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Obtaining Knowledge from Art

Prezi aid for ToK internally assessed presentation, January 2014.

Sarah Rupert

on 10 January 2014

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Transcript of Obtaining Knowledge from Art

To what extent does art give us knowledge?
Real Life Situation: criticism of modern art
Obtaining Knowledge from Art

"Anyone who has 'read a Batman comic' would
qualify for a career in the industry [of modern art]"

Which got us thinking.
Empirical Knowledge
Art critic Dave Hickey (The Guardian):
We don't think of art as conveying empirical information -- that's usually left to the maths and sciences. But...
Art in Wartime
Qr Codes
What constitutes art?
Definition: Creative, skillful, original, effortful work that desires and succeeds at expressing an idea or feeling
Recognized as art: Undecided as art:
Paintings Types of modern art
Sculptures, carvings "Background noise"
Drawings and sketches Unpleasant music
Musical compositions Copies or imitations
Dance Forgeries
Film Graffiti
Literature, Poetry
Can art give us knowledge...
About the artist, dancer, composer, performer
Of people
Historical Knowledge
Empirical knowledge
Knowledge about the creator




Knowledge of People or Characters

Mozart's Peter and the Wolf

John Williams

Frida Kahlo
Start 1:10
The Wolf's Theme: Opus 67
Historical Knowledge
Pablo Picasso's Guernica

Sunday Bloody Sunday--U2


Arnold Schönberg: Piano Suite op. 25
4'33" by John Cage
Robert Rauschenberg’s White Painting
Warhol's Monroe Imitation Monroe
Forgeries of the Mona Lisa at Mount Shasta
Knowledge Art Cannot Always Convey
-Background knowledge or context
-Frequent guesswork
-Infinite interpretations
-Author's intent (ex: J.D. Salinger)

Taken by Charles C. Ebbets during construction of the GE Building at Rockefeller Center in 1932.
Related Knowledge Questions
1. Does art have a language(s)?

2. How is the knowledge we get from art different from knowledge in other areas?

3. Why is art knowledge undervalued as compared to other areas of knowledge?

Does Art Have a Language(s)?
How is the knowledge we get from art different from knowledge in other areas?
Why is art knowledge undervalued as compared to other areas of knowledge?
Language: symbols with agreed upon meanings that communicate to the receiver

Color families (warm, cold)
Brush strokes
Subject of the painting
Media used (canvas/paint types)

Major vs. minor keys
Harmony vs. dissonance
Repetition of melody

The Elements Song
Dorothy Police Search (2007)
Fanfare for the Common Man
Aaron Copland
Youngest of five children in a poor Jewish family in Brooklyn
Lived the life of a typical American
-Not wealthy
-Parents not well educated

His music is known for being
accessible to the typical American

Negro Spirituals
Wade in the Water
"God's a-gonna trouble the water"

Follow the drinking gourd
For the old man is a-waitin' for to carry you to freedom...
When the sun comes back and the first quail calls...
The riverbank makes a very fine road...
The dead trees will show you the way...
Left foot, peg foot, traveling on...
The river ends between two hills...
There's another river on the other side...
When the great big river meets the little river...
The Mystery of Art
Inexplicably, art speaks to us beyond the rational
-Faith/religion (Hallelujah Chorus)
-Relationships and wisdom (Adele)
-Emotional responses (My Heart Will Go On)
-Memory triggers
"Music is the universal language of mankind"
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance."
Girl and Soldier (2007, West Bank)
Tank Man (June 5th, 1989. Beijing)
V-J Day in Times Square
Aug. 14, 1945 (NYC)
Napalm Girl (June 8, 1972. Trang Bang, Vietnam)
Raising the Flag at Iwo Jima
-Komplex Graphix
Historical Development
Art often performs a social function and gives knowledge of an entire culture, as well as of the artist.
Art is based on sense perception and emotion.
studies the past and helps us understand the present, and its knowledge is shared by a group. It uses language the most.
Human Sciences
investigate and attempt to understand behavior and reasoning of our species.
Natural Sciences
are shared knowledge of the natural world, which focus on prediction through sense perception and reason.
uses precise terms, and has its own language of symbols.
Natural Sciences
use many of the same symbols as math, and also emphasize precision.
often uses narrative language instead of objective language, in order to connect at an emotional level.
Language in art is usually non-verbal.
Art and music both utilize symbols.
Religious knowledge
often uses analogies and metaphors to make a personal connection.
Religious knowledge
attempts to explain the meaning of life and provide meaning to life.
Conventions and values in art change over time
Historical development is often important and relevant to understanding art today and the culture that made the art.
looked different in the past
Natural Sciences
tend to have pivotal shifts that build off of previous theories and experiments.
Artists study previous artists and techniques to develop their own style.
Creating and performing art is an emotional process.
involves the careful study of artifacts, documents and evidence through the lens of old and new theories.
Human Sciences
study behavior through biology, observation and experiments using theories and models.
Natural Sciences
used carefully controlled experiments to test hypotheses.
Religious knowledge
is gained from studying the writings of deities and wise founders and members of the religion.
Human Sciences
have developed and progressed to improved theories.
Religious Knowledge
has grown as new religions have formed and old religions have gained insight, but ancient knowledge is still highly relevant.
Purpose/Practicality: Many people do not see art as having a practical function and application in the real world ('superfluous'), whereas the other areas are more often see as essential for adult life.
Art is less precise in its knowledge, more emotional in its communication, and stimulates the soul rather than the mind.
Many people claim to not understand, like or enjoy art because it is less straightforward and more subjective than the other areas of knowledge.
You can probably guess how Banksy feels about "stop and search"/frisking policies.
Stop and Search (2007)
Pablo Picasso's Guernica
To an extent, art may not have language in the way it is defined above. Art speaks to people through emotions, going beyond the limitations of words.
Back to the Real Life Situation
Is there worth and knowledge to be found in modern art--or not, as Dave Hickey suggests?
There is knowledge of some form or another to be found in all pieces of art
The amount, type and extent of the knowledge varies by the genre, artist, medium, and individual work of art.
It is unreasonable to dismiss a work of art, let alone an entire genre due to your emotional response.
Art is not meant to be completely understood.
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