>> Let's say I walk down the street and shoot someone dead. By your
>> definition this is Art.
> It would, by my definition, only be art if someone, who saw you
> the shooting (hopefully of an Amy Lowell scholar), were in some way
> by it on a fundamental level. Thus, the shooting of a Vietnamese soldier
> T.V. was art, and so was the act of Buddhist immolation. I can live
> the poor taste of that word) with that as a definition. What we are
> after, I believe, is what the hell makes GOOD art.
I think you'd need to clarify what you mean by 'changed' here; there are
countless ways of changing people, and surely they don't all count as art.
I'm uncomfortable with the notion of the images you mention from the Vietnam
war being considered as art. They were certainly influential, and have
become defining images of the conflict. However, I would be inclined to
draw a distinction between iconism and art. These images are certainly
iconic, and to some extent achieve what art (can) achieve, by seeming to
capture a whole range of human experience/emotion in a simple, single image.
But just as you can have art that is not iconic, so you can have iconic
imagery (or philosophy, whatever) that isn't art. (Perhaps it's helpful to
mention Marilyn Monroe here - she is iconic, but she is not herself art;
though Warhol's lithographs of her are arguably both iconic and art).
OK. I'm now struggling here with several ideas. Perhaps one of them is
that art should express something about the human experience, but not *be*
human experience. I find to consider a pacific's self-immolation as 'art'
triviliases its meaning. Art can perhaps be born from the experience,
though. As the event becomes iconic, so perhaps representations of that
event, drawing on the associations people have with the event, can be
perceived as art. Christ's crucifixion, for instance, is not readily
considered art, yet countless graphic representations of that event *are*
considered art. Why? Does art need to be removed from reality, a
meditation upon it, but not actual raw reality itself? Should it indeed
only hold up a mirror to reality, or can it *be* reality?
You've raised a very interesting question, here, Michael. I can't accept
the images from Vietnam you mention as art, because I know they are not
harmless, reflective disquisitions on the nature of human suffering, they
are authentic pictures of real people dying. I find that shocking, iconic,
but not in the least artistic. However, if I saw an artist's depiction of
the Buddhist's self-immolation (like seeing a depiction of the crucifixion)
I would feel that much more distanced from it; I would know what it referred
to, and reflect on that, but not feel that sense of sickness in my stomach.
No-one is actually suffering before my eyes. And yet, the event took place,
and I know what it was whether I watch the newsreel or see a portrait.
Whether I see an image referring to an actual event, or the actual event as
captured on film, I'm equally unable to do anything about something that
happened 30 (or 2,000) years ago. And the camera is perfectly capable of
producing art. So why is the camera's image of it not art (if indeed it's
not - Michael, you would disagree on this point), when a canvas depiction of
the same unchangeable event might be? Is that just human (or my)
squeamishness, or does it say something useful about the nature of art? Or,
to put it another way, if they had video cameras 2,000 years ago, would live
footage of the Crucifixion be held up as art now, alongside the many other
representations of the event which *are* considered art? If not, why not?