Friday, 14 June 2013

Things That Bemuse Me #8 - Art

'We have art in order not to die of the truth.' - Friedrich Nietzsche
Where do I start with this topic, hm? I've recently been reading the beautiful Charlotte Eriksson's book Empty Roads & Broken Bottles: In search for The Great Perhaps and it's made me think about a lot of things. If you aren't familiar with Charlotte, The Glass Child, she is a Swedish musician who left behind her home and set out with nothing on a journey that changed her life into a work of art. Her songs, writings and personality are simply inspirational and she has the social media following that proves it.

Something which I have begun to ponder, thanks to her, is this: how exactly do you define 'art', and could you really decide on a formula for it as so many people seem to do? Is it defined by how many records you sell, or how much money you make for somebody else? Is it defined by numbers, letters, reviews written by so-called 'experts' in their field or is it just simply a means of expression? Is it craftsmanship? Does it have to have been fuelled by pain, love, suffering and joy, or can it just be created scientifically?

The purpose of this post is not to write a conclusive answer, but rather to allow you to ponder with me on the phenomena that is art. A phenomena that is fundamental to our very existence in many ways.

If I were to give you an answer, I would tell you that art is a complicated blend of all or some of the above. Even listening to some of the crap that is churned out on mainstream radio there are elements of pure art somewhere in there you just have to listen closely to find them.

For example, if you were to dislike something does that make it any less like art? People disliked the works of Monet and Van Gogh in their times, but just because one person didn't like them it didn't mean that nobody else did. Leah McFall on BBC's talent show The Voice is another example of this. She has a voice like marmite - I love it personally, but I know people who completely hate it.

At the end of the day though, it doesn't matter whether you love or hate something because if it was still born out of passion, love, faith, belief or conviction then it can still surely be classed as art. In Leah's case she is still clearly a very talented vocalist with excellent control - which you can appreciate even if you don't like the sound. So that is my job for you today.

I ask you today to please go and listen to something you wouldn't normally listen to, read something you wouldn't read or admire something you would never look at and try to at least see why it is art. Try to appreciate the meaning behind it, the meaning in it, or the reason it exists - or find the one aspect that you can do that with. If you are a musician then just be you and show your fans.  Tell your story, because art must live on.

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