Re: ART and INTELLECT REVISITED, again!

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henry (taylorh)
Tue, 26 Aug 1997 11:32:26 -0700 (MST)

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Robert,

> The capacity for knowledge is one thing, but to be able to
> transfer this knowledge into tangible expressions, is another.

Agreed.

Yes, learning by doing is preferable to intellectual analysis unless
intellectual analysis is part of what is being learned. For better or
worse, in some contexts Art ends up involved more in intellectual analysis
than in production. Also, along the learning curve of the western
traditionsthere are stages where intellectual analysis intrudes.

The current fashion of cognitive studies has resulted in an over use and
mis-use of this kind of thing at the "pop" level of the profession. (its
interesting to note that while the public is often accused with resorting
to "pop" concepts

Problem-solving as a component of the creative process of art, is a good
example. Current fashions tend to embrace theory based, systems oriented
approaches. Time was that such things were more "hands on."

Fine art has tried very hard to disassociate itself from design and craft,
elements which once were (and may be again) inseperable aspects of a
"whole art"; and so it is not surprising to find the issue being addressed
under the aegis of engineering. I could never conceive of a college as a
place to learn art so I tool the tangential approach by pursuing my BS in
the design fields. Personally I can't think of a better prep for the study
of art ed. The emphasis relative to art production and art history covered
a massive amount of material and skill development.

> ART and the INTELLECT REVISITED

> Arnold's book "Creative Engineering" is filled with a variety of problem-
> solving examples that have been used and abused as forms of superficial
> entertainment.

Not surprising then that the arts coverage in my local paper is called
"Arts and Entertainment" And the local freebie tabloid is subheaded
"Tucson's arts and entertainment weekly" Uniformly, the emphasis is on
performance/audience relationships.

With regard to Fuller, his book The automation of Education is still worth
a read. Its a slender book. As to holding onto his tapes, judiciously (or
jealously); well, isn't property and its control a fascinating topic? The
current conception of property is western and owes more to Saxons and
Romans than anything else. Considering that the width of a railroad track
owes its definition to the width of the ruts made by Roman chariots,; we
can begin to see how pervasive local concepts can become, given the
chance. Fuller's delineation of generalism was a structuralinspiration for
my own self-education.

Its refreshing to be recalled to these roots. I'll have to dust off a few
books.

> If the Visual Arts are not about solving problems visually, then what is
> the role and purpose of visual arts in public education? The current
> dialogue seems to deal more with "self esteem" than it does with "art
> training." It is well and good to attempt to accommodate the ills of
> society - but through a single discipline, alone?

That depends of course upon who feels that they have the license to define
those roles and on what scale those definitions will be applied.
Personally, I feel that I get to decide for myself and I'm as suspicious
of institutional definitions and standards as I would be of an
institutional art or an institutional theory of art (Thank you Marcia M.
Eaton!)

I agree with you heartily about the distinction between an "activity" (a
class level exercise primarily focused on forms (Mondrian, Pollack) and
techniques (primary color rectangles, spattered paint) and a project...
exploration of the aesthetics of spatial relationships of form and/or
color.

Doing an activity prepares one to select projects at the local Michael's
or Ben Franklin's (crafts stores) Exploring a project is participation
in art at a significantly different level.

> If the visual arts are to take their rightful place among other
> public school disciplines in a core curriculum, they had better provide
> more than desultory activities and entertainment. Visual Arts must provide
> structure and content that has at its base - instruction.

Well sure! "The Arts" as a fluid interpenetrating set of disciplines COULD
define a core curriculum which included a strong emphasis on Science. The
methodologies ofthe arts could be seen to incorporate and extend the major
portion Scientific Method; the basic distinction being in the concern of
Science with convergent, universal, and replicable models. It would
probably work well too.

"Rightful places" are arguable, even amongst partisans of shared idea.
I'd like to see the arts, in some form, take on a significant role in
education. And I agree that decisions have been made in the arts
community, popular decisions I might add, which have in the end served to
trivialize, fragment, and dilute the place of the arts in the larger
culture. Seventeenth century notions of beauty and the "proper" concerns
of art are with us still, while older traditions of longer standing are
neglected if not forgotten.

OK, how about: ONLY when the arts and their aspects become Significant in
the daily life of most of the people in the culture will they begin to
assume anything approaching a "rightful place". Only when our students
cannot help but stumble over "art" when they get out of bed and refer to
aesthetics as a common and familiar benchmark. That's when "intellectual
analysis" disolves into visceral understanding. A goodly part of
"reality", after all, exists only in our heads, inaccessible to "hands on"
experimentation and discovery.

I do not believe that there is a single or singular solution to this
problem. I do not believe that wide-spread formal standards will meet the
needs of a diverse populations or the demands of and artworld concerned
wint the divergent and unique. I do believe that we WILL find solutions
that are highly successful, and that they will be proposed and
demonstrated by individuals more often than institutions.

Art Education is a design problem and one we ought to share with our
students. (at least I think so) When we discuss and explore design
problems we are immersed in art and aesthetics (at least from some points
of view) We are learning by doing. We are also participating in art, in
the structure and directions our culture will move in, in beauty and
elegance and "goodness of fit".

Anyways Robert, its a response. I don't know how useful.

-henry

PS
what's happening out there with those tapes of Robert's that were
supposed to be circulating?


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