I think art has a place in our society.
After attending several sessions of the Winnipeg Writer's Festival at the campus, I am at a point of acceptance with the idea that art has an indefinite place in our society that is hard to pinpoint. Art can be a multitude of things; a poem, a spraypainting, a photograph of strategically placed items, oil on the floor, plants climbing a wall. Art is used for so many purposes from inciting anger and happiness to perpetuating propaganda in well designed posters for dictatorial magistrates.
Art and I are odd friends. I've gone through phases where I did not consider painters worthy of government subsidy in place of research committees and other more "logical", institutional pursuits. It's taken time for me to realize that everything I do from putting an unfortunate amount of thought into song order on a CD I'm burning to painting on rocks for my Grandmother's garden is artistic. I enjoy drawing in my free time, but always considered it a silly pastime that never amounted to my success in the professional world and should be ignored. Again, it took time until I realized that graphic designers are professionals. They are professionals in an artistic world full of artists and art.
I recently saw The Tragically Hip in concert. They're one of my favourite bands because of their lead singer Gord Downie. When my mother saw them in the 1980's, she said Downie had a habit of rolling around on the ground while singing. I would consider him an artist. The lyrics of his songs are some of the most cryptic in popular music and often reference popular culture, obscure Canadian history and geography. His movement when he sings is free. It's like he's in a trance. Tiger The Lion from the band's Music@Work album discusses what has become the main tenant of my theory on art.
John Cage was an experimental music composer who attempted to put Zen Buddhist beliefs into practice through the music he composed. His most recognizable piece of music is his 4'33 which consists of almost 5 minutes of silence in three movements (the first being thirty seconds, the second being two minutes and twenty-three seconds, and the third being one minute and forty seconds). It invokes an appreciation for the sounds around you, when you are in the presence of other people and when you are alone with your own thought. It also hammers home his idea that any sound, or lack there of, constitutes music.
His book Silence became a critical success, and Cage believed that theatre was the closest route to integrating art and (real) life and read his short stories to music or dance. Cage's artistic life went through a crisis in mid-1940s as the composer experienced disillusionment with the idea of music as means of communication: the public rarely accepted his work, and Cage himself, too, had trouble understanding the music of his colleagues. He would rejoin with his understanding of art in the 1960's, when his freedom of thought would be better embraced.
Sometimes art can be dynamic beyond control. I'm never sure if children understand this better than all of us or whether or not they put no specific meaning into their actions that we might regard as artistic. I appreciate the free style of avant garde art much more when I began to understand that art is not striving to complete your masterpiece of work which inevitably consumes or takes your life from you. Life is art, as everyday actions, unstructured, reflect my artistic self.
It's interesting to break out of my daily routine and contemplate how I was creative each day. I can contribute a reawakening of my creativity to CreComm, and I'm grateful for it.
Link: A site of John Cage's short stories titled Indeterminacy.