Sunday, February 8, 2009

An Artists Intentions

...are irrelevant to everyone except the artist.

There's a video on of David Lynch ranting about how it's "bullshit" that people watch movies on iPods. Sorry Mr. Lynch but what is bullshit is that you think that you can control your art once it's out in the wild.

You can't force people to see things the way you want. The best you can hope for is that at least a small portion of your message gets across to the viewer. Each person that sees it has a mind of their own and will come away with their own impression. Not only that but how your art is delivered can change over time. Paintings are reproduced in books, posters, coffee mugs. Music that was on vinyl disc is now listened to on mp3 players, heard in commercials, video games, and poorly produced youtube slideshows. Films that were seen on a screen with 200 other people in surround sound, are seen on VHS on a mono TV, DVD in 2.1 stereo and yes, even iPods with some crummy earbuds. Even if, for example, an artistic work hangs in a gallery and is never reproduced in any way, time will alter how the piece looks. Colors will fade, varnish will yellow. Ultimately it's the VIEWER, not the artist that determines how a work is delivered.

Art is a form of communication. Like any communication that hangs around for a long while, how people view it changes over time. The importance of any art is relevance to the viewer or listener, not the intentions of the artist. As with folk music, folk tales and urban legends, variations are introduced with each successive teller or performer. No two live stage performances of plays are alike. No two productions of the same play are alike. THIS IS NOT A BAD THING. People have always built upon others ideas so there is no such thing as an original thought. There's no such thing as original art.

The artist's idea, concept, first thought doesn't matter at all. Even the final concrete form it first takes doesn't matter. What the viewer or listener gets out of it, what they come away with is what really matters. What you as an artist want doesn't matter. You can rant against iPods, ebooks, crappy speakers, remixes or whatever new form or presentation a work of art takes over time but it doesn't mean a thing. Relevance is all that ultimately matters. You can't control how another person sees, interprets, manipulates or otherwise changes any work of art, whether in their mind or in the material world.

Artistic intentions, ideas and concepts are not sacred. If you don't like that, too bad because that is the reality of any artistic endeavor.

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