Non-Art in Popular Culture Essay
Non-Art in Popular Culture
When discussing art in popular culture there are very few boundaries to adhere to. Almost any form of media can be considered as art. But not all works are good examples of art and there are several determining factors that help to decide on the artistic quality of a piece. This essay will discuss in response to the above quote the identifiable characteristics of what could be considered art in contemporary pop culture. It will deconstruct the some of the most prominent types of art in popular culture including street art, music video and advertisements or commercial art.
And under which circumstances are they considered to be art whether this is the intention of the piece, or the creative process that surrounds it or simply the aesthetic values that it holds. It will also discuss if works produced solely for commercial propaganda are still considered art. And if the artistic values of the work are influenced on the environment in which it resides. These three determining factors will help distinguish between art and non art in contemporary pop culture.
Art in popular culture varies widely in a range of creative forms and media. Popular culture or ‘pop’ culture has a heavy influence on much of the works that are created by artists today. (Gibbons, 2005, p. 1) These include all forms of street and public art including graffiti and stencil art that often make statements on pop culture. And also in a more formal environment including galleries and art museums where there is a large array of contemporary works which reflect on these elements of consumerism.
There are numerous well recognised artists that have concentrated much of their practice on consumerism and culture. Andy Warhol, is a founder in bringing consumerism to the high art scene in the 1960’s (Livingstone 1992), something that had not being done before. A more recent take on this concept is Takashi Murakami and the art movement ‘Super Flat’ which concentrates on Japanese pop culture and particularly anime and manga. (n. a 2009 Superflat art)
Art is not only influenced by popular culture but it makes up a large part of influential media for popular culture. This form of art can be recognised directly in advertising, music, music videos, cartoons and any other form of media that creatively puts forth a message, more often that not for commercial propaganda. This is not always the case but this lower form of more accessible art is completely open to the public because it is not hemmed in by the confines or “laws” of the gallery system or the museum.
(Stowers 1997) And it quite often forced into peoples lives, by occurring in a public space society are forced into viewing these creative works that promote popular culture through advertisements billboards television radio and generally in any public space just as they are exposed to graffiti art and vandalism. More often than not the environment in which the artwork resides in impacts the values that people give the piece but this is not the only thing that should be considered when depicting the piece as several factors impact the merit of the work.
These can include the creative process involved, the purpose of the work and the aesthetic values of the final piece. (Johnstone 2006) The creative process that is involved in creating an art piece may have huge effects on the final outcome. In some cases it’s the process that is the work, in others cases it can be just important in developing the meanings and values behind the work and also some pieces may not be understood fully until the intentional processes are understood. The creative process has being described in four steps these are Preparation, Incubation, Illumination and Implementation.
(Charlie, 2008) Going through this four step process is not always occur consciously but has an impact on the outcomes. (Konradsson 1999) Pieces that do not have a creative intention or process behind them can be severely limited in creative outcome and therefore have limited merit as art. In this case it severely relies on the aesthetic values that other people then place on the work. And if it has little appeal in terms of colour, line, balance, rhythm and other principles and elements and no creative meaning then is generally not considered to be art.
The purpose of the work can also impact the process of how a piece is created. Depending on whether it is for commercial use or purely artistic intentions there can be a lengthy design process which is very calculated in terms of design. The final impact the work is strongly controlled through the elements and principles of design. This is generally used in commercial art such as illustration, graphic design, and advertising and communication media. All these forms of creative work hold artistic value but are not necessarily considered art to the general public as it is not presented as art but takes on a different primary form, advertising.
(Gibbons 2005) This is a similar concept as street art or graffiti as it generally seen as a form of vandalism and can be considered as an eyesore. Though people are more likely to see graffiti for its artistic values and intentions as it dose not generally hold the same connotation as advertising. The reasons and values for why one might engage in graffiti art are as varied as the artists who produce it. A chief reason is the “prospect of fame and recognition of one’s artistic talent. Graffiti is also a form of self expression. The art as “writing” is a creative method of communicating with other writers and the general public.
” (Stowers 1997) What it communicates is the artist’s identity, expression, and ideas like all other art forms but is forced into the public eye unlike art in a gallery. Graffiti is fast becoming popular as a preferred art form of many contemporary artists and hold the same fundamental artistic intentions as any other art form. As art we see in galleries have purely the intentions of being art we are more likely to consider that it is art. (Hester 2007) And we find some way of connecting to it via feeling and aesthetic value or the appreciation of the process.
The placement of a piece in relation to its surroundings also impacts on the effect it has for example seeing an advertising piece in a gallery we would assume it to be art and created to make a statement about advertising. Where as if it were to be place on a billboard we would consider the primary reason is the promotion of a particular product. It is very difficult to define what art is exactly. According to many artistic directors and critics there is not one single definition of art.
Art historian Robert Rosenblum believes that “the idea of defining art is so remote [today]” that he doesn’t think “anyone would dare to do it. ” (Witcombe n. d)And that more or less anything can be considered as art. ” (Witcombe n. d) Goldman’s aesthetic theory (2005, 345) is of use to clarify the problem of location and presentation in relation to graffiti art. Goldman ( 2005, 346) claims that ‘art takes us to other worlds in a manner that is quite fulfilling sensually and aesthetically’ The are many determining factors that help us see the artistic values in works how we as individuals read and interpret these through out the work is a matter of pure personal opinion.
Some personal factors that establish our opinions on creative works are our knowledge and understanding of art or a piece in particular, likes and dislikes and how we relate to the piece. This combined with the values of the piece that include; the process, the intention, the environment in which it is placed and the visual aesthetic values of the work determine how we personally consider the impact of the work. Many people consider art as something appealing to the eye or ear but much of contemporary art is not like this and a greater understanding of the work is needed to gain an insight to the values is holds. (n. a. 2009)
For most people when art becomes hard or impossible to understand right away we tend to question its merit. This is particularly the case for graffiti as some may argue (Stowers 1997) even when it is in a gallery environment it is too hard to understand, though this should not be a determining factor to deciding whether is considered art as many art work considers deeper intrinsic values. Most of the opposition to graffiti art is due to ‘its location and bold, unexpected, and unconventional presentation,’ (Stowers 1997) but its presentation and often illegal location does not necessarily disqualify it as art either.
The major determining factor is the creative value “the ability to produce complicated pieces is what separates the tagger from the graffiti artist; graffitist for short. Taggers scribble and graffitists do art. ” (Stowers 1997) So as we can see there are many different forms of art in contemporary pop culture including those that are influenced by pop culture and those that influence pop culture. These can be all forms of Digital Media, advertising, illustration and music as well as art we see in galleries and street art.
Not all have the primary purpose of being art but all hold artistic and creative values that can be seen through the process the intention the aesthetic qualities and the surrounding of the work. Some seem to have the primary purpose of being only art while others are created for commercial propaganda. While the pieces that are generally considered art by the public, have a better aesthetic quality and are initially easier to understand there can not be any set connotations as to what it to be determined as art or non art.
And that it is purely what importance, feelings and values the individual viewing the work sees.
Charlie, 2008. Demystifying the Creative Process http://www. productiveflourishing. com/demystifying-the-creative-process/ (accessed 28/04/2010) Gibbons,J. 2005 Art and Advertising. P. 1-12 New York: I. B Tauris & co Ltd Goldman, A. 2005. Aesthetic Qualities and Aesthetic Value . in Aesthetics critical concept in philosophy J. O Young, p. 345-349 Oxon: Routledge. Hester, N 2007. Low and High: What is Art Anyhow http://www.monstersandcritics.com/