What is art?

This is the third part of a series dedicated to establish what art is. The first one was “La definición del arte” (Definition of art in Spanish), setting the concept out, the second one, “contra los farsantes” (Against the fakers in Spanish), evidencing the theorist’s mistakes, and, this one, showing the refusal of rational beings to accept the reason.

Nappy 4
Nappy 4

1

Art, contrary to what some theorists think, is neither indefinable nor does the concept vary with history.  The theories that our eminences have elaborated are totally absurd. Theorists seek the answer to questions by resorting to reason. However, reason does not always offer the right answer. Certain sciences can give exclusively rational answers, especially when it comes to questions hidden from the evidence. But there are questions in which reason is not the only or most precise means of attaining knowledge.

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A man with common sense is better prepared for the knowledge of human behavior than an incompetent with a degree. Idiocy and titles are distributed in the community.

Knowledge is achieved in various ways, one of which is reason, another is understanding. Understanding is immediate knowledge, not because of the time spent in reaching it, but because of the way in which it is acquired, since it does not require arguments or evidence, even if it does not give up its use. Rational beings, on the other hand, often give up understanding, so that their knowledge can remain incomplete and confused.

Malcolm Garret
Malcolm Garret

To understand is to know without further information, for example, to know when an upset stomach is the result of indigestion or a blow. It may seem unnecessary to give this kind of explanation, but it is not. Recently, psychiatrists are reaching, thanks to their high rational knowledge, a conclusion that everyone already knew before them by intuition, that they were over-diagnosing patients. In their clinical practice they have abandoned the natural knowledge of man to take refuge in science, as if this were the panacea to resolve all our doubts – or theirs. The truth is that what they do, like any man with power, is to exercise it. For all of them, the truth is less important than the prestige of their office and the authority granted to them to impose their opinion, which is not a criterion. Truth in society is crushed by the force and interest of the offices that the social structure requires for its functioning.

This acknowledgement by the graduates of their mistake should not be excused, as it would be as if a murderer who had acknowledged his crime were therefore free from punishment. Firstly, we do not believe that they have recognised the full extent of their error; secondly, we do not believe that, as a result, they will stop over-diagnosing; and finally, because they have made such a serious mistake, they should be discredited and removed from that work: if they are incapable of recognising the truth, let them devote themselves to something else. And it is a problem that brings to light a situation to which we have just referred, that an excess of reason does not lead to knowledge but to idiocy, since the fact described shows how ordinary man can reach a conclusion more easily than a sapient who, a victim of respect for reason, is no longer capable of valuing the evidence for what it says for itself and seeks arguments proper to his “science” for the greater glory of his profession but not for the truth, which, for someone with social power, cannot remain above his social objectives. Everything we say has no influence on behavior because the powerful exercise their power, despite the reasons against their actions, and the others simply do not confront the powerful. The real, supposedly undesired result is that society does not correct its mistakes because it does not judge or condemn itself; society always turns out to be innocent; the guilty one is the victim.

Clem Onojeghuo
Clem Onojeghuo

2

One of the serious problems of current thinking is the imprecision in the use of language. Thus, we find educated people who say “that gun”, “that act”, or even “the acts”. And there are many other expressions that seem to be correct, instead of ridiculous linguistic turns adopted by mediocre or snobbish people, and which, because of their abundant use, are reproduced by people who think they are speaking properly. In other words, the error is consolidated.

Someone asked me if I was confusing art with decoration. I don’t, art and decoration are different fields, like colors and sizes. Therefore, a yellow object can be big or small. What my interlocutor wanted to raise was something quite different, but which uses similar terms, and, as we say, the current lack of precision, even by the theorists, makes them use any word to expose their thoughts and the listener must deduce, from what he says, what he wanted to say.

That person, who was speaking vaguely, was asking, and not with very good intentions, if I was confusing artistic painting with decorative painting, which I don’t do either. These concepts belong to the same plane, as would be the case with colors, so an object is either yellow or red. The fact is that my article clearly talked about art and decoration, so there was no reason to try something else, but also, given the exhibition that was made, there was no place to confuse my interpretation of the terms used. Apart from misreading, misinterpreting or wanting to confuse us, what had led this curious speaker to raise the aforementioned question was his lack of knowledge of the precise meaning of the terms he was using.

Neonbrand
Neonbrand

3

Art theorists are part of social institutions. Don’t try to reason with them, the strength of their position is imposed on the logic, of which they are so proud. These graduates make the same serious mistakes that we have seen in other graduates.

For example, a theory of communication, a theory closely linked to the interpretation of art, says that in communication there is a sender, a message, a receiver and a channel. The sender codes to construct the message and the receiver decodes it, and that the message is the information that is to be communicated. In this scenario: First, where is the “information”? Second, if the message was the information, why would the receiver decode it? Theorists often confuse message and information, although a simple analysis of their own conclusions would lead them to realize that there is an inconsistency in their exposition that is easy to solve.

Quang Nguyen Vinh
Quang Nguyen Vinh

Another theory confirms that this error is widespread among the theorists of that discipline:

Communication is the process of transmitting information that involves a sender, a message that will be or is transmitted through a selected channel and a receiver.

(…)

This message or information has to be encoded so that it is understood by both the sender and the receiver.

(…)

The communication process will be complete when the message is understood.

In what are no more than three sentences, we find gathered the most frequent errors that appear in almost all these theories. Firstly, communication does not exclusively transmit information since, in a communication, data, orders and questions can be presented, so it would be more appropriate to talk about the content of the communication. Secondly, information and message are two different things. In the first part of the article quoted, we see that it seems to differentiate them, but in the second part, it seems to confuse them. In that second part, he talks about the codification of the message or information, well, what is obtained by codifying the information? It is not clear because by confusing two different terms they are left without the appropriate concept to refer to that result. If they were clear about the concepts and their differentiation, they would immediately realize that what a coded “information” offers is a message.

What all the theories don’t seem to understand either is that the content (which they call “information”) is something abstract, mental, they are simple neural connections, that’s why it can’t be transmitted directly, unless we resort to telepathy. If I want to transmit, in this case, an information (I love you) I cannot refer to it without constructing a message: I love you, I ♥ u, as it has been the case. But communication theory seems to believe that “I love you” is the information and not the message, confusing content and container, and says that, when the receiver decodes it, he “understands” it. This is misunderstood because the fact of communication is misunderstood. When the receiver decodes the message he gets the content. The expression they use, that the receiver understands the information, assumes that the information is something real, something that is outside the sender and the receiver, when it is a knowledge that is incorporated into thought, a mental thing.

Thirdly, the communication does not require the receiver to decode it. If the receiver does not receive the message or does not decode it, we are dealing with a failed communication, which is a different case from that of a lack of communication, since, at another time, the message could be received or decoded, since the message has been created and exists.

Clem Onojeghuo
Clem Onojeghuo

The communication theory that appears in Wikipedia only recognizes as elements of communication: the sender, the receiver, the source and the channel. But it does say about the sender:

Sender: Shannon called this element the “sender”, which, “operates in a certain way on the message to produce a signal suitable for transmission on the channel.”

This theory forgets to say that there must be a creator of the message, and focuses more on the channel of transmission than on the creation of the message, the coding, which is the essence of communication.

karen jerzyk, Self portraits
karen jerzyk, Self portraits

And, about the receiver, he says:

Receiver: For Shannon the receiver “performs the reverse operation previously done by the transmitter, reconstructing the message from the signal.

So the receiver “reconstructs” the message, but why does it have to “reconstruct” the message, is that it arrived destroyed? I would say that, again, the headlines confuse the message with the information.

Everyone can make mistakes, but they cannot be made by the sciences, not even by non-scientific disciplines, because they are all governed by hundreds or thousands of people, and some of them should have a certain logic. Not being so, as the examples cited show, all their other conclusions must be questioned, but the serious consequence is that we can no longer believe in social values or social positions or social titles, and it should be analyzed why graduates make such serious mistakes in their interpretations. I would say that it is only an exercise of power.

Ernesto Carrazana
Ernesto Carrazana

4

In communication, there is a content that one wants to transmit to a third party and that only exists in thought. To be able to transmit it, it is necessary to transform it into an object that can be manipulated, which we call a message. The creation of an object is done by using some kind of element. These elements can be words, musical notes, images, representations, gestures, signs or signals.

Therefore, language is a form of message creation using a certain type of elements. Since there are several types of elements that can be used in that construction, we have several types of languages. Verbal language is one of them, but not the only one, although, when talking about language, we tend to think exclusively of verbal language. Nor is there any difference between oral and written verbal language, in both cases, words are used as elements for the construction of the message, so they are the same type of language. What they do with this interpretation is to confuse the type of language (verbal) with the form of the elements used (words) that can be expressed with sounds (oral verbal language), codes (written verbal language), symbols (hieroglyphic verbal language), even signs (Morse verbal language). Perhaps it is better understood if we say that painting, watercolor, drawing and engraving are representations of the same type of art, handcrafted, unlike photography, a mechanical representation. Oral and written language would not be two types of language but two variants of the same type, verbal language.

Brett Sayles
Brett Sayles

As we have already stated in the first article of the series that art is a language because it is an expression of a content, we reaffirm that theory from another point of view, stating that art is composed of words, musical notes, images, representations, gestures, signs or signals, which means that works of art have the same composition as messages created to allow communication and, if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck and behaves like a duck, it is that it is a duck. In other words, art is a form of communication.

Dazzle Jam 29
Dazzle Jam 29

5

The graduates, who have understood neither art nor the elements of art, question the possibility of giving a definition that covers all the artistic manifestations that humanity has produced throughout its history.

In order to reach such a “rational” conclusion, they show their lack of knowledge about languages, that is to say, about the means of creating messages through different types of elements, and that is why different manifestations appear: painting, sculpture, theatre, music… and furthermore, each language has a specific way of manifesting itself in each time and place.

Leaving the world of art, we can better understand that, for example, verbal language has different forms in different times and places: Spanish, English, French… And, returning to the world of art, we see, throughout history, a diversity of styles.

The variety of languages and the variety of their manifestations produce an enormous amount of artistic forms whose abundance is not surprising when we know their origin, so that each work of art can be classified within one of the types of art (painting, sculpture, architecture…) and within one of the styles of art (Greek, Roman, Byzantine…). The thing has no more mystery.

Articles cover photo: Dazzle Jam.
HEad image: Clem Onojeghuo.

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