Artists are creative by definition, and interesting things arise when artistic imagination meets technological innovation. Kim Chestney has spent many years cultivating those intersections, and in this article for The Muse Dialogue, she offers a very personal look at her experience as a viewer. She writes, “I longed to be moved by a work of technological art. Call it interactive, 4-D or robotic — it didnt matter. I wanted to know if it was possible to fall in love with this new media the way I fell in love with my first Vuillard or Pre-Raphaelite. I wondered whether it was even possible.”
To find out whether it was possible for her to fall in love with technological art, you are going to need to read on in “Art + Technology: A Love Story” (click here to link to full article.
Among our favorite topics at The Muse Dialogue is that great question at the center of our world: What is art? Into the fray enters Andrea Romero. Romero is struggling with the tension of knowing that art exists but being unable to define it. Art is not simply whatever we want it to be or whatever we say it is — for if that were the case, then the word would be irrelevant entirely. Yet as soon as we use the word, consensus seems perhaps a distant hope. Romero writes, “It would be too easy to reconcile the conflict by simply accepting that certain concepts are ineffable and that language is just a placeholder. Art exists – I will never debate that, but it is rather frustrating to be unable to define something I value so deeply.”
Join her as she explores this ever compelling topic, as she contemplates what artists intend in their work and what they and we have to say about them in her essay “Validating the Artist’s Intent Is Not Validating the Artist’s Word” (click here to read full article).
Leonardo, gone but not forgotten
We love the arts, and want to preserve them all…or so we think until we realize that we also need to make space for the new. In the process, forms come and go, and some ultimately die out. The process is natural and not necessarily a bad thing unto itself. However, it comes with some difficult questions. Andrew Swensen takes up some of those challenges — the need to cultivate the new, to preserve the old, and to make sure that everyone has a place in the rich world of the arts.
Read on in our latest article, “Aesthetic Darwinism” (click here to read full article).
Reflections on Theological Aesthetics: Overlooked Perspective on Artistic Creativity or Passé Thinking
William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
For centuries in cultures around the world, art was conventionally linked to the metaphysical and the religious. Yet in the contemporary age, we tend to veer away from the idea of theological aesthetics. The discourse of discussing art hedges on the theological question by treating even religiously motivated work through the language of cultural studies. Yet Andrew Swensen wonders if the thought of our most theologically motivated artists and aestheticians might then become only history lessons. What are we to do with the likes of Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art or the poetry of Blake, which is so rooted in theological motivation? Swensen writes, “For a variety of reasons, we have largely steered away from considering a connection between art and the area of religion, theology, spirituality and metaphysics.”
Read on in our latest offering from The Muse Dialogue, “Reflections on Theological Aesthetics: Overlooked Perspective on Artistic Creativity or Passé Thinking” (click here for full article).
A Trip to a Craft Show, To Find Art
One of a Kind Toronto (Photo: OOAK Toronto (c))
Alexandra Holness enjoys visiting the One of a Kind Show, an annual exhibition of creative crafts presented in Toronto. Yet this experience leads her to questions regarding the distinctions made between art and craft. Craft has a useful function and is often created with the intention of selling, and because of these two facts many have placed it in a place somewhere below true “art.” As Holness writes, “So, as it seems, if a piece of art serves some utilitarian purpose or is designed primarily to reap financial profits, it no longer quite deserves that coveted “art” title. This bothers me.”
In this article, Holness takes up the challenge and argues that craft represents the product of imagination and creativity, and so possesses the hallmarks of art — and does not deserve the subordinate position that it is often given. Follow her reflections in “A Trip to a Craft Show, To Find Art” (click here for the full article).
Finding the Beautiful Before Us: When Craft Becomes Art
Often creative works are dismissed as mere “craft” because they have a useful function, and their utility may prompt us to overlook their artistry. Andrew Swensen argues that this prejudice could prevent us from finding remarkable art works in our immediate environments, some of which we discover only after time has removed their usefulness. We may also find profound artistic statements in places where creative expression takes the form of traditional crafts.
So step into the world where transforming craft into art may be a function of altering our reception, and giving credit where credit is due. Step into “Finding the Beautiful Before Us: When Craft Becomes Art” (click here to read full article).
Artists, Craftsmen…and the Craft of Art
Virgil once wrote, “Practice and thought might gradually form many an art.” Indeed one wonders how much of artmaking can be attributed to questions of craft, that is, to those things that one can practice and improve with dedication and commitment. Yet how much of art is in the craft? When does the focus on craft impede the expression of the art?
A trumpet player now entering a life as a professional artist, Erin Yanacek contemplates the questions of where art and craft intersect. A trip to a local arts and crafts store creates a touchstone for reflection on her education and on the future of her artistry. Read a fascinating look inside the mind of an artist in Yanacek’s “Artists, Craftsmen…and the Craft of Art” (click to view full article).
Usability vs. Design: The Artistry of the Functional
“On/Off” Design by Nina Tolstrup
Kiran Lokhande explores the questions at the place where aesthetics meets utility. We are surrounded by devices, instruments and tools in all facets of our lives. Yet some also have high aesthetic appeal, and much thinking is pushing ever more to elevate their aesthetic function. Our cars, our computers, and even our alarm clocks are not merely useful. They have visual and tactile appeal, and designers are continuing to press the place of innovation where new products are both more aesthetically rich and more useful.
Lokhande has a look at interesting products and compelling thinkers in the world of design in The Muse Dialogue’s latest offering, “Usability vs. Design: The Artistry of the Functional” (click to view full article).
Intrinsic Impact Research: A New Frontier in Making the Case for the Arts
Arts managers, administrators and educators often justify the importance of the arts through “extrinsic” consequences. Study of music helps to improve math performance, for example, or galleries and arts communities help in economic and community development initiatives. Yet we should always remember that the first consequence of art is intrinsic. In other words, before art affects our math scores or our communities, it affects us in some inner space.
A group of graduate researchers conducted a case study in intrinsic impact at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art. One of those involved in the research, Jessica Ryan, composes our next installment of The Muse Dialogue: “Intrinsic Impact Research: A New Frontier in Making the Case for the Arts.” In it she summarizes their research and their findings.
Click here to read this exploration of museum visitors and the consequence of the visual arts.
Aesthetic Judgment and the Modern Era
Bartolomeo Cristofori, Grand Piano. Florence, Italy 1720 (Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art)
by Andrew Swensen
In our era of fascination with technology, it only seems natural that our art would reflect what has become the spirit of the age. It is interesting to watch how innovations in the hard sciences become innovations in the humanities. Robotics, software engineering, digital information storage and retrieval have all become tools of the trade for artists. Yet this contemporary situation has a couple of traps, and we would be wise to not substitute our infatuation with the new for our continuing pursuit of great art.
Andrew Swensen discusses the age of innovation and argues for keeping our eyes on aesthetic judgment when art meets new technology. Click here to read the full text of the article.