Paz’s Use and Contemplation. Alex’s thoughts.

I am finding a connection to Paz’s statement: “It scarcely bears repeating that art is not a concept: art is a thing of the senses” in my work as a designer and an artist. When I’m creating an image as a designer, I find that I need a concept to be working with or for. This concept will inform the image created. When I’m creating an image as an artist, the concept is less defined, and usually the imagery is coming directly from my imagination…or my senses. It could be looked at as a flow of my mind, or consciousness, through my hand and into imagery.

That art is not a concept, but a thing of the senses implies that it is an experience to be had. As designers, it could be argued that we are trying to create better experiences for people. For me this is true.

I get confused thinking about myself as strictly a designer or strictly an artist. Where do these two meet? What is produced when they do? The answer probably lies in the work I’m currently doing, since I think about this convergence a lot. But I fall short of extracting this answer myself. Perhaps in order to find it, the work needs to be experienced by someone else. Paz’s description of the craftsman/artisan really spoke to me because it illustrated a place within one person where artist and designer meet.

And finally, I was struck by something that I think is unrelated to what I’ve been talking about so far, but interesting nonetheless. I can’t tell if it misses the mark of the statement, but I wonder what Paz thinks of conceptual art?

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One response to “Paz’s Use and Contemplation. Alex’s thoughts.

  1. The tension between concept and craft which the article explores is a charged one. With work created at both ends of the spectrum being called out for ridicule. Chris Ofili’s elephant dung paintings and collages created with animal feces was said to be at the leading edge of modern concept driven art. At least for several months until it was replaced by another “brand-new-thing”. And the franchised style of Thomas Kinkade’s sofa paintings representing idyllic settings of americana rendered in “light catching” saturated, pastel colors quickly spring to mind. Which of these two creator’s work seems most valid perhaps depends on your definition of art.

    Whether your definition of art stems from it’s form, or if it is included into the canon of capital “A” Art by established artists, curators or critics deeply affects how one reacts to Paz’s statement that “art is not a concept”. I have some artist friends that would argue that his statement reflects an older mindset which is quite passe. The focus of art is in the mind of the viewer and not the artifact. They would say the “Art is what makes you think.”

    My definition of art is, “Something transformed by human intent to realize an idea”. Influenced by Danto’s (2002) “x is an art work if it embodies a meaning”, my definition enlists the word “something” in an effort to be a bit more concrete than his statement. Both Clive Bell’s “artworks are artifacts designed to cause aesthetic experiences” and Gotz’s (1981) “making only” definition of creativity seem overly restrictive, apparently eliminating performance works from their universe of art.

    Perhaps the diversity of definitions of art gives it both its strength and it’s chaotic nature. With practitioners heading in seemingly all directions. As a designer I do feel both part of, and yet excluded from this controversy. Someone who, along with others of my kind chose to practice at the cross roads of art and business. I find the most power creating work, and is held by artifacts which are both beautiful and useful. Their power comes from their ability to communicate content to an audience, and the experience of interacting with the design.

    So perhaps my definitions of art and design end up in the same place. Namely the experience of the user. Art is both the object and the concept. The mind and the senses. I don’t believe we should have to choose.

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