I have had some people communicate some criticism upon my former facebook status related to creativity, expression and what constitutes art:
“Expression without purpose begets nothing but nonsense. Expression with purpose no matter how divergent is the essence of creativity. And when such expression achieves it’s intended purpose, it becomes art!” – SWW
The criticisms of these people were valid (based on their perspective) but they didn’t take into account one thing. There is an implied concept in the use of one word in that statement. The implication entails the use for the word ‘purpose‘. So, as I am often prone to do, let’s refer to the definition.
- noun 1. the reason for which something exists or is done, made,used
Technically speaking, what I am referring to isn’t even implied. It’s denoted right in there. The word ‘reason’. Reason in this context refers to a basis or cause, but the implication in my usage of the word reason is a ‘rational’ basis or cause.
If one’s purpose for doing something is based on an irrational motivation, the motivation can be said to be ‘unreasonable’. Another way of saying ‘unreasonable’ is ‘without reason’. If your purpose is without reason, then you might as well be acting ‘without purpose’.
When I refer of art as something resulting from expression with purpose, it is the same as saying ‘expression with a rational purpose’ or expression done with a valid, objectively definable purpose or cause.
A great example of this is Piss-Christ. When I first heard of this so-called ‘work of art’, I could not see any intended purpose for the medium other than to insult something he didn’t like. After all, when we are upset with something it is a colloquial cliche to say ‘aw, piss on it!’
As I read up more on it and learned more about religion itself, I began to realize there could be a legitimate purpose to it. For example, take the words of the photographer himself from that above link:
Serrano has not ascribed overtly political content to Piss Christ and related artworks, on the contrary stressing their ambiguity. He has also said that while this work is not intended to denounce religion, it alludes to a perceived commercializing or cheapening of Christian icons in contemporary culture.
Upon alleviating my ignorance, I now consider Piss-Christ as art. Not what I could say would be my personal preference to hang in the foyer, but art none-the-less.
Suffice it to say, I stand by the accuracy of my original statement. Frivolity or absurdity is not art. But expression, no matter how divergent that achieves it’s intended (rational) purpose, is the nature of art.