Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Can Real Art Save the World?

How does art give value to the world and in the world?

There is something exciting happening in the art world, even though there has always been excitement in the world of art.

History in a paddock
The two worlds, the art world or artworld and the world of art, often collide and fight each other instead of coming together for a higher purpose.  That higher purpose appears to be happening.

What is interesting is that it is happening now.

Art has been happening for many years, of course.  So what is different about what is happening now?

Nature and technology
The difference is that the light is beginning to shine again between pop culture and wonderful art.  Pop culture is defined by its devotion to the commerce of attracting attention.

Weirdness often attracts short-term attention.  Most art, when it attracts attention, becomes part of pop culture, even when it is not weird at all.

Most people do not understand their own ordinary and weird experiences.  Art is an attempt to understand.

Beginning with definitions

Politics and nature
The art world is defined by the ability of its established and/or wealthy members to define art in relation to its monetary value.  Those persons do not necessarily define the cultural, social or aesthetic value of art.

I have, myself, been at the centre of the contemporary art world for many years, in a quiet way, though I am usually considered to be at the centre of the timeless world of art, quite naturally.   I am also at the centre of the world of science but not necessarily at the centre of the world of politics, given the mess of the latter.

My ethereal presence in the world usually transcends politics for higher, cultural and philosophical purposes, even from my Adelaidean music room.  Yet I have a duty to influence politics so that I may make a small yet significant contribution to saving the world from itself.

Finding meaning in the middle of a mess

Just as the consumers of pop culture often misguidedly believe popularity equates with quality, so the art world often confuses one value with another.  This rarely occurs in the world of art.

The world of art cannot be defined.  Once it is defined, it is no longer the world of art.

Art itself can be defined.  Every true work of art can define art in its own way.

Most members of the media, as representatives and distributors of pop culture, unquestioningly provide endorsement of the relationship between money and attention.  The media becomes excited by the primacy of that relationship.  In turn, the media through which the relationship between money and attention is reported, attracts attention to itself.

Why art is not about attracting attention

There is nothing intrinsically meaningful or valuable about attracting attention.  In fact, the opposite is often true. Creating world peace is not about attracting attention at all.  It is meaningful in and of itself.

Arriving naked at a media event may or may not attract attention depending on the location and the context.

Arriving at a hospital and screaming loudly may or may not attract attention, for various reasons.

Accuracy or attention?
Exploding bombs in busy streets is and are likely to attract attention, depending on where those streets are located and the reasons for the occurrence, if there can ever be a valid reason for exploding anything except myths.

Strong earthquakes will most likely attract media attention, at least for a short while, if they occur in cities or holiday resorts, rather than remote or rural areas.  Locations with an international tourist industry, whether urban or rural, attract attention whether those facilities are reduced to rubble or not.

A major storm over an ocean will not usually attract much media or public attention, unless a celebrity yacht skipper is in distress.  If a storm takes place on usually dry land during the broadcast of a sporting final and swamps the pitch, drenches the crowds and/or creates heated debate between persons in a live television studio, then it is likely to attract short-term attention.

Receiving attention has become an end in itself in pop culture for many unenlightened persons in the 21st century, even if money, art and/or sport are not involved.  So, what is different this year in the art world?  Has anything really changed?

Has the art world, even including new media art, found a way for real art to save the world?

Wondering about real art

Creating peaceful art?
Unlike the art world/artworld and/or the media world and/or the world of pop culture, the world of art is an expression of other, rarely definable values, such as beauty, truth, justice, and even peace.  The essence of the world of art is, in fact, inaccessible to anyone unless they experience it for themselves, inside their minds.

In which world do you usually exist, dear guest?

Here in my serene salon, you are currently in the world of art, of course.  This is the location of real art.  This is where real art is happening.

Wonderful art and world peace

The art world itself has not, until recently, been about art at all.  It has been about placing monetary value and prestige on various items.  It has also been about placing value on various people and their activities.

Giving attention to the cultural and financial significance of items and people does not necessarily do anything useful or peaceful.  There have, of course, been persons in the past century with the ability to identify potentially great artists.  However, good patrons and great artists have often been few and far between.

As a reasonably good patron myself, I know that processes and relationships in the art world are usually political and commercial rather than artistic.  Yet, in most instances, the art world is even more shallow than the entire attire section of the fashion industry.  This is regardless of academic attempts to describe the art world sociologically.

Art and business

Good or bad events?
The contemporary art world, like any business, revolves around good and bad events and good and bad sales.   It is full of contradictions, much like governments.  It has rules of what not to do, like a guidebook for tourists.

Even persons involved in the fashion industry may believe themselves to be part of the art world or even the world of art rather than, or in addition to, the world of business.  Fashion designers, whether of clothing, shoes, hats or bags, or any other wearable items, may even consider themselves to be sculptors.

Symbolic capital?
As far as I am aware, art, fashion and awards are usually reflective of the symbolic capital within a specific, cultural context.  This relates to the expression of soft power, also known as symbolic power, diplomatically and politically, but not necessarily artistically.

A legitimate, democratic and peaceful government is itself a true form of art though rarely to be found.  Yet even at the political level, a relatively good government can provide the context for true artistic inspiration and expression.

As an enlightened cultural leader, I try to ensure my salon for creating world peace is, most usually, a place for relaxation and reflection rather than action or excitement.  It is certainly not usually a place for attracting attention at the expense of the task at hand:

Do you have the ability to save the world with real art?

Wonderful art and a world worth saving

People with large amounts of money in their possession do not usually want to give it to governments, or anyone else, to abuse.  Nor do they usually want to give it to inefficient or superficial forms of charity.  They want to support hope, even if it is merely their own.  They want to retain influence.  They want to raise their own prestige and that of the persons, artifacts, ideas and places they value.

If a person with money does not want to raise or maintain their own prestige, they will, most likely, anonymously give much of that money away.  Most wealthy persons do not do that.  They may flaunt their wealth.  They may establish charitable foundations.  They may buy expensive real estate. They may buy art.  If they are vain, they may meddle in politics.

Politics and art
But does politics itself have a place in the world of art?   When the political meddles in art it usually debases it.  It is the same with communities.  Inadequately informed meddling causes most of the problems in the world.  And meddling merely means to have too much influence.

The main question to be answered at present is:  Can real art save the world?  The world to be described in the context of the word saving usually means the world of human life on this relatively small planet.

The art world can, and often does, make political statements through the works of art its members choose to purchase and promote.  If you are involved in any aspect of the purchase or promotion of any sort of art, including sharing an understanding of art history or merely a selection of artistic digital images, you are part of the art world, whether near its centre or nearer periphery.

You are part of the art world if you have little money but love art.  You may even buy art with the little money you manage to save.  You may possibly make art, as do most people to some extent - for love, if not for money.

You may consider yourself to be a participant in the art world, or the world of art, or the world of science or politics or fashion or pop culture or something else entirely.  You are entitled to your own interpretation of your own societal existence, as long as you express that interpretation peacefully.

 Yes, real art is wonderful

Various metaphorical corners, open spaces and digital display cabinets of the Internet can occasionally be defined as art.  Anyone with access to the Internet can, for example, be a curator of digital art, digital texts, images and sounds.   In addition, those persons are likely to experience art as mediated through the limitations of technology, time, money and the sensory system.

Unlike real art, all other inspirations are not peacefully artistic in themselves. Real art provides inspiration for the desire for peace and its maintenance.  Real art never incites destruction.  Real art never provokes self-indulgent, attention-seeking vulgarity or brutality. Real art can express humour.  It can be playful.  It can even shock, occasionally, though usually for a higher, more peaceful purpose.  Yet the world of art, unlike the art world, is never authoritarian.

Public consciousness

In the past, the Turner Prize has been about attracting attention to the art world/artworld.  It has acted in a similar way to a sporting contest in the public consciousness.  It has never been about making worthy art or any other long-term contributions to culture.  It has always been about pop culture.

As far as I am aware, the Turner Prize has never even been an art prize.  It has been a prize for promotional purposes only: for the winners, the runners up, the sponsors, the judges, the trustees, the objectors and various venues.  Calling it prestigious is no more than an empty marketing term.

The persons winning the Turner Prize have not necessarily been talented artists.  They have been talented and successful attention seekers.  They have nothing intrinsically in common with the original Mr Turner, who would probably be horrified to know how his name has been abused by the art world/artworld.

Unfortunately, the Turner Prize, like all other forms of pop culture, has made several attention seekers subsequently excessively rich.  It has also brought already rich persons into, or back into, the public eye. Once anyone is widely known, their name becomes part of pop culture.

In fact, the Nobel Prize and the Turner Prize have much in common.

But is art now much like a widely consumed beverage?  Is the art world little more than a process of growing, grading, buying, distributing, steeping and sipping?

Has art become mainly illustrative, in a similar way to a scientific report?  Does contemporary art mainly describe, lecture and even preach?

The awarding of a prize is merely a reflection of values at a given moment.  Those values may be social, cultural, scientific, political or financial.

Something outstanding

What is interesting about the word outstanding is that it has two contradictory meanings.  It can mean excellent and remarkable and impressive but it can also mean incomplete.  I prefer to refer to the Turner Prize in the context of the latter meaning.

Science uncovers new, possibly verifiable or refutable interpretations of the world, or at least a particular aspect of the world.  However, the giving of prizes is rarely scientific in itself as a process, which is why the Nobel and the Turner are so similar.

The Nobel Prize became prestigious mainly because it offered a large sum of prize money for various reputations, through acknowledgement of various pursuits.  That money, as many persons are already aware, had originally been acquired through the sale of armaments:  The destruction of people, places, biodiversity and art will rarely be peaceful pursuits.

Alfred Nobel wished to have his name remembered by posterity for something more respectable than killing people.   He had already read his unflattering obituary in a newspaper. It had mistakenly been published prematurely when he had been mistaken for his late brother. 

A preferred public image, in the pre-Internet social media days, could easily be bought, at least if the money was available for that purpose.  The Turner Prize has prestige mainly because its sponsors provide the money for it, thereby making it of more interest to the media and the wider public.  The judges of the Turner Prize provide the controversy with which to interest the media and the wider public.

Peace as art and art as peace

To the art world, to most governments, and even to persons in high fashion and high science, and possibly even high finance, peace itself has because performance art: An artificial circumstance rather than a way of life.  And science is often used for warlike, competitive purposes, and even for war, as is finance.

In my peaceful, scientific work, whether in my studio here in Villa Twaklinilkawt in Adelaide, or through the investigative facilities in Palazzo Twaklinilkawt in Nilkawt, or during my duties in the social media sphere of the digital world, I seek Twaklinological evidence of true art.  Do you do something similar, dear guest?

Even if you do not have a science studio or television studio of your own, or an arts laboratory, or responsibilites in and/or from a palace, I am sure you celebrate peaceful developments in the art and science of living in the 21st century.  However, I have often observed that new developments, whether in art or architecture or in diplomacy, are not necessarily good or peaceful or outstanding or worthy of admiration.

Prestige is a word I often examine scientifically.  Reputations based on prestige often hide an unpleasant truth.  Prestige is often meant to equate with respect yet that does not necessarily imply everything about a person or institution is worthy of respect.  Although memories may fade, no amount of money can undo the damage caused by dynamite or interpersonal abuse, for example.

It is possible for abusiveness to occur and be perpetuated behind a mask of prestige.  In fact, it is unfortunately the case that such abusiveness is later found to have been prevalent.

The media often fails to uncover the abusiveness because the prestige receives all the attention.  For similar reasons, police often fail to follow up reports of criminal activity when the alleged perpetrators have prestige.

But innocent persons who act honourably and peacefully, often shun publicity.  They provide beneficence and act in ways worthy of public respect though they would never seek that recognition for themselves.  They may feel uncomfortable about receiving public acknowledgemen.  The value to society of their gentle, ongoing significance in relation to peacefulness may even be taken for granted.

Truly honourable people certainly want to be emulated but not in an egotistical way.  They prefer to lead by example, in a subtle, unobtrusive way.

Esteem and peace

Encouraging and inspiring people to surpass the achievements of their forebears is itself worthy of esteem.  That encouragement should be the pre-eminent purpose of any prize.  Yet creativity cannot be forced, whether in the sciences or the arts.  Creative expression acts of its own accord, at least if a person has the ability, opportunity and self-discipline to allow it to occur.

Joseph Mallord William Turner had the ability and opportunity.  He also had the self-discipline, the enthusiasm and the willingness to work in various capacities to fund his education, equipment and travels.  He refused to restrict himself, as far as his work was concerned, or to allow other people to limit or define him and his art.

Real art, like real science, is meant to stimulate the loosening of prejudices and other rigid thinking.  Real art, like pure science, is always respectable in its pursuit of peace and understanding within the limits of the universe.  It never makes claims.  It just is.

A gimmick is a publicity stunt.  It is not art.  A gimmick has no ongoing relevance.  Its message is limited to a time and place.

Emulation of a gimmick is no more than emulation of a gimmick.  It is part of a fad.  It has no deeper meaning than the unquestioning following of a trend.

Yet real art does not, from the opposite perspective, intentionally alienate.  To alienate is to fail to communicate peacefully, with understanding.

At the same time, to limit visual art to two-dimensions or three-dimensions is to forget that Mr Turner loved theatre and opera and nature.  He used all his senses whilst absorbing the world around him and expressing it through his art.  He possibly had the neurological sensitivity necessary to interpret the world more intensely than his numbed contemporaries.

From his own family experiences, he had observed the diffusion of tones between rationality and madness.  He placed his new art on the boundary between the two.

Collectors of art may be in search of prestige themselves, especially after careers in fields usually seen as unworthy of respect, or of little prestige.  They may collect art merely for decoration, or as an investment, or to provide patronage for artists they view with affection.

It may be better for the world as a whole if those persons, through their activities in the art world, meddle in the world of art rather than more directly in the world of politics.  Democracy is meant to provide everyone with equal influence, with reason.  What is art meant to provide?

Exciting happenings and peaceful meanings

What is exciting in the art world at present?  It could be that it is, finally, helping to improve democracy.  It is therefore providing hope.  Throughout history, most expressions of art have been expressions of hope though they have been used for various purposes, few of which have enhanced democracy.

The pretentiously and presumptuously self-named Patrons of New Art, just like self-important critics in the media and uninformed purchasers of any sort of product, appear to have had the intention, since the beginnings of the Turner Prize, of promoting their own opinions as if they represent wider sentiments than their own.  Today, the word contemporary means new.  Yet neither word has much meaning in relation to real art.

Real art transcends time.  It is rarely valued for its newness except through the awarding of prizes for that newness.

Mr Turner's work captured moments in time for the benefit of posterity.  In a way, he worked like a good scientist: Observing and using matter and energy to find meaning.

The art world can give prestige to peace, to empathy, or to any value at all, if it so chooses.  I, for example, am willing to supervise commissions of peaceful. permanent, sustainable, interactive artistic works.  The minimum current monetary values of those works, depending on their permanent location, are five million USD or twelve million AUD or eight million GBP or twenty million EUR or seven hundred million JPY.

I accept payments in up to three instalments over three years, as long as the first instalment is at least 70% of the total, with the second instalment at least 20%.  There is a late payment fee of 10% of the entire amount in relation to each of the three instalments.

If you wish to have an idea of how the money is likely to be used during the commissioning, of which my own fee is no more than 1% of the total, just take a tour of Villa Twaklinilkawt.  Please note that you will never personally own the work you commission.  The art will be placed in trust for future generations of peaceful artists to enjoy and appreciate, in peace.  That is already happening.