Episode 1: What is Art?

Here at Sterling Word we’re proud to announce that we’ve finally gone live! And to celebrate that, we’ve got a new podcast for you! Opposite/Adjacent, where Ben [Redacted] and Chris Sterling tackle a variety of topics, ideas, and questions, and try not very successfully to stay on-topic!

This week’s tangent: What is art?



Duchamp’s “Fountain” : http://www.tate.org.uk/art/images/work/T/T07/T07573_10.jpg

Manet’s “Olympia”:  https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ca/Edouard_Manet_-_Olympia_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Winnie the Pooh, Home Run Derby: http://fun.disney.com/winnie-the-pooh-home-run-derby


Local Forecast – Elevator Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

One thought on “Episode 1: What is Art?

  1. I find this discussion interesting because it definitely leaves me questioning what we think art should be. Literature and most historical art is often considered to be subversive in some way in what it says about the society it exists in. Modern art in particular, even though I tend to hate it, has often been considered to be the height of subversive. Therefore, can we consider a middle school production of Shakespeare, or even a production performed by adults in the original old English, is that art? The play itself, certainly. But the act of reproducing it? Is that art? After all, we would argue often that a replication of a masterpiece, say the aforementioned Starry Night, is not art. But what of the individual actors in the play. By reproducing work that has already been interpreted in a way that has already been interpreted, are we then stripping them of their artistic expression? Or do they retain artistry because of sheer individuality?

    And what of artists whose work was created for aesthetic purposes but over time have become symbols of the ideology of a specific time period. You could argue that a single dress is not a piece of art, especially if it had been mass produced in some way, but what of the hundreds of thousands of flapper dresses created in the 1920s as direct reaction to prohibitionism? They were created to subvert religious ideology but continued to catch on as a result of women’s liberation movements. But was the act of an individual woman wearing the dress subversion? Was it art? What about the entirety of the punk rock movement of the 1980s?

    For me, my definition of art has always been a creative product meant to subvert or comment on life, politics, economics, society, etc. This includes, but is not limited to: theatre, film, literature, traditional “art”, design, craftsmanship, photography, animation, and digital art. I know I’m missing a bunch in there. But if your definition limits a craftsman as a craftsman and a designer as a designer and a director as a director, what makes an artist? Is a film director who replicates Shakespeare’s plays simply as they are an artist? Is Baz Luhrmann more deserving of the title than Franco Zeffirelli? Don’t get me wrong, I prefer Zeffirelli’s version of Romeo and Juliet. But does intention also preclude originality? Or is originality not a factor. Particularly, if reference to adaptation.

    I posit this because for me, creativity has always been a factor. This is why, for me, some speeches are art where others are not. Some photographs are art, while others are not. Some video games are art, while others are not. For me, creativity and subversion, or as you say, intention, go hand in hand. That is what makes art.


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