Thursday, September 17, 2015

Philosophy of Art Is Born! - Climbing the Mountain Called Art

What is art? - Seeking an answer covered in fog ...

What is art? I've never read a definition I could accept without any objections. The problem is that depending on how narrow or wide the definition is it's something different. You can't really compare the writing of a novel to acting a scene someone else has written. It isn't unproblematic to compare free expression of the artist's feelings to commissioned artworks. What about disciplines that aren't considered art traditionally but require lots of creativity nonetheless? You have also to take into account that in different cultures and epochs art is defined differently.

However, I was surprised to find out that I liked the suggestions I got when I typed "art is" into the search field of Google more than the academic definitions, which is why I'd like to share them here:

(Please note that I have a German IP address which affects my search results.)

  • Art is dead.
  • Art is just a four letter word. (
  • Art is a way of survival. (Yoko Ono)
  • Art is like religion. (5th episode in season 1 of Sense8)
  • Art is travel. (

Typing in the same in German ("Kunst ist") gave me mostly aphorisms (which isn't surprising, since the German culture has a long tradition of them):

  • Art is beautiful, but a lot of work. - Kunst ist schön, macht aber viel Arbeit. (Karl Valentin)
  • Art is magic freed from the lie of being truth. - Kunst ist Magie, befreit von der Lüge, Wahrheit zu sein. (Theodor W. Adorno)
  • Art is an explosion. - Kunst ist eine Explosion. (Deidara from Naruto.)
  • Art is life, life is art. - Kunst ist Leben, Leben ist Kunst.
  • Art is a daughter of freedom. - Kunst ist eine Tochter der Freiheit. (Friedrich Schiller)
  • Art is worth more than truth. - Kunst ist mehr wert als die Wahrheit. (Friedrich Nietzsche)
  • Art is a possessive lover. - Kunst ist eine besitzergreifende Geliebte. (Album by the rapper Prezident)

Personally I believe that there's some truth in all of these statements. Yet in the end they're all only pretty words which every reader understands in his own way. This is why it's often so easy to agree with aphorisms: They hardly say anything. They always express something true, but they don't explain it. They show an attitude, not what the thing described really is.

On the other hand, however, the feelings and the attitude of artists and philosophers is what usually is missing in academic definitions. The explanations that can be found in encyclopaedias are often very ... materialistic, and considering myself an artist, I feel like half of me is brutally chopped off when reading them, which is why I try to avoid quoting them for the time being.

Since it's impossible to define art with the mind only and thus relying on academic knowledge isn't enough, I concluded that I should take personal experiences - my own as well as that of other artists - into account as well. All the feelings, fears, frustration and happiness we experience through art, all our passion, our jealousy, our camaraderie and enmities. Everything we experience through art. And since I'm just one person with a subjective worm's-eye view of the world, I need your help:

I've been part of many artistic communities, yet every community I've joined so far was rather specialized, so for most of the time I had contact with people who did almost the same as me. Yet even though being part of a specialized community is a precious experience I began to feel limited: I may know something about the art of writing and a bit about the art of painting, but I don't know anything about acting, singing, composing, sculpting, designing games ... What I know is just a tiny pebble at the foot of the mountain which is called art.

Being a proud Capricorn, an ibex eager to climb the highest mountains in order to come closer to the sun, I decided that this mountain is a challenge worth being taken on. My plan is to bring together all genres of art, to understand their specifics as well as what they have in common and by doing so get closer to a definition of art I could be happy with. And this is why I ask you to share your opinions, your experiences, your definitions and your knowledge with me and all the others who may read this blog: Without your help I won't be able to achieve my goal.

So let's start right now: Which of the search suggestions listed above do you most agree with? Is there one you don't agree with at all? How do you define art for yourself? Will you follow this blog? (*big puppy eyes*)
Please let me know in a comment below. If you like, you can do it anonymously.

Sincerely yours,
Feael Silmarien

PS: My current plan is to release one post every Thursday. So join me on September 24th when I'll try and define originality!

PPS: Unfortunately, I won't have access to the internet this weekend and next week. So while the essay on originality will be uploaded automatically I won't be able to read your comments until next weekend. Yet I promise I will answer every comment as soon as I can, since I answer to (almost) everyone commenting my stuff on principle. Except for spam which will be deleted.

PPPS: Please don't hesitate to correct my English. It's my third language, and even though I feel that my English isn't bad I know I still make mistakes.

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