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Monday, 29 November 2010

Some notes on the nature of Art... (1) The Rules of Art

Many practices can be considered normative, but that doesn't mean that they all rely on explicit rules.
A normative activity is normative because it is first a social activity. These systems of conventions are assigned normative powers by cultures/society and there cannot be these 'rules' in art, otherwise they would be repeatable 'facts' (presumably).
Art work as a gesture* of the surrounding culture. Thus, intransitive, for how could I describe all the rules that apply to the work?
Even if we accept that rules must at some level go to form its basis.
Understanding could be considered as training in rules. Art not only a question of feeling. You only like what you understand. Can this always be right? What of absurdist art? The surprise of art. Showing us a new way of seeing something we already understand. Not new origination (potential impossibility) but new invention of use/seeing/synonym.
The artist, the critic, and the spectator share the same 'form of life' (Wittgenstein).
An artist's work isn't explicitly a following of rules.
Knowledge of rules of art available only after in hindsight, before they are only implicit/potential. The paradox of rules.
Rorty. 'We don't interpret art works, we use them.'

* [Gesture theory? No theory at all. Does thinking of art as a gesture help in any way? It shws us that here is something worth looking at. Something of VALUE.]


Ent said...

"Knowledge of rules of art available only after in hindsight, before they are only implicit/potential. The paradox of rules."

I like this, although, as you pointed out, it is a paradox. And if it where always true you would have jinxed yourself from reading and believing this and then going strait into an artistic endeavor...

Looking for the rules in art is just building a paper wall to punch through.

Anonymous said...

Ah interesting. I'm thinking your blog is going to become my aesthtics 101 course :-D

How about a comment specific to the post: I'm interested in the connection, if there is one, for i think there is, of the 'rules' of art and the craft inherent in art. For an understanding of craft influences understanding(s) of what is possible in terms of rules or acceptances. Both of which seem inherently linked to the historical dimensions of how we understand art. Especially when one sees a piece/school/series of art as a response to something.

p.s. you mentioned a wittgenstein quote about art and science a while back, and reading this made me do 1+1 = the idea that sceince is not doing new things per se, but is finding new ways to look at the old things, but chinging the rules or paradigm as to how to we percieve said things.

p.p.s. Ent said..."Looking for the rules in art is just building a paper wall to punch through." Alas, as said about the paradox of rules. Once you break one you have in effect made a new sat for others to follow. One of the questions i think stem from this is that is art that strictly follows art, art? :D

god-free morals said...

Quick note: When I mention art or aesthetics I always mean in the Modern sense (and by that 17th century until now). Further connections become problematic and once we reach the Greeks almost impossible.

I think your problem with rules is perhaps a stronger version than LB's. Hopefully my answer below explains my position better.

I think there's been a misunderstanding (good start and one that is my fault) by what I mean by rules here.

The rules I mean here are more like general codes for interacting between learned judges in a specific cultural practice (in this case - talking about art works). The place of normativity is in seeing an 'ought' that applies to our use of language in this instance, i.e. the correct usage. In this way following the rules is the same as participating in the practice in that it requires prior learning of normative standards.

"Understanding could be considered as training in rules." But these are not practical techniques, for then they would be "repeatable facts" this is not what we want here. And this is why I don't think that art and craft are the same thing, although they are closely related for sure, the distinction comes out in the emphasis of product in craft.

Historicity is implied but not explicit. Although I've not even got to the level of understanding your descripton seems to need. In that I must also give the work's history. I think that identifying art or craft is another question (for later).

On the p.s. could you remember the exact quote?

On the p.p.s. I think you're quite right here.

There was something else, but I've forgotten...