Art Is Art – Values Change


Recently I read one of the rules for a prestigious visual art competition and was disappointed that I could not enter my latest works because they had specified that no manipulated photos or digitally created works would be accepted – nor could any part of the work be computer generated. I wondered if the painters who painted from photos considered that their work had some digital content in the process?

Why is it that we are so resistant to change? History tells us that new ideas and even some old ideas revisited, have been met with anger and rebuttal from the traditionalist, murders and even war. Yet change is one of the characteristics of life. Is it that we prefer the death of staying the same or have we the tendency to invest too much in the present or past, so much that it would be uncomfortable or costly to invest in the future…too costly to change. Without thinking we place the highest values on our own values even if we have never even consciously thought about how valuable they really are.

How long did it take for the art of the impressionists to be accepted into the “mainframe” of what was considered valuable “art”? There are still some who would refrain from calling it, “good art”. Poetry like fashion is clothed in styles that affect its acceptability and/or respectability and promotion and if we look at history we will see that art is the same. For some poetry still has to rhyme, and art is not art if it is not “photographic” (but not a photo!) or created using what we presently think of as “paint”! Ink is acceptable in some places but “print” is still the second class citizen of many art or would be art ‘academies’ in the mind!

Some say that process rather than product is what art is about. Some say that art is about idea rather than technique. Yet it is the technique that has delineated a new direction and “newness’ has been one of the criteria we have chosen to distinguish the creative process from other processes. We are full of contradictions! We say we value newness because we value the creative. Yet we hold on supposedly for ‘dear life’ to the old ways, the things we know, the things we have always done. If it sameness we want then as the saying goes…if we always do what we have always done we will keep on getting the same!

We are well into a digital age and the temporary and disposable nature of products seems to have increased or at least our knowledge of the temporary nature of products has increased. Is immortality at the heart of our understanding of what the best art is? Do we think that art that lasts, like a song or poem that outlives the rest, is truly good, because it “stood the test of time”? If so then digital art has the potential for a great future, as long as we keep the technology and knowledge needed to view it and store it suitably. It will not change like paint and plaster that flakes and needs another coat to refurbish it. If we make limited edition prints of it, we can replace originals as the paper or ink wear out more quickly and with less change to the original than those art works created in the past.

If I created a constantly changing sunset, I could call it art and it would be art, at least to me. If we use an animal to produce something visual, we can call that art and it is art to some. If we use a machine to make visual products we can call that art and for some that will be art too. Process, product or idea, art is art – some of us ‘know it when we see it’!

What we value changes…history tells us this. The digital technological world is upon us and in the future people will look back at our products and only what has been ‘saved’ can be considered for inclusion in the “Art” stakes and those who acquire it early enough will make the best profit as it rises in value and the smallest loss if it doesn’t. But we are not left to the mercy of others or the whim of some invisible art wind. We can actively influence the world to value what we value. Marketing and publicity can change values and even if the product is lost like some of the 7 wonders of the world, the future may still remember what was said about what we called ‘Art’.

Source by Jennifer Kathleen Phillips

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