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Thread: How important is originality in art?

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    How important is originality in art? 
    #1
    Bluelight Crew Pander Bear's Avatar
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    There has been some interesting dialouge in the Kill Bill threads concerning the director's films, and the borrowing/homage/outright theft within them. It raises a bunch of very cool questions over the value of originality, the creative process, and the difference between plagiarism and inspiration. To get the ball rolling, I'll throw out a name thats been tossed back and forth, but feel welcome to bring Tarentino or the matrix, or whatever else into the discussion.

    Pablo Picasso is probably the best known artist of the past couple of hundred years. He is regarded, within and outside of art circles, as a master, and a genius. However, nothing he did was particularly original. analytical cubism was pioneered by his studiomate Braque. Synthetic cubism, his collages involving newsprint and wood, were inspired by the dress patterns of his seamstress lover. His early early sculptural technique borrows heavily from the soft, dapples surfaces of Rodin. His Surrealist work, though ultimately a product of Freudian psychoanalysis, is more directly inspired by the sculpture of Umberto Giacometti and Hans Belmer. He was the first artist to work directly with welded metal, though this technique was introduced to him by a layman metalworker. In the 30s and 40s, there was a revival of interest in Henri matisse, and surely enough, Picasso's work began to reflect the tropical colors, and humanist themes of matisses work. His figure rendering reflects an interest in pre-roman, Iberian sculpture.

    Still, though all this, picasso is lauded as "an original" and "a genius". His true genius is in his appropriation, and excellent execution of, existing styles and techniques. He is, IMO, and extreme example of what the creative process is for any artist, in any field, be it music, painting, architecture, or film. There are more original artists, better artists, from his time period, though one would be hard pressed to find one more widely known and praised.

    Souny asked "where is Picasso", in regards to the wide cinematic heritage of reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Kill Bill. My response would be, " You're looking right at him." I think all products need to be examined at face value, in a cultural vacuum, at least part of the time; Though the real joy is in looking through an artist's work into his pedigree. If I begin to resent a film maker, or any other artist of taking credit for another's idea, I remind myself that if I recognize it, the artist recognizes it, and the critics recognize it, then its out in the open.
     

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    that's a very good question, atlas.

    what's more important - an idea or the implementation of an idea?

    it's an art cliche: somebody looks at an abstract piece and dimisses it with "a child could have painted that". well, possibly, but she didn't. indeed, isn't that kind of missing the point?

    the mona lisa is one of the most famous paintings in the world. it's a portrait of a woman - hardly an original idea...

    it just goes back to a couple of topics i feel very passionately about: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. there's no 'right' and 'wrong' when it comes to art.

    alasdair
     

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    #3
    Bluelighter undead's Avatar
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    ^^^ very good points.

    and i also agree... that IS a very good question. kudo's to you for a well thought out, intelligent thread.
     

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    #4
    Weed
    I'm intrigued by the topic but too exhausted to finish a thought. So for now T.S. Eliot will have to do; I'll try and answer properly tomorrow.

    No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead. I mean this as a principle of ęsthetic, not merely historical, criticism. The necessity that he shall conform, that he shall cohere, is not one-sided; what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it. The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them.
     

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    I just think that all art forms should be equal in the way that is judged. For example, if a musician uses any part of another song they have to state so. If they sample, they list it. If the cover, they list it. If they interpolate, they list it. You never see collage artists listing from where they got the little pictures that make up the piece. Directors don't tell, most of the time at least, when they pull ideas directly from another movie (as some of you have shown with Tarrantino). All forms of art, when pulling a direct influence from another piece, should do the same as all the others. I don't really know how much I agree with having to cite in music. Paying the artist you sampled is one thing, and the most important thing. Making everybody know is another. Can you imagine a DVD with a list of 'sampled' scenes or dialogue on the back of the box? I don't know, rambling drunkeness . . . just wanted to throw some ideas into the arena, not an answer to the question by any means, I don't guess . . .
     

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    #6
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    i come from the belief that nothing is original. if an artist strived to be totally original in all ways they would drive themselves insane. we are all a product of our surroundings. everything we digest visually will come out in a different form, but is still created from us processing the elements that we surround ourselves with.

    i had a problem with my main professor in many ways. one of his issues with me was that many times i created things that he saw as a 'rip-off' of other artists works. half the time i didn't even know of the designers he thought i was ripping off. i was not intentionally stealing any work, but may have been influenced by it in passing. for a period i had problems because i strived so hard to be original in my work. i did not want to be stylistically similar to anyone. this led me to be unable to create as literally everything you make is going to bear some resemblance or inspiration from everything you have seen before. i believe it is impossible not to be influenced by these things.

    you may be influenced by ideas that you have come across, but indeed the end product is your own. true there are rip-off artists that pick someones work and try to emulate it almost exactly, but i believe that to be different alltogether. those people are not artists, but theiving fools... and you can tell the difference.
     

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    #7
    Bluelight Crew Pander Bear's Avatar
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    I will comment vis a vis visual art of the early 20th century tomorrow after I get off work.
     

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    #8
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    Ok, 48 hours, and many cases of hot pockets later, I think I have my 2 artists picked.

    Wassily Kandinsky: The first European to create completely non-representational art, (read: total abstraction), since the anglo saxons. This happened in Russia, around 1913. He was painting in the post impressionist style of matiesse and Cezanne, bright colors, landscapes, visible brush strokes. He was already interested in the relationship between art, and his personal spirituality, particularly color symbolism. He was returning to his workshop one evening, when he saw, in the distance, one of his paintings hanging upside down in the window. He was struck by its beauty, and at that point, detirmined that painting things was an idea that has, in many ways, outlived its usefulness in the avant guard. His interest in color and shape influenced the bauhaus. His positive outlook on the world and human nature influenced Der Blau Rider, and his interest in the subconcius influenced the surrealists and Dada. Yet, the work for which he is best known, has no real cultural antecedant in art, though some themes are taken from literatue and history. Below are some favorites.

    Composition VIII
    Composition IV
    Autumn in Bravaria (an earlier work)

    The nearest I can come to that in Film is a killer short I saw called Blinkety Blank. It was made in '75 by Norman mcLaren. He took exposed film stock, and using razors, inks, and pens, created lines just by drawing straight down, timing it to an upbeat Jazz soundtrack. I found that to be both original, in some respects, and novel.

    I was going to talk about constantin Brancusi, but I'll just post an image. This is from his public sculpture garden he made following world war one. It's in the style of a memorial obilisk, yet, its free from all the historical and cultural baggage that they usually have. It is currently considered one of Romania's national treasures.

    Endless Column


    And to chime in on the "where are the people breaking new ground in film" thing. I think it's unfair to jump in on a multiplex, big budget movie, and decry it as being unoriginal and not artistic enough. If you want pure art cinema, you have to go to an art house to view it; And even then, most of it is horrible.... err, I mean, personally, unwatchable, boring, and self-absorbed. When I go see a multiplex movie, I'm looking for more than originality, I'm looking for film craft, film art, good writing, and good acting all rolled into one total package. Something like kill bill lacks novelty, but it really excells elsewhere. I'd also say that the unoriginal action and themes it deals with are explored with the love and care of an expert film maker, who is genuinely excited about his subject. I don't think you can put a value on that.
     

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    #9
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    Could you post some names of what you consider better artists of the time than Picasso?
    Well...

    Pablo Picasso - 1881-1973

    Salvador Dali 1904-1989


    I would argue that, of the two, Dali is the better "artist".

    Picasso did widely admired work in existing genres, but Dali completely redefined surrealism. Dali's work evoked stronger emotional responses (both positive and negative), carried much deeper implications, and was considerably more "original".

    At least in my opinion.
     

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    #10
    "Don't reinvent the wheel." That's a commonly thrown around idea. I am an art student, and haven't read any of the responses, nor the entire question for that matter. But "Design and creativity are natural partners. The quality of a design is determined by the integration of its parts to its whole. The design will work when the parts fit together well. Many compositional possibilities are invented and discarded during the design process. Likewise, creative thinking requires extensive exploration and innovative combinations. By looking at familiar elements in a new way and by combining ideas that have traditionally been separate, we can invent fresh ideas and create new images."

    This is an exert Launching the imagination. It was one of my second quarter books, and it's a first year design major's required reading and has without a doubt been the basics to every project i have had over the past two years. My teacher is the current editor of this comprehensive guide to basic design.

    This said i would say Yes, i believe originality is important to art. Unless you're trying to fuck that slut you know... Then passing off anything as your own will work, just remember anything that can be done to her already has. She'll love you for it though. That's from Chasing Amy i believe.
     

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    #11
    Bluelight Crew Pander Bear's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Petersko
    Well...

    Pablo Picasso - 1881-1973

    Salvador Dali 1904-1989


    I would argue that, of the two, Dali is the better "artist".

    Picasso did widely admired work in existing genres, but Dali completely redefined surrealism. Dali's work evoked stronger emotional responses (both positive and negative), carried much deeper implications, and was considerably more "original".

    At least in my opinion.
    How can one "completely redefine" something, while all the while continueing within the same framework of ONE MAN'S ideas. All surrealist work claims to be an exploration of the subconcious in Freudian terms. Surrealists were hacks: Dali lied when he claimed that he took the shortest naps ever in order to capture what was going on in his sleep, and Miro lied when he claimed to stay up for 12 days, only having eaten a single fig, to paint what he saw. Giacometti invented ficticious explanations for the inspirations for his sculptures. All of this was done in order to garner media attention, and to lend validity to the art by moving it somewhere closer to a "Surreality" that was already defined by other people. Picaso, on the other hand, is credited with inventing entore schools of art. While that credit may be misplaced, Picasso is still much closer to the genesis of his ideas than Dali was to his.
     

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    #12
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    Read a book on his work and you'll see what I mean. It isn't nearly as complex conceptually as it is visually... and concepts are often re-used over an over again.
    I have. Some of his work isn't complex conceptually, but some of it certainly is.

    I have a print of his in my bedroom - "The Temptation of St. Anthony" . I think that one qualifies as complex.
     

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    #13
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    As for film, I would like people to appreciate true art in film rather than going to see the bullshit big budget films and praising them to be masterpieces.
    so what is the definition of "true art". my answer - there isn't one.

    some people see certain QT works as true art.

    can you define "true art"? do you believe, honestly, that it is possible to truly define "art"?

    alasdair
    Last edited by alasdairm; 30-04-2008 at 05:41.
     

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    Originally posted by DigitalDuality
    the entire subject of art is completely subjective..
    exactly my point.

    phrases like "real art" or "true art" or "right/wrong reasons to like <art>" are, in my opinion, meaningless.

    alasdair
     

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    #15
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    i don't think they're "meaningless".. i think they're a destructive force towards art personally. Anything or anyone that continues to box in art with limits.. any limits whatsoever, denies art the freedom in order for it to be expressed in the vision of each artist and the interpretation from the audience alike.

    For you to completely shut something out of the qualification of being art, you're taking away the power of art.. and that's the power of opinion, freedom, expression, varying intellectual levels, emotion, or just plain entertainment (which is an art as well)

    Why should art be forcibly be made to meet public opinion? Where it be a judgement factor from society, or a written law about obscenity? If you box yourself in, that's your chosing on your art.. but tell me, when others box you in by deeming what is and isn't art to you.. where's that freedom of expression? If someone is goin to put a limit or what you can and cannot do, what's the point to begin with? Doesn't anyone see how detrimental that is to creativity?

    Whether its too abstract, or a corporate construct, not original enough 'for you and your pretenious ass', or too obscene for your virgin ears and conservative eyes, who the hell are you to put up the walls on it?
    Last edited by DigitalDuality; 15-11-2003 at 04:21.
     

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    #16
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    Entertainment is merely a flavor of art.....just as shock is..
    just as sex appeal is..

    Do i think the likes of Dada, surrealism, cubism, classical music, opera, and theater hold a higher artistic value in my own personal view, than say Britney Spears? or Fast and Furious? yes. Do i draw a line in the sand and go.. ok.. that's not art. No.
     

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    #17
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    Originally posted by DigitalDuality
    i don't think they're "meaningless".. i think they're a destructive force towards art personally.
    ...
    Whether its too abstract, or a corporate construct, not original enough 'for you and your pretenious ass', or too obscene for your virgin ears and conservative eyes, who the hell are you to put up the walls on it?
    hey DD

    your message put into words what i was trying to say but, for a few reasons, was unable to. i agree wholeheartedly


    The implication is that, if one CANNOT judge it for it's artistic value, then it isn't intended to be a piece of art and is more aimed at entertainment.

    The term i used "true art" refered to pieces of art that are intended to be seen as art rather than entertianment.
    in what sense can, for example, kill bill not be judged for its artistic value? it's clear you are, for a variety of reasons, unable (or unwilling?) to do this. others are quite able to judge it for its artistic value.

    as such that makes it art (whether you like it or not).

    i think also that we're omitting the axis of time. it's surely not hard to conceive of the idea that some artists were viewed as mainstream/entertainment/disposable/whatever in their day but are today viewed as creators of 'true art' (your term).

    alasdair
    Last edited by alasdairm; 30-04-2008 at 05:42.
     

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    #18
    Bluelight Crew Pander Bear's Avatar
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    Originally posted by alasdairm
    i think also that we're omitting the axis of time. it's surely not hard to conceive of the idea that some artists were viewed as mainstream/entertainment/disposable/whatever in their day but are today viewed as creators of 'true art' (your term).
    alasdair
    An interesting historical instance of this:

    During the European colonial period in Africa, there was a great demand for small carvings in ivory and wood. They were mass produced by semi-skilled workers in shops along the west coast of Africa. At the time, they were regarded as little more than trinkets by the Europeans. They served a non-aesthetic purpose, saying "I went to ghana and all I got was this lousy thing ". Most were discarded, the way we tend to discard most of the things we buy that we don't ascribe attributed of "uniqueness" and "beauty" to. Today, these carvings, usually no larger than 4 inches, can only be found in museums and private collections of so-called "primitive art". The change in opinion has a little to do with scarcity, but more to do with the new set of values we agree as a population to judge them by.

    All appraisal of art is subjective, whether it is agreed upon by many, or not.

    RE: souny's last post:

    We may choose to call something art, or if we regard everything as an art, call somethings "high art", becuase we have free will, and the choice to do so is ours, not the film makers. Every product you use was sold to you to make money for the product's creator; The product's purpose is to make money. However, there are tons of things that you can value for thier artistic merit: cars and clothes come to mind.
     

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    #19
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    Some films are not intended to be art and therefore are not art.

    If the film maker doesn't define what he is making as art, then why do you?
    because the only meaningful way to define what is and is not art is entirely subjective.

    if a film maker (e.g. QT) defines what he is making as art, why don't you?

    my answer? what atlas said

    alasdair
    Last edited by alasdairm; 30-04-2008 at 05:42.
     

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    #20
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    you can judge what you personally percieve as its artistic quality... but you cannot define and dictate that. Your opinion on the matter is subjective.

    Something that's meant to be completely entertaining.. no message, no revolutionary advances in brush strokes, word association, camera angles, etc... can be entirely creative and artistic.. agree?

    There wasn't one moment during Amelie that i wasn't entertained, though nothing too terribly original in that film.. though it is a great film. But there's absolutely nothing in it.. that hasn't been done before. Yes it might be a breath of fresh air.. yes it might not be cliched in relation to hollywood blockbuster romantic comedies...but its surely not original. It is purely entertainment.. and i place an artistic value to it. A high one at that.

    Muscial group Mindless self indulgence... not really completely original.. again... creative..and a breath of fresh air, but very creative... Pure entertainment, but it's still art.
     

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    #21
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    oh.. and the way you typed that last post... not original.
     

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    #22
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    apart from the energy nothing is created in a vaccum.
    I would have to say its the origionality of the implementation.
     

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