Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What Is Art?

Because I was bored, and had nothing better to do (actually I do have better stuff to do, but that involves me doing something useful, so... yeah... no.) I started watching old Idea Channel videos and the first few deal with what is art (but you already knew what this was going to be about because of the title)?

In one of the videos, he states a very striking quote by Leo Tolstoy (author of War and Peace and AKA LOLstoy):

To evoke in oneself a feeling one has once experienced, and having evoked it in oneself, then by means of movements, lines, colors, sounds, or forms expressed in words, so to transmit that feeling that others may experience the same feeling - this is the activity of art.” 

And I agree wholeheartedly with the quote. Art must make you feel something or make you think about something or make an impact on you in some way. Otherwise, it isn't art, it's just background noise that you take in and throw out. Art may be incomprehensible, but it can still impact you. That's why, despite what other people out there say, movies and video games are art (more on that in this video). The Last of Us made me feel something, emotions, about loss, desperation, the feeling of inevitable doom that came with it. Sadness, happiness, triumph. However, a mon avis, Pac-Man didn't make me feel anything, anything lasting anyways. As one of the comments in that video says, art makes a lasting impression on you, one that stays with you for however long. A mon avis, good art makes a lasting impression on you, and you remember it.

However, bear in mind that people may not interpret art the way you do. It (most likely) won't make them feel the same way you do, it won't make them conjure up the same emotions, memories, as you do. Art, in that sense is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say. Some may not be able to feel things that others may be deeply impacted by. For instance, me not understanding how people see Pac-Man as art is probably because I can't understand how other people think. After all, we're different people, and emotions are one of those things that are pretty much indescribable in the same way that pain is. (For more on that, watch this video.) That's why, I think, that abstract art was severely discouraged hundreds of years ago. People didn't have an open mind, they weren't, I think, ready to understand, they didn't want to. People back then were much less accepting than we are today. But we still are close-minded, as a people. That's how art can move people. I think (I might be wrong) art was a huge contributor in the the movements of acceptance seen in history. Women's rights (I dunno if that was punctuated properly), abolitionism, and in recent times, gay rights. Art has given us a different perspective on things, a way to see things from different angles, to feel others' feelings, to understand. As LOLSTOY said, art is supposed to evoke feelings in the hope that others can feel it too. The distinction between good art and bad art is completely in the hands eyes mind of who is absorbing the art.

Ultimately art is completely subjective. What you think is art may not be what I think is art. But all art must make an impact on you. Music, literature, film, video games, videos, all these things move you. Books, they take you on a journey, through the ups and downs. Music evokes emotion, happiness, sadness, intensity (if that even qualifies as an emotion). All these things make an impact on you, and that's what I think separates art from the background noise, the stuff you filter out, the stuff that is virtually useless. Just keep in mind that one person's background noise can be another's Monet.