The work is separate from the artist. We do not need to read a biography on the artist’s views but everything man-made is political and is embedded with values and assumptions about the world. One could not avoid this even if one tried because even an attempt to be apolitical is a political decision. Don’t think of it as understanding the worldview that the artist professes but of understanding the worldview that the work professes.
I’m mostly with you, here—although I think understanding an artist’s vision and worldview is also valuable—however, biographical details are not (at least to me and generally speaking).
It would surely be difficult (at least for me) to dissect the differences in the visions of Mozart and Beethoven but it would be easier to show how the vision of jazz musicians is different from that of rappers or rockers or pop stars.
Identifying differences between the two styles is easier, and we can extrapolate ideas and concepts, some relating to a worldview or visions, about specific styles like jazz, but is that really relevant when evaluating individual jazz or classical performances? (With music with lyrics, like pop and rap, you can identify ideas and insights related to a worldview of a specific song.) This approach doesn’t take us beyond the general into the content of a specific artwork—which is what you’re shooting for, right—e.g., what does “Salt Peanuts” tells about life and how to live versus “A Night in Tunisia?” In a way, doesn’t the question sound absurd? And if we can extrapolate insights into the human condition or a political ideas specific to each song, does that really diminish both? I don’t think so. We listen to both songs (if performed well) and we feel a mixture of emotions that are moving and enjoyable. I’m suggesting that in this situation, and some others, that might be enough.
By the way, when I watch movies, I am more experience-based. I like/dislike movies based on my experience regardless of whether I understand them.
Huh. So you’re saying you’re more like Robert, Matt and Greg—who value the feeling more than content and ideas of a film (which can be articulated in words)? (If that’s true, why the different approach with visual art?)
This approach doesn’t take us beyond the general into the content of a specific artwork—which is what you’re shooting for, right—e.g., what does “Salt Peanuts” tells about life and how to live versus “A Night in Tunisia?” In a way, doesn’t the question sound absurd? And if we can extrapolate insights into the human condition or a political ideas specific to each song, does that really diminish both? I don’t think so. We listen to both songs (if performed well) and we feel a mixture of emotions that are moving and enjoyable. I’m suggesting that in this situation, and some others, that might be enough.
I don’t see why it’s any different from comparing genres. It’s just harder because the artists are coming from a more similar place, so the differences are more subtle and require more familiarity with the artists.
re: the last sentence. It’s enough if you want it to be enough. But if you want ideas, there are ideas there waiting to be uncovered. I see no downside to digging for the ideas.
I just don’t understand visual art, that’s why. I was asking how one can learn about life from looking at a still image, let alone a vase or something of that sort. I’m sure it’s possible but it requires a familiarity with the tradition of how artists use visual cues to convey ideas.
I don’t see why it’s any different from comparing genres.
Did you say that identifying (you used the word “dissecting”) the differences between Beethoven and Mozart would be difficult? So I assume you would agree that identifying the differences between the compositions of one of these musicians would be even more difficult. In other words, would you be able to decipher the different ideas and insights from one of Mozart’s compositions from another? This is what I meant by mentioning “Salt Peanuts” and “A Night in Tunisia,” which are both composed by Dizzy Gillespie. I would have a very difficult telling you the way these songs inform me about living life—and I’d have an even harder time telling you how these songs differ in terms of that question.
I agree with this. I don’t think there’s a downside to digging for ideas, but I’m saying that ideas and insights about human existence aren’t always necessary for an artwork, and I’m beginning to think they’re not essential for a work of art to be great.
Moreover, I think feelings can be profound—not in providing wisdom or insights that can easily translate in to actionable steps—but in terms of being extraordinarily beautiful or moving—that can be a kind of profundity as well. When I listen to something like Kind of Blue, I don’t think I’m gaining much insights or wisdom about how to live my life or the nature of human beings—not consciously, anyway. Now, maybe if I took the time to analyze the music, I could come up with these insights—maybe. I think that would be difficult, and it might require dubious interpretative maneuvers. But my point is that even if I can’t or don’t find these insights, this doesn’t diminish the greatness of the artwork. (I also don’t think my experience of the music is significantly diminished.)
FWIW, I got the sense that you’re almost demanding for profound insights about life from visual art. Your comment about films, e.g., “…when I watch movies, I am more experience-based. I like/dislike movies based on my experience regardless of whether I understand them,” suggests that you don’t have the same requirement for films—i.e., you find value in films just on your feeling and experience of them without the insights.
…how one can learn about life from looking at a still image…
The way in which an object achieves the essence of its full embodiment (A.C. Danto’s entelechy):
world view (philosophical truth), historical narrative, how it works conflict by way of power dynamics between objects (politics)
It would be difficult for me. Ray Carney does it with cinema. I assume a good music critic could do it with Beethoven and Mozart. Whether you or I or any individual can or can’t is besides the point. The point is that the statements exist. Most great artists more or less remake the same work over and over anyway so there isn’t that much variation of philosophy between works.
You’re feeling what Herzog calls “deeper truth” or “the ecstasy of truth.” Feelings are not magical and floating, separate from the physical world and past experience. If something is beautiful or moving, there must be some reason why – either because you had an experience that was exactly like it, or because there is some kind of formal significance, or because you can relate to a character, … If you examine the things you find moving, you will find statements about the world that appear insightful to you. If the significance of a work presents itself to you as a feeling rather than as a logical statement that is because you are not (yet) able to put the totality of the experience into words. Its assumptions could be put into words though, and of course, a lot of the experience would get lost in translation but such is the nature of communication.
But my point is that even if I can’t or don’t find these insights, this doesn’t diminish the greatness of the artwork.
It is impossible for a work to not make statements about the world. They exist whether you see them or not. Normally, people ingest them subconsciously, especially mainstream messages because they are everywhere. Every work makes statements. Every great work’s statements are insightful. After all, even the decision to make a work that is all experience-based and has no ideas, is a very political decision that comments on life. So if everybody looks at a work of art and nobody is able to find any insights it makes, then I would dispute its greatness. And I would dispute the proclaimed profundity of your feeling. Carney calls them “fake feelings” – manufactured, generic, one-size-fits-all emotions that manipulate the viewer into believing they have seen something profoundly sad or happy or horrifying and boost their self-importance.
So you don’t have to identify the ideas in a work of art in order to love it but you do if you intend to make a judgment about it’s superiority. Since judgments are based on an intersubjective criteria and the word “intersubjectivity” implies something more than mere subjective opinion, bringing us into the realm of empirical facts and physical phenomenon that can be confirmed by other individuals. Anybody can love any film whether it’s great or terrible. People went to see Gran Torino and probably cried at how beautiful it was. But in order to verify, assuming you’re interested in doing so, which works are actually deep and which are not, the way to do it is to dig for its ideas, uncover its assumptions about the world. They are present in every work. Take a look. And that’s your way of distinguishing between good and bad art.
I don’t have time to respond to your post, but in the meantime, I thought you might be interested in this thread,How Does Great Instrumental Music Reveal the Truth. You might also be interested in Why Does a Film Have to Say Something Profound or True to be Considered Great?. Indeed, I might respond to you post in one of those threads (if you don’t mind) as we’re sort of going off on a tangent.
Robert, I don’t understand what you mean by power dynamics between objects. Power in the Foucaultian sense of the word?
I assume a good music critic could do it with Beethoven and Mozart. Whether you or I or any individual can or can’t is besides the point. The point is that the statements exist. Most great artists more or less remake the same work over and over anyway so there isn’t that much variation of philosophy between works.
Oh, so you just mean identifying the general philosophy and vision of the artist—NOT the truths and ideas in a specific work of art? For example, regarding the painting, “Mourning,” which we analyzed in the thread, when you ask for the meaning and truth of the painting, are you asking for the specific truth in the painting or a more general truth that can be found in articulating the worldview, general philosophy, etc. of the artist?
If the significance of a work presents itself to you as a feeling rather than as a logical statement that is because you are not (yet) able to put the totality of the experience into words.
But do you mean that if a work of art is very moving aesthetically, it must also contain profound truths (including political ideas) of the variety philosophers speak about—in a kind of one-to-one correspondence and causal relationship between these truths and the aesthetic effects? I can accept this notion for some works of art, but not all of them—like a lot of instrumental music such as jazz and classical. Also, what about something like Cezanne’s still life paintings? It seems odd, almost absurd, to take one of his paintings and attempt to identify the profound philosophical truths or political worldview from that painting. Moreover, if we could identify these ideas and truths, would the greatness of the painting really hinge on these ideas? Intuitively, this just seems wrong.
Let me ask this: when you see experience an awe-inspiring view in nature, do you also think there is some profound truth or political worldview, akin to something you’d find in a philosophical work? And does the greatness of the experience really depend on these ideas? (Hmm, actually, I believe in God and I actually believe that we can understand God, to a degree, via nature, so maybe I’m going to have to amend this point.)
When we talk about an artist’s oeuvre, we talk about their general philosophy, when we talk about a specific work, we look at the philosophy that the work reflects. Even if an artist makes multiple films within the same style, there can (and are bound to be) slight differences in what the works express due to the artist’s aging and the chance that the artist did a better job in reflecting their view in one work compared to another. So Mourning and another painting from the same artist probably represent two similar and yet different expressions of two similar and yet different worldviews.
But do you mean that if a work of art is very moving aesthetically, it must also contain profound truths (including political ideas) of the variety philosophers speak about—in a kind of one-to-one correspondence and causal relationship between these truths and the aesthetic effects? I can accept this notion for some works of art, but not all of them—like a lot of instrumental music such as jazz and classical.
No to the idea of a one-to-one relationship between aesthetic effects and ideas. I’m not saying that every brush stroke or musical note translates into some specific statement about the world. The work as a finished whole makes statements and we discover them when we ask why specific things are in such a way and not in another way.
Think of it this way. If somebody asserts a work of art as being great, you’d expect them to have some kind of justification for that assertion. Since your criteria is intersubjective, you would value assertions that are founded on intersubjective criteria/facts. If the only defense for their statement someone could provide is purely subjective, then you can’t really take their statement seriously. I think the more specific the defense, the more valid because specific claims are easier to prove or disprove.
Here are the results of a quick google search about Cezanne’s ideas:
“Cézanne’s stylistic approaches and beliefs regarding how to paint were analyzed and written about by the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty who is primarily known for his association with phenomenology and existentialism.25 In his 1945 essay entitled Cezanne’s Doubt, Merleau- Ponty discusses how Cézanne gave up classic artistic elements such as pictorial arrangements, single view perspectives, and outlines that enclosed color in an attempt to get a “lived perspective,” by capturing all the complexities that an eye observes. He wanted to see and sense the objects he was painting, rather than think about them. Ultimately, he wanted to get to the point where “sight” was also “touch.” He would take hours sometimes to put down a single stroke because each stroke needed to contain “the air, the light, the object, the composition, the character, the outline, and the style.” A still life took Cézanne one hundred working sessions while a portrait took him around one hundred and fifty sessions. Cèzanne believed that while he was painting, he was capturing a moment in time, that once passed, could not come back. The atmosphere surrounding what he was painting was a part of the sensational reality he was painting. Cèzanne claimed: “Art is a personal apperception, which I embody in sensations and which I ask the understanding to organize into a painting.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_C%C3%A9zanne#C.C3.A9zanne_the_artist
“This variety rests on the openness of his sensitive spirit. He admitted to the canvas a great span of perception and mood, greater than that of his Impressionist friends. This is evident from the range of themes alone; but it is clear in the painterly qualities as well. He draws or colors; he composes or follows his immediate sensation of nature; he paints with a virile brush solidly, or in the most delicate sparse watercolor, and is equally sure in both. He possessed a firm faith in spontaneous sensibility, in the resources of the sincere self. He can be passionate and cool, grave and light; he is always honest.” – http://www.artchive.com/artchive/C/cezanne.html
“Cezanne developed a theory of what art should be and then attempted to explain it through his paintings. He believed that there was hidden order in nature and that it was to be found in non-traditional, ambiguous space; therefore, he abandoned the traditional illusionist distinctions of foreground and background. His paintings are abstract, yet objects within them are recognizable. Cezanne’s revolutionary theories and work lead to Cubism.” – http://instruct.westvalley.edu/grisham/1d_postimpress.html
Every great artist is driven by ideas. The final product doesn’t have to be a puzzle, laden with metaphors for there to be ideas beneath the creative decisions. Why paint bowls of fruit instead of a sports event? Why try to mimic or not mimic reality? Why use certain materials that give a certain look? There are ideas behind every answer.
Let me ask this: when you see experience an awe-inspiring view in nature, do you also think there is some profound truth or political worldview, akin to something you’d find in a philosophical work? And does the greatness of the experience really depend on these ideas?
No. The reason why works of art represent political worldviews is that they are made by people with ideas, opinions, and political worldviews. It seems absurd to me to attribute ideology to nature.
^ great post, Michael.
In the visual sense, it is the dominance of one object over another or dominant to the scene overall
i.e. mass, location, or the psychological significance. Larger objects have more power; objects in relation to the geometric center, and the human form are dominant.
In the painting above, the young girl is dominant: she is large, in the foreground, and being a human form has psychological significance. She is the center-of-influence even though the house is larger.
Once the center-of-influence is established, it is a matter of understanding its relationship to the whole, which is a dynamic.
I’ll sketch out the key per Arnheim to understanding the dynamics of structure.
The first step is to divide the framed area into four quadrants in an effort to find the center-of-influence. The intersection of the quadrants is the geometric center – an obvious place to look for the center-of-influence.
I sketch the area using shapes, not considering what I call their narrative value.
For the girl I would use a large oval, the house a square and the tree a vertical line. The parents two small ovals and etc for the other objects.
What should jump out is that the line (tree) is vertically dividing the image into two halves.
Now we can add the narrative values, which separates the larger square ( the house) from the oval (the girl) in terms of power dynamics: she is the center-of-influence.
Arnheim assigns psychological significance to the four quadrants. The left two quadrants have lower psychological significance – the lower left higher value than the upper left. The right side has higher psychological significance – the lower right quadrant having almost as much psychological significance as the geometric center.
Using Arnheim’s quadrant values, we see that the girl as a center-of-influence is located in a lower value area, having less psychological significance assigned to her.
That doesn’t make sense does it? Something is being said by the strange dynamic presented.
We can look for vectors that might integrate both sides and we then notice the girl’s gaze.
She isn’t looking out at we the viewers; she doesn’t acknowledge our presence. The dynamic is one between the the two halves of the image.
From here, we look at what the halves contain and a story emerges. The girl is separate by way of her condition in, or relationship to, nature. And it is an idyllic nature; she is surrounded by flowers at her feet; she holds a sheep.
Being able to shortcut the above steps, the first thing that struck me was the girl’s gaze. It gave me the temporal/liminal sense that something was passing or had passed – there was a lack of human inter-connectedness emanating from the center-of-influence.
I know now that she doesn’t acknowledge our presence, because she can’t.
I haven’t gotten around to Arnheim, but the analysis based on his ideas is really interesting. The analysis has the whiff of scientific formula, and I’m wondering the extent to which Arnheim’s stem from biology or some other objective basis—e.g., does the designation of power to the quandrants stem from our phyisology, i.e., something innate? To what extent that can we say it’s the “correct” and “only” way to analyze a painting? (I’m guessing the answer is no, but I’m going to ask anyway.)
Good questions Jazz.
In the intro to Power of the Center he stated, he is laying out his theories and will leave it up to science to prove him correct. He believed that his theories were somewhat universal. If so, that would make them innate.
At the very end of Power of the Center he was pointing to the physiology or physicality of the brain as partly determining consciousness and hence, our psychology. That is not very profound: we see things the way our brain is wired. It does allow Arnheim to support his conclusions with explanations such as: the right quadrants have psychological weight because we process visual information with our ‘right brain’.
I just finished Sam Harris’ Free Will, where he seems to assert that consciousness is the processing of past influences such that there is no fee will. I think Arnheim might have to agree with Harris.
Arnheim was educated at the University of Berlin in the ’20s, and majored in psychology and philosophy, with secondary concentrations in art history and music history, so the Berlin School very much believed that psychological acts or functions (including vis-à-vis art) can be studied empirically—was very influential on his thinking, if that helps at all regarding the science-y-ness of it.
Robert, that analysis reminded me of something David Lynch said in this interview.
Go 8 minutes in. Around 9 minutes in, he starts rating objects in an image on a scale of 1 to 10. A 10 is a “fast” area that draws the attention of the eye immediately.
So is there any scientific evidence for Arnheim’s ranking of the quadrants? If not, where did this idea come from?
Yes that is interesting – the duck and a room in terms of fast / slow.
Notice he said a person is automatically a 7 in an empty room.
So you’re expecting that a specific work should contain profound truths that are significantly different from other artwork by the artist? That seems a bit unreasonable, don’t you think? I mean, a specific piece of art is unique and has meaningful differences from other art by the same artist. However, the profound truth and ideas you seem to be calling for may NOT be that different—especially if you’re talking about the artist’s philosophy and worldview. To look for differences in philosophical and political ideas from, say, in every Monk tune, seems extreme and a bit ridiculous. Again, I’m not denying differences between individual works of art, but I’m saying that the conceptual and philosophical content may not differ significantly from one artist’s work to the next. It could differ dramatically, but it doesn’t have to, imo.
I agree with this, but you seem to be asking for something specific—namely, that each work contain profound truths and ideas reflecting a worldview that is wholly unique from any other art from that artist. I don’t agree with that. Claims of greatness should be based on intersubjective process—but I don’t think profound truths and worldview that you seem to be asking for is essential.
I agree with this. Two things: 1) the comments on Cezanne seem to generally describe his work—not specific pieces (and I’ve agree that we can identify the concepts and philosophy of an individual artist); 2) these concepts and ideas aren’t necessarily profound truths—which, again, seems to be what you’re demanding. If you’re not demanding profound truths—including unique truths for every individual work of art—and you’re basically saying that there are interesting ideas and concepts behind every work of art (in a generalized way); that artists have a worldview and approach that comes through the work—then I don’t think we have any disagreement.
But can these experiences of nature be profoundly moving—in a way that is close to experiencing great works of art? If so, that suggests that great works of art need not have the type of political worldviews you seem to be demanding. (And would you call the descriptions of Cezanne’s art, political? That seems to stretch the concept of political a bit too far, imo.)
A clear head is what’s needed. Open your mind and let it get in. A moment of distraction and appreciation is lost.
So how does one apply Arnheim to cinema and are there any filmmakers actually motivated by this theory? All the psychological criticism I’ve seen focuses on things like character psychology and the gaze and metaphors and none of it really interests me.
I said “similar and yet different.” So I agree with this paragraph.
You seem to be a bit hung up on “profound truth” and “political.” By political I mean what you said: “that artists have a worldview and approach that comes through the work” – this applies to everything man-made whether it’s “good” or not. By “profound truths,” I just mean that that point of view that the artist’s work reflects is wise. To tell whether a work of art falls into the category of “great art” or not, we need to identify that viewpoint and then decide whether it’s wise or clumsy.
re: nature. Yeah, it can be moving in the same way that a work of art can be moving. Anything can be moving, even bad movies. Crash moves thousands of people. I know someone that cried in Are We There Yet? (or was it Cheaper By the Dozen?) Our criteria on what makes a movie great can’t be solely based on whether it moves people or not. It has to be based on whether people should be moved by it and this requires an unpacking of its ideas. Was it a profound statements in Are We There Yet that brought my friend to tears? Or was it a cheap manipulation of the casual moviegoers emotions?
“So how does one apply Arnheim to cinema”
There’s actually a ton of recent cognative research about how the eye moves over an image, “edit blindness,” and similar topics. Here’s a post from David Bordwell’s blog that touches of some of it.
By political I mean what you said: “that artists have a worldview and approach that comes through the work” – this applies to everything man-made whether it’s “good” or not.
To make sure we’re understand each other, let’s talk about what we mean by “worldview.” I mean it in a broad sense—a way of looking at and understanding life, human beings, society or other related issues. It’s the perspective that shapes and colors the artist’s understanding—this could often contains some political implications, but not necessarily part of a well-developed political ideology. This isn’t the most precise definition, but are you thinking of it in the same way?
By “profound truths,” I just mean that that point of view that the artist’s work reflects is wise. To tell whether a work of art falls into the category of “great art” or not, we need to identify that viewpoint and then decide whether it’s wise or clumsy.
FWIW, that’s very different from how I was thinking of profound truths. I was thinking Truth—as in ideas and beliefs that are universal, objective maybe even eternal.
I’m not sure what you mean by “wise” in this context, especially if “clumsy” is the opposite. Wise seems to mean skilled? constructed well?
Yeah, it can be moving in the same way that a work of art can be moving. Anything can be moving, even bad movies.
But you’re not equating nature with bad movies, right? Suppose we’re talking about truly profound moments in nature and art. If profound moments in nature don’t have ideas and ideology, then couldn’t profound experiences in art also not have these ideas?
Right, I’m not talking about Democrats and Republicans or anything.
If we list down all the statements we get out of a film, we can then evaluate the statements in themselves. If the film’s statement is “Racism is bad,” that’s a good statement, albeit a very simple one that isn’t very challenging. If a film tries to make the statement that “Racism is bad” but ultimately comes out racist, the film could be called clumsy. But sometimes it is not clumsiness that is the problem but rather a lack of depth or spirituality (call it what you want) in the artist. There are many artists who accomplish just what they set out to do and yet their films are shallow because they say shallow things about the world, probably because the artist has shallow beliefs about the world.
The difference is that nature doesn’t make statements about the world the way art does, so all we have to go on is the sensation. It would be senseless to say “I really enjoy this pond but really, it’s quite spiritually empty” because the pond is neutral. Movies are not neutral and thus we should be aware of what our favourite movies say. You might say “I really enjoyed watching this movie but I can see that it doesn’t understand what people are really like,” the type of criticism that doesn’t apply to nature. Art can’t be neutral. So when you talk about profound art that doesn’t have these ideas, then what ideas do those works of art have? If not wise ones, then what, stupid ones? Just okay ones?
Interpretation should occur after the experience, not during it. Be patient and let yourself finish experiencing the art before judging it. Thinking will distract you from appreciating.
There are many artists who accomplish just what they set out to do and yet their films are shallow because they say shallow things about the world, probably because the artist has shallow beliefs about the world.
^This. This is a factor for me in terms of appreciating one work of art over another. Particularly if the work seems to try to be profound, but fails. If it doesn’t try to be profound, that’s cool. But if it does and fails, it’s hard to make the work worth remembering. For me, anyway.
….are there any filmmakers actually motivated by this theory?
Difficult to say, but DIR Lisandro Alonso seems to be:LiverpoolLos muertos
Kamran, I see what you mean but I find it helpful to take mental notes while watching the movie, especially if it’s a repeat viewing.
Robert, I’ll check for Alonso but none of his movies are on Canadian Netflix.
Odilonvert, your shorts on Mubi don’t seem to work for me, maybe because I’m out of region. Where can I watch?
You can get to me on vimeo, same name. That’s where I post all my videos. They are linked to Mubi from there…
Oh and also some of them are on youtube. Again, always as “odilonvert.”
Not just Democrats or Republicans, but also political ideology found in thinkers like Marx, Hobbes, Plato, etc. An artist’s worldview might overlap with some of the ideas (and it may actually include the entire system of thought, but not necessarily), but the worldview isn’t necessarily political in the same way.
If we list down all the statements we get out of a film, we can then evaluate the statements in themselves. If the film’s statement is “Racism is bad,” that’s a good statement, albeit a very simple one that isn’t very challenging.
But I’m wondering if every work of art can be translated into statements like this. Again, I’m thinking specifically of instrumental music like jazz. What statement does “Salt Peanuts” make? We could identify feelings that the musical pieces express, and maybe we could extrapolate general notions about the artist’s concepts and worldview (even that might be sketchy), but I don’t know if we can find the type of statement you’re looking for.
Suppose the musicians just want to make something that sounds really good—that gives someone aesthetic pleasure—either by expressing some form of sorrow or joy? I’m not a musician, but I’m starting to feel that a lot of them approach the music this way. They don’t necessarily have a specific opinion or belief that they’re trying to express—and that’s OK, imo.
Here’s another way of looking at it that might help. Although we may not be able to unearth statements from the music, the music may still be profound and even serious. I’m talking about the way expressions of feelings can be profound or shallow, true or false. Proving which music expresses feelings in a profound way isn’t easy, but I’m do think great music does “contain” profound feelings.
If a film tries to make the statement that “Racism is bad” but ultimately comes out racist, the film could be called clumsy.
But if this film turns out to be anti-racist would you describe the film as “wise?” (I assume you don’t, and I’m not trying to be a jerk; I’m just trying to understand what you mean by “wise.”)
But sometimes it is not clumsiness that is the problem but rather a lack of depth or spirituality (call it what you want) in the artist.
OK, so when you say “wise,” you mean deep, insightful and true (small “t”)?
But suppose the intentions were shallow to begin with? What if the film never aspired to deal with a serious subject or reveal profound insights? What if it wanted to be fun and light? And suppose the execution was extraordinary—in terms of originality, technical skill? Suppose the film was also infuential to other filmmakers and the culture at large? Suppose people from various cultures over decades responded favorably to the film?
The difference is that nature doesn’t make statements about the world the way art does, so all we have to go on is the sensation. It would be senseless to say “I really enjoy this pond but really, it’s quite spiritually empty” because the pond is neutral.
1. As I mentioned, ideas that can be expressed via language are not the only things that can be profound and meaningful. Earlier, I mentioned feelings—not just emotions, but something like spiritual sensation.
2. Couldn’t we extrapolate ideas and insights from nature in the same way we do from man-made works? Even if we assume there isn’t an intelligent being that created nature, I’m not sure why we couldn’t extrapolate ideas in the same way we would for art.
So when you talk about profound art that doesn’t have these ideas, then what ideas do those works of art have? If not wise ones, then what, stupid ones? Just okay ones?
As I said, it can have feeling and impressions—that resist translation into words.
(I’m not sure what you mean by art being neutral.)
OK, but are you saying you should just stare at the work without really any approach or mindset? Are you not looking for certain elements? I think staring at a painting without any thought or approach to the art is not a fruitful way to look at visual art.
“are there any filmmakers actually motivated by this theory?
Difficult to say, but DIR Lisandro Alonso seems to be"
What about abstract animators like Walter Ruttman and Oskar Fischinger?