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z10
03-31-2008, 01:24 AM
So, does art have any tangible, measurable benefits?

or does the sheer feeling of awe while looking at a sculpting of michelangelo or listening to beethoven's climatic 9th symphony present benefit enough for mankind to continue pursuing it?

Cranky
03-31-2008, 01:36 AM
Glad to see you've started this thread, Z. I'll have to pass on posting on it for the moment, unfortunately.

Will check back in when less fuzzy in the brain. :D

Ruv Draba
03-31-2008, 02:48 PM
So, does art have any tangible, measurable benefits?
Yes it does, but they're seldom the most important.

In a utilitarian view, you can imagine art as a way of taking raw materials, adding value to them through processing and assembly and delivering something whose total value is greater than the sum of its parts. While this may not be the case in all art, I think it's true in enough art to demonstrate measurable benefits at least some of the time.

For example, is your knowledge of anatomy and skill in sculpture good enough to produce something as accurate as Michelangelo's David? Mine is not. Yet in studying David I can improve my knowledge of both anatomy and sculpting. I can calculate the equivalent cost of growing this knowledge some other way (say, through a $10 book), and multiply it by the number of students who study this sculpture (say, 100,000 per year), and that gives me a lower bound on David's nett worth (say, $1,000,000 per year - whether or not any charges $10 to see the sculpture). Bear in mind that David is now 500 years old. It cost Michelangelo only 4 years of his life to make (far less than the human development cost of the first version of MS Word say), and it has more than repaid the investment in his time as a didactic tool (will the current version of MS Word last 500 years, d'ye think? :) )

But I don't believe that this is David's real material value. I believe that its real material value is more closely associated with the decisions I make about myself, my society, my relationships based on what I know. If it happens that David teaches me something important about these things, that can completely change the character of my decisions, and those decisions propagate and multiply over time in social and human capital. Here's an illustration.

I have been a professor and presently run a consulting company. Suppose that I believe that young men are worthless to educate, train and manage (I don't believe this but some teachers and managers do). Suppose that after viewing David, I then see the nobility and vulnerability in the sculpture as an exemplar of young men, and this makes me realise that I need to nurture young men for tomorrow. Suppose that I bring that insight and belief back to my work -- in other words, David transforms my opinions and perceptions -- a quality for which art is renowned.

In the course of my working life, I might touch the lives of hundreds or thousands of young men, and if I am changed from being contemptuous of young men to being responsible for them then that is the number of young men who may prosper under my teaching or management. They in turn may affect hundreds or thousands of young men each themselves... Over time this produces a nett social impact that even MS Word cannot rival, and all because a talented artist 500 years ago chose to make a sympathetic study in male youth.

This is why I believe that it's the transformative benefits of art that are the most valuable. Art can make arguments and deliver insights that you can't find anywhere else, and they can change us forever.

Of course, a lot of art doesn't do this -- and the art that does isn't always a masterpiece. So in evaluating the worth of investing in art from a social capital perspective I believe that we must do it a bit like shares... You invest diversely but wisely, so that on average, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Can art also damage social capital? Yes, I believe that it can. I think that artists who aspire to some sense of professional ethics must consider the potential impacts of their art, and ensure there is adequate focus, appropriateness, context and balance in the work to have reasonable likelihood of delivering a positive outcome. Many artists would like to be free from accountability in expressing whatever they like "It's just art"/"It's just entertainment", but in practice I believe that the artists who are, are also free from professional ethics.

In short, I don't think that you can have it both ways: to claim that art is valuable social capital yet somehow universally benign and free from social responsibility.

josephwise
03-31-2008, 07:56 PM
I believe a very tangible benefit of art is that it gives us new vocabulary. I don't know if that theory holds water, linguistically speaking.

But the phrase, "He intimidated his competitors into cooperating" means so much less than the phrase, "He gave him an offer he couldn't refuse."

And to say "Mona Lisa smile" communicates an idea very well, where it would be difficult to describe that same idea in other words.

Higgins
04-01-2008, 12:48 AM
So, does art have any tangible, measurable benefits?

or does the sheer feeling of awe while looking at a sculpting of michelangelo or listening to beethoven's climatic 9th symphony present benefit enough for mankind to continue pursuing it?

I having been wondering about this myself. One problem I have with non-aesthetic evaluations of art is that lots of arts are no longer in the current cultural domain. The best example of the weird effects this "not quite art as we know it" (along the lines of Star Trek's "not life as we know it") is what can be (very confusingly) referred to as "Classical Art" which I worked over a little in the threads cited here (with a visit to the Renaissance or two mixed in):


http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=64279


http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=78744


http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=62824


http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=60414

dgiharris
07-02-2008, 07:35 AM
So, does art have any tangible, measurable benefits?

or does the sheer feeling of awe while looking at a sculpting of michelangelo or listening to beethoven's climatic 9th symphony present benefit enough for mankind to continue pursuing it?

I think in a very shrewd sense, it does.

Take the amount of revenue generated in the entertainment industry. If you account for music, movies, t.v., radio, internet related entertainment, then it is the Trillions of dollars per year worldwide.

If you look at the quality of life of every culture of every people on the planet, you will see that there is a component of their 'life' that is dedicated to art. Be it in dance, song, artwork, stories, writings, etc.

It is an intrical part of the human condition

Mel...

Certain_Entropy
07-08-2008, 07:44 PM
I think Nietzsche says it the best

"Without art we would be nothing but foreground and live entirely in the spell of that perspective which makes what is closest at hand and most vulgar appear as if it were vast, and reality itself." - The Gay Science

Higgins
07-08-2008, 07:58 PM
I think Nietzsche says it the best

"Without art we would be nothing but foreground and live entirely in the spell of that perspective which makes what is closest at hand and most vulgar appear as if it were vast, and reality itself." - The Gay Science

Couldn't you say that about anything? Fine Cuisine? Astrology?
Agriculture? Spleenectomies? Medical Science? Botany?
Road rage? Picnics? High energy plasma experiments? Wigs?
Lipstick, energentic experiments with high heels? Pasta? For example?

AMCrenshaw
07-09-2008, 01:18 AM
Well! For me, art is the act of creative discovery. It is another form of communication, another way to tell a story, to express, to shed our skins like snakes so that the future will know of us. In making art we reveal ourselves, and the society that has produced this art. Essentially the same goes for studying "classic" art.

My particular perspective on this issue is best articulated, I suppose, in a book called The Mirror and the Lamp.

AMC

p.s.

"Couldn't you say that about anything? Fine Cuisine? Astrology?
Agriculture? Spleenectomies? Medical Science? Botany?
Road rage? Picnics? High energy plasma experiments? Wigs?
Lipstick, energentic experiments with high heels? Pasta? For example?"

Of course you could. And these are forms of art (in my opinion), even if Webster might disagree.

t0neg0d
07-09-2008, 08:12 AM
I have known two Arts in my life...

and both where @$$holes. Can I say that here?

Phoebe H
08-03-2008, 11:12 AM
I had the following posted on the wall of my writing space for several years. I have no idea where it came from.

Art is the exploration of the ambiguous.

As for what that means to me, it is that Art is the best medium we have to explain that which cannot be explained merely with straightforward words.

fullbookjacket
09-17-2008, 05:09 AM
Art is almost as old as intelligence. Homo sapiens painted on cave walls in France, but you can bet that ephemeral, non-permanent art goes way back beyond that.

Ringo Starr, not the most gifted Beatle by any stretch, wrote "Octopus's Garden." The song is wonderful and whimsical and among my favorites. Ringo's inspiration? The octopus is one of the more intelligent creatures on the planet, with a creative ability for problem-solving. With this intelligence comes a penchant for art; octopi are known to gather attractive stones or other items from the sea floor and arrange them outside the den, for no apparent reason other than that they seem to enjoy the look of it. Hence, the "Octopus's Garden."

Popo Agie Flow
10-15-2008, 10:48 PM
So, does art have any tangible, measurable benefits?

or does the sheer feeling of awe while looking at a sculpting of michelangelo or listening to beethoven's climatic 9th symphony present benefit enough for mankind to continue pursuing it?

Bernard Berenson, an art critic, wrote my favorite quote:

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago."

In the context of your question, z, Berenson tells us that we must pursue new ways of seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and feeling everything in order to progress. So, "tangible, measurable benefits"? Perhaps a scientist would say, "no," but I say "Yes." Without improvement, we'll perish. Each person who sees Michalangelo's work or hears Beethoven's 9th for the first or five hundredth time interprets something new and different; when they comment on their perceptions, to an audience of one or 1,000, they further the "art" and cause others to consider their own derived meanings of the works. It's the discussion, the new visions, that perpetuate our being here.

Slainte,

Bob

Ray Dillon
11-05-2008, 02:45 PM
As far as tangible, measurable benefits go, art has given me a career, money, a beatiful and talented woman to spend a career and my life with (a be inspired by; she's an amazing artist!), and, subsequently, a son, a wonderful house, a car ... all of our belongings, pets, etc... Basically, it's given a poor kid in the middle of nowhere a life to cherish. It's also given me a way to communicate my thoughts and feelings and to express myself.

If you're talking about art from more of an appreciation standpoint, then back when I was just a kid staring at art and dreaming, it gave me hope, desire, and the drive to make a future for myself, because I had a compulsive need to create art and be around art.

Maybe that stuff doesn't fit into the category you're looking for, though. But, when I read the title, I began to think about the benefits I've discovered through art, so I thought I'd post.

Joanna
09-17-2009, 03:11 PM
hmm, short thread, from long ago..
What I read from this is that people don't care if art benefits them or not, and as far as individuals are concerned art can often be a relentless, all-consuming drive that causes many to live short, fraught lives. BUT to the rest of us who mainly consume... art seems to be a commodity like anything else, benificial as a cup of coffee, a shot of heroin, a frosted cupcake, a motor home... ok I dunno where Im going with these metaphors they were just the first things to spring to mind.

Some say art is cultural/biological trade-off: it benefits our genes by giving us status, even at a cost to the task of immediate survival.
Others (dunno where I heard it) that art is cheesecake for the mind, unneccessary but rewarding, because aesthetically beautiful things, like the taste of fat and sugar, signal survival benefits. Our brain is essentially addicted to them, as they are pure forms usually associated with beauty: nature, pleasant featured faces, female forms, heightened colours, soothing sounds and agreeable vocal intonation and sentiments.

The problem with this last one, the cheesecake for the mind idea is that some of the most emotionally powerful and moving art is more like chilli/vinegar/seawater/sprouts/radishes/ because the response we feel can be a mixture of pain, astonishment, sadness, bittersweet despair, anger, shock or even soul shattering crisis (that'll be the radishes). This is what real art can do, and I think should do, but for what reason and to what benefit I cannot say. Art is just irrational like that.

White-Tean
09-18-2009, 05:56 PM
Art doesn't always engage rhetoric or function as a piece of communication — that art still engages the brain however and can cause pleasure, and even something as simple as some modern art pieces can still be creating a valid statement about life/the universe/everything. Looking at art which is possibly straying more into design by being created with more strategy (not always, a lot of fine art features strategy and communication) or intent; art can be a piece of visual communication, and communication is always a necessary aspect of society.

I think people underestimate the function of visual communication and visual rhetoric.
But then, this is what I geek over and study — I'm currently writing an essay on the ideological underpinnings and myths at play in stationery, and how the stationery given to girls (pink, rainbow) is the type of stationery discriminated against by the larger hegemony and considered ‘unprofessional’ and frivolous.

WordLover
09-18-2009, 10:46 PM
So, does art have any tangible, measurable benefits?

or does the sheer feeling of awe while looking at a sculpting of michelangelo or listening to beethoven's climatic 9th symphony present benefit enough for mankind to continue pursuing it?
yes and yes.

When I see a painting by Michelangelo or Vermeer, it inspires me to pursue art. Sure, my pieces may never get the level of praise as those masters but its about contributing something to the world. Art is valuable in that it inspires and it serves as currency in some instances.

Right now I am working on a major 3D piece.

Higgins
09-19-2009, 01:03 AM
I having been wondering about this myself. One problem I have with non-aesthetic evaluations of art is that lots of arts are no longer in the current cultural domain.


Speaking of the non-aesthetic values of art...oddly enough, the place one could really have made a ton of money in investing in art would have been by purchasing art that was out of fashion. ie at some points in the past you could have made quite staggering sums by purchasing art that was the worst possible in terms of the aesthetics of the time and then selling it when it came (back) into fashion. My favorite example is that if you had bought 100 Symbolist paintings at about 50 dollars each in about 1962, you could have sold them for 1-2 thousand times that much about 10-20 years later.

Sean D. Schaffer
09-19-2009, 07:36 AM
So, does art have any tangible, measurable benefits?

or does the sheer feeling of awe while looking at a sculpting of michelangelo or listening to beethoven's climatic 9th symphony present benefit enough for mankind to continue pursuing it?

Yes. Art inspires people to move forward, to look within and also beyond themselves instead of at their present circumstances. At least that's what it does with me.

The moment art dies in our world, is the moment our world dies inside. When our world dies inside, and all hope is gone, then we as a species will stagnate and die. We will no longer search for answers to our deepest questions, but we will go on about life just doing our best to exist.

So yeah, art has tremendous value. If it didn't, Humanity probably would never have pursued it in the first place.

:)

Joanna
09-30-2009, 12:02 PM
art breathes new life into the tired old cliches of human existence.
Bit like wot I did to this thread.
yea I am awesome. dont forget it.

Joanna
09-30-2009, 12:13 PM
Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. To perform this difficult office it is sometimes necessary for him to sacrifice happiness and everything that makes life worth living for the ordinary human being. (Carl Jung)

nope.... not a lot of benefits here...

Art is a parasite.
bit like what I am on this thread.
yea. I suck.

truelyana
09-30-2009, 09:26 PM
Well! For me, art is the act of creative discovery. It is another form of communication, another way to tell a story, to express, to shed our skins like snakes so that the future will know of us. In making art we reveal ourselves, and the society that has produced this art. Essentially the same goes for studying "classic" art.

My particular perspective on this issue is best articulated, I suppose, in a book called The Mirror and the Lamp.

AMC

p.s.

"Couldn't you say that about anything? Fine Cuisine? Astrology?
Agriculture? Spleenectomies? Medical Science? Botany?
Road rage? Picnics? High energy plasma experiments? Wigs?
Lipstick, energentic experiments with high heels? Pasta? For example?"

Of course you could. And these are forms of art (in my opinion), even if Webster might disagree.

Well spoken, and I agree with you. I find that the creativeness discovery is a direct link to what/who we are inside. This inward depth is transformed into an outer means of expression as such our creativity thus equating Art. To me the expression coming from within is a direct reflection of many things, a physical life, a story, an inner world where ever we may be etc.. This like many other forms is another true expression of ourselfs in action. Like AMC has said, Art is found in everything, especially where human experience is concerned.