So, why is this piano cleaning and not post modern music? Isnít the whole point of post modernism to push the envelope and challenge our ideas of what constitutes art? The fast answer is ďyes, of courseĒ. However, art still has a definition. There are two ways in which we speak about the world. The first is that of science, that which measures the world. The second is art which describes our experiences, what we see, who we are and everything else in between. Rather than a passive measurement of how tall a tree is art would be something by which we would describe the grandeur of that same tree.
Art isnít a meaningless endeavor without any purpose. It also isnít a transcendent light that colors everything we see and touch. I would call it aesthetics with intent. A person who paints a landscape at dawn may just wish to describe that view to someone. It might be to say that something is really neat and pretty. Intent and description does not imply depth or cultural relevance. Yet, the intent in a painting may be to describe a feeling of renewal and rebirth through a sunrise. The more skilled the artist the more intricate the thoughts and feelings contained within the art. There is no mistake that art means aesthetics and skill.
Youíre yelling about my arrogance, arenít you? I bet youíre thinking about how narrow minded my definition is. What about the audience? What about our individual experiences? Well, hold on. Iím getting there.
Post modern art attempts to draw in its audience into the meaning of the piece more than a lot of other periods in history. Or more than we think of in other ages. It frequently asks the audience to decide whatever meaning there is to whatever medium is used. The main question put forward in many of the pieces is ďIs this art?Ē By the artist asking that very question the piece serves a purpose to describe the intent of the artist. The intent being that very question. It is an intent that makes art itself the very subject of the description in question. Itís all very Meta. Does that intent go away if the audience decides it is crap? No. The artist still has a purpose and meaning in the medium. It may fail in its mission. It might not be ďgood artĒ but it is still art. The reason I say this is that frequently the audience just doesnít get it at that time. Thatís why so many artistsí works arenít understood until they are dead. The construction, medium, tonality, brush strokes or whatever portion of the art just wasnít clearly understood at that time. Postmodernism has drawn the audience inward to seek its point. It has asked us to be introspective and further asks us what we hear, see, think and feel. In other words, it seeks to ask us what it is to be human rather than telling us. I often think that we have gone too far with it. Our first instinct is to speak our own opinion rather than listening to any intent by the artist at all. Iím not saying that art can be universally understood or that introspection is wrong.
Let me use an example. The only painter I get is Caravaggio. I get the dark and light and what I think heís trying to say with all that. I probably donít get it as much as someone who really understands painting. However, the darkness that surrounds the subject and the external light piercing that darkness Ė I get that on some level. Still, I donít go look at paintings or drawings that often. If I like something itís because I think itís pretty but my assessment usually stops there. Iím even worse with the introspective question type painters. I donít get any type of visual art all that much. I get something like Ben Chatwalks better because he incorporates some words to clue me in. I am best at understanding music. I like going to most concerts. I donít need the dancers to tell me whatís going on in the The Firebird ballet by Stravinsky. I can hear it. I bought a CD of music composed mainly by Takeshi Abo. In it I could hear the water dripping and the enclosed spaces. I could hear tension and times of relative calm. The pieces created mood for a game and did an excellent job of it. Does this mean then that painters arenít as good as musicians? No. Art by Picasso isnít invalid because I donít get it. It means I can understand one better than the other.
Art is ultimately a way for humans to communicate with other humans. Itís a way to try to move beyond the limitations of conventional language. Still, it is a human endeavor and as such it is limited. We can only describe so much. We can only understand so much. Just like in conversation there will be some people you understand more easily than others. That shouldnít stop anyone from taking the time to quietly listen to what some other artist is trying to say. Quiet yourself and try to see the intent behind the art. The artist might be to allow to you see who you are. However, the intent might be something far different and may describe the artist or some experience to you.
So, is the previous piece art or piano cleaning? It was most definitely piano cleaning. That was my sole intent and I used intervals and chords simply to make it more interesting for me. If it was pretty and you find it aesthetically pleasing then it would be no more art than a semi random wind chime. If you incorporate that non-art into this little treatise then it gets a little fuzzy. After all, what was the point?