Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Thinking on art and entertainment

To me science is a functional reality, where it gives us greater control in life, where the light switch is my favorite example as so easy to just notice as used daily by so many. Yet the ability to have light on demand was one of the greatest of human achievements, delivered through science and technology. Before humans were at the mercy of the dark, now can command light itself to the point it is not even thought of much by many any more.

And found myself considering the science of entertainment, where to me with a functional view of science, it isn't that hard to conceive of the possibility, and then found a simple enough base with the notion that entertainment is just a safe way to control mood. But what about art?

Well there am lucky in that the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art posed the question on Twitter, which I guess such institutions do routinely enough, but for me was life changing as with the challenge I found myself coming up with an answer to fit in a tweet which I've posted about and will copy answer to here:

I think art is the purest expression of our core humanity. Is sharing in a way that resonates with the human soul. Time irrelevant.

If I'd had more room, might have given a longer answer, but now find myself using that as my basis for what art is. And to me the timeless quality of art is of great use, as science is a lot about time. In science usually one figures out what MUST happen if you DO certain things. But in art, time is irrelevant.

Put it all together and can see that art is not in and of itself entertainment. But art can be entertaining if it safely gives a desired mood.

So art can be a tool of mood, but to art that is meaningless. And one way to ask, how do we know is art? Wait.

If you look in American cinematic history few knew that one of the greatest movies of all time was being produced along with so many others back in 1942. Yet is now well established the greatness of the film Casablanca which we know today is art.

Art doesn't care about the times, though can reflect the times, but only in a way that is timeless. So yeah, you can produce popular entertainment which is locked into its times. That pop song that resonates with millions for a bit, taking its moment in time, which by my definition above, is probably not art.

Which is how art can escape our attempts to hold it down or ascribe it, as the reality for any of us, with anything produced in our time? We may not see it. It may escape the limitations of our knowledge of our own core humanity, and resonate with our species over time, emerging in time to its proper place.

And regardless art will not care. Actual art can be imagined to have a disdain for the limitations of the humans who produce and consider it. Because we cannot truly consume that which is immutable to us. Art will last long after we are gone. And some art will always escape us, to be finally noticed, in time, by humans yet to be born.

James Harris
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