Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Is it Art?

I've been thinking a bit about aesthetics lately. There was one piece - that I remember being told about in lectures and that recently came up in conversation with a friend - where Michael Craig-Martin turned a glass of water into an oak tree with the sensible properties of a glass of water. It's in the Tate Modern, and you can read more about it here.

Just yesterday I read about another new exhibit at the Tate Britain, featuring people running about. The press release quotes artist Martin Creed as saying “I like running. I like seeing people run and I like running myself… running is the opposite of being still. If you think about death as being completely still and movement as a sign of life, then the fastest movement possible is the biggest sign of life. So then running fast is like the exact opposite of death: it’s an example of aliveness” - which doesn't sound like quite the deep, intellectual justification you might expect from someone like Duchamp.

I remember a fairly standard exam question being 'could X be art?' where X might be, say, natural scenery, graffiti or a faulty lightswitch. I suppose the answer are fairly formulaic: a run through problems defining art, Wittgenstein on language games, the institutional theory, and a vague conclusions - perhaps it could be.

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At 9:50 pm, Blogger Nick said...

Both seem to be examples of dodgy metaphysics. The first is a classic aristolean error, distinguishing between essence and form. The second seems to have an element of dodgy logic, just because all dead things are inanimate does not mean all animate things are living. In addition 'aliveness' is not a natural kind, it's not a property like heat, mass or velocity as the usage suggests. This is why I don't think much of modern art, it seems to be consist of bad philosophy and conceptual puns.


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