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What is Art?

Updated: Dec 21, 2017

What is Art and why bother with it?

If I came up to you and asked you what came to mind when you think of the word "Art"? What would you say? You'd probably say something like: "Music, painting and dance". Yes those are forms of art but what is art truly? Why bother with it? What makes it a substantial part of our everyday lives?

My definition of Art:

Art is the manipulation of emotion. Controlling how one reacts and views themselves, others or their surroundings

Artist or not, you are surrounded by art everyday of your life. Whether it is that picture you liked on Instagram, that song that you listen to every time you get on the bus or the way you tap your foot when listening to the radio. You take part in art everyday of your life.

I talked to a friend of mine over lunch a couple weeks ago (Hes a Business major), and he talked about how he doesn't understand music and so for that reason he never played an instrument or went to an orchestra concert. We went back and forth for a while and at one point I asked him what he does in his spare time. He said "I play video games, read and workout".

Ok. This is good.

Our conversation went a little like this:

Me: "When you play video games do you have headphones on?"

Him: "Well of course or else it’s no fun"

"Ok, well what goes on in the headphones that makes things "fun"?

"Well first off, i can hear the action, hear the other players, hear things approach and distance from me, and i just feel more involved when i wear headphones"

"Well believe it or not man, when you wear headphones, there are things that have been programmed to happen to make you feel a certain way, making you feel "involved". There are sounds that occur that make you feel uncomfortable or that warn you that an interaction with the "bad guy" is about to happen. You know people approach and distance from you due to the rise and fall of the dynamics of their movements, making you feel a certain way. Gaming companies have done this because they know that if they add these little things, that you feel a certain way, which makes your experience of the game great or horrible, depending on who you are and how you react to those types of emotional impulses. Question, if you were a lone at home and you heard the creek of a door, what would you do?"

"I’d probably check what in the world was going on"

"Alright, so how would you feel? The fact that you used the words "what in the world" I'm assuming you'd be frightened, or as you people like to say, "shook" "?

" Yea I would, i’d be concerned. Definitely".

"The impulses are what gaming companies look for from you, and that is what makes a game good or not whether you know it or not and whether you enjoy that raw feeling or not. Essentially you’re their puppet.

“Ha. I guess I am”.

Now, the reason I showcased that conversation is because any form of art is the exact same thing. We play, draw, dance or angle the camera to achieve a certain result, a certain emotional or spiritual response. That is exactly what art is all about.

Now what makes all of the above so hard is technique. Technique is essentially the skills that one needs to develop to be able to manipulate their performance to receive a specific response from the listener/audience.

I was told this earlier in my life and it just stuck:

"Imagine you have a blank canvas. Ok. Now, what do you need to create your painting? Colors right? Now the only colors you have are black and white. With time you will get to use primary colors, and with more time you'll learn how mix those colors. Once you do that you'll have what we call secondary colors, then there are tertiary colors etc etc. Point is, once you have this, you can use these to make whatever painting you'd like, because you'll have everything at your disposal. You’ll just need to pick up the brush and show the world what you can do".

- Rennie Regehr

With time i began to look at technique differently. It’s not simply something that can help you play things faster, or cleaner or make you “sound” better. It sounds better because of the intent it is used for. Technique is hard. Technique is annoying, but it's a tool that can either make a beautiful house or that crappy IKEA desk you never wanted. You know..... the one that never has enough screws so you just use tape?

Oh.....that’s just me?

Ok. That's fine.

Point is, that's art. That's what makes it hard, so many people are focused on the end result that they never remember the beginning. The intent. The reason and result of your actions. With every single thing we do in life and in art, comes a response, and you have no idea how much you can control and manipulate people if you do things the efficient way.

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