Cognitive Daily

Euro-update 2: Is science art?

We’ve spent an exciting week in Paris, seeing all the fabulous sites, from the Louvre to the Tour Eiffel.

Today we decided to do something different and headed for the Georges Pompidou Center, where the national galleries of modern art are housed. Some fascinating stuff there, including some works which attempted to question the very nature of art itself. Jim was particularly perplexed by this piece:

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The work consisted of three panels, painted completely white. The artist insisted that the color white represented nothing at all. Is this art?

And what about this?

i-2c6040f62b0fcbf8866ea27b270ec24a-art2.jpg

Another work, of similar size, displayed again over three panels. This time the work reprints a scientific paper in its entirety: “Interaction of stellar wind with diffuse nebulae,” by S.B. Pikel’ner. If you click on the image you can actually read the whole paper. So is this art?

Is this work saying that there’s really no difference between science and art? Or that art has become so technical and abstruse that it might as well be an impenetrable scientific tract?

Discuss.

Comments

  1. #1 Kevin W. Parker
    June 8, 2007

    In the immortal words of Red Green, “If I can do it, it ain’t art.”

  2. #2 Jonathan
    June 8, 2007

    The two pieces–in my EXTREMELY OPINIONATED NON-humbleness–are art in only the most nebulous sense. Clearly, the pieces are expressing something from the artist, but really that something approaches the limit of vacuous communication. It really irritates me when artists try to shout as loud as they can with as little expressive content as possible.

  3. #3 D
    June 8, 2007

    I’ve seen far too many variations on the theme of the first. It was funny the first time it was done; I get it and it’s a lark. Now stop.

    At least the musicians only did 4’33″ once.

  4. #4 MrvnMouse
    June 8, 2007

    I think the art lies in the two pieces taken together. To the average viewer, both pieces have about the same level of content. To a person who not an expert in the field, the science paper has about as much information as the completely blank 3 frames.

    Now, with regards to the three white frames, that is actually quite a feat to do 3 completely blank frames and have no texture, no variation of colour, nothing but completely white. Now, I’m only looking at a picture so I cannot say much to it, but if he did that by hand I would be very impressed.

    I think the second piece of art on it’s own does not say much other than science is an impenetrable as art, however when taken in context with the first piece it really begins to show a theme for this artist. Basically the idea that even though there is something up on the wall, or there is text on that science page, it is still empty and thus represents nothing at all to the average viewer.

    The interaction of stellar winds with nebulae is meaningless and will remain at least functionally meaningless for many centuries to come to the ordinary person on the street, and thus like the first piece. It means nothing at all, just like the 3 white frames.

  5. #5 MrvnMouse
    June 8, 2007

    So yes, I do consider both of these pieces to be quite good art.

  6. #6 Juha Haataja
    June 8, 2007

    Thank you very much for discussing these pieces. Taken together, I think you can say that they are art. Individually, not.

    The scientific paper in question appears to be quite interesting. Written almost 40 years ago, still making waves. Perhaps you can count this exhibition as yet another citation for the paper? (But is this fair use?)

  7. #7 Michael
    June 8, 2007

    There’s art here, but I think it’s the art of salesmanship rather than the art of painting.

  8. #8 Robert
    June 8, 2007

    D’s mentioning John Cage’s piece is actually a good pointer to what could be going on here, and what makes it art: the artwork is as much about the observer as the panels. In fact, that first photo is just a tremendous image. I also love the wire barrier below — while it probably isn’t a purposeful part, it lends a bit of absurdity to the scene.

    Is it good art? Now, that’s a different question.

  9. #9 BWV
    June 8, 2007

    I do not think a pretty landscape painting would have made the blog nor sparked any discussion, while this has – so arguably this is better art.

    By any definition, the artist has communicated to the viewer through a visual medium so it is art, just as any human-organized sound qualifies as music

  10. #10 Allison
    June 8, 2007

    When it comes to art, it’s whatever the market will bear. What I would like to study is how we decide that these “non-art” art, the things to respresent nothing, that aren’t beautiful, and aren’t really famous enought be cultural pieces, that aren’t emotionally resonant (I think of the center of the radial defintion of “art” to be a rembrandt or perhaps for these purposes a Picasso) – I want to know by what process they become “art” – because it’s not by their creation. In fact with the white pictures, I’d like to touch them – ’cause I bet they’re not painted at all. But somehow, they gain the “ok” to label it “art” from some one with authority – an art teacher, another artist, a gallery director. Kind of reminds me of Heads Up, Seven Up – as if artists are chosen by some one coming by when everyone’s heads are down and putting their thumbs down.

  11. #11 Candice
    June 8, 2007

    I think there are plenty of things left to say about nothing, especially in context with other ideas. Taking John Cage as an example, when Mike Batt “plagiarized” 4’33″, he was hit with a copyright infringement suit. IIRC it turned out to be mostly a publicity stunt (or at least, Batt intentionally attracted the attention), which in my opinion makes the entire sequence of events a work of performance art, using “nothing” to comment on intellectual property issues.

    And I agree that the two pieces above would work better taken together.

    …basically, it’s all an issue of framing…

  12. #12 kaisha
    June 8, 2007

    This is meaningful only in the sense that inkblots are meaningful. The viewer attempts to make meaning out of nothing. But truly, the artist has provided nothing but the barest fodder and so, like most art of this ilk, the only question that emerges is whether the piece constitutes art.

    If the primary discussion of any putative work is whether the work is art, then the artist has failed utterly and miserably. So let’s call this art… and let’s call it craptacular art.

    As for the statement that it is “actually quite a feat to do 3 completely blank frames and have no texture, no variation of colour, nothing but completely white,” I suggest the poster isn’t much of a painter. With a gallon of Flat White from Walmart and a roller you could turn any canvas into a seemlessly blank object. Christ. The people who fall for this are simply the flip side of those who embrace creationism, supernatural forces, and the flying spagheti monster.

  13. #13 pdf23ds
    June 8, 2007

    Actually, the math in that paper looks pretty easy. Anyone with a year of calculus and a couple hours to spare could probably understand most of the paper.

  14. #14 waynez
    June 8, 2007

    I always love the “Is it art?” debate. Makes me feel like I’m back in college having consumed at least one mind altering substance with several other friends that have done the same. I figure that if you could tell me what the heck the question means, I might express an opinion. So far we have “$ = art”, “expert = art” (which is automorphic to $ = art, in my view) and a couple of other variations on an attempt at a definition.

    We can all delve into our favorite post-modern authority and discuss the fact that art is socially constructed, etc. Actually, if anything is socially constructed, it’s art. So why the posts suggesting there is some sort of objective definition??

  15. #15 christopher
    June 8, 2007

    i think it’s interesting that folks use the term “communicating” when discussing art. communication requires feedback, or at the very least a shared set of language. putting up “art” installations isn’t communication. it’s broadcasting.

    i’ve never considered “it’s whatever you think it is” to be a viable description of an art piece. one would never blurt out an incomprehensible phrase and consider it successful communication when people make up their own meaning for it.

  16. #16 Eva
    June 8, 2007

    My response got its own post, since the art/science intersection is the kind of stuff I write about all the time anyway: http://science.easternblot.net/?p=466

  17. #17 Dramenbnejs
    June 8, 2007

    Art is about impressing you. If Jim was perplexed by the piece, then the art succeeded.
    Science is about giving out ideas and can be impressive too.

  18. #18 alex
    June 8, 2007

    hey i was just there! and i saw that piece.

    i think that trying to define art is really silly. it’s too broad. i guess a rule of thumb is if someone calls something art then it is art.

  19. #19 roseindigo
    June 8, 2007

    It may be art, but if it is, then it’s as much a vacuum as our society is. The three blank panels certainly don’t communicate anything worthwhile to me. As for the scientific paper panels—Michael above said it very well when he said, “There’s art here, but I think it’s the art of salesmanship rather than the art of painting.

    I have no problem with nonobjective art if it’s done well, has color and design, rhythm and balance, decent composition and emotional impact. This is just————NOTHING AT ALL, and I can’t believe people fall for this sort of crap!

  20. #20 eugene_X
    June 8, 2007

    Yes, they are both art. Think of it this way (and a lot of theorists do now): art is a social transaction that imparts an aesthetic experience from author to viewer. It’s not a thing, or a category, it’s a transaction.

    The transaction happens in both cases. Does that mean “anything” can be art. Yes. Does that mean that “eveything” is? No. There has to be a sincere intention on the part of the author, and the viewer must derive some aesthetic satisfaction, or at acknowledgement of an aesthetic experience (which is even harder to define, but in general one could call it pleasure or at least novely arising from sensory input) which is somehow related to the author’s intentions.

    It might be better to think of it less as “is it art?” than as “has art just happened?”, as in, “has a deal been struck”. It’s something that happens as a product of human communication…

    You may not “accept the deal,” i.e. you may have no aesthetic reaction to it at all– but others will, and do. Which means that even though the deal hasn’t been struck with you, it has for others, and so does get to be called art.

    Now, whether it’s good art, is a whole other question. The white canvases are a little trite, but one misses the point by thinking of it as a gimmick. Like Cage’s 4/33′, the point of the piece (and it is defferent eve3y time it is perfomed, and it is done regularly) is that one’s attention is focused on the ambient qualities of the space– the audience’s foot-shuffling, and so forth– and similarly the white canvas allows us to experience the light in the space itself in a subtle way. Personally, I have other things I’d rather experience in a museum, but I don’t want work like this to be dismissed as illegitimate or a hoax. It’s neither.

    So, is science art, in general? No. There is not the intention on the part of the researcher for the work to bring aesthetic pleasure. But to take the physical markings of scientific data, chrts and graphs and such, and to hold them up for contemplation for their aesthetic value, that could be considered art. It’s like the enjoyment many of us get from seeing Asian calligraphy– we may not be able to understand it, but perhaps we appreciate the shapes more because we don’t understand it.

  21. #21 rAgAv
    June 8, 2007

    Are those pieces of art? Yes.
    Are those pieces of art that would appeal to us now? No.

    Let us consider an instance – suppose we have a rain of diamonds in today’s world where diamonds are valuable and expensive. What would happen tommorow? Diamonds would be valuable no more. So, the value to diamonds comes due to its rarity combined with certain use we have found with it.

    Similarly, when we look ourselves at a mirror, how many of us would consider that we’re looking at a piece of art that spent millions of years in the making to attain the perfection it has today? Almost none. Why? Its because there’s so many of us and more importantly, its because there’s no particular moment when we enjoy it, we enjoy it every mooment in our lives. So, putting a picture of the human brain taken from a science text book in an art museum would seem ridiculous to some who choose to unconciously enjoy what it represents and worth it for the others who would stop for a moment, think and hail what it represents.

    When you stand looking at a piece of art and try to evaluate it, the art itself is not the only thing that matters, where you stand also matters.

  22. #22 Alan Kellogg
    June 9, 2007

    You did notice the pattern in the first triptych?

    The second is art in that it is a pictorial representative of one aspect of the graphic arts. That being, the presentation of abstract symbology in a manner designed to be understandable to an educated person and comfortable to read. And, yes, well done topography is a form of artistic expression.

  23. #23 aegwyn
    June 9, 2007

    Actually, 4’33″ was actually repeated in a number of different ways, including one piece where the orchestra sat and watched the audience as if they were the orchestra, responding exactly as an audience would, even clapping at the end. This is art, remember.

  24. #24 Dave Munger
    June 9, 2007

    Hi everyone–

    Greetings from Rome!

    Wonderful comments from everyone; I’m glad to see this post has attracted so much interest. I see a lot of people claiming that for most of the audience, the scientific paper would be a lot like a blank canvas. I’m a little surprised that no one attempted the opposite argument: that science is much more like art than the blank canvas. After all, aren’t science and art both just different (or perhaps not so different) ways of attempting to understand the universe?

    Another interpretation of the science paper work might be a critique of the abstruseness of modern art: so much other knowledge is required to understand it that it becomes impenetrable to most viewers.

    I also think the scientific paper might have been chosen simply because of the beauty of its title and the charts within, and the irony that a paper discussing a nebula, which many consider to be beautiful, doesn’t even depict a nebula.

    In that sense, selecting this particular paper to depict as a work of art is different from just attending a poster session, in the same way that taking a photograph is different from simply wandering around the world looking at nature.

  25. #25 David Group
    June 9, 2007

    Am I the only one who’s noticed that they hung the artwork upside-down?

    Besides, it’s only art if Salvador Dali draws a moustache on it.

  26. #26 Duff Bassett
    June 9, 2007

    I don’t know whose those paintings are you present but Robert Rauschenberg was the first recognized for exhibiting white canvases in 1951. Cage, a friend of Rauschenberg, presented 4’33″ the following year, no doubt influenced by the prior art of Rauschenberg.

    Remembering, rediscovering or discovering those works for the first time that challenge our perceptions of what we think art is supposed to be and why is a worthy outcome of using up the wall space in any respectable museum or gallery.

  27. #27 roseindigo
    June 9, 2007

    Actually the three panels with the scientific paper remind me of the sort of labes you see on an exhibit in a Natural History Museum. Art? I don’t think so! It’s a piece of panel that give a description, no more, no less. There is nothing creative about it.

  28. #28 Matthew L.
    June 11, 2007

    In response to comment no.1, there’s an irony there, probably unintended. Art is what Steve Smith (aka Red Green) does. Comedy, I think most people would agree, is art, although the kind you display in a theater (or on a screen), not a museum.

    I think that also illuminates another shared aspect of how people perceive art and science: that they are things that a different kind of person does, not an activity that a normal, ‘real’ person could be engaged in.

    The best way to define art, in my opinion, is as something done for aesthetic, instead of practical reasons. I know that includes a lot of everyday things like clothing, but then again, clothing sometimes ends up in museums too after aging a few centuries. By that standard, much of science actually is art—research like that displayed above is done not for application, but for intellectual pleasure and understanding, which I think is an aesthetic concern.

  29. #29 bishop
    June 11, 2007

    and if all the bells quit ringing, all the people quit shouting, and all the cosmic noise simply ceased> what then>? would not the very principle of life cease to beat if not for the subtle change in heart rhthms, be that love hate tender harsh soft powerful caustic abbrasive shallow corroding… we aren’t defined by what we aren’t. we separate each other by our differences. they are what force us all to change, by holding steady the cosmic mirror upon all we meet and see, and let the shadows fall from there.
    no, i don’t think this art. this may be peace. this may be joy. it may be lacking, or wanting, or full, but it is not art. Art moves. it rips us from the day dream, and forces us to BE. it asks for a reckoning in our souls, and demands answers.
    this simply is. it is no conversation. it is stale.

  30. #30 mikmor
    June 11, 2007

    Another example of how academia has ruined both Art and Science. It’s art in the most rudimentary sense. Why is the question always: is Science Art. Why don’t we look at painting, sculpture, etc. and ask, is that science. Why are the artists being asked to except science as it’s equal when science often rejects or worst ignore what artists have to contribute.

    My question to you: Why haven’t we sent an Artist into Space, why only scientists, Very Rich People, and animals.

    By the why ,I’d never hang that in my house, it doesn’t match my sofa. Get a life, make Art do Science, Make Science do Art.

  31. #31 "Q" the Enchanter
    June 11, 2007

    These aren’t art. These aren’t even not art.

  32. #32 anon
    June 11, 2007

    I disagree with mikmor. I often think about the science of art and I often ask “is this art science?” Personally, I tend to approach my own art with science (and math) in mind. I think they go together extremely well.

  33. #33 Tony Jeremiah
    June 11, 2007

    If the other two pieces count as art work, then technically, one should be able to print out the entire cognitive daily discussion concerning them, blow them up so they fit across three canvases, and complete the set– certainly this can’t be less artistic than what I currently see.

  34. #34 leeleeone
    June 11, 2007

    Any human on this planet could take a blank canvas and paint it any color. If you’re a poor native African, and you paint 3 canvases the same color, is it art? will someone buy it? Will someone give it an “artistic interpretation?” If you are a meth user and paint 3 pieces of canvas in the same color, is it art? will someone buy it? Will anyone try to interpret what they were “thinking” when they painted it?

    For too many years, for too long, I have seen what I would consider True Talent thrown away because they were not in the “right country”, they were not surrounded by the “right people”, they were not of the “right stock.” In comparison, a lot of the truly talented people in this world are thrown away because they had no access to the audience who thrive on the meaningless haute taute.

    Three canvases done in white, 3 canvases of a reprinted mathematical equation, is not art.

    It’s representation of self-interpretation, superficiality, and self-delusion. And once again, just like anything else, people are duped by having someone else “interpret the meaning of life” for them. (Sound familiar?)

    Remember the mother who had her 3-year-old finger-paint canvases, and more than one art dealer was duped into giving these long-winded “what-the-artist-was-thinking” interpretations, and price tags in the thousands, not realizing they were finger-paintings by a 3-year-old child!

    Oh grow up people, get real! This is not art, not even “art in the eye of the beholder.” This is junk art, kind of like junk medicine, or junk science….

  35. #35 Steve Layton
    June 11, 2007

    The first all-white painting I know of goes way back to Alphonse Allais’ “First Communion of Anemic Young Girls in the Snow” from the 1890s (he also gave us an all-black “Battle of Negroes in a Cellar During the Night” and the all-red “Harvest of Tomatoes by Apoplectic Cardinals on the Shore of the Red Sea”, as well as possibly the first silent piece of music, “Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man”).

  36. #36 tom
    June 12, 2007

    thank you brilliant tony for the laugh, and leeleeone for the insight.

    something the latter spawned a thought, thou not entirely new.
    if we take the metaphor of the african painting three canvases the same color, maybe
    it highlights the exact problem of pigeon-holing inherent in the question> this is if we only look at the paint, the canvas, the blank wall hanging it, we never see all the beauty that surrounds this… the life that we spend talking of it. or all the energy it took our african friend to purchase/make the canvas, who he really is, his daily habits, the time he spent choosing the paint. or what about the painters who were hired on a per day basis from a temp agency to cover the old renovated apartment complex bought by the gallerys owner,…

    what i mean here may seem too simple, but life is the art. those wealthy bastards staring back from the stars, and all their gangs of astronauts hanging with blue moon man are no more or less artists the you, leeleeone. i too saw an amazing painting lately, by an elephant. damn right it was good. best one i seen.

    details. details.

  37. #37 Alan Kellogg
    June 12, 2007

    I must ask this. How many of you saw the first painting instead of what the artist said about the first painting?

  38. #38 Alice Berry
    June 12, 2007

    Age old question, and still really interesting. One thing I noticed is that there were very few responses from people who identify as artists. As someone who makes a living making clothing, (and yes there’s a whole discussion swirling around whether that is art, museum quality or no) and makes art out of inspiration and desire, (since it’s really hard to make a living from that) I’ve thought a lot about it. Mostly you have to redefine your terms.
    Separating art from the commerce and academia that surrounds it is crucial, otherwise you can’t see the art for all it’s packaged commodification. One definition of art is the actualization of creation or inspiration. Conceptual art has taken that to an extreme, such that the actualization or object has very little craft still associated with it. People resent it for that reason, but for artists it has served as a stop along the path of disassociating ideas and concepts from pictures or objects, which started with the loss of responsibility to represent reality when photography and movies came and took over that job.
    The three white canvases were an interesting idea at the time they were painted (or not painted) and have become the whipping boy for all that frustrates the public about conceptual and modern art. They are a pretty good example of the art world and academia selling the viewing public an idea, with only mixed success. The Science triptych is more interesting currently because of all the ramifications of art as science, accepting science as real, how they both tend to be obscure, etc. I’ve lately been trolling the science blogs for inspiration for my art, which has to do with theories about light and color, and I’m here to tell you that art is wherever you look for it, and want to find it.

  39. #39 Dramenbnejs
    June 12, 2007

    Dave, art is definitely NOT about understanding the universe.
    Art is about *impressing*. Is it so difficult to understand?

  40. #40 KirkJobSluder
    June 12, 2007

    I think, having seen these discussions repeated over and over again, that the only reasonable way to define “art” is “the intentional manipulation of aesthetic properties to produce some desired effect.” Or on edit, what Eugene says in #20. Part of my reason for this is certainly political, in that I think the idea that only those works that meet some vague minimal standards to be represented in museums is absolutely killing both amateur art and art literacy in the U.S.. So IMNSHO both of the works are art, and so are the scientific visualizations I produce for my academic work.

  41. #41 Tal
    June 12, 2007

    Making a statement is not the same thing as making art. Art, as I see it, is all about the visceral, emotional impact it evokes. It isn’t about saying something in a clever way. If the only way you can understand it is intellectually, it isn’t art.

    This is not to say that all art must be immediately approachable. Some art — indeed, much art — requires an investment by its audience. It requires its viewer, its reader, or its listener to learn the context or the language, for instance, in order to unlock its secrets. Still, if the only reward at the end of that process is still merely intellectual, it is not art. If all you get is understanding what the artist “was trying to say,” it is not art.

    Accordingly, the fact that something’s ambiguity sparks conversation does not make it art. The fact that people may disagree with what to do about the war in Iraq does not make the war art.

    As far as I’m concerned, neither the white canvases nor the canvases with the scientific paper are art. The only way I — or anyone I know — can access them is intellectually. They have absolutely not emotional effect on me. Art must move, and I remain inert.

  42. #42 yulia
    June 12, 2007

    I think that I should point out that art is a lot like science. To read a science paper you need specialized knowledge that you can gain from a university. To read an artwork (in the Chinese language you don’t look at art you “read” it, interesting little tid-bit) you also need to go to university. If you don’t understand the vocabulary used in a science paper it’s easy to call it jibberish. Same with art. But if you look at art from the perspective of someone educated in it, you will be able to interpret the piece and the reaction that an audience will have to the piece (much like this requires). It’s also like not knowing the language. Is it fair to judge a language as primitive or advanced if you have no idea what it says, and you are only looking at the formal aspects of the writing or the sounds?

    I think its important that people understand that art is not necessarily subjective, just as science is not necessarily objective (look at controversy over theories, we don’t know everything yet and people have opinions about how it should be). Is this work relative today? Is it good? Beautiful? it depends on your perspective, it depends on the time, the place and the culture. It’s all relative.

  43. #43 roseindigo
    June 12, 2007

    I agree with yulia that it’s all relative. However, I have been educated in art, and am an artist, and these pieces leave me COLD. I want the art I look at to reach higher, to reach out of the much of ordinary human existence, to show us something of the divine beauty of life, to force us to LOOK around us. Sorry, but three white canvases don’t do that for me, nor does the scientific paper reproduced.

    One could argue of course, that the way the light hits the three white canvases is part of the divine light, etc., etc., but frankly, any blank white wall can do that. One can also argue that the compositional arrangement of the scientific paper is pleasing to the eye, but so what? Any well printed book is pleasing to the eye.

    Art requires the reaching up out of ordinary human existence, to something more—the way Mozart’s music did. Art ought to be OUT OF THE ORDINARY —- at least to my way of thinking.

    But I must also say that the artists who experiment in this way are reaching for something out of the ordinary. Trouble is that I don’t think they’ve reached it. However, they may have planted a seed that grown in another person or another generation that will expand on the seed and help it to grow. I think that was the genius of Picasso. I don’t particularly like his art, but I have to admit that his experimentation was pure genius.

    Not sure about this, though. I suppose time will tell. Time always does that—sifts the sublime from the ordinary.

  44. #44 roseindigo
    June 13, 2007

    Need to check my spelling. I meant “muck” of ordinary human existence.

    By the way, some really, really fascinating commentary—even the ones I disagree with.

  45. #45 alex
    June 13, 2007

    @ Roseindigo who said: “I want the art I look at to reach higher, to reach out of the muck of ordinary human existence, to show us something of the divine beauty of life, to force us to LOOK around us.”

    Some may argue that there simply isn’t anything higher than art, or anything more than human existence. In addition, some art may attempt to show us some “divine beauty”, but may not quite get there. So do we refuse to call this art? Is bad art = not art? Of course not. If a book is bad, we certainly don’t deny it’s “bookness”. The

    @ David Group: “Besides, it’s only art if Salvador Dali draws a moustache on it.” – Are you referring to the Mona Lisa with the mustache? That would be Marcel Duchamp.

    @ Tal who said: “Art, as I see it, is all about the visceral, emotional impact it evokes. It isn’t about saying something in a clever way. If the only way you can understand it is intellectually, it isn’t art.”

    I think this is completely absurd. First of all I’d argue that emotional and intellectual responses are very connected. For example, math is an intellectual pursuit, but solving a complex problem in math can be emotional for some. Intellectually observing a piece of art may produce an emotional response in some as well. Secondly, you sound like a Romanticist. Artists like Goya and Beethoven favored the emotional over the intellectual. I have nothing against this era, it’s art just like anything else! But there are many other schools that you’re completely dismissing, such as Classicism and Realism, which were very geared toward the intellect. By your logic, all pieces done in the age of enlightenment are not art!

    I strongly feel, as a musician and artist, that something is art if ANYONE calls it art. If you call yourself an artist, and you create something (or find something and display it), and call it art, then it becomes art. Now, is it good? Will people like it? Those are totally different questions. As BWV said: “By any definition, the artist has communicated to the viewer through a visual medium so it is art, just as any human-organized sound qualifies as music”

  46. #46 alex
    June 13, 2007

    eugene_X nails my point, comment 20

  47. #47 john
    June 13, 2007

    Of course they’re art. According to the Institutional theory of art (George Dickie) it’s the artworld that gives these works their status as art. Just as the reviewer saying it’s ok to print a scientific paper. According to Dickie it’s art when someone says it’s art, it’s not a question of good or bad. But how about science, is it science first when it’s acknowledge as science? And the Cage argument doesn’t hold in the days of youyube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RujWm2kfRxg

  48. #48 mikmor
    June 13, 2007

    —Posted by: anon | June 11, 2007 05:48 PM

    “I disagree with mikmor. I often think about the science -of art and I often ask, “Is this art science?” Personally, I tend to approach my own art with science (and math) in mind. I think they go together extremely well.”—

    Aaron you miss my point, Do scientist accept your Art as science?

    Is Eduardo Kac a scientist? He sure is a mad Artist.

  49. #49 roseindigo
    June 13, 2007

    While I understand what Alex is saying and somewhat agree with him, I believe that art, like anything else, has to have standards. If you put any ol’ pages together and call it a “book”, yes, it may TECHNICALLY be a book, but it’s still junk with the sum of zero in reality. Same with art.

    I think anything that calls itself art has to adhere to what I call “The Elements of Art” which include; line, color, texture, shape, form, space and value, and has to adhere to the “Principles of Design” which include rhythm, movement, balance, proportion, variety, emphasis, harmony and unity. None of the principles of design were used in either piece, so as far as I’m concerned it is JUNK and adds up to zero. I admit that this is very personal.

    However, I agree that whoever did these pieces was attempting to be provocative and start a debate—which is a fine thing because it forces us to THINK and define what we mean when we say “art”. I have defined what it means to me. I don’t really care how the rest of the planet defines it.

    And what I don’t care for is the sort of herd mentality that goes along with it and says: “Well, if the experts say so, then it must be so.” I actually do believe there may be some artists out there who deliberately test their audience. Picasso was known to do that, and laughed up his sleeve when people paid thousands for a nonsensical scribble he did on a piece of paper. He didn’t consider that art even if his audience did.

  50. #50 roseindigo
    June 13, 2007

    I guess I can appreciate the artist who does something like this to be provocative; but I don’t appreciate the artist who does this sort of thing and takes him/herself seriously. And too many artists these days, in all the various fields of art, take themselves too seriously instead of having standards of excellence.

    I read somewhere that whenever societies are in turmoil, whether it’s war or famine or economic problems, excellence in art takes a dive, because people are trying to figure out new answers to things and get new perspectives, and a potter doesn’t make a GREAT pot the first or even the second time he tries it. I’m not even sure that holds true for this type of art. I think it’s just a reflection of our vacuous society—the emptyness of soul while we have all the material advantages. (Again, just personal opinion)

  51. #51 alex
    June 13, 2007

    roseindigo: “I think anything that calls itself art has to adhere to what I call “The Elements of Art” which include; line, color, texture, shape, form, space and value, and has to adhere to the “Principles of Design” which include rhythm, movement, balance, proportion, variety, emphasis, harmony and unity.”

    So you disregard music as art? Music has no form or space, though I’ve always considered it to be art, along with language arts and poetry. Again the question isn’t what is good art or bad art. That’s a completely relative question. I may consider a book with blank pages to be a very good book, while you may not. Nevertheless, as you admit, it it’s book either way.

    “And too many artists these days, in all the various fields of art, take themselves too seriously instead of having standards of excellence.”

    I agree with you wholeheartedly when you say that artists take themselves too seriously. Nothing annoys me more! But I’d like to emphasize again the relativism of good and bad art. There is no objective standard. I don’t think words like “excellence”, “good”, or “bad” belong in the art world.

  52. #52 Tony Jeremiah
    June 13, 2007

    Based on these discussions, it seems possible to conclude that art is aesthetic philosophy. However, the best works of art likely need no philosophizing because they speak for themselves. Take for example, Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and Piero Manzoni’s “Pile of Crap”–one of them is actually a pile of crap.

  53. #53 roseindigo
    June 14, 2007

    “So you disregard music as art?” — Let’s not get carried away here Alex. We are discussing canvas and paint, not notes. Certainly music is an art. In fact, I think it’s the most sublime art of all. But to have a silent orchestra (one of the recent “musical” happenings) while the audience is sitting there is stupidity, not art. What is an orchestra for except to play music? What is an instrument for except to play it? That white canvas is like a silent instrument, not being used for its intended purpose, and I consider that a snow job (pun intended).

    As for this comment: “There is no objective standard. I don’t think words like “excellence”, “good”, or “bad” belong in the art world.” — In other words, anything at all goes? Like the pile of dodo my dog did in the yard for which I could charge admission? C’mon, there have to be some standards in art as well as in anything else; otherwise it all disintigrates.

    Let’s just agree to disagree about this, since I’ve already stated this is my personal view. If someone can give me a really, really convincing reason that’s logically thought out, I may change my mind. But so far I haven’t.

  54. #54 roseindigo
    June 14, 2007

    I had another thought about the white canvas. It could be someone’s reaction to our overly materialistic culture—sort of a “simplification” in a complex world. But that, to me, is an editorial comment—not art, and in my opinion it’s going overboard and throwing out the baby with the bath water. Same with the silent orchestra.

    I understand in Japan they have some shops now that are into “minimalism”. You go in and there’s nothing on display and nothing to buy. Bet they won’t stay in business very long—and serves ‘em right. What is a shop for except to “SELL STUFF”? Anything else defeats its whole reason for being. So does the white canvas and the silent orchestra.

    Once again, just my personal opinion. ;-)

  55. #55 Steve Layton
    June 15, 2007

    Roseindigo wrote: What is a shop for except to “SELL STUFF”? Anything else defeats its whole reason for being. So does the white canvas and the silent orchestra.

    “Defeats” isn’t the only option; there’s also “subverts”, “rejects”, “reexamines” and “expands”.

  56. #56 roseindigo
    June 15, 2007

    Steve, I agree that “subverts” and “rejects” fits into the quoted sentence. But “reexamines” and “expands”??? I don’t think so! To have a shop with nothing in it to sell reexamines what? To have a shop with nothing to sell expands what? Please explain.

    As a matter of fact, talking about “expanding”, art is something that ought to expand our minds, get us excited, plant seeds in our brains that can be further developed or experimented with. I think a silent orchestra, a totally white canvas, or an empty shop do exactly the opposite—they shut the mind down. Maybe a temporary shut-down of the mind is necessary for rest before beginning re-examination, but that’s about all it is useful for. I personally would NOT call that art.

    If you have any other thoughts on this, please do expand, because I am intrigued to hear them.

  57. #57 Steve Layton
    June 15, 2007

    The experience of the orchestra, art or shop are defined by a line enclosing a certain collection of usage, expectations and values. But someone can always come along and draw a different line, positing some unsuspected insight for our consideration. Positing an empty store reexamines our circumscribed notions of “store”, and in some may permanently expand their “store” experience beyond the boundaries previously envisioned (and possibly carrying even beyond the world of stores). All the different examples of all-white paintings I know (and there are a number of different ones, spread across the last 120 years) each do this very thing in their on way. But given that all art is fiction, there’s no literal truth to buy into. Like faith, it either resonates in someone (now or later), or it doesn’t.

  58. #58 roseindigo
    June 16, 2007

    OK, I understand what you are saying, but my practical nature gets in the way, and I like being practical. I just don’t see of what earthly use this could be: “in some it may permanently expand their “store” experience beyond the boundaries”. So none of the above things mentioned “resonate” with me, and I don’t see any use for them, not even aesthetically. I can understand perfectly well something that is “not useful” but is aethetic. However, I don’t see aesthetics in this. So to me they are junk and a waste of time and material, not art.

    However, one man’s junk can be another man’s treasure, and I understand that also. That’s what makes the world go round. :-)

  59. #59 Caledonian
    June 17, 2007

    After all, aren’t science and art both just different (or perhaps not so different) ways of attempting to understand the universe?

    No.

  60. #60 Brian Morris
    June 22, 2007

    Yes, indeed it is art. However, it’s really bad art in my opinion.

  61. #61 will
    July 10, 2007

    The artists said “that the color white represented nothing at all”. And nothing is nothing. Its just 3 white panels.

    Secondly, three panels with a scientific paper reprinted on them is just 3 panels with a scientific paper reprinted on it.

    Sometimes, 3 panels are just 3 panels.

    As a painter myself, this is perhaps the silliest thread I’ve ever read.

  62. #62 Silvano Almeida
    July 11, 2007

    Science can be art, but art cannot be science. Sometimes the art is not rational. To give a false impression: art can deceive.

  63. #63 Lisa
    October 17, 2007

    Art is part of everyone’s life, and I believe science is an art as well. The way an artist works is much like a scientist – sometimes they start with an idea (hypothesis), and sometimes they are just reading the news, reading up on what’s new in the art world or researching old masters, going for a walk and something pops into their head for a project (aha! an experiment!).
    Then, they think about how they might go about producing the work and bringing this idea into physical form (how will I conduct the experiment? What do I need? What materials are appropriate?). And so, an artist may or may not have a clear idea in the beginning, but there is usually an editing process. Several idea sketches and priliminary drawings are often needed for practice (ex. – a model for a pose, a still life or scene of real life objects, etc.) As Thomas Edison had to try many, many times to make a light bulb that worked, artists also try different approaches to their projects until they feel that their inspiration is displayed to the world in order to deliver their message in the most effective way possible (sometimes a meaning can be realized as a project is being made – things that may have been going on through your “subconcious”, i.e. – thoughts that you may not have been conciously aware of when the idea first popped into your head for the project/experiment).

    I have learned a lot about art, and I still have much to learn as a young art student. All I know is, if it’s good art displayed at a respectable gallery, the artist thought out everything that you see. The way the room is arranged, where they placed their works, how their works are placed, the lighting in the room, any music or audio sound, and of course each work within an artist’s exhibition has thought put into every knick and cranny you can think of. I have researched art where every single detail in the painting has significance, and I have seen installation works (ie – rooms filled with large, three dimensional projects) that are more about the experience than analyzing each detail.

    Anyways…read up on art sometime, or take an intro. course for fun. It will educate you and not leave you so isolated from something so natural to human beings as the act of creating. Science and art are not so different from each other as society and stereotypes portray them to be – that’s my food for thought for you.

  64. #64 greg
    October 24, 2007

    This piece of art is a work of genious. it can represent a thought of the infinately bliss. identifying with this piece can be easy if a viewer or a critique can welcome the psycoloogy of the work its self; how everything that can be comprehended is infact art despite how a person might veiw it. This idea might not be the artists’ true expression however, this statement of the blank pannels shourld directly sink into anyone that chooses to notice the work at all. For a person to critisize this work would be ignorant becasue the art shows and states “what is” just as much if not more then any other piece out there.

  65. #65 john
    November 3, 2007

    One of the most beautiful images to me is a clear blue sky. And a painting of “Just a clear blue sky” is more interesting to me than a painting of a sky with a cloud in it. So for me I can appreciate a painting of a white space. I do not need to see writen type or a cloud. Get it?

  66. #66 Ellen
    November 6, 2007

    they say art is an expression of the artist’s emotions and/or thoughts, and conveys a specific message from the artist to the viewer. So, if there is nothing on the canvas, what does it say about the artist? it could simply be a way for the artist to grapple with the meaning of nonexistance, or infinity, or simplicity. maybe they were trying to be unique, or were poking fun at modern art. That may be for the artist to know and for the public to only guess about.

  67. #67 Christy
    November 27, 2007

    i feel the scientific journal piece is most definitely art. the artist is taking typography (which is an art) and blowing it up to make it an entirely different experience. why is this so different than scientific drawings and paintings that are put on display as art? i don’t even have to read it to appreciate the simple beauty of it, but the fact that it IS readable adds an entirely separate layer of meaning.

    as for the white panels, meh, it’s art but it’s been done before, and better.

  68. #68 Jared Berger
    November 29, 2007

    I understand what you are saying here but the fact of the matter is that WHITE is not a color at all. White is a void of color. So comparing it to a painting of a blue sky void of clouds is a moot point.

    “One of the most beautiful images to me is a clear blue sky. And a painting of “Just a clear blue sky” is more interesting to me than a painting of a sky with a cloud in it. So for me I can appreciate a painting of a white space. I do not need to see writen type or a cloud. Get it?”

  69. #69 Dave
    December 7, 2007

    Yes this is art. When viewing pieces like these you really need to know the history of the artist though….or the progression of the artists work. This then gives the piece context and thus makes it a little more clear to understand.

    Or maybe the artist was getting tired of making perfectly illustrated, anatomically correct forms… and the white panels where made out of rebellion….who knows.

    Even if you were to say “no this is not art,” you would have to explain why…and in the process of explaining why you would then be contadicting yourself, because the value of art is that it congers the thought process…negative or positive.

  70. #70 Aksinia
    December 15, 2007

    Art, as well as science, tries to explain a particular concept of the world or some part of it. This one shows the complete nothing. Or probably it`s just a joke? We only can guess actually. What I need as an artist is to know that each piece of art shows not only a consept, but the actual process of it`s creating. So when you look at it, you can see the stages of the developing and to come up with an answer /not necessarilly expressed with words/. Can`t we see the beauty of the white in every white screen so it has to be “shown”?…

    Anyway, even though the art of thinking could be ispired by basically EVERYTHING, it`s sad that such a “piece of art” is followed by so much thinking when other pieces of art which are an actual product of thinking process don`t seem to be even seen. :) Even so, it`s interesting to read it

  71. #71 Logan
    December 17, 2007

    Somehow the opposition between the right and left brain finds it’s equilibrium in conviction. These generally biased, opinionated remarks are no doubt the writings of scientifically oriented people. A need to define the undefineable, has it occured to anyone that art is subjective.

    I see art in everthing around me, it is all the product of creativity. If I draw a circle in red crayon on my wall, is it art? What if I paint a picture of a wall with a red circle on it?

    In this case, an “artist” started with an idea which he wanted to express, and found a very creative way to express it. The art in this piece is not found on the canvas, but in the process.

    In my opinion, everyone is an artist, but to varying extents in regards to creative thinking. If scientists were not artists, we would never have progressed past 1+1

  72. #72 tim steinlage
    December 25, 2007

    when I was trying to decide what my major in college I had to mentally fight the difference between biology and graphic design. I chose art in the end. (sculpture) I think art and science have a blured line next to each other. Kind of like Picasso’s work time periods.

  73. #73 Joe
    January 15, 2008

    Art is whatever someone thinks is art. It’s useless to try to define if a particular piece is art or not because art is a subjective thing.

  74. #74 nick
    January 18, 2008

    its says, “The artist insisted that the color white represented nothing at all.” if so..

    my question would be (if art can represent nothing or), is nothing something?

    the piece is only (?or much more than) art when one can find meaning for themselves, where meaning represents the relativity of the thought process. if i were to simply walk past the piece thinking ‘nothing of it’ then i would ‘not think’ it would be art to my individual experience.

    to me this piece represents a question turned into a statement, that is to say the artist began with something, but finished with nothing at all. it shows us its uniqueness without and with creativity. the
    individuality of the piece speaks to the individuality of us all (and vise-versa).. or perhaps the nothing in us all?

    yes i agree in a sense that art must “rip us from the day dream” and that certain criteria and critique -ness can be applied to art, but is it not said that we are close yet so far away. what i am trying to say is that: who is to judge affect when they do not know the purpose it (being affect) serves. is art limited when it becomes objective? and if so how great of a purpose can it serve? and when it comes down to it (and my point)..how great of a purpose can anything serve? i believe this artist has shown that even nothing can provoke something.
    and this nebula crap, like ‘psht’ who needs science..just kidding. but seriously im so tired from the first one. the only thought i want to come to mind is that the two pictures are related, therefore my representation of the first becomesss.. incomplete , yay. hm science can be like that.

  75. #75 JF
    January 28, 2008

    The first piece isnt art, its a blank canvas. The second is not art, its a paper. TA-DAAAAH!

  76. #76 mikmor
    January 30, 2008

    Enough of this philosophical nonsense: Its Art if you agree with the Artist. Then it comes down to quantity, how many people believe in the aura of the art, Walter Benjamin then it has value. Other then that it’s some dude’s doodling, or mess (“a”rt not “A”rt) and lost to history. Hence our understanding of culture it’s history and diversity.

    Artists plays Scientists, Scientists plays Artists.

    Who do you trust?

    Both are powerful.

    Neither can be trusted.

    It may incite, but can a representation or a poem kill you?

    Is Craig Venter a sculptor? Will his creations be art?

    Art vs Science?

    The two are born from one.

    Poseidon, Hades and Zeus are brothers and sons of Cronus

    However, there can be only one King of the Gods.

    The children of numbers don’t want to play and share with the children of pictures and children words.

    We must remember our place.

    Art is the lesser God.

    F*** the Gods, Creative Thinkers must unite.

  77. #77 arrilla michael
    January 30, 2008

    the point was to think about it. visualize your own mind on the the three blank panels, to create your own work in seconds. as for the second one, the was the passion with the art, to bring attention to what the artist thought was important

  78. #78 Emma Layton
    January 31, 2008

    This may be art, but I don’t believe it is artistic.

    A good piece of art could still exist as art if you took away the ‘meaning’ to it. Art is visual after all. The majority of modern art only has that title because the artist declares it has meaning, and without it it’s nothing.

    Shoddy art is being praised on the ‘statement’ it supposedly makes rather than talent, technical ability and overall quality. I’m not saying the statement doesn’t matter because it does, but I don’t see why this sort of stuff can be praised when a beautiful painting of a landscape, say, is completely dismissed just becasue there’s no hidden meaning.

    Good art should be capable of being appreciated by anyone, and the viewer should not need explanations and a profound knowledge of art to get something out of it.

    It saddens me that today’s art world seems based on nothing more than meaningless controversy. It always has to be about impact and debate. For once can’t it just be about “Wow, that LOOKS good.” I mean, would you listen to a music track of cats yowling and babies crying just because the composer claims there’s meaning in there?!

  79. #79 BSomers
    February 7, 2008

    When I teach Jackson Pollock to my high schoolers they are quick to make comments such as “I could do that”. My response to them is, “Really? Then why don’t you?” The reason Pollock is who he is, is because he thought of it, and then he did it. It’s not always the medium or technique that makes art “artistic”, it is also the ideas, the initiative, the desire to get it out there.

  80. #80 Marina Mangueira
    February 12, 2008

    I think rather that both work and are exposed represent art.By the time that a work has a purpose, whether it’s to impress or reflect, can be considered a piece of art. Certainly, anyone can develop a work like this. But not everyone has the idea to create it.

  81. #81 Amy
    February 18, 2008

    No, I don’t think this is art. Art should be something selective that takes talent. Anyone can paint 3 panels white and stick them on a wall, whether or not someone thinks to do that is a different story. The three white panels may have a bold statement, but i believe that for art to be truly unique it should be something that you can’t wait to look at everyday. I don’t believe I would put this in my house, nor go out of my way to see it. It seems that the white panels are blank, much like the painters imagination.

  82. #82 fallen
    February 20, 2008

    i agree the three blank canvas are not what i would call “art” but more of a creative change. it is an interesting sight.

  83. #83 bayley
    February 24, 2008

    What is the name of the entirely white 3 panel piece? Thanks :)

  84. #84 aco22
    February 26, 2008

    This is one of the top hits for when you google art.

  85. #85 Christopher Haynes-Ramirez
    March 1, 2008

    Honestly, the lines blurr… there’s this piece and it’s a colabo and half it is blu in blue and the other panel is red in red of course and i think i finally got it…. this is definatly not my type of art it’s not visualy exciting and there’s too many things going on off the canvas. Where’s the work? What is it? It doesn’t move me… there’s minimalism and then there’s someone who just spends way too much time thinking about drawing instead of just sitting down and doing something. I think what he is saying when he says it is nothing is that art is whatever you want it to be and to him it’s nothing and believe me it shows.

  86. #86 Hazel
    March 5, 2008

    “…it is still empty and thus represents nothing at all to the average viewer.”
    Art is a form of communication. If it says nothing it is not communicating and therefore cannot be art.

  87. #87 jordan martin
    March 13, 2008

    what art? this is nonsence. you poor your heart in to a good painting, portraying what you feel and how you see it. this excibit be better off in a science book, where it belongs.

  88. #88 C Snyder
    March 13, 2008

    The three white canvases are a thought provoking piece for me. Did the artist paint something underneath and then paint white over top of it? What is he hiding? Is the artist asking that the viewer to imagine the art that he *wants* to see? Does the viewer become the artist? Or is it an exercise in what people perceive or expect from art.

  89. #89 Tim Cooke
    March 17, 2008

    I have always said that art is (most of the time) pointless, i think that to a lot of people this would prove my point. This is getting truer and truer with the evolution of modern art. these days anyone can stick a couple of pieces of string on a black canvas and say that it’s art. i could understand and appreciate art that was painted some time ago. They were proper artists doing proper paintings. Not some reject from drama school who went mad with white paint…

  90. #90 Dave Munger
    March 17, 2008

    Tim,

    I can see your point; clearly some modern art is difficult to grasp and some of it may indeed be pointless. However, there are also some really great new works. I particularly enjoyed one work I saw at the Pompidou center, by Cai Guo-Quiang, entitled Bon Voyage: 10,000 Collectables from the Airport, 2004. I discuss it in this post.

    While older works may seem easier to appreciate, one thing I always think about when looking at older works is that for the few works we see in museums, there must have been hundreds of “rejects” that are now in the dustbin of history. We’re only just now sorting out which current works will be the rejects and which will still be in museums 500 years from now.

  91. #91 Lauren
    March 28, 2008

    i think that both pictures could be considered art. Art is about how the viewer percieves things, not about what one person thinks it is. Weird TV show. Two people are arguing about art; one says it is fleeting and only lasts for the minute while the other says it lasts forever and never fades. Obviously, there perception is different on the same topic, but both forms can be considered art. There is no right way to think about art. I personally think that art changes forever, never stays the same until it eventually dies; like life. Even though the first piece doesn’t change, I think that its simplicity is mind blowing. Just something aobut those white canvases pulls me in. The second one, being science, doesn’t really draw me in. Maybe because we explore science so much, that its getting overrated to me. I don’t know. It’s just kinda, yeah. I don’t think anyone can be wrong in there opinion of art, because its an opinion.

  92. #92 Abigail B.
    March 30, 2008

    hmmm, I think that if you call those three panels of white paint art and put it into a museum, you have gone too far. These pieces devalue the meaning of art by saying that if you want to, you can call whatever papers may be stacked on your kitchen table art. If the person that made those three white panels thinks that their piece is of some special significance then a simple wall turns into art. If you start calling everything art then the term loses it’s meaning and ends up something entirely different.

  93. #93 mikmor
    April 1, 2008

    Isn’t it time we closed this discussion and get back to work making the future?

    Art is only as remote as you make it. Conceptual Art is easy to comprehend if you take the time to understand Artist intentionality. But if all you want is the quick fix of beauty, then you walk away thinkin’ that Art is pointless meaningless wanking.

    Funny in a sad way, I believe science suffers from something similar.

    If you don’t think the 3 white canvas are Art, then you failed to comprehend the the Artist theory. If you do understand and don’t agree with it then challenge it, but don’t deny that it’s Art.

    I my opinion a research paper reproduced on large canvases is not my idea of Art, it just makes for easy reading. But without knowing the Artist intentions I really can’t judge whether the Artist successfully executed their theory.

    Funny we are givin’ the Artist intention for the 3 white canvas but are not and in fact we’re treated to a list of speculations for the other.

  94. #94 sorg
    April 2, 2008

    art means “lie”.

  95. #95 David
    April 3, 2008

    Try this:

    There is art about things–landscape, still life, portraits, etc.

    There is art about ideas–fear, beauty, humor

    There is art about art–i.e. art intended to expand the definition of art. As in research about how to do research.

    Some works fit in all three such as Picasso’s Guernica. I would say that these works fit into the last area though as soon as you set up categories like this the boundaries get a bit blurred. BTW I am an artist and an art teacher on the college level who tries to engage students in this very discussion which I find very interesting. Thanks for all the comments. I will refer my students to this discourse.

  96. #96 Nicholai
    April 7, 2008

    The first question I ask myself is based around the artist’s statement. He says in the first series that “they are painted white to express Nothing” and most of the comments on this page are about “what qualifies as art”. If the art is expression and method and the artist is expressing “Nothing”, does that make his work “void”?

    In my oppinion, I don’t think this is art. When I see three blank canvas, I see three blanks that need to be filled. If this thought is to invoke the artist within me like Joseph Beuys, and using a solid color canvas with the color White aside of International Klein Blue, then I see nothing special or unique with this piece.

    As for the second piece, the idea makes me think that if this science lesson is acceptable as art, than why not copy ALL other scienitific texts from our school science books onto canvas’ and fill our museums wall to wall, maybe even ceiling to ceiling with them since the vast waste of canvas would demand so much space in our buildings. Would’nt that be a library, then? My point being that this isnt meant for galleries and even more importantly, isn’t this copied straight out of a book? Couldn’t the author’s work just stay respectfully where he put it? I think its good that the author’s method was noticed by the artist, but I doubt the artist cares who wrote it anyway. The artist either doesn’t care or he is saying that THIS is where art has reached the bottom of the toilet where Duchamp started this watery spiral downwards.

    From all the abstraction and all the happenings and contemperary performances that used science as its medium, it has lead the critics to see art within anything, including a performance/experiment where artists/scientists Grew a steak in a petree dish and ate it upon its completion. But is that what art is nowadays, as Science itself? Do artists need to convert and become Scientists to reach status into the art history books? Doesn’t make sense does it? Thats because science is a subject of its own history and is recorded in its own books.

    I am all about sympathy towards all art, sure… but there is only so much abstraction we can take till we’re suddenly looking into microscopes to examine molescules for artistic expression. Do we really want that kind of future for our art when there are so many painters, sculptors, and other hardworking artists in the world trying to make a living doing what is considered traditional and legit? It seems very unfair to me. Agree with me or not, its just my oppinion and I believe that This Is Not Art.

  97. #97 Marilyn
    April 8, 2008

    I think both pieces are art because they act as a conduit for an idea…a door if you will to another room. See what you find in that room. For the three blank canvas pieces I though oh isn’t that interesting … a point to focus my mind..a door to see my next thought. It wan’t a bad experience. I mean how many works of art do you see that you don’t like. As for that scientific piece I thought hay amazing how the mind can do this even though my mind can’t. I was amazed.

  98. #98 Jase
    April 8, 2008

    If this painting went for more then the canvas cost someone has been ripped off.

  99. #99 ken
    April 10, 2008

    I can’t believe I have read this whole discussion. (I admit that I started skimming after a while.) I have been strangely fascinated, however. Intellectually speaking, reading the chain of opinions and reactions here reminds me of a long sequence in a documentary film I saw where one watches some toddlers who have decided to use a photocopier. The scene goes on and on and on, and it is a slow-motion comedy of errors. The problems they encounter in attempting to do something that is simply beyond their level and experience are heartbreaking and touching and painful to watch. Sometimes they come so close to getting it right, only to make the wrong move, never knowing what went wrong or even when they might have been close to succeeding. One feels the temptation to step in and help– but what would be the point? I know this sounds terribly condescending. I am an artist for many years, and also a teacher. The questions about art that are raised here, and particularly the naive assumptions and arguments are ones I have heard so so many times before. I am a teacher, too, and would never say what I’m saying now to my students– I never do. (I’ve helped many out of these problems when they were stuck like a turtle on its back.) I never would want to hurt or discourage anyone. I hope I’m not doing that now. I guess I am saying it now because I sense that most of the posters here aren’t kids, and maybe some of them are stuck with their unfounded belligerence, ungrounded cynicism and misdirected suspicions. Most people maybe don’t care about art enough for all this to matter to them. I wish all the best, and hope that if you care at all about these things you’ll keep at it till you get a little more insight.

  100. #100 blane
    April 11, 2008

    Yeah, this is art? I could do that too if I was going to make that amount of money to put 3 blank slabs on a wall!

  101. #101 Karl
    April 11, 2008

    You just embarrassed yourself – for decades people has looked at works by the likes of ROTHKO and Mondrian (to mention the two) with the same statement – I think it is so funny ;)

  102. #102 ken
    April 11, 2008

    Let me just clarify, in case ‘blane’ was responding to me–
    Sometimes I’m way too subtle, so I’ll be blunt…

    Yes they are art. (Both of the original examples).
    No it’s not a scam.
    There is not much more anyone can say about it without actually seeing the work and experiencing it in person, especially if one is not experienced at looking at or thinking about art (like almost all of the posters above.)

    Artists who make challenging art generally aren’t in it for the money.
    Your kid could not do it and neither could you, unless you were willing to risk thinking about what it would mean to really make something like that and have the actual experience of doing it, which would mean you’d be putting yourself at risk of learning something.
    Great art never was about skill at drawing something to superficially resemble nature, or about reifying your sentimental cliched assumptions.

    Grow up, people!

  103. #103 Megan
    April 14, 2008

    Everything is a work of art.
    The first piece simply represents the absence of art.
    The second piece represents a different type of art-aka science.

    Well thats how I see it anyway..

  104. #104 mel
    April 17, 2008

    both of them are art. every person looks at a piece and sees their own thing, you walk down the street and see a little girl crying, that’s art. to me everything is art

  105. #105 Tamara
    April 18, 2008

    yes they art but they wouldnt be very interesting to look at

  106. #106 Karl
    April 24, 2008

    I like your insight Ken – would love to further this discussion on mail

  107. #107 lucy
    April 26, 2008

    if everything’s art, then why confine certain pieces to a gallery? i think paintings from genuinely skilled artists are severely underrated. they show talent and flair. anyone can screw white slabs and recreations of journals to walls and have people mull over the genius of it. i just don’t like it. give me a picture of a cow in a field any day.

  108. #108 mikmor
    April 30, 2008

    Ken I’ll be blunt,

    On two points you’re full of crap. Great art has always been about technical ability, if it wasn’t then you wouldn’t have a job teaching it. You can’t teach creativity, we all have it. Either you see and act on it or you ignore it. The later is the easiest so most people do that. Technical ability is how well you use visual language. Isn’t that what teaching Art is about? I to went to Art School. I got an excellent education in the foundations that I then promptly tossed aside to explore possibilities.

    By the way, please Describe what you mean by Great Art. Do you mean the stuff that gets shown in museums, galleries? If so, then your point that “Artists who make challenging art generally aren’t in it for the money” is somewhat deceiving. I’m not and never want to be a starving Artist and I doubt any Artist wants to starve. This is that modern idea that one has to be destitute to be great, the Van Gogh effect. Getting your work shown in these venues is about networking and selling yourself and your work. So I say most of these Artist are good salespersons or have agents which means money and that not to say they aren’t exceptional Artist. Maybe Artist like the Wyeths who come from money never have to worry about such matters, but I do. I guess I could always get a job teaching in the Academies, but I really can’t stand Academics, that not to say I’m anti-intellectual, but that’s another debate.

    I do agree with you that it isn’t fair for someone to say, “I or my kid could have done that”. The point is they didn’t and really couldn’t have because they didn’t ask the questions and then go the thought process to arrive at that point. “What does nothing look like when you think of painting. Is it a blank canvas, is it black canvas, is it no canvas at all, is painting dead?”

    I’ve been posting and coming back to read the comments because this is a subject that is very dear to me. I have found that a lot of people are willing to except them as “Art” just not art they like. I myself have taken a different approach…Why are we being asked and who is asking the question? I still stand by my observation…we are given the Artists intention for the Nothing canvases, but are given no intentionality for that second work. Without knowing the Artist intentions I really can’t judge whether the Artist successfully executed their theory. What was they’re motivation? Without this component we are left to our opinions and seeing as this level of interpretations of Art is subjective you will inevitably get dumb ass responses. I’m sorry, many opinions.

    I really didn’t mean to come down so hard but I really can’t stand pretension. I’ m no child, yes I maybe a cynic but I consider myself in good company, ask any Dadaist, isn’t that right R Mutt?

    Hey Megan and others, if “everything is ‘Art’”, then how much will you give me for a crumpled up napkin that I call Art? Everything is Art is such a bullshit line, it’s everything is ZEN.

    Make art do science, make science do art, just get of your ass and do somethin’

  109. #109 Kelly
    April 30, 2008

    Whether it states a message or not, I find blank canvas no more artistic than Guillermo Vargas’ stray dog display. I find it much like an excuse for a reason to gain recognition for little to no thought. Like Mikmor stated with the napkin example, we could interpret that as ‘his aggression on the frailty of life yadda yadda B.S B.S….’ HOWEVER, art is quintessentially intended and designed to invoke emotion or reaction when put on display. Technically, this person was successful if over 100 people responded to it in someway, whether in favor or not. I think many are just aggravated that they didn’t think of hanging up blank canvas before him in the first place.

  110. #110 mikmor
    May 1, 2008

    Right-on Kelly…Sorry I do tend to rant a little. My wife says it’s the Preacher in me.

    As far as Vargas’ stray dog goes…if true that man is sick, sick like Doctor Moreau. But you know he’s getting people to think and like you stated, that’s one facet of Art. But really Starving a Dog, that’s cruel, cruel like using Chimps for HIV research. Chimps don’t get Human Immunodeficiency Virus. They get a Chimp version which is different. But hey Science is out to save lives, right?

    People do all kinds of crazy stuff and then try to justify it, it’s just our nature.

  111. #111 ken
    May 2, 2008

    No, no, no mikmor– you are so confused!

    It is not and never has been ABOUT technical ability. Technical ability is assumed. One needs to be able to do what one intends, or somehow coax the art into being good. That’s all. Fetishizing technique as an end in itself is for hobbyists and hacks. It’s fine if people want to do that and many do (art-makers and people looking at art), but to mistake it for the essence of art reflects an undeveloped inquiry into aesthetics.

    By great art (no caps), I mean art that is great. A lot of what is in museums is great, in my opinion, but not all of it. You are missing the point. Recognition is not insurance of quality– but it also doesn’t mean it’s bad. What is of quality has to be judged on its own merits, thoughtfully, with lots of questioning and experience. Even someone sensitive and well-qualified to do this can always be wrong, but that doesn’t mean that all opinions are created equal. There is such a thing as not knowing what one is talking about, as you demonstrate. I don’t really mean to be insulting, and your invoking Duchamp certainly inclines me to cut you some slack, but really, I never said anything about starving artists at all! That romantic myth is also for hacks. Nevertheless, the most interesting artists I know are not into it for the money (although some of them are making some money, as fine artists, at a very high level). They are in it for the ART.

    If I was in it for the money, and I suspect this is true of others, maybe I would be painting “skilled” portraits and landscapes and pictures of people’s dogs etc. or maybe if I wanted to be a little less kitschy, some I’d make some slightly more artistic but highly realistic or obviously “technically proficient” kind of work… I got bored with the potential of that when I was about twelve.

    I’d rather be an artist.

  112. #112 Nat
    May 5, 2008

    what is the name of the person/artist who created the white squares? does anyone know please?

  113. #113 Hans
    May 5, 2008

    This piece would only be cool if the artist had called it “Kliche”.

  114. #114 Tiina
    May 12, 2008

    Well, the white paninting are truly an art comparing them to Guillermo Vergas “star a dog to death”.
    Still my sense of beaty will suffer poorly from modern art, because I love the paintings of Jan Vermeer

  115. #115 jess
    May 15, 2008

    yea i think its art i find it shows the pure bleakness the world is becomeing or ovcorse how the world shuld be as simple as white canvas

  116. #116 Ken
    May 15, 2008

    I think anything can be considered art, but what is this communicating? Nothing, no message. Art has to communicate. This would look like an incomplete sentence in a complex world.

  117. #117 me
    May 19, 2008

    the mere fact that you’re spending time to comment on this piece means it was successful.

  118. #118 robyn
    May 20, 2008

    i think art is any expression or feeling that sometimes only the artist can understand.
    art is anyform of expression

  119. #119 Get Real
    May 29, 2008

    There is a handful of sane people here, I think! and the rest need to get off the medication and start power walking up hills to pump some oxygen to the brain.
    This white trash so called “exhibition”, teasing the majority of current labotomised generation of inferior humans, is a grand waste of good real estate, that should be used either as a child learning centre, restaurant, library, gym room,
    or STUDIO for talented people, to produce and display real ART, not constipation induced insults to our intelligence and eye sores, such as these threesomes of white panels.

    How much more “sick and stupid” do we have to be exposed to, just to realise we are being had by art retards supported by rich pedos, who seek to suppress real art and learned opinion?
    How about black or brown panels next time?
    or is that bordering on ‘art-ism’ ?!

  120. #120 Dave Munger
    May 29, 2008

    Get Real:

    There has been some great, thoughtful commentary on this thread, but unfortunately much has been simply of the “I know better than you do” variety. Sadly your post doesn’t even rise to this level.

    If you know so well what “real” art is, why not explain it to the rest of us? If you can’t do that or aren’t willing, please don’t comment any further; it will save me the trouble of deleting your pointless rants.

  121. #121 Grimmlok
    May 29, 2008

    Does this take vision? Talent? A superior grasp of technique? Training? Refinement? Any kind of effort?

    No.

    This is the problem with the expanding definition of “art”. Now EVERYTHING that is produced, be it by accident, minimal effort, or by happenstance is art.

    REAL art, takes vision, it takes talent, it takes training, it takes a grasp of technique, it’s usually a long arduous process where that technique is refined to the point of being EXCEPTIONAL, and the work produced after much thought, time, effort, vision, and obvious talent/technique is THEN art.

    Visionless/talentless/techniqueless creation is about as artistic as a monkey scratching in the dirt with a stick.

    NOT EVERYTHING THAT A HUMAN PRODUCES IS ART.

  122. #122 Grimmlok
    May 29, 2008

    p.s. just because people comment on something also does not make it art. I could comment on a piece of **** on the ground, does that make it art? If someone placed the **** there on purpose in order to get people to react to it, does that make it art?

    No, it still remains a piece of **** on the ground put there by someone looking for a reaction, ANY reaction.

    Real art is not simply spectacle for the sake of spectacle. That’s what we call.. well, SPECTACLE.

    [edited out profanity -- dm]

  123. #123 Dave Munger
    May 29, 2008

    I think the comments on this post have pretty much run the course. I’m going to close them now. Thanks for a (mostly) interesting discussion.