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  #1  
Old 01-10-2008, 02:09 AM
cooljamesx1 cooljamesx1 is offline
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a philosophical one

Given the potential power of art to cause a reaction in viewers, how much responsibility does the artist hold in respect to the reactions? Say somebody sees something I've done and interprets the work in a way that makes some sense but I didn't consider at the time of creation, and then takes my artwork as justification somehow to, say, go kill a bunch of people for religion. how much is my fault?

I'm just considering that we take art making as a good thing in general, regardless of our opinions on certain styles, etc., but can we go on ignoring the fact that art may have a bad side.

in the end it doesn't matter and I don't feel much about getting into an argument about what good and bad are or whether they exist or not, but now that I've stated the subject I imagine thats where this discussion would go. just something to think about...

I think I'll just try to make stuff and quit wasting my time asking stupid questions like this.
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  #2  
Old 01-10-2008, 07:25 AM
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jOe~ jOe~ is offline
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Re: a philosophical one

Show me what you've made. Promise I won't kill anyone.
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  #3  
Old 01-10-2008, 07:52 AM
fused fused is offline
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Re: a philosophical one

I've heard that the only stupid questions are the one's you don't ask.
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  #4  
Old 01-10-2008, 09:26 AM
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GlennT GlennT is offline
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Re: a philosophical one

You cannot control or be responsible for how someone will act in reaction to a work of art, but you are responsible for the effect that it has on people. It is a simple law of cause and effect, sometimes called karma.
There seem to be a number of artists who couldn't care less about such things, especially if taking responsibility meant making less money, or having less notariety (and publicity).

If your intentions in art are sincerely honorable, then you have little to worry about in regards to making negative karma from the fruits of your labor.
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Old 01-10-2008, 11:50 PM
cooljamesx1 cooljamesx1 is offline
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Re: a philosophical one

thanks glenn for that attempt at a definitive answer. since we could play the definition game all day with this stuff, I guess it comes down to living with yourself; to stop thinking so much and do what feels right. Just as I suspected...

joe- don't know, guess I'll just have to take your word for it haha

fused- is that a fact?
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  #6  
Old 01-11-2008, 11:37 AM
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StevenW StevenW is offline
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Re: a philosophical one

I don't even think you're responsible for the effect on people. Primarily because you have no control over what that effect is, but even more importantly because it's self-aggrandizing to suppose that you'll have any effect in the first place. It's certainly true that one can make shock-art to gain noteriaty, fame, riches, take cheap shots at whatever (cartoonists make their living doing that) and it would be a simple matter to carve Hillary Clinton performing fellatio on Osama-bin-Laden for instance and get national coverage in the shock and awe art circles. I'd never do it because to me the idea is dispicable, despite my not being a Clinton fan...
On the other hand, if you did two relatively non-descript people in a similar act it could be considered quite lovely and I'm sure the Romans and Greeks would approve..

Some art intellectual, I forget who, poised the question around Picasso's time (and I am paraphrasing)..

Do artists set the standard for society at-large, paving new roads for the masses to follow or do they simply record and map it?

I never came up with an answer to that question myself.
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  #7  
Old 01-11-2008, 08:23 PM
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fritchie fritchie is offline
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Re: a philosophical one

Basically I'm with GlennT, as not uncommonly. Be honest with yourself, and if you're not intrinsically a sadist or something similar, you should be OK with what you do (and with the law also).
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Old 01-12-2008, 06:57 AM
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evaldart evaldart is offline
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Re: a philosophical one

Artists who would draw attention to themselves by the proliferation of imagery that is purposed towards the arousal of the shock and ire of any portion of humanity are proving themselves uninspired, bored and disabled. There are plenty of "regular folk" out their with so-directed vocations and obsessions who don't mind forsaking their possibilities for advancement by whiling away their days grubbing for the notice of the neanderthals around them. Artists must reach far higher.

Could be that work that does not even impact another single person is far better than any visual drivel set forth maligned by obvious and pre-meditated manipulations of the reviled and the inciting.

Rebel rousers exist in great numbers, drawing satisfactions from the effects of their ripplings. Usually not smart enough to be insidious, their efforts pounce upon simple human sensitivities. A cheap shot. And when this all results in the formation of angry mobs and lynchings, no worries, dont be ahamed, it was not one of US, an artist, doing all this...just an imposter.
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  #9  
Old 01-12-2008, 10:24 AM
anatomist1 anatomist1 is offline
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Re: a philosophical one

I became interested in this issue from a different angle. From the start, many of my sculptures had sharp bits and were literally dangerous to viewers. It started me to thinking about how much responsibility I might have if people were injured by the sculpture.

My concerns were more about concrete, legal liability than the esoteric moral kind. I had been aware of the "moral" issue since my early teens, when I learned about the parents of a teen who committed suicide who subsequently sued Judas Priest for causing it with one of their albums. That struck me as heinous and stupid then, and it still does now. If any outside influence could be blamed in that situation, I'm going to guess that the kid's 50,000+ hours of exposure to his mouth-breathing parents had more influence than the dozen or so he spent listening to an album. However, I don't think they are to blame either.

People are responsible for their own behavior, period, as far as I'm concerned. I don't care if Priest put out a single called "Hey Raymond Belknap! Kill yourself now!" They still aren't responsible. It's called free speech.

So I guess I think the same thing about dangerous sculpture. Anyone who buys it and displays it is taking their chances. It's obvious the thing has spikes or razor blades or whatever on it. If you get hurt by it, it's either your dumbass fault or an accident.

This led me to come up with a bunch of sculpture/installation ideas dealing with the idea of danger to the viewer, all completely elective. I envisioned a show where one had to walk across a slippery surface to get to the main exhibits. These might include a working gallows with clear, posted instructions on how to hang yourself, various pieces that might electrocute or cut you, with the option of avoiding injury either obvious or clearly posted on each. One would have to reach through a tube festooned on the inside with steak knife blades and nails to get at the Hors d'ourves... you get the idea.

Of course, this exhibit would get the artist sued, but I don't think it should.
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  #10  
Old 01-12-2008, 10:33 AM
anatomist1 anatomist1 is offline
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Re: a philosophical one

Also, as far as the idea of someone taking your art and using it as a symbol or justification for doing something you don't like: It may not be your responsibility, but if it happens, it could easily become your responsibility in the court of public opinion. This happened to Friedrich Nietzsche. The Nazis took bits and pieces of his writings and used them as part of their self-justification and propaganda. Despite the efforts of generations of subsequent philosophy scholars to show a more complete picture of Nietzsche's work, and the existence of plenty of evidence that he despised actual proto-nazi, racist people he encountered in his life, he is still widely considered to be a Nazi philosopher.
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