As you know, I’ve asked some of my artist friends to write their views on art for the blog. This is photographer Craig Scogin’s response to the question, “What Is Art?” Some of you may remember that I have written about Craig Scogin before. He is the author of the book Not Really New… Not Really Mexico. All of the photographs in today’s piece were shot by Craig.
What Is Art?
Much has been written on the topic, often with a great deal of pretense and complexity. When most people use the term Art, they are thinking of fine art, an act of personal expression. It is something created through human effort rather than the processes of nature. My personal definition of Art is fairly simple. Some might say simplistic. I think it’s most anything that constitutes the tangible expression of emotion. I see art-science in much the same way as space-time, different manifestations of the same thing, in this case, the human mind. Science is the realm of reason and art the province of emotion. The border between the two is both transparent and permeable.
The human mind is the essence of the life we’ve been given. Within it has evolved the passion that drives us to seek and express our discoveries, and the intelligence to devise a method for doing so. I think we are biologically compelled to express our thoughts. It is well established that solitary confinement destroys minds. We’ve survived this long as a species only because we found the means to work together. That means is communication. The stuff of our communications is intangible and transitory: ideas. In order to give substance to these ephemera, we make sounds and we make marks. These are the tools of language art and visual art. We sing songs and write plays. We craft sculpture and paintings. In so doing, we hope to share our ideas with others and absorb theirs. Our ultimate goal is to express what we are thinking and have someone else understand and share our feelings. We need to know and we need to show. There is little truly new about social networking.
The Mind (upper case M) is also a collective unity. In the simplest terms, mine is of little value without yours. We observe in the present, balance what we see against the past and model possibilities we share into the future. We attempt to convert the energy of our ideas into the matter of artifacts that may be experienced by others. This is creativity. As artists, tangible objects are what we do. Such an object may be experienced with the senses, given a name and exchanged between us. In the process of rendering mind into something communicable, the perception of both the creator and the witness will inevitably affect the outcome, for better or for worse. From Quantum Theory to Art Theory, the observer affects the observed. This implies that within each of us resides the potential to be an individual creator. In my mind, the thing that most defines art is the presence of this individual.
– Craig Scogin
You can see more of Craig’s work and read his blog at desertlens.livejournal.com.