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TOK The Arts

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Gareth Stevens

on 25 April 2016

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Transcript of TOK The Arts

The Painted Word - the role of the critic
Essential or superflous?
At first glance, the fact that the arts and related aesthetic attitudes vary so widely from one society to another would seem to suggest that they are wholly learned or "cultural" in origin rather than, as I will show, also biological or "natural". One can make an analogy with language: learning to speak is a universal, innate predisposition for all children even though individual children learn the particular language of the people among whom they are nurtured. Similarly, art can be regarded as a natural, general proclivity that manifests itself in culturally learned specifics such as dances, songs, performances, visual display, and poetic speech.

Ellen Dissanayake - Homo Aestheticus 1992
Societies that perform rituals and have a shared aesthetic became more cohesive and thus better adapted to survive
What I saw before me was the critic-in-chief of The New York Times saying: In looking at a painting today, "to lack a persuasive theory is to lack something crucial." I read it again. It didn't say "something helpful" or "enriching" or even "extremely valuable." No, the word was crucial.
In short: frankly, these days, without a theory to go with it, I can't see a painting.
Then and there I experienced a flash known as the Aha! Phenomenon, and the buried life of contemporary art was revealed to me for the first time. The fogs lifted!

“The Painted Word” - Tom Wolfe
Well—how very shortsighted! Now, at last, on April 28, 1974, I could see. I had gotten it backward all along. Not "seeing is believing," you ninny, but "believing is seeing," for Modern Art has become completely literary: the paintings and other works exist only to illustrate the text!

“The Painted Word” - Tom Wolfe
The German bombers appeared in the skies over Guernica in the late afternoon of April 26, 1937 and immediately transformed the sleepy Spanish market town into an everlasting symbol of the atrocity of war. Unbeknownst to the residents of Guernica, they had been slated by their attackers to become guinea pigs in an experiment designed to determine just what it would take to bomb a city into oblivion.

Spain was embroiled in a convulsive civil war that had begun in July 1936 when the right-wing Nationalists led by General Francisco Franco sought to overthrow Spain's left-wing Republican government. It did not take long before this bloody internal Spanish quarrel attracted the participation of forces beyond its borders - creating a lineup of opponents that foreshadowed the partnerships that would battle each other in World War II. Fascist Germany and Italy supported Franco while the Soviet Union backed the Republicans. A number of volunteers made their way to Spain to fight and die under the Republican banner including the Abraham Lincoln Brigade from the United States.

Hitler's support of Franco consisted of the Condor Legion, an adjunct of the Luftwaffe. The Condor Legion provided the Luftwaffe the opportunity to develop and perfect tactics of aerial warfare that would fuel Germany's blitzkrieg through Europe during 1939 and 1940. As German air chief Hermann Goering testified at his trial after World War II: "The Spanish Civil War gave me an opportunity to put my young air force to the test, and a means for my men to gain experience." Some of these experimental tactics were tested on that bright Spring day with devastating results - the town of Guernica was entirely destroyed with a loss of life estimated at 1,650.
What is Art and what is not Art?

The starbucks logo
Cosmetic surgery
The new Audi R8
A crucifix sunmerged in a glass case of urine
The sistine chapel
The Bank of China Tower
The latest episode of Glee
Friday by Rebecca Black
Peter Steinhauer
The Arts
What is Art?
What is its purpose?
Is there an absolute benchmark for agreeing what quality means in Art?
...... or is it relative?
Does Art change over time?
Authorship and intellectual property?
How do we come to 'know' through the Arts?
Non-motivated functions of art
The non-motivated purposes of art are those that are integral to being human, transcend the individual, or do not fulfill a specific external purpose. Aristotle said, "Imitation, then, is one instinct of our nature." In this sense, Art, as creativity, is something humans must do by their very nature (i.e., no other species creates art), and is therefore beyond utility.
1. Basic human instinct for harmony, balance, rhythm. Art at this level is not an action or an object, but an internal appreciation of balance and harmony (beauty), and therefore an aspect of being human beyond utility.
2. Experience of the mysterious. Art provides a way to experience one's self in relation to the universe. This experience may often come unmotivated, as one appreciates art, music or poetry.
3. Expression of the imagination. Art provide a means to express the imagination in non-grammatic ways that are not tied to the formality of spoken or written language. Unlike words, which come in sequences and each of which have a definite meaning, art provides a range of forms, symbols and ideas with meanings that are maleable.
4. Universal communication.
5. Ritualistic and symbolic functions.
Motivated functions of art
Motivated purposes of art refer to intentional, conscious actions on the part of the artists or creator. These may be to bring about political change, to comment on an aspect of society, to convey a specific emotion or mood, to address personal psychology, to illustrate another discipline, to (with commercial arts) to sell a product, or simply as a form of communication.
1. Communication.
2. Art as entertainment. Art may seek to bring about a particular emotion or mood, for the purpose of relaxing or entertaining the viewer. This is often the function of the art industries of Motion Pictures and Video Games.
3. The Avante-Garde. Art for political change
4. Art for psychological and healing purposes.
5. Art for social inquiry, subversion and/or anarchy.
6. Art for propaganda, or commercialism.
Suicide's "Frankie Teardrop" is ten and a half minutes of genuinely terrifying industrial noise, a sort of aural equivalent of "Eraserhead". Like David Lynch's film, it conveys a chilling, bleak, monochrome dystopia, full of blood-curdling shrieks and clangs although I seem to remember that the movie offered the odd moment of respite, an occasional touch of bizarre and malformed hope. whereas "Frankie Teardrop" offers none at all.

If you haven't heard it and still wish to, set an evening aside, make sure you're not alone in the room (experiencing the song through headphones, incidentally, will almost certainly result in hospitalisation) and take the following day off work.

Says Nick Hornby in his book.
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