I’ve missed this pulpy goodness. The unbeknownst, unrestricted world of creative fiction proved to be much more prone to insanity than expected. Not to say that we’ve given up on it – in a more optimistic light, we’ve chosen to let the art flow naturally through our citric veins. And from this deepened appreciation of the written art form, we’ve begun the dive into this weird, almost undefinable concept called Art.
Now before pulling out the scientific lens on this elusive word, I want to talk about its place in my life. A lifetime of trying to understand ‘what is’ and ‘why is’ has left me anywhere from confused, to depressed, to intellectually stimulated, and often nihilistically neutral. Art, in it’s most loose understanding, transcends these questions. The moments of losing yourself in a Salvador Dali painting, jamming to a funkadelic D’angelo song, tearing up in the first ten minutes of Up (guilty), or just immersing yourself in the cascading shower of a thunderstorm are moments where these questions don’t matter. They transcend the why, the what, and the how — in these moments in time, you just don’t care. And that’s why it is so powerful. Cross culturally, works of art and their authors, that induce these feelings are revered to a godlike pedestal.
Now, to pull out the scientific microscope, why is this so? The core of this kind of transcendent feeling is the experience of a deep emotion(s). This is where the subjectivity of art comes into play. What kind of art, or in what format of art, relates to someone on this level is highly dependent on the eye of the beholder. But, this subjectivity can still be measured … to a certain degree. And we already try to do this. When a piece of art, in whatever shape or form, sheds this deep emotional connection to the shared consciousness of a critical mass of people, it climbs the collective pedestal. As you highlighted, the ‘mini-olympic’ arena of art galleries try to showcase these select pieces of art in a meritocratic fashion.
What the previous paragraph demonstrates is one ‘variable’ that is at the core of the meaning of what Art is – a collective emotional connection. One of a series of variables (ex. another variable would be the unrepeatability of an art piece). Keeping this spectrum of what constitutes Art in mind, I want to pay attention to this ’emotional currency’. I realize I am steering the conversation away from where you initially intended – the cross cultural examination of art and it’s place in different societies. However, where I want to direct the conversation towards is inherently tied to a cultural analysis. That question is how language shapes art.
The subjective emotional transcendence that a piece of art facilitates, often can’t be described or communicated. Words aim to recreate and resemble the experience of an art piece, but fall short. So, I present thee Valentin, with a couple of questions: is there a ‘right’ vocabulary to discuss art? Is using “this is the best song ever” a wrong way to discuss music? Does one need to develop a stronger descriptive and emotional vocabulary to properly understand and appreciate Art?