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Lesson Plans

Re: contemporary art/aesthetics

From: Henry Taylor (taylorh)
Date: Sat Jul 22 2000 - 16:09:29 PDT

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    > At the same time I
    > don't think that the verbal art of talking about or expressing
    ideas about
    > art lessens the art.

    I'll agree. First the art never changes is never lessened The
    experience of art can be a very different kettle of fish. Even
    then words don't NECESSARILY interfere with the experience; but
    sometimes they can. In the case of something on the scale of a
    Rothko I tend to think that there can be a significant risk. Is
    there a difference between an epiphany on FORM and an epiphany of
    a more spiritual nature? I think so but I also know that this is
    not the same for everyone.

    > If it does [lessen the art] then there was nothing there to

    Ever had as sore tooth or cavity? Ever notice how big the hole
    feels? It's all out of proportion. A focus on form can have the
    same effect I think. Everything else about the mouth fades back
    and there is just your tongue and the hole again and again. (A
    nice Jalapeno could help maybe ;-)

    > It is not a war between visual and verbal, right and left side
    of the brain.

    Maybe it is? Maybe NOT a war exactly but a competition. We are
    wired to have a bias towards comprehensible order. We also have
    developed a strong bias towards the verbal. The only real problem
    I see is if we try to resolve everything in verbal terms THEN
    something is bound to be lost part of the experience has to be
    lessened if only because one modality has been conveniently
    sheared off. It would be like learning NOT to experience Pepper.
    To experience all the other taste/smell experiences but one.

    > but is it posible that the experiecne of looking and
    > appreciating the work from cultures and times not our own
    brings us to an
    > understanding and a place of recognition of the commonality of
    the art
    > expereince.

    Which "commonality" though? DO we discover that "THEY" have much
    in common with "US" or that "WE" have something in common with
    "THEM"? And there is a difference. Do we see THEM in jeans and
    tee shirts or do we get to experience the jolt akin to
    discovering ourselves comfortable naked and wearing a penis
    sheath? (Just trying to create a powerful and evokative image ;-)
    In any case, the experience of commonality is different in the
    two cases and I think that we learn more by experiencing THE
    OTHER. To do that however we need the resources and language to
    be accessible to us.As well as to not fool ourselves into
    believing that our existing and familiar patterns are sufficient.

    > Words describe the experience. If I just look at the work
    > without words how can I convey that experience to another.

    Good question. You may not need to act as conveyance tho. What do
    you think? Again, I'm not trying to end the practice of scanning
    just trying to challenge it a bit and point out a few

    Words come fairly easily to us. We feel awkward trying to
    communicate soley through a visual modality. This has become part
    of the challenge in making art meaningful to our students as
    well. They don't value so much acts of un translated visual
    communication. It becomes work to communicate and to understand
    somehow without the intercession of words. We begin to believe
    that words are absolutely sufficient and necessary. When that is
    so then someone has to provide the words for the art. Especially
    if we don't feel like making the effort ourselves.

    This thing is. The important thing for me---is how much our lives
    are being affected at this moment, visually and without the
    intercession of words---and WE, for the most part, don't realize
    what is happening. Advertisers and marketers, even film makers,
    DO! At least to the extent that they can manipulate imagery to
    some profit for someone somewhere. An economic if not a social

    Now it is possible that there are words to be found but if we
    confine ourselves to the familiar litany of scanning we are
    unlikely to encounter them. (I wish I felt I had this enough
    together for a presentation at National. Sigh)

    > I could create
    > another work of art but that still doesn't bring the immediate
    connection of
    > two people discussing an idea.

    Or the discourse between the person and the "inanimate" and
    "non-verbal" work which is even harder to conceive making it
    easier to require an anthropomorphized connection. But it might
    not be an "idea" YET in any verbalizable form. See the visual
    modality allows us, in part, to begin to discuss things BEFORE we
    have adequate words and ideas available. That's important to me
    and I believe that is an an important part of art's function in
    society since the beginning.

    > What makes our familiar and favorite principles and
    elements the
    > > appropriate ones? What are we missing by not knowing the
    > > alternative values and relationships possible for art.
    > That is what we have to bring to the classroom. There is not
    just one way to
    > discuss or view or experience art. But to dismiss the words and
    the tools
    > that we do have is to do a disservice to the students that are
    more verbal
    > and do experience the world through that window.

    I really don't want to dismiss words. If you saw my house which
    is virtually wallpapered with shelves of books you would
    understand how important they are to me. I DO want to challenge
    them however if on;ly to keep us form becoming lax and
    comfortable with a single form of dealing with and through them.
    As a visual artist too I want to find a point of balance betweeen
    image and word. At the moment I seem to find a serious imbalance
    in the "composition"

    > The discussion is an interesting one. Your writing is very
    articulate. Your
    > words help me, the listener , to understand the concepts and
    > better. It's not the elements or the principals that are so
    important it is
    > the sharing of an experience with the words that are available
    to us.

    Thank you so much!! I really worry that I am perceived as more of
    a "spoiler" just out to make a lot of noise and attract attention
    to myself. I reallly care about what is going on in our society
    in regard to art and our visual culture. I believe that it is
    only through such dialogue that our futures and realities are
    being shaped. I want to put in my part and I honestly believe
    that the more DIFFERENT viewpoints we can generate the more
    options we will have as we live our lives -- Becoming MORE human
    Through Art. (Thank you EBF!)

    > Once with 4th graders I was discussing shapes and patterns. I
    showed them
    > a variety of images from Pueblo pottery to Mondrian. At the
    Mondrian, a
    > student from the back of the room said, "look, if you go
    through the white
    > square you can turn and go behind the blue square." That is
    the aesthetic
    > experience in words. Then we all could follow and move in and
    out of the
    > painting.

    Excellent excellent example Yevette! Thank you for sharing it.



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