Ellen Stuttle

Michelle Marder Kamhi's "Who Says That's Art?"

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Here is a second example and then an article discussing a "definition" of art.

 

 

 

 

And so to the obvious question: But Is It Art? And assuming it is, writes John Valentine in The Philosopher, “what then follows from such a classification? What sort of difference does it or should it make in the way we approach and appreciate chimpanzee paintings? If they are art, what sort of critical or interpretive discourse about them should we engage in? Do we simply appreciate the lines, colours, and forms of Congo’s paintings and stop at that? Does it make any difference that the paintings were done by a member of a different species? Should species differences make any difference in artistic value?” It may not, at least commercially speaking: Congo may have had his moment six decades ago, but don’t think that means his work will come cheap; back in 2005, some of his paintings went up on the auction block and fetched more than $25,620.

Relate

 

In this article, Chimpanzee Paintings and the Concept of Art, by John Valentine, the author takes:

 

 

A quick look back at the biologist Desmond Morris can help us begin to formulate an approach to these intriguing examples of 'animal artists'. In his book, The Biology of Art, Morris explains that Congo - the most prolific chimpanzee painter at the London Zoo - consistently demonstrated the following behaviours during various drawing and painting experiments.

A. A noticeable degree of intense focus on the blank sheets of paper presented to him and especially the markings per se he produced.

B. An aversion to being interrupted while drawing or painting.

C. Restricting his mark-making to the blank paper itself.

D. Periodically marking blank paper with a fan pattern that underwent numerous repetitions over time.

E. Balancing offset figures on the papers handed to him. For example, a square figure presented to him just to the right of center on the paper was balanced by mark-making an equal distance to the left of center.

F. A quantifiable progression in the styles of his compositional and calligraphic skills. (Although Congo never reached the representational stage, he went through numerous scribbling and diagrammatic stages that seem to be precursors to representational drawing, and that are found in human children.)

G.    Finding his drawing or painting to be a rewarding activity in itself without any connection to outside positive reinforcement.

H. Exhibiting behavior seemingly intended to show when Congo was finished with a given painting and either ready for another blank sheet or ready to re-perceive the next situation as a different sort of play time or 'time to do something else.' (Often he was observed to play on the high chair and tray that was used to seat him when he was painting. In this way, Congo seemed to treat painting as a special kind of activity that held a different value for him than regular play or roughhousing.)

And finally, Congo reliably demonstrated a resistance to any direct positive reinforcement that was used to make him paint. In this last sense, Congo was similar to another chimpanzee who was once subjected to bribery with a food reward to encourage him to draw more intensely. He quickly learned to associate drawing with getting the reward but as soon as this condition had been established he took less and less interest in the lines he was drawing. As Morris notes: 'Any old scribble would do and then he would immediately hold out his hand for the reward. The careful attention he had paid previously to design, rhythm, balance, and composition was gone and the worst kind of commercial art was born!

 

Confining the discussion to only this primate, the author

 

...brings us firmly back to the need for a definition of art. Thierry Lenain offers that a work of art 'is a thing created by a process whose aim is to confer on it a special aesthetic presence.' In the case of paintings, what he means by this [statement] is explained indirectly by everything he believes chimpanzees do not do. That is:

* Chimpanzees do not create painting equipment and the pictorial field on their own (these are obviously presented to them by humans);

* Chimpanzees rarely, if ever, return to a painting once it is finished; they do not have a developed sense of aesthetic forms as such or the cultural/symbolic implications of such forms;
* Chimpanzee paint-making behavior is solely connected with play and the making of marks just as marks; and their aim in paint play is not to confer on a surface any special aesthetic presence or sense of order, but rather to disrupt the surface by any and all means available.

In more positive terms, true art- at least for Lenain, looking at, in this case, true painting -

Involves a deliberate process of choosing or creating appropriate painting equipment, creating and transforming the pictorial field into a symbolic or imaginary space for the development of forms that have a specific idea, and creating balance, rhythm, composition, and harmony (et cetera) by means of a purposeful sense of order. Lenain thinks that chimpanzee paintings can be deceptive in the sense that they often look like examples of human gestural painting, but on closer analysis, he says, they lack the precise conceptual characteristics of the latter.

 


 http://www.the-philosopher.co.uk/animal-art.htm

 

A...

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Newbsie's latest painting is gay porn:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10205619091857761&set=a.10204646370900345.1073741865.1267526600&type=3

Lately he's been painting in colors that Rand wouldn't have approved of, and using visual effects that she would have used to denounce him as having a rotting soul and psychotic epistemology, and now he's going so far as to advocate through his art activities which she "objectively" declared to be "disgusting," "hideous,""repulsive" and "immoral."

But, despite all of that daring independence from Rand, he still hasn't mustered the courage to go all the way and disobey her order to blame and condemn Kant for the art that we're all supposed to "objectively" not like.

J

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Jonathan,

I tried to look, but I couldn't get through.

I suspect Michael blocked me on his Facebook account. I think we used to be Facebook friends, but I'm not sure. I rarely post on my timeline and hardly ever ask to friend anyone, but I often get friend requests, some of which I accept. Sometimes I make comments on Facebook on something posted by someone else--especially re a few private marketing groups I belong to, or supporting Trump, etc. :) But I just don't recall if we were friends. We might have been, or I might have liked his page or something because I vaguely remember seeing posts by him in my newsfeed in the past.

Whatever. It's his right. No harm done.

I never communicated with him on Facebook and hardly posted on his recent participation here on OL. I find this behavior odd in general terms, but it's not unusual in the O-Land subcommunity.

May he prosper and be happy.

:smile:

Michael

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No, never porn. It's a striking but subtle nude study I see. The light and shade is terrific. Challenging postures and anatomy, very well rendered. For me it barely (ha) makes a difference they are both men.

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If that's what Jonathan was referring to he has no idea what porn is.

Newberry actually did a very good job with that one.

--Brant

but, "I know it when I see it"

at one time Supreme Court Justices, with the exception of Douglas, went to the screening room to watch porn to determine if it "violated community standards"

you can't make this stuff up

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If that's what Jonathan was referring to he has no idea what porn is.

Newberry actually did a very good job with that one.

--Brant

but, "I know it when I see it"

at one time Supreme Court Justices, with the exception of Douglas, went to the screening room to watch porn to determine if it "violated community standards"

you can't make this stuff up

United States v. 12 200-Ft. Reels of Film, 413 U.S. 123 (1973)

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Jonathan,

I tried to look, but I couldn't get through.

I suspect Michael blocked me on his Facebook account. I think we used to be Facebook friends, but I'm not sure. I rarely post on my timeline and hardly ever ask to friend anyone, but I often get friend requests, some of which I accept. Sometimes I make comments on Facebook on something posted by someone else--especially re a few private marketing groups I belong to, or supporting Trump, etc. :) But I just don't recall if we were friends. We might have been, or I might have liked his page or something because I vaguely remember seeing posts by him in my newsfeed in the past.

Whatever. It's his right. No harm done.

I never communicated with him on Facebook and hardly posted on his recent participation here on OL. I find this behavior odd in general terms, but it's not unusual in the O-Land subcommunity.

May he prosper and be happy.

:smile:

Michael

I've heard others say the same. Newbsie has blocked them or unfriended them, or whatever.

I think that what started his anger with you was that you had observed on one thread or another that he had been confronted with overwhelming, irrefutable facts, but instead of answering them, he chose to take a sort of tribal clan approach and praise someone who was on his side in being wrong. He got very upset with you about that. He got very huffy and indignant, and scolded you for daring to suggest that he was wrong, but didn't address the fact that you were accurately describing his behavior.

I think that it was a short time later that he decided to punish you by taking his ball and going home -- he deprived you and your website of the extremely valuable attraction of his art tutorials. That's what you get for confronting Newbsie with reality. And especially doing so publicly.

J

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If that's what Jonathan was referring to he has no idea what porn is.

Then please define "pornography," and identify objective standards by which we -- anyone -- could judge which individual examples would qualify and which would not.

J

P.S. Heh. Long ago on ROR I participated in a discussion on art and porn in which Newsie took a typical ridiculous position. I'll find it and post a link later when I have time.

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Newbsie's latest painting is gay porn:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10205619091857761&set=a.10204646370900345.1073741865.1267526600&type=3

Lately he's been painting in colors that Rand wouldn't have approved of, and using visual effects that she would have used to denounce him as having a rotting soul and psychotic epistemology, and now he's going so far as to advocate through his art activities which she "objectively" declared to be "disgusting," "hideous,""repulsive" and "immoral."

But, despite all of that daring independence from Rand, he still hasn't mustered the courage to go all the way and disobey her order to blame and condemn Kant for the art that we're all supposed to "objectively" not like.

J

Seems like I'm able to see it and post it. I'm not signed in to Facebook.

12250144_10205619091857761_3891554545376

Re the colors, maybe the point is that he regards gay sex as part of the Cult of Moral Grayness.

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If that's what Jonathan was referring to he has no idea what porn is.

Then please define "pornography," and identify objective standards by which we -- anyone -- could judge which individual examples would qualify and which would not.

J

P.S. Heh. Long ago on ROR I participated in a discussion on art and porn in which Newsie took a typical ridiculous position. I'll find it and post a link later when I have time.

"I know it when I see it."

Okay: an erect penis enters a vagina or anus or a mouth.

Motion is optional so still photos can be "porn."

Is ejaculate is made visible it's XXX porn.

Now, none of this is truly objectifiable. I personally don't believe in pornography in that I don't consume it(?) except(?) from one book written over 100 years ago(?).

Mainstream movies in a generation or two will likely depict actual sex. This will not be porn because it will combine the whole sexual ball of wax just as the sex in the privacy of ones home is not porn. For me porn is simply meat meets meat with so sense of humanity beyond the bodies. Boring.

If I write anymore on this I'll become too incoherent.

--Brant

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I've heard others say the same. Newbsie has blocked them or unfriended them, or whatever.

I think that what started his anger with you...

Jonathan,

I'm not sure Michael is angry with me.

I remember reading something by him several years ago where, if I remember correctly, he also discussed a gospel song he liked very much, "This Little Light of Mine, I'm gonna let it shine..."

He discussed a a self-help saying he liked and I see him more in this light: "Go where you are celebrated, not just tolerated."

This is great advice for a home base when you are in a creative mood. But when you only surround yourself with "yes-folks," it gets awfully lonely. (Remember Ayn Rand's constant lament during and after writing Atlas Shrugged, that she could not find people of her stature to interact with? Look who she surrounded herself with.)

This is why I believe Michael showed up here for a bit, to scratch the intellectual loneliness itch and receive some challenge.

But there is a danger in occupying a "yes-folks" environment for long periods of time. You wire your brain, you literally and physically create neural pathways, where your mind tells you this is normal reality, not a special safe-haven you built. In other words, in reality, your safe-haven where you are celebrated with very little criticism is a manmade exception within social reality, not normal society. But the automatic part of your brain tells you differently.

So when you get out into the rough-and-tumble of normal human intercourse and encounter different forms of disagreement (ranging from the polite to the rude, from the well-meaning to the hostile), the fight-flight region of your brain treats it all as a threat. And this stifles growth.

The best way I have seen of illustrating metaphorically what I am talking about is an extract from a Dali painting that is used as an Internet meme:

11.20.2015-10.12.png

This generally comes with the statement: "If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. If broken by an inside force, life begins. Great things always begin from the inside."

(btw - The image extract is from the painting: Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man by Salvador Dali.)

People who surround themselves with "yes-folks" for long periods lose the ability to see a crack in their egg as anything other than an attack by an outside force.

One of the reasons I decided to encourage differing views on OL is precisely to allow the egg surrounding each person, including myself, to crack from within--to allow growth, which I call a messy process. When people assimilate a challenge to their views, their shell cracks wide open and they grow. When they have honestly and actively entertained a differing view from within and rejected it, they continue to grow, but their previous shell has cracked a little.

When they resist disagreement at all costs, in other words, when they treat a differing view as an attack from the outside, the shell cracks open, but no growth happens. They condemn themselves to spiritual repetition (at best).

To extend the metaphor, growth from this perspective is possible, but it comes with a lot of suffering as the growing spirit tries to use glue, spit, anything and everything along the opening fault-lines from within their shell to try keep it intact. (Enter the "yes-folks," who often come in response to an SOS. :smile: )

As for me and my own shells after all these years doing OL this way, I'm damaged goods. My shells have been way too damaged from the inside for me to stay stuck in a fixed mindset. Call me Omelette-Man.

:smile:

Michael

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Re the colors, maybe the point is that he regards gay sex as part of the Cult of Moral Grayness.

Heh.

I think the actual issue is that Newbsie is all about atmospheric depth (or what he inaptly used to call "transparency"), but he can't quite pull it off realistically in full color, so he needs to stay monochrome.

Here's Rockwell pulling it off:

Rockwell_StrictlyaSharpshooter.jpg

Total masterful control of hues, saturation, and value from near to distant. And the smoke in the room makes sense.

The atmospheric effect was plausible in Newbsie's last two paintings, but in this one it's forced. Realism is sacrificed to serve the artist's favorite technical theory/effect of visual art. Did one of the characters forget to open the flue on their coal-burning furnace? Are they both anosmic and the batteries in their smoke detectors are dead? Is their potpourri pot too hot? Did they forget about the roast in the oven? Is it a gay arson/suicide pact?

J

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"I know it when I see it."

I asked for an objective definition and criteria.

Okay: an erect penis enters a vagina or anus or a mouth.

That would be what is known as "hardcore" pornography. There are also softer categories of porn.

In identifying Newbsie's painting as pornographic, I'm using what I take to be the historical standards for the arts, as well as Rand's. With its nudity, eroticism and homosexuality, she would have found the painting to be disgusting, offensive and loathsome, and therefore it would have fallen into her category of items which could be forbidden from being displayed publicly in order to protect the "rights" of the unconsenting. She would have advocated that Newbsie's painting would have to be kept and shown privately, and that if it were made available to the public, it would have include warning signs, such as "For Adults Only."

By Rand's criteria, Newbsie's publicly displaying his painting without warning online is a violation of others' rights, and is a postmodernist attack on all values!

J

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We like using Newberry as a pinata--admit it everybody--for all the nonsense that falls out.

--Brant

We even have Rand's approval:

"Humor is the denial of metaphysical importance to that which you laugh at. The classic example: you see a very snooty, very well dressed dowager walking down the street, and then she slips on a banana peel . . . . What’s funny about it? It’s the contrast of the woman’s pretensions to reality. She acted very grand, but reality undercut it with a plain banana peel. That’s the denial of the metaphysical validity or importance of the pretensions of that woman. Therefore, humor is a destructive element—which is quite all right, but its value and its morality depend on what it is that you are laughing at. If what you are laughing at is the evil in the world (provided that you take it seriously, but occasionally you permit yourself to laugh at it), that’s fine."

Newbsie is that dowager.

J

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I'm not sure Michael is angry with me.

Oh, I'm sure that he's no longer angry with you. I was only suggesting that his blocking you, if he did indeed block you, probably happened at a point long ago when he was angry with you for not having taken his side when he was wrong.

I think you're right: he has grown accustomed to being surrounded by yes-men, and has great difficulty dealing with anyone daring to point out to him when his views are clashing with reality. But then he retreats to his safe-space where everything is rainbows and people who praise him, and he forgets all about the reality that had upset him so badly.

He's very much like millennial college kids.

J

"Bully-proof windows, troll-safe doors, in my safe space, in my safe space..."

"People that support me, mixed in with, more people that support me and say nice things. Rainbows all around me..."

"You might call me a pussy, but I won't hear you in my safe space..."

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We like using Newberry as a pinata--admit it everybody--for all the nonsense that falls out.

--Brant

We even have Rand's approval:

"Humor is the denial of metaphysical importance to that which you laugh at. The classic example: you see a very snooty, very well dressed dowager walking down the street, and then she slips on a banana peel . . . . What’s funny about it? It’s the contrast of the woman’s pretensions to reality. She acted very grand, but reality undercut it with a plain banana peel. That’s the denial of the metaphysical validity or importance of the pretensions of that woman. Therefore, humor is a destructive element—which is quite all right, but its value and its morality depend on what it is that you are laughing at. If what you are laughing at is the evil in the world (provided that you take it seriously, but occasionally you permit yourself to laugh at it), that’s fine."

Newbsie is that dowager.

J

If humor is just and only that, I've never said anything funny here. Humor is not an area of Randian expertise.

--Brant

she's better in esthetics

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If humor is just and only that, I've never said anything funny here. Humor is not an area of Randian expertise.

I agree. I don't think that humor is just and only that. And humor was definitely not Rand's area of expertise.

J

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Earlier on this thread we had discussed the Rolling Stones' Paint it Black. Last night, while watching Sunday night football, I saw a commercial for Call of Duty: Black Ops III which includes the song. It's all action and adventure, just as I had described the effects of the music on me and others. So, obviously, the advertising people who put the clip together were "objectively" wrong, just like I was, and were "rationalizing" what they took the song to express.

Here's the clip:

J

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Doesn't do anything for me. For me the song works with a Vietnam video. That's my personal history.

--Brant

Well, you're just objectively wrong, Brant.

J

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Back to this thread's original subject.

At her blog, Kamhi has a recent open letter to Jerome Hausman who reviewed her book in the December issue of Arts & Activities.

She writes to Hausman:

"In contrast with my traditionalist view, you argue: 'New media and technologies have brought about new forms that have enlarged and enriched the nature of art experience.' I’d love to know which works in these 'new media' have truly enriched your experience."

Does she really want to know which works have truly enriched his experience? I think not. Why would she? Her entire history is that of just outright denying others' aesthetic experiences when she doesn't happen to share them.

She continued:

"Based on numerous conversations and written exchanges we’ve had over the years, we’ve long recognized that we approach the crucial question of what qualifies as 'contemporary art' from totally different perspectives. Yours I’d characterize as the view now dominant in the artworld—i.e., that anything created by a purported artist merits consideration as art. Mine is that unless we formulate some objective criteria for what constitutes 'art,' we have no sound basis for deciding who qualifies as an 'artist.'”

When will Kamhi offer some actual objective criteria, rather than smuggling in her own subjective, personal tastes and aesthetic limitations and merely calling them "objective"? When will she objectively demonstrate via her own stated criteria that people actually experience what she requires them to experience in all of the art works which she claims qualify as art? When will she objectively demonstrate that no one experiences what she requires them to experience when viewing works which she claims do not qualify as art?

J

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Doesn't do anything for me. For me the song works with a Vietnam video. That's my personal history.

--Brant

Well, you're just objectively wrong, Brant.

J

NO! Don't say that! I'm melting! I'm melting!

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