What is the purpose of art?

Question

The purpose of art is to give you a way to experience life in a way you would otherwise not be able to.  Put another way, its purpose is to broaden human experience.

The human condition is very restrictive:

– You are just one person, living one life.
– You get to live for only a short period of time.
– Your senses only work on things that are physically close to you, and you cannot physically be in more than one place at a time.
– The number of choices you can make in life are relatively small, and many of the choices you do get to make come at the opportunity cost of never being able to try the other choices later.

Imagination allows me to overcome these restrictions to some degree — I can imagine what it would be like if I were an astronaut; I can imagine being in China right now; I can imagine the profile of a beautiful woman that I just made up — but even an imagination is limited in that I only have mine, and it is shaped by my own experiences.  My imagination will never produce the same things (in kind or quantity) that other people’s imaginations do.

Through art I can experience other people’s perspectives, their lives, their emotions, their environments, their stories, their images, their sounds… the products of their imaginations.

Art is like having a window into someone else’s mind and all that it has seen and can see, real or fantastical.  With art, I am able to experience things I would otherwise not be able to.  Without art, I would be stuck with only my own mind and the limited things it can produce.

What a boring life that would be.

UmaimaMalik 45 views

Answer ( 1 )

  1. Art is an attempt to communicate something, pure and simple. If we’re talking visual art, then it’s an attempt to communicate something visually…if we’re talking ‘arts’ in general, then I’d say it’s an attempt to communicate through whichever form(s) you’re using – movement, spoken word, words, sound, moving pictures, etc.

    The thing being communicated can vary in a myriad of different ways (feelings, information, questions, philosophy, call to attention/action, etc), as can the intended audience (children, art lovers, mainstream public, a particular community, etc). Often the artist is simply trying to understand something for themselves – their intuitive or sub-conscious is creating in an effort to communicate with their more literal side, and possibly to others.

    I think that the quality can also vary in every which way. If it can be judged at all, it can only be judged on what was the message, who was it intended to reach and did they reach them…not necessarily you, or the critic.

    I believe Art is the same as the word Book. Calling something a ‘book’ doesn’t infer it’s quality…it just comes from it’s intention. A painting is art, a dance performance is art, a drawing is art, a movie is art…I would argue that you could even call a news program art

    Your child’s scribblings used to illustrate something she wants to share with you, Jackson Pollock’s splatterings attempt to communicate feelings and wordless ideas about whatever, or Michaelangelo’s sculptures used to communicate stories from the bible…whether or not they are successful, terrible, pointless or masterpieces can be debated, but whether or not they are ‘art’ can’t.

    If you’re wondering if something is art, it might help to ask, “Was the person creating this:

    • Trying to teach me something? About the world, myself, my community, feelings, themselves?
    • Attempting to make me act or feel?
    • Ask a question or understand something?
    • Creators intent aside, does this make me feel, think, question or act?

    I’d say if the answer to any of those is “Yes,” then it’s probably art. If the answer is no, the answer is less clear…after all, you may not be the intended audience…but at least you’ll have a basic framework to help get you thinking about it in the correct way.

    Then you can move on to the really relevant questions that everyone really want to have – “Is it good art? Did it serve it’s purpose well? Why? Why not?”
    To my thinking, that’s where the more interesting debates should be.

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