Our Aesthete Brains Evolving to Desire Beauty but Relax Into Art

2014/08/26 § Leave a comment

I have been reading The Aesthetic brain : how we evolved to desire beauty and enjoy art by Anjan Chatterjee.

Key message is that the diversity of form is directly related to environmental and selective pressures.

Where there is strong selective evolutionary pressure then, as an example, birdsong will be as unchanging as Egyptian art over millennia. Or, when there is strongly repressive government then art will be restricted to pro-government propaganda i approved form and genre, and as unchanging as the wild birdsong.

Where conditions relax then there can be a survival in a diversity of form, as in the diverse songs of domesticated songbirds compared to their wild cousins.

The middle bit of the book surveys the recent writing in neuroaesthetics and a number of evolutionary arguments about “why art?”. Unsatisfied by the answers involving “art instinct” or “by-product” he argues for a third way involving that relaxation of selective pressures mentioned above.

maskofreposePHI

I still feel Ellen Dissanayake‘s work is the best of “why art” in a evolutionary context, and I can see it fitting in with Anjan Chatterjee’s suggestions of relaxation to allow the diversity we see through time and across geographies. Both are at base material arguments, one for raising children, one for how they, and we, survive.

Suggestions of relaxed environments, if not attitudes, will probably work for any Dissanayake’s “making special” activities covered by other modern words like ‘religion’.

“Art” after all is primarily a marketing category, a very modern form. And perhaps one not relaxed enough yet to be any good. Especially all that conceptual art that just looks like bad science fiction made for people who do not read science fiction.

Naming the Figures of Anticeptual Art, number one: #Swineflu is born!

2012/05/15 § Leave a comment

At my Web 1.0 style personal homepage trying to pass itself off as a gallery, I’ve just worked through to a labelling of the current figures I am working on. I have this need to put them in sets, I do this by naming them.

For example Consorts to the Mountain Goddess.

The new set is Figures of Anticeptual Art. They will not get their own blog.

Now, the thing is, in realising the name Figures of Anticeptual Art I suddenly also recollected that the first of these figures was made two years ago. Thus #Swineflu is Born! (pewter, 2009, wallaby dung outer investment) is the first example of the process where naming is a conscious method of finishing the artwork.

It doesn’t start with an idea or concept, for the naming finishes it. The art is realised, not conceived.

I had just recovered from the misnamed swineflu, (I caught the #swineflu from a young woman who served me a hamburger as I transited through Melbourne back to Hobart from Weilmoringle.)(She did not look well and should not have been at work.) At this time I was wanting to send a piece to the Twitter Art Show, so as I broke open the wallaby dung and plaster it was obvious what the piece should be called. I stopped then and there. I did not even cut it off its cup to retrieve all that pewter.

It was finished in the moment I realised what its true name was.

Twitter hashtag and all.

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