As a magician and sleight-of-hand artist, I've been wrestling with the thorny and slippery notion of Art for a long time. A recent "magical project" rekindled my attention about this ongoing quest. Here follow my latest musings on this domain.
What is Art? Art can be seen as the lifeblood running through the veins of human history. From prelinguistic cave dweller to postmodern city dweller, art stands as a witness to the evolution of every culture, reflecting and participating in our views of reality, consciousness, and the cosmos. Art existed long before the word "art" itself existed; for most of history there were no museums, no galleries, no concert halls, and no special class of people to be known as "artists." As human societies developed and evolved, so did the category of art -- which now includes a boundless constellation of forms, languages, media, materials, technologies, and aesthetic theories. As a result, the contemporary discourse on art is a fascinating and intricate spectacle. Many players -- creators, critics, curators, merchants, collectors -- interact within a matrix of sociological, cultural, political, and economic forces. The interplay of unpredictable factors generates the perceived value of artists, as well as the price of their work, and ultimately what ends up being labelled as art. The art industry produces an unstoppable stream of innovative ideas and artifacts, never-seen-before contaminations, and all sorts of category-defying "artwork." On the inevitable flip side are all kinds of aberrant deviations and plainly Barnumesque stunts. Today, everyone is welcome to decide for themselves what is what, and consume any piece of the cake of their liking. Read the rest