, it is they who transform it from trash to art. … No object becomes recognised as art unless someone presents it as art"Art doesn't need to be made for a specific purpose to be considered art. Art is quite often divorced from the intentions and efforts of its creator. Someone creates something along a certain line of thought and presents it to an audience who has no connection to this line of though." - "A random creation can be considered art but it is the person who selects the item as art that converts the item from a typical object into art." I agree with this but I think that no anybody can transform a piece of trash in work of art. It is obvious that if Leo Castelli had shown in his gallery some rags and a dead bird would have been an artwork if I put them in the living room of my would have not, not even a third rate gallery can operate such a transformation. Duchamp could make an urinal an everlasting piece of art, I can not and I guess you neither. Marc add to this comment one observation that I fin unconvincing. He said: I agree with all these posts,(Matt’s posts) but what I personally find interesting to understand is WHY any public identifying an object as "art" *automatically* makes it art... I think it's precisely because this public would then have somehow LEND an intention to the artwork. I think that the explanation goes in another direction, it is not the public lending intention to the artwork, but it is that there are people able to discover the artistic value of some man made objects and showing it to less perceptive people, teaching us to see thet value. This is the difference (among others) between Leo Castelli and me, or Duchamp and me, they have an intuition that I don’t have, that only a few people have, and they have proved their intuition consistently.
     
  55. you close your mind off to part of it
     
  56. Art is what happens when what the artist sees/thinks/feels is communicated to the world.

    What I like to pose to my classes is not what is art, or what makes art, but what is bad art. I just gave them an assignment to bring back a GOOD traditional portrait and a BAD one. I think they will be suprised at what we find while examining these in critique.
    Suz
     
  57. No Matt, it is quite the contrary, everytime you try to define art you put more things in it, you open what you already know to new layers of meaning. A definition is not a static formula, a definition changes with new experiences. A definition is precisely a challenge. You test your definitions against your experiences. I understand your point because very often people have learned definitions as being something immutable, definitive, but in fact they are not so. Artistic work can be enriched by intellectual work, by trying to understand, by defining. Something that always impressed me is that great artists (painters, photographers, musicians etc) read a lot, and some of ther write as well. Attempting to define is an effort in the way to produce better artwork.
     
  58. What I am pointing to is that intentions are not a guarantee of producing good art, or durable art.
    I didn't think what he was asking was whether intent produced "good" art, but whether it was art at all if it was not produced with intent.
    I claim that a minimum requirement for something to be "art" (good, bad or indifferent) is that there has to be an artist who creates the art, and that part of the creative process is intent. An artist is someone who starts with an idea, concept or vision in his mind, and executes what he has in mind, in his medium. Part of being a good artist is to have the skill in your medium to faithfully reproduce your idea, concept or vision.
     
  59. The intent of art is to evoke a meaningful experience if only in its creator. Art IS something created. An emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually moving thing is not art unless it is created for that purpose.

    The distinction between whether something is art or not may have little bearing on the depth to which we are moved and the degree to which contemplate it.
     
  60. An earlier comment of 'art can be found' seems quite correct. I am dubious of the concept that art *HAS* to have meaning or *HAS* to convey/edify. Artwork can simply be a piece that is aesthetically pleasing. I think that art can convey meaning or can simply be something aesthetically pleasing that has been created or set apart from it's surrondings in some way and identified as 'art'
     
  61. I was compelled to pose those questions to myself some time ago -- the fundamental "What is Art?" I posted my answer in my bio, so click my name and read. Always welcome anyone trying to poke holes in it...
     
  62. 1). The first question is "Do you think art should be made with a purpose..?" Well, of course it should! How could anyone really argue that art should not be made with a purpose (even if that purpose were as mundane as, "Hey, I just felt like it".)

    This covers my response to question two as well: I challenge anyone here to name any art work, in any medium, that was made without intent. Intent, you understand, implies an "intender", that is, an agent who willfully interacts with the medium to produce the final result. This is the barest requirement. Found objects don't count in my book - this is just too lazy and undisciplined to be dignified with the word "Art", not to mention being an insult to those who approach their subject with commitment.

    3. I don't think a random creation can be an artwork. Random can often be beautiful. Random can be worth contemplation. Contemplating randomness is an effort to understand what God's intentions were. Contemplating art is an effort to understand the intention of the artist. They are not the same, although one often tries to mimic the other.
     
  63. The idea (from the original question 2) that there may exist an artwork without intent raises a different category of question, i.e the creation or otherwise of the material world. Some of us believe that one Creator is responsible for the entire material universe, so any artwork that you may see is a primary or secondary creation from that source. Computers only do what they were programmed to do, so computer output is the work of Man, who is in turn the work of the Creator.
    On a more mundane level, art is in the eye of the beholder, but the beholder does not have the option of viewing a totally random artefact.
     
  64. I've given up on defining art. I just produce it.
    A British auction house used (uses?) the following definition:
    if the seller says it [the item sold] is art, and the buyer agrees it is art, then it is art.
     
  65. The idea (from the original question 2) that there may exist an artwork without intent raises a different category of question, i.e the creation or otherwise of the material world. Some of us believe that one Creator is responsible for the entire material universe, so any artwork that you may see is a primary or secondary creation from that source. Computers only do what they were programmed to do, so computer output is the work of Man, who is in turn the work of the Creator.
    I don't see how that gets around the question, since it still begs the question of whether the creator had intent.
    My claim, as I mention above, is that art must exist as a concept, vision, or idea FIRST in the mind of the artist, and then the artist uses his skill to execute that idea in his medium. But we don't know whether the Creator (if there was one) had the idea or vision of the universe first, and then went about executing it in his medium (matter and energy?), or whether the Creater generated the universe in the theological equivalent of a cosmic sneeze.
    Mrs. God: Gesundheit! Oh, look, dear, You've made another universe; here, let me clean that up for you . . .
     
  66. An observation… Maybe the fact that we’ve been having these “art” discussions for more than 100 years should tell us something. Maybe the fact that we cite photography for its unique abilities, its unblinking gaze and then try to lump it in with “art” should tell us something… that the only way to win is not to play anymore.

    Without boring all of you with the history, suffice it to say these ideas of art and photography have never been resolved, and will probably never be resolved. Maybe they can’t be… and maybe this is telling us that we have to move on. Barking up the wrong tree and all of that…

    It would seem that “art” has lost its purpose of interpreting the world around us and then communicating that interpretation to others in a comprehensible form. It has been lost in all the rhetoric of “whatever the artist feels” or the rhetoric of “it’s art if I say it is,” etc. It has also been lost in the concepts of unit sales and net profit margins. If the artist doesn’t communicate the interpretation then nothing has been accomplished. The work is simply the equivalent of finger exercises on the piano.

    In many ways all of this has done nothing more than raise art to the enviable status of decoration. And for those who hold that art is to be enjoyed “for what it is” or “an experience unto itself,” that makes the entire thing self-reflexive and anytime that happens it simply becomes stagnant and then irrelevant.

    Of the many students I have taught, many come from an art background and tell me that it is about the design of the art space- the color, line, shape, and texture. I once had an instructor from a fairly well respected art program ask “What is art if it is not about design?”

    Is this really the ultimate goal for photography?

    Maybe we need to move photography from art- maybe we need to realize that the true relationship is not between the artist and the photographer but between the photographer and the author-

    At some level the writer tells us who we are.
    At some level the photographer shows us who we are. (There’s intention)

    Maybe we need to stop worrying about creating “art” and start worrying about interpreting the world around us.
     
  67. "there are two people in every photograph, the photograper and the viewer"-Ansel Adams

    Any image that is a pleasure to look at is simply that, do I need to find out if it is created by a computer or not to react to it? - no -

    Trees are not art, but I still think that they are beautiful.

    although at the same time I can say that I don't believe art is created if someone throws paint up in the air and lets it land on the canvas even if it is nice to look at. Who created it, gravity? no it was just a happy accident. This is an insight into my opinions about why I think that excellent craft is important to ones vision.

    I create because I have to and need to, not to show it to anyone (I do show my work, but would still photograph even if no one was interested). When I see something that I react to photographically I have to photograph and interpret it. If I can't for some reason, there is always a feeling of loss, and I feel like a lesser person for it.

    My work is created with an intent, to make me feel more human.
     
  68. For me, a great work of art is great entirely because it was created by another human being. Though the artist may be unknown or anonymous, the work itself, created by a man or woman of skill, originality and cleverness, brings glory to the artist first and by inference, to all of mankind. A great novel is great, not for its own sake, but because we recognize the greatness of the author who had the insight to create such a work. And we are happy to spend time in the 'company' of such a writer. Similarly with an artistic photograph, we appreciate that another person, the photographer, was able to create a unique perspective, original and striking, and we admire his cleverness and his vision. At all times, art connects us to at least one other person...music may connect us to more than one. That is the enjoyment of it.
    With this principle in mind then, a random creation could never be considered to be art. If a group of monkeys could somehow type the novel 'Crime and Punishment', it would not be worth reading...for they would only be words on a page. More likely, though, a monkey with a camera might randomly take a worthwhile photo...but it would not be art.
     
  69. Emre is really just asking whether selection is a valid creative
    act. Personally, I'm amazed that a photographer would ever have
    to ask.
     
  70. >>"Do you think art should be made with a purpose; to edify, document, entertain, etc."<<

    I'm not sure what art might be. Attempting to "make art" seems much like trying to force out a turd because you're constipated. You feel better after, but all you have is a turd. Or, art.

    When I'm making photographs I'm being entertained - I don't care about anyone else - or the photograph's effect on someone else.


    >>"If so, how would you feel if you could not distinguish an artwork with intent from one without; e.g. you mistook a computer generated landscape for a real photograph?"<<

    I don't care as long as it's not boring. There are only two kinds of art: boring and interesting. I don't care how either are made, or the "intent," I only want to see the interesting kind.


    >>"If not, then how do you create such artworks;"<<

    Planning and random accidents. I'll take luck over talent any day - it's a lot more dependable.


    >>"purely by intuition? Does it not follow that a random creation can be an artwork?"<<

    Yes. Photography is a random event in much the same way trains have wrecks.

    >>"Would you invest time to comtemplate this artwork, when you could be investing your time on something with an intent?"<<

    Is it boring? If so, I'm leaving - even if the intent is to make something that's boring.

    If it's interesting I'll spend time with it.
     
  71. To add a twist to some of the points raised above, it can be argued that many of Cartier-Bresson's street photographs are 'found objects' in an analogous sense to Duchamp's urinal in that they are entirely banal, everyday scenes given meaning by being 'framed' in a particular way and taken out of their original context (i.e. the flow of everyday life) to be placed in a new one (that of the print, if not of the gallery wall).
    This is not to deny that HCB's act of 'framing' was more complex and demanding than Duchamp's, but surely part of his intention was precisely 'find' something as much as create it: to make it possible for chance to reveal something he didn't know before. Indeed, one of the wonderful things about photography is precisely that it permits us to cross the border between creation and discovery, to do both at once.
    In other words, to act with intent is not the same thing as having total control over one's material (how can this be true if my 'material' is the world out there, as much as the photo-sensitive emulsion or digital file?). Others have already argued this point at length above, although with slightly different emphases, since they have focused on how the artist's subconscious and the difference between what the artist intends and the viewer understands subvert the desire for total control. For me, it's never been primarily about self-expression. My intent in street photography is to create the most favourable conditions for a controlled accident to occur. The Surrealists would say this is like being a medium at a sceance, and the photograph's purpose is to capture the 'automatic writing of the world'. I tried to suggest in my previous comment that I like to think of it as making the rules for a (gambling) game. Pace the Surrealists, perhaps it is also related to the way in which a scientist sets the parameters and rules for an experiment, although I, unlike a scientist, am not trying to prove a thesis. I am, however, trying to discover something new (either about the world, or myself, or photography as a medium with its own history), and to simultaneously fulfil and subvert my own intentions.
    Of course, non-street photographers will probably have a very different take on all of this.
     
  72. For some time now I have been working on an ongoing series, which are essentially photographs of found objects. I have recorded them as faithfully as possible and really my only input has been selection of the objects. Before I started the series I was working on some paintings and looking for inspiration. The first photographs were nothing more than quick reference shots, but in time the photographs evolved into the finished artwork.
    Were these objects art before I found them? Clearly not, most were merely junk. Is selecting the objects and recording them enough? Possibly.
    So the series was conceived by a painter, who recorded the objects using the medium of film rather than paint, using the skills of a photographer. If I had used paint, I doubt many would argue against the resulting artwork being classified as art.
    What then if the photographer took photographs of the same objects, resulting in exactly the same photographs, would the results still be considered art? Maybe, but surely it would depend entirely on why the photographer took the photographs. Would it be enough if they were taken because the objects were thought to be pretty or beautiful and worthy of a photograph? I don't’ believe so. But had the photographer started with the same concept for the series as the painter, then really there can be no argument that the resulting photographs should be considered as art. Film is merely a medium, it is intent or concept, call it what you will, that is all important
    Selection is enough depending on intent.
    I think by now most have seen the series “Found Paintings” I have been referring to. However if anyone would like to see them they can be seen here. This will hopefully take you to my index page and then automatically to the relevant page. Emre, not at all sure that this answers your questions, just a bit of a ramble really, LOL!
     
  73. g|1

    g|1

    Regarding randomness, perhaps there is some purpose and intent within the exercise or randomly producing something? Fractals for example, may be produced by random algorithms at the click of a button, but how many results might be rejected before the 'artist' ends up with his/her satisfactory result? The chosen piece has been produced by random means, but there may still have been intention and preconceived ideas, and according to those ideas a piece may be chosen by a process of elimination. The same goes for 'found' subjects. How many found objects are there for goodness sake? How come an artist chooses a particular one to label or exhibit as art? The intention may not be the same as a created piece of work, but that does not mean the artist did not observe the subject for a particular reason. Or he may not have a preconceived idea, and instead see something unusual or special which he wishes to present to the world. In either case, I think intention is there by default if the artist is presenting something as 'art'.
     
  74. I don't have time to read all the responses... too many, but I'll add this: Each person experiences art in thier own way, and even this can change as time changes our current perception and feelings... so the artist (photographer) can create "art", even though they may not appreciate it as art at the moment. Years later, the same art (image) may have a profound impact, or take on a totally different meaning, for both the artist and others who view it. I suppose if we could go back in time, we might find that what we now consider boring to be very fascinating... seen from a "fresher" viewpoint. Art = emotion, feelings... which are constantly changing as is our perception of art.
     
  75. "The word 'art' is very slippery. It really has no importance in relation to one's work. I work for the pleasure, for the pleasure of the work, and everything else is a matter for the critics." Manuel Alvarez Bravo
     
  76. Speaking as someone who has spent 38 years reading
    philosophy I would have to say that there is no such thing as a
    'simple philosophical question'. Well, OK, the question might
    seem simple but the answers have kept philosophers in a job
    since Thales of Miletus. As Wittgenstein said, 'The purpose of
    philosophy is not to provide answers but to clarify questions'.
    And to determine whether the artist has 'intent' you would need to
    establish the existence of a mental state (unless you are a
    materialist, in which case a neurochemical state) corresponding
    to intention - which takes us into philosophy of mind.
     
  77. The artist begins with a subtle/complicated emotion he feels. His intention is to create a form that expresses what he has felt. That is his intention as he works on the art object or performance. Non-artists also have subtle/complicated feelings. They express these, when the feelings are strong, through traditional rituals. If no ritual is available, they may seek a reflection of the emotions in a work of art.
     
  78. It seems this thread is in hibernation but it's a topic worth pondering on a rainy Sunday in November.
    1. I think art HAS to be made with a purpose, if only at least for self expression or for entertainment. If it does neither of these then if must follow there is neither an artist nor an audience. If this isn't so, then every material object should be considered art.

    2. I wouldn't care whether or not an artwork was made with intent. For me, the pleasure of appreciating a piece of art as an audience is as important as the pleasure of creating one. How do we know what an artist's intent is anyway?

    3. I think an artwork without intent doesn't become artwork until it has an appreciative audience, therefore it isn't "created" but rather "becomes" art at some point. If a crude piece of ancient pottery is discovered, it might be considered art, but it was probably created out of necessity and limited materials. Does that make it less artistic?
     
  79. I would like to know what human communicative interaction (including "art") does not have intention. If there is communication then there is an intended or unintended purpose (aesthetic, emotional, intellectual, political, etc.) to the communication. When the intention is shared by the artist/communicator and the audience, as synergistically as is possible, then a reality is shared--communication is successful and the experience is satisfactory to both parties.
     

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