Artist Intent: The Role of a Medium Who Talks

Artist Intent. Photo Credit – Flickr: incurable_hippieIn the chapter, “Interpretation and Identification,” in The Transfiguration of the Commonplace, Arthur Danto considers two painting, J and K, that are “distinct, enormously different works, however visually indiscernible.”

The following example depicts a similar case to highlight Danto’s art philosophy argument.

The Creations of John and Kevin

John is in his fourth year of art school at the undergraduate level and still feels he has learned nothing about what makes a creation a work of art.

His drawings are drastically different from other students’ drawings in his classes, yet they are all treated as works of art during his class critiques. John’s drawings appear three-dimensional and resemble photographs, while many of his classmates do not approach art through realism, and instead produce, what John considers, very juvenile drawings. Nonetheless, these drawings are evaluated, put on display in school art shows, and considered art by everyone John comes in contact with, in the same fashion that his drawings are considered art.

One day, John gets fed up with producing art for a college that is going to consider anything he produces a work of art. He no longer wants to spend time using care and precision in his drawings to make them look like photographs. John decides that since his work will be treated as art regardless of what it looks like, he might as well not even physically produce the art himself.

To complete his work for the remainder of his time in art school, John designs a computer program that randomly generates “art.” The software produces colors and shapes that form a composition, and the only effort John puts into creating an artwork is pressing a “generate art” button. When John hears his classmates and professors try to analyze what the colors and shapes could represent in the first work that his software produces, he laughs to himself because he knows that no artistic intent went into the creation of the work. The composition took virtually no time to create and symbolizes nothing for John. [Read more…]

Philosophy of Art Versus Aesthetics

Philosophy of Art. Photo Credit – Flickr: dogwelderAre tattoos meaningless markings or a possible form of 
self-beautification or self-expression?

What purpose does it serve to discuss tattoos as possible works of art?

Immanuel Kant discusses tattoos as a possible form of self-beautification in The Critique of Judgment. He writes:

We could add much to a building that would immediately please the eye, if and only if it was not to be a church. We could adorn a figure with all kinds of spirals and light but regular lines, as the New Zealanders do with their tattooing, if only it were not the figure of a human being.

It is Kant’s position that the Maori, who tattoo their faces, do not produce anything beautiful with tattooing because they disrupt the human’s inherent form. The tattoo designs, themselves, might be beautiful but not if they are manifested on a human being. The beauty of a human being, for Kant, depends on the human’s natural form. Adding a tattoo to a human being is an inorganic act and therefore not beautiful, he concludes. [Read more…]

Tattoo Philosophy Simplified

The Philosophical Functionality of the Tattoo: A Philosophy of ArtI’m just as bored as you are when That Girl explains to a group of adoring imbeciles why she has an enigmatic symbol tattooed on her shoulder—a result of too many tequila shots.

I get it.

Individual tattoo philosophy stories are not necessarily interesting, but tattoo creation narratives contribute to the general ontology of Art.

If tattoos are used as a form of artistic expression, why does someone choose skin for their creations rather than another material or medium?

Why is skin the most appropriate canvas for an idea?

Can a tattoo sometimes be art and sometimes just a marking?

How do you distinguish which is the case?

If That Girl is foolish for getting a tattoo while inebriated, does it follow that a person can never create artwork while intoxicated?

Is That Girl potentially an artist? Why, or why not? [Read more…]

How to Be Smart in a World Full of Dumb Tattooed People

Photo Credit – Flickr: Nina Matthews PhotographyThey’re so gross, aren’t they?

I don’t know the exact group of people you have beef with, but I’m sure you have beef. Humans love disliking other groups of people because we love to blame everything that is wrong on someone or something else.

Our perceptions of what is wrong are innately external. You would prefer a situation to be different, but it’s not, so your human instinct decides to be pissed off about it.

Unfortunately, facts aren’t going to magically change just because you don’t like them, and excessive lamenting is a waste of energy.

Let’s focus on energy for a minute.

We all want more energy—especially in a society where “tired” and “busy” are common, acceptable, and often preferred responses to the question “how are you?”

Everyone has important tasks to accomplish and feels there is never enough time to get it all done. Energy helps us execute our to-do lists.

So, why do we waste so much energy “liking” and “disliking?” [Read more…]

What Tattoos Can Teach Us About Art & Writing

The Philosophical Functionality of the Tattoo: A Philosophy of ArtTen years ago, the two words that most accurately described my identity were “philosophy” and “tattoos.”

Philosophy consumed my life as an undergraduate student, and tattoos were my favorite hobby—one that I incorporated into my studies as much as possible.

When it came time to pick a topic for my honors thesis before my senior year, the decision was a no-brainer.

Justifying my topic to the faculty in the philosophy department at my college was another story.

Since anthropology was one of my minors (studio art was the other), the philosophy professors were quick to dismiss my idea of using tattoos as a focus for a philosophical examination of art.

Luckily, my faculty advisor saw potential in my perspective and convinced his peers to hear more about my paper in a meeting.

The objections that I faced stated the obvious: [Read more…]

Philosophical Functionality of the Tattoo: A Philosophy of Art

The Philosophical Functionality of the Tattoo: A Philosophy of ArtItems I wrote less than eight weeks ago often embarrass me, so I expected to be horrified when I sat down to read my college honors thesis from eight years ago.

Even though it can be painful to review old pieces of writing because the editor in me doesn’t refrain from noticing room for improvement, the process energizes my creative sensibilities for new projects.

Since my forthcoming philosophical Percocet, How to Overcome Heartbreak Without Projectile Vomiting, is an argument about heartbreak’s role in identity formation, I thought it would be helpful to review the structure of my long-forgotten philosophical argument about art.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading the essay, so I turned it into a 75-page book that’s divided into six chapters:

 

The Philosophical Functionality of the Tattoo: A Philosophy of Art

 

Introduction: The Philosophy of Art

Part I: Traditional Art and Tattoo Art

Part II: The Conditions for the Creation of Tattoo Art

Part III: How Does Tattooing Evoke New Ideas About Art?

Part IV: The Function of an Animate Medium

Conclusion: The Missing Link in Danto’s Theory

You can download the book for free here. [Read more…]