Art Is The Realm of the Problem

“I am troubled by how often people talk about likability when they talk about art.

I am troubled by how often our protagonists are supposed to live impeccable, sin-free lives, extolling the right virtues in the right order – when we, the audience, do not and never have, no matter what we perform for those around us.

I am troubled by the word “problematic,” mostly because of how fundamentally undescriptive it is. Tell me that something is xenophobic, condescending, clichéd, unspeakably stupid, or some other constellation of descriptors. Then I will decide whether I agree, based on the intersection of that thing with my particular set of values and aesthetics. But by saying it is problematic you are saying that it constitutes or presents a problem, to which my first instinct is to reply: I hope so.

Art is the realm of the problem. Art chews on problems, turns them over, examines them, breaks them open, breaks us open against them. Art contains a myriad of problems, dislocations, uncertainties. Doesn’t it? If not, then what?”

-Jen Silverman, “Swimming in It: Art and (Im)Morality.” macdowell.org. April 21, 2022.

Artists Sell Feelings?

People buy things for how things will make them feel. Desires for status, connection, and emotion. At its core, we sell feelings.

-Radia. “An artist’s guide to surviving NFTs.” mirror.xyz/radia.eth. March 12, 2022

What is art? Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, raise an interesting aspect about answering this question.

If we think about making art as a process, the art is all the decisions that are made in making something. What we call “art” is actually the artifact. When you commodify that artifact, it turns it into a product that people buy, and this brings us to this statement about people buying feelings.

I think the other end of the equation is more interesting. Why do people make things? Do people make things to sell them and have a livelihood? Some do. It seems obvious that this would shape the decisions that go into making the artifact. An artist looking to sell other people feelings is abstracted out of real experience. It’s a kind of alienation. I think the art will reflect that.

At base, if you are making art, the best art is part of a process, where you tap into something in yourself or maybe something larger than yourself. There’s nothing wrong with selling and making money as an artist. But, thinking of it as a product doesn’t improve the art.

NFTs cut the direct connection to the artifact. An NFT of a digital image is a claim of ownership but without a physical object or exclusive access to it. It’s a kind of deed, and deeds aren’t fertile ground for artistic inspiration. Even if we try to make analogies that art (the artifact) is somehow like homes, with all the good feelings homes give us, it seems patently absurd. I’d guess that is probably why NFTs are so incomprehensible to so many.

Effective Data Visualization: Transform Information into Art

“In this course, [Data illustrator Sonja Kuijpers] gives you the tools you need to transform data into captivating illustrations using colors, shapes, and images. Discover how to collect and analyze data sets, as well as how to transform them into a unique poster that tells a story. Are you ready to create your own data art?

Effective Data Visualization: Transform Information into Art

I never heard of Domestika, an online learning platform, before. This course seems awesome. Bookmarking for later.

Grayson’s Art Club

“Grayson Perry, one of Britain’s leading artists, brings the nation together through art, making new works and hosting masterclasses set to unleash our collective creativity during lockdown.”

Grayson’s Art Club

Annoying DRM on mobile, but bookmarking for when I’m on a more DRM friendly platform.