Wednesday, October 20, 2010
The Purpose of Art
Here's Gary outside Stumpknockers, a local seafood restaurant. A stumpknocker is a type of a fish and a type of a boat. When I first heard the word stumpknocker I imagined it to mean a stump in the water which could knock a hole in a boat, or perhaps a stump in the forest which could trip me if I didn't see it, a literal meaning. It's a word which means different things to different people, like art means different things to different people.
Occasionally Gary and I have discussions about art. What do you see in the photo of him? What does the photo tell you? How do you feel about the photo? I'm not saying the photo is art, just keep these questions in mind as you read the next few paragraphs. I posted the photo and questions to stimulate the conversation a little. A bit of a ramble here, nothing heavy, just some fun and friendly discussion. Oh and the same questions for the next photo too.
Gary is reading Dean Koontz, From the Corner of His Eye and read me a quote. Enoch, the main character in the book, is attending art classes at a college in San Francisco and he relays this about what he is learning:
"The purpose of art: to disturb you, to leave you uneasy with yourself, and wary of the world, to undermine your sense of reality in order to make you reconsider all that you think you know. The finest art should shatter you emotionally, devastate your intellectuality, leave you physically ill, and fill you with loathing for those cultural traditions that bind us and weigh us down and drown us in a sea of conformity".
I can think of lots of art which has disturbed me, but I wouldn't want to think or look at it every day. So in other words, I don't mind seeing disturbing art in a gallery, but don't want to see it in my home. So does that mean I only want art that's "pretty to look at" in my home? Depends on the art, I guess.
The part about the 'drown us in a sea of conformity' I do agree with. In our world of mass production I like to see something a little different, something non conforming, something original, something handmade. Don't get me wrong I like the classics too, I like all art. Well maybe most art. Somehow, though, I don't agree with Enoch's view of the purpose of art.
I do think art makes us think, makes us feel, helps us to express ourselves whether we are the maker or viewer, makes us appreciate each other, makes us appreciate others' points of view, and should and does bind us together. I say, yeah for art, what do you say?