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November, 7th, 2007
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Parodoxes of Art Solved
by Chris Sunami
Q: Why is it that receiving the right explanation of an artwork can transform its effect and impact, yet well-informed critics can argue for years about an artwork without ever changing their minds?
A: In the first case, the explanation of the artwork familiarizes you with its idiom, and thus allowing you to perceive it more successfully. In the second case, however, the critics may already perceive the artwork accurately, but yet find it either irrelevant or unacceptable. It is worth noting at this point, however, that there is another factor, largely outside of the artist's control, that can also transform the impact of an artwork, that being the acquisition of associations, which are states of mind, including perceptions, conceptions, memories, and most typically, emotions, that can become linked, for a given audience member, with a particular work of art. This will inevitably alter that audience member’s perceptions of the artwork, sometimes in unpredictable ways.
Q: Does conceptual art reduce the entire idea of art to meaninglessness?
A: Duchamp’s Fountain opened the door for a generation of artists who took a seemingly assortment objects and activities and labeled them as “art”. Yet the magic performed in transforming the prosaic into art was little more than a sleight-of-hand. Although much conceptual art did generate genuine art experiences, those experiences were not created by the physical art objects seemingly at their center, but by the concepts and context that came attached to them.
This in itself was confusing enough, but in addition one of the chief concepts used as an element in conceptual art was the concept of art itself, leading many people –including many of the artists themselves --to the false conclusion that the nature of art had been altered. In actuality, all that had happened was that concepts and non-material elements had been added to the media available for use by artists.
Q: Why do artworks go in-and-out of popularity? Shouldn't good art always be good?
A: Society as a whole is interested in different things at different points in time, and the popular art reflects its interests. In times of transition, people prefer works with a high degree of Tension, which reflects the internal turmoil they feel. Times of actual crisis favor works with high Consonance, reflecting a communal desire to impose order on a chaotic world. Conversely, times of peace and contentment diminish the need for art with a high degree of Verity, which is why good times often lead to bad art.
In addition to favoring differing qualities of art, social trends also select for art that considers those problems currently in the public consciousness. Although Pachelbel's Canon was composed in Germany in the 1600’s, it experienced a widespread burst of popularity in America in the 1980’s. Why? The reason is that the piece explores the Tension inherent in a piece of music set in counterpoint with itself. This resonated strongly with the push towards “self-actualization” that characterized the American eighties. The Canon's consonant harmonies represented a model for resolving one’s conflicts with one’s self. Similarly, the social relevance of artistic solutions can also undergo cyclical changes. If we perceive the music of Wagner as exploring solutions based on dominance, then we can expect that his music will pass out of favor in times focused more around collaboration.
A final factor in cyclical popularity is based on idiom. Certain modes of expression may themselves be more accessible in one era than another, and a work that depends, even subtly, on social context may seem less appealing when that context evolves.
Q: Why are some artists chiefly popular among other artists?
A: This is partly a question of relevance. An artist's artist may take as subject or inspiration technical or formal problems relating to the practice of art itself, and thus chiefly relevant to other artists. Furthermore, the artist's artist may be less concerned with Consonance, which makes his or her work less palatable or accessible to a general audience, but more concerned with Verity, which makes the work more attractive to those with greater artistic discernment or sensitivity.
Hakika katika maisha kunavitu vilivyo mvutia mtu mpaka nayeye akawd mpenzi wa fani fulani.Mimi binafsi Shairi alilolitunga Shaaban Robert baada ya kifo cha mkewe Amina ndo shairi pekee ambalo lilinifanya kuanza na kuwa mpenzi wa mashairi na leo hii nimepata kukumbuka mbali sana kwani shairi hili linachoma lina weza kumfanya mtu atokwe machozi.Ama hakika kazi ya sanaa kupitia Fasihi Andishi inaweza kumuenzi mtu ingawa amesha fariki miaka zaidi ya hamsini iliyopita.