I would like to reflect on a few aspects that Paul Hertz's text touched
upon. I would like to start posing a question: What is the essential
core that makes a person to be an artist, a scientist, a philosopher or
a thinker in any field? At first it seems to me that we can have a look
at 2 spheres:
1) Institution sphere: This is what society says you are: it is
impossible to develop a professional activity in a country as a
scientist or an architect if you do not have a convalidation of your
title and the acceptance in official professional colleges. However,
beyond the institutional requirements, I like to think that being an
artist, a scientist or a philosopher is NOT only a matter of having a
title that proved that you learned skills to use instruments, or learned
how to do perform some activity like painting or engraving or
interpreting microscope's images. It is not enough to have a title in
arts or sciences or philosophy to be an artist, a scientist, a
philosopher in the full sense of these words. So it takes something
more, a personal feature probably, to turn someone that has the official
title in any field into a full scientist, or artist or thinker: it takes
a jump in mentality, a deep love for what you do and a hunger for
knowing and developing something in a state total immersion. Curiously
this is a feature of the kind of experience artists have in periods of
art creation what is completely different from doing something as work,
as obligation. I think artist, scientists and philosophers have the same
immersion sensation of loss of boundaries when they passing through
creative periods in their fields and when they are more than people with
2) Personal sphere: this refers to "what we say we are" and "what we say
we would like to be". In this kind of framework a person can say "I am
an artist" but this is not enough to be an artist. Pierre Bourdieu have
already explained what the "field of art production" is like, and the
features (gender, age, family position, access to sources, etc.), that
have a great impact in the visibility of an artist. In this case people
that received the same institutional formation (have been to the same
university and have learned the same skills) have very different
outcomes in their professional lives either because they are older
than... or they are women, or they come from peripheral countries. So, I
ask: is it the same if an artist from Germany, having exhibitions in
many European, Asian and American art institutions and galleries says "I
am an artist", and someone from Nigeria, that did not had the
opportunity to show her/his art work more than in her/his home town,
says "I am an artist"?
Is it the same if a women in her 60, and without social and
institutional recognition of her art work, says "I am an artist" and a
young women in her late 20, in France and institutionally supported by
grants of prestigious institutions, says "I am an artist", is it the
same? Art is a diverse multidimensional reality; it does not comfortably
fit into a unique, dominating, European-North American-Asian point of
view and definition of what art is.
So, I prefer to be sensitive to all these forgotten
corners of the art's reality that scape from the Art that is on stage,
and consider that it is not enough to say "I am an artist", because it
is society that defines who are the artists of each time. In the wake of
that definition sometimes excellent artists are not taken in
consideration, and only those that fit better in the kind of definition
of the moment get the public and institutional recognition essential to
be considered an artist.
I could go on, but I would prefer to leave this here with the
sensation that either if we talk about art or science similar rules
operate and that in no case an institutional title is not enough to make
full artists or scientists. So I would suggest also that this could be a
theme for a possible future debate in Yasmin.
> From: Paul Hertz <email@example.com>
> Date: May 12, 2009 8:09:20 AM CDT
> To: YASMIN DISCUSSIONS <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: Re: [Yasmin_discussions] One Two Three More Cultures
> Isn't it possible that the asymmetrical crossover from scientist to
> artist but not commonly the other way has to do with the ease with
> which anyone can become an artist?
> One doesn't need a degree, after all, or a research laboratory or
> grant funds to call oneself an artist. Thanks to conceptualism, one
> doesn't even need a physical body of work, nor proof of years
> dedicated to acquiring skill with the tools of painting or sculpture.
> It's pretty much sufficient just to designate oneself an artist and
> show up at openings (I exaggerate only a little). This will definitely
> not work in science.
> I think one could also argue also that the criteria for market success
> as an artist, which are considered proof that one is, after all, an
> artist, are rather more lax than the standards by which scientists are
> judged as "successful" or not.
> That said, I don't want to belittle the notion that there might be
> structural differences in brain organization (especially if one
> commits to the notion that education rearranges the brain)--but I
> would hazard a guess that, for example, composers and mathematicians
> may have much in common, though they apply their pattern-making and
> pattern-discerning abilities to entirely different applications. If
> pattern perception and pattern fabrication are the criteria, there
> might be rather more in common among artists and scientists than the
> culture(s) they operate in reveal. I merely suggest that the door to
> applying those abilities in the opposite discipline swings more easily
> in one way than the other for fairly mundane reasons: you can get away
> with calling yourself an artist indefinitely.
> I sure have ;^}.
> -- Paul
> paul-hertz AT northwestern.edu
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HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE: on the info page, scroll all the way down and enter your e-mail address in the last field. Enter password if asked. Click on the unsubscribe button on the page that will appear ("options page").
HOW TO ENABLE / DISABLE DIGEST MODE: in the options page, find the "Set Digest Mode" option and set it to either on or off.