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Author Topic: Where does art come from?  (Read 1707 times)
Melooon
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« on: December 12, 2023 @775.82 »

Iv been thinking a little about the popular idea that great art requires suffering. I can't disagree with it in the sense that a great many great artworks were created by people who had troubles, but I can't help but shake the sense that is not as simple as that.

Perhaps what I look for in art is a sense of vulnerability, and by that, I mean the feeling of vulnerability that comes from being open with yourself about your given subject, without the usual walls life creates. Genres are walls, aspirations and fears like success and recognition are walls too, our politics and histories are walls, memories and languages and mediums are too; the idea of being open might even be a wall itself. They are inescapable to a certain extent, and sometimes we need those walls to stay sane. However, there are times when for one reason or another you break past all of that, perhaps you get past it without even noticing simply by being yourself; perhaps that's a worthwhile source of art.

Hmmmmm, I guess that's a bit esoteric as a thread, but I do find myself wondering these things and I wonder if anyone else wonders about them and has thoughts  :omg:
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2023 @797.01 »

I definitely agree that being vulnerable with yourself tends to result in good art- I think that applies to all emotions, not just ones of pain. For me it takes a lot of vulnerability to express unrestrained joy and enthusiasm, just as much as it does for suffering/pain.

Suffering is just an emotion that feels especially hard to be vulnerable about since it means exposing those wounds for (potentially) an audience, so people tend to correlate that extreme artistic vulnerability with it, if I had to guess
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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2023 @822.19 »

I all around disagree. I think suffering is just easier to make art with so it appears that way. What people are thinking of here is evocative art. Art that makes you feel things needs to capture an emotion, and its easiest do that when you actually feel the emotion you're trying to capture. Negative emotions tend to occur more in most people's daily lives and usually happen in downtime where its possible to make art out of it. Positive emotions are absolutely possible to make great art out of, its just less common that they happen in a context where art can be created. Though keep in mind I also reject the notion that emotional investment in what you're creating is even necessary for creating "great art" anyway, but this was more important to express in my opinion.
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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2023 @845.12 »

I cannot disagree with this idea entirely either... kind of. Art is a mean of expressing emotion, and more than often, the stronger the emotion is, the "stronger" the art is going to turn out. This is one of the reasons I personally struggle making something happy when I am upset (and vise versa), for instance. My emotions do not match what I'm trying to express and the outcome appears off, to say the least. :tongue:

Creativity has no limits, but humans do. Mainly due to societal peer pressure and what is generally is expected by the mainstream. I have always admired artists who go the extra mile and make something outside these confining walls... let alone going a step further and sharing such work with others! Not only is it merely impossible for most, but also it often feels as if the artist's inner core and profoundest concerns have been exposed for everyone to see and judge. (The latter can get pretty creepy if you ask me!) But that does not necessarily mean that the outcome of such works is cooler than usual.

I do not believe that suffering is the only way to create great works, although it does seem to help a bit in most cases. People tend to be captivated to such art, as @wygolvillage pointed out. But there can also be optimistic works that are just as superb. I guess just because these saddening works gain more attraction is why they are considered greater than others. Oh man, I love psychology!

Negative emotions tend to occur more in most people's daily lives and usually happen in downtime where its possible to make art out of it. Positive emotions are absolutely possible to make great art out of, its just less common that they happen in a context where art can be created.
That's a really good point too! Life is more unfair than fair and that gets translated into art and how it is perceived as well.

I reckon art in general comes from emotions. Great art on the other hand, is just one very lucky piece of art that people seemed to like a lot (obviously, for a very good reason)! :ha: The type of emotion the art conveys surely plays a crucial role on how the audience thinks about it and reacts to it, but there are too many loopholes to consider this estimation 100% accurate. Yes to some extend, but not entirely. Interesting topic!
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« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2023 @851.32 »

one of my favorite streamers made this zine, which i really love. not only do i resonate with a lot of what they're saying which is pertinent here; their craft showcases writing for themselves in order to expel what plagues them and i admire that. i was going to summarize some points from it for clarity, but i think that would detract from the zine - and i think it's worth reading fully by itself.

as for my own experience: i make a lot of art that's pretty diverse in medium and concept. i guess i use different mediums to do different things. my music, for instance, is almost always written when i'm at literal rock bottom and i need something cathartic to heal myself. i guess that's also when i listen to music the most. i often write poetry when i'm happy or when i'm trying to put into words something that i've experienced. i think that this too is a release. my drawings are all over the place - as is my cooking - and often i feel compelled to do them, as if my life depended on it. it's hard to put into words, but there's a time when i don't create when i feel physically anxious and sick, or conversely extremely energetic, and making something is the only way to symptomatically treat that. it's weird, because when i proofread what i've written here it sounds like an exaggeration, but i know both feelings whenever they occur. yet my game development and programming has always been a way to celebrate others - in the same sense that a lot of folks have shrines on their websites.

that's a long way of saying that i think it varies, but i think that my desire to make art simply is just me feeling like i need to create. i can apply reasons atop of that, but that's secondary to just feeling like i want to make something; this is as fundamental to me as feeling hungry. my art is influenced by what i think, which in turn influences how and what i make. a lot of my art is DIY and temporary because i share a myriad of foundations with anarchism, which is why i like to graffiti with chalk and charcoal. but my art is influenced by a tangent @virtue raised in conjunction with the zine above in that i feel like i need to make something to capture a feeling so that i might be rid of it or so i might be able to cherish it later.

i'm not sure why, but i remember somebody giving a sociology presentation on this speech a while ago which would probably appeal to you @Melooon.
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« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2023 @860.49 »

I think @virtue has made a great point. I agree suffering is easier to make art from and gets more attention, especially because negative emotions and experiences tend to linger more in the mind than positives and drive more engagement online. Positive art can sometimes turn people away because it can be seen as bragging, or rubbing it into the noses of people who are less privileged, so I think many shy away from that or that kind of art is riskier, harder to create an audience with, perhaps. When I think about it, positive art can sometimes seem childish or infantilizing to people. Like the type of art a child would make, with the sun in the top corner (to exaggarate). To be seen as serious and professional seems to sometimes be to milk the bad. And we can all relate to negative emotions and feel compelled to care, in a way, but may not to the positive things, depending on what it is about.

I think art can come from the need to be seen, but not necessarily heard (out loud).

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« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2023 @952.91 »

sociology presentation on this speech a while ago which would probably appeal to you @Melooon
My dad used to put on Alan Watts talks in the car for us to listen to on the drive into school :grin: That's an interesting little one to focus on though, what do you think of it? For some reason I find when I listen to Alen, I totally enjoy his talks, yet somehow everyone seems to like me a lot less when I start thinking the way he does - maybe it's a personality moire pattern :ohdear:



Iv been enjoying reading all the replies so far, there's a good mix of differing points of view. I realise I asked "Where does art come from" but I never specified what art actually was; I can tell everyone has their own definition they are thinking of here which is quite intriguing, but that's a question for another thread!

There's a trend of people looking at art as a form of expression which suggests that people feel that art is made to be seen. I guess I suggest that too with the word vulnerability, but I wonder if being seen is not another wall to hide behind :dunno:
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« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2023 @953.09 »

I hate the idea that art is born of suffering, because it often devolves into an anti-recovery attitude. This idea that medicine "changes you", or changes your art. That suffering somehow becomes noble if it's for art.

Additionally, I find saying that the great artists of the past like Van Gogh had suffering as their muse is disrespectful. It feels dismissive of his mental illness. Oftentimes, these people don't know what they're talking about, anyway! I hear all the time, "If Van Gogh was on medication, we wouldn't have Starry Night," but Van Gogh literally painted Starry Night, on medication, in a mental ward, actively receiving mental help!

That said, even if what they said was true... Art isn't worth purposefully suffering for. Nothing is! It's almost a sort of martyrdom complex I see among artists, and it hurts to see them purposefully suffering...

It is true that mentally ill folks tend to make more art. But that's because art tends to come from a place of great emotion, and/or great passion. And while mentally ill folks can have trouble finding passion in life, they oftentimes have a great amount of emotions.

The idea that it comes from suffering also implies that all great art is saddening. But that idea angers me, too. When I think of the great pieces of art that have moved me to tears; Undertale and Celeste being what immediately comes to mind; there is an overwhelming sense of hope present in both. Undertale made me cry because
Spoiler
the past couldn't be changed, and Asriel couldn't be brought back, but he used his final moments as himself to free everyone he loved, and to gently ask Frisk to take care of his family.
[close]
I cried in Celeste as Madeline
Spoiler
embraced her other self; accepting everything she had deemed "wrong" with her, and instead showing herself love and patience and kindness.
[close]
There is darkness in these moments, but it is the kindness there that brings me to cry. Undertale and Celeste are joyous games, with happiness and tender-hearted moments at every turn, and they are the greatest pieces of art that I know.

Art comes from places of grand passion and grand emotion. Suffering can be one of them, but to say that suffering is the only place it can come from encourages anti-recovery mindsets. There is so much beautiful art that can be made about hope and humanity.
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« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2023 @27.18 »

I agree with a lot of the points made here, but here is what I think in my own words.

I feel like wealth of any emotion leads to great art. We see a lot of people making art from their sadness a lot because there is a lot of sadness in the world. So many people struggle with depression that it's inevitable that a lot of art is born from that.

This topic makes me think about my journey with art. I'll spend several hours working on something that while technically art, is not a product of any emotion I'm feeling. When I show my mother, she thinks it looks great but it doesn't seem to resonate with her and it's never mentioned again. But every single time I make art as a joke, my mother very vocally enjoys it and brings it up over and over.

It used to confuse me that she didn't prefer the art that took a lot more time. With the silly art, I was just goofing around, right? No, not really. That art came from a wealth of joy. That art is some of my best because while I'm working on it I'm laughing and just so excited to show people what I made.

So that's what I think, I think any sort of emotion can lead to great art if there's enough of it.

Side note, this topic reminds me of the song Polyhymnia by Keaton Henson.
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« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2023 @37.33 »

Hi.
I believe that art comes from the world itself; sometimes an aspect, be it a outer impression, an idea, a realization, or a emotion, or a combination of those, will just take us; either over a second or over long periods of time - and the attempts to capture this "being taken" is what I would call art. I believe that art is often, if not always, is a attempt to formulate something that can't be formulated in any other way but with the specific artwork; and what it evokes might not be the exact fragment of the world that the artist tried to capture, but surely something absolutely unique that can not be evoked in the (open) viewer but through that piece of art.

Suffering can be such an aspect; but for every "Iron Lady of the Chair", "Screams and Whispers",  or "Gravity's Rainbow"  is a climax of "Ulysses", a "Arabian Nights" (Fellini!)  or a "Smiles of a Summer Night" that capture the (sometimes bitter) sweet aspects of existence. And then there are absolut other things - both Miro and Escher were great artists, but there are few works that you could divide into "suffering" and "joy"; often artists capture things that (as stated above) probably elude what language can do :).
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« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2023 @497.65 »

Well, it depends on the period and on the stream of art you're talking about. I can only talk about
art that come from occidental regions but for quite a few centuries, art was very regulated by ideas
ruled by religion and ideas of representing the will of God through your art, some great pieces
were made in this relatively large period but it didn't always require suffering. You can see how
religion and the related viewpoints regulated colors for example. And seeing how this humble
viewpoint that is needed to correspond to the religious standard, art needed to be full of effort
and was overall more intensive and codified than what we have since the 19th century.
(This may an awkward retelling of history, but if you'd like to have a proper vision of what it could
mean to make art and to have a religious institution behind you, i'd recommend :
"Black: The History of a Color")

But we're somewhat past this religious context when we talk about great art in a western
european/northern american context, we can take quite a few examples from popular painters that
don't seem to have suffered too much or even seemed to have rolled on their privileged lifestyle
that their art procured them. Not all artists and like Van Gogh and live supported by their
brother while devoting their whole life to the craft without too much in return.

I'll take the quick housemate of Van Gogh, Gauguin, who unlike Van Gogh, seems to have had quick
a nicer life with less apparent mental problems, at least mental problems that are detrimental to
his happiness. (being a pedophile didn't seem to hinder his happiness !)

Matisse too may be one of the most influential painters that influenced the early 20th century but
didn't seem to suffer too much (at least it didn't seem to be some kind of martyr relationship with
art like the cliché would like to say).

But that's just paintings, art aren't limited to pictural art, i can think of Baudelaire as some
kind of martyr or older writers that needed the approbation of the king to be published thus got
published illegally, but that's more about the way to publish art than the making of art itself.

Would anyone say that most pictures are taken by people with some kind of vulnerability ?

For films, it depends. Would a new command Hollywood film made with financial interests in mind be
better if the realisator had more experience and put more suffering, conveyed more vulnerability in
his film ? I don't think so. But if you talk about a film that presents a more out-there artistic
vision that really represents what the realisator's mind would create instead of being a Yes-Man
film ? Probably.

For music, it would be laughable to make vulnerability a standard for great pieces, so i won't dwell
on it. Video games too, if you consider it art, a lot of amazing (in my opinion, the critics's
opinion and in the public's opinion) games didn't need to convey anything other than a solid
foundation, good gameplay and other labels related to the medium to be... good !

Overall a lot of art that i value as great aren't even often emotionally charged, i find that
a poem from the Oulipo is sometimes a lot more interesting than something that is linked to the
emotions or past of the writer. Great art meaning most of the time an experienced artist or some
kind of suffering is a bit of an outdated cliché that doesn't seem to be true or seems to have ever
been true.

Have a good day ! :dive:


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« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2023 @615.84 »

I think are many sides to where good artwork comes from.

I think good artwork often comes as a result of learning how to translate our inward experience of life, our perspective of the world and our framework for reality into an external experience for others to see or hear.

Great suffering can affect our perspective of life; depending on how we interpret and perceive our sufferings, our perspective on life can tighten and narrow, or it can open up our perspective to new insight, new appreciation, humility, gratitude, empathy, resilience, and more depth.

Because suffering can greatly affect our perspective on life, and because (I.M.O.) good art comes from translating our inward perspective/experience into an external experience for others to sense, suffering can also greatly affect our artwork.

However, many other strong and impactful experiences can affect our perspective as well.

I wouldn't seek out suffering, but rather reflection, understanding, connection and experience.
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« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2023 @769.06 »

All of these replies are so beautiful, thoughtful, and profound! I agree with much of it. Right off the bat, I couldn't help but think of the Judee Sill lyric from the song Emerald River Dance:

Quote
It seems like everyone's so afraid of emotion 'cause they can't bear the pain.
But the deeper sorrow carves in the heart of your being, the more joy you can contain.

Whether born of happiness or sadness, it takes a certain amount of sensitivity to translate emotions into something tangible, like a piece of art. It also takes a certain amount of sensitivity to perceive the intentions behind the things that one senses. Sometimes people just do not personally connect with a particular song or painting, even though it could have been a profound experience to the one making it.

But the question, "Where does art come from?" evokes something more fundamental to me than simply the communication of deep thoughts or feelings through music, painting, poetry, etc. I will approach how I look at it in a philosophical way...

There is a vast creative intelligence that permeates all of reality, including each and every single human being. That is why we are able to affect change within the environment around us to some extent, we are literally an extension of that singular creative intelligence. On the individual level, humans have a tendency to refer to it as "I" and associate it with their bodily form, but it is not something finite. However, it is more clearly expressed through us when our thoughts, feelings, and actions come into harmony and are focused intensely.

This in turn can evoke a sympathy within another who is open to it, no matter the medium through which it is expressed.

Generally, I've had creative moments where I didn't have to reason about it much at all. It just seemed to be "downloaded" all as one piece and flowed through me. And other times, I had to carefully dwell upon things for long periods of time, repeatedly reworking and refining it to reach what felt like the intended destination.
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« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2023 @49.64 »

This is a really interesting topic, and I agree with a lot of the points here! Especially with being vulnerable, self expression, communication, and humans having a natural drive to Create.

My 2 cents on this discussion is that art could also offer a sort of escapism to many people.

Whether you're the one making it or consuming it, I think people are drawn to it as a way to feel something outside of their daily lives (if that makes sense). I think the best example for this is media such as shows, books, games, ect.

With the help of art, you could visualize a more ideal world, or at least one that's slightly cooler. Create a story where the evil in real life is taken down by the average guy, or the story could help point out those people. Compose music that makes you happy, or sad, or various other emotions. Share your abstract thoughts in way that could touch other people. I don't exactly know where I'm going with all these examples, but I like to think they tie in with escapism in one way or another.

The process of creating art is itself is a form of escapism; completely separate from everything else around you. It's just you and your art. Nothing else. At least that's how most people create stuff. Just themselves, maybe with a few other people if it's a collaborative work, but still' you're focusing specifically with the art at hand and just creating.
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« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2023 @217.06 »

I think art just comes from humans naturally. I think it's like... a byproduct of our existence, like birdsong or beaver dams or other stuff from the animal kingdom. Humans just Make Art. Even people who don't feel they're creative... I see them doing artful things all the time. My partner calls herself uncreative, but she actually comes up with super interesting stories all the time, and watching her do elaborate math in her head is a work of art to me in speed and elegance. In that vein, I don't think art has to be exploding with a feeling or meaning to be worthwhile and "good"; I think the act of having it exist and be created at all is profound and goes hand-in-hand with human nature.

Me personally, I create because I am devoured by compulsions (positive) to. Ideas spill out of me like an overflowing cup. They're not even all good ideas or anything, but they're ideas, and I can rapid-fire them onto paper and feel accomplished and good just for setting them free into the world. In a way, they rise from my emotions, but not any one particular emotion makes me more or less creative. My life's experiences filter into my art and inform it; my output is so consistent that you can track what was going on in my life through the things I was drawing and writing.

It doesn't even bother me if people don't look at my art, or consider it art. But I don't think I'm being closed off by that; when I say I make art "for me" it really is literally because if I didn't I think I would explode hahah, so whether or not anyone else cares about what I make is whatever. I don't deny that art (including my art) can still be communicative but I don't think art needs to be communicative to feel justified or if it has a purpose. Does art have to have an emotion to be art? Ahhh no I'll not open that Pandora's Box.

I do think humans in general feel miserable without some creation of art (and by extension, self-expression?). But I realize my idea of "art" is kind of broad, so....
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