Re: (More) Cool sounds from outer space!

Subject: Re: (More) Cool sounds from outer space!
From: Michael Gogins (
Date: Mon Aug 01 2005 - 09:45:24 EDT

What a wonderful can of worms.

The definition of art depends upon one's theology, politics, and probably even one's brand of metamathematics or computer science. That much I think we can agree on! But I think there are other things we can agree on.

I think another thing we can all agree on, is that every human society known to us has made and used art. So, I think it's fair to say one can't be fully human without it.

Another thing that's pretty clear, is that there is no art without an art object, a physical phenomenon, even if it is as fleeting and evanescent as a mime at midnight or a string quartet behind a curtain or conceptual art carried in a pamphlet or on a whisper. No mind-to-mind transmission or private experience in art. It is physically transmitted.

Another thing beyond dispute is that art is not science, politics, or engineering. It does not make other things happen, at least not directly. You can't use it to study physics or get elected.

Another indisputable fact about art is that, for those with some exposure or connoisseurship, some art is far, far better than other art and one quality of the best art is a compelling power, an ability to pull you in and make you pay attention, to surprise you and almost possess you, to keep you humming the tune or re-telling the story or making your clothes a certain way.

Also another thing about art that's beyond dispute, some of it far outlasts its makers and even its culture and era of making and goes on to compel audiences far away from and long after it was made. So much so, that it contributes to forming later cultures at a fundamental level.

Another fact is that art is integrated into religious ritual in every last religion, and art is used to explicitly illustrate or convey religion. And art seems to do a better job at this than at conveying physics (with a minor nod towards science fiction literature).

Anyone want to dispute these things? I think they go a long way towards showing what art is.


-----Original Message-----
From: bill thompson <>
Sent: Aug 1, 2005 5:46 AM
Subject: Re: (More) Cool sounds from outer space!

i think we need to be careful relying on a dictionary
to define what art is. i'm not being an ass, but this
year i've been reading book after book on aesthetics
and if there's anything that's consistent, it's that
no 'definition' seems to be able to 'define' what art
is consistently (at least not from book to book,
author to author, or time period to time
period...perhaps that's the strength of art?...)

for me, it's better to talk about an 'aesthetic
experience' rather then trying to define art...then we
don't have to worry about if 'i' am communicating
'something' via 'art' too you...of if it's
'intentional' 'creative' or whatever...the focus moves
more to the experiencer, which is really where 'art''s not in the's in the

i happen to be able to have that experience listening
to beethoven (not so much mozart though) as well as
listening to buildings in the wind, found cassettes,
and cicadas at night. i honestly feel sad for people
(this isn't directed specifically at you) that
can't/don't have those experiences...they miss out on
SO MUCH BEAUTY for whatever reasons....because they're
not supposed to? or it's not valid? they feel silly? i
don't know.

for me, what i do know, is i don't care if it's 'art'
(or music, or sound art, or whatever)...i care about
what it sounds like, how i experience it.

words are tools, good ones! useful. but they're not
the thing in itself...point to the moon all you want,
just stop looking at my finger :)


--- "Jan L." <> wrote:

> If words mean something it makes discussion easier.
> Otherwise we can
> go back to grunting (which would be an interesting
> exercise ;=))
> Much as I dearly love the soundscape in the woods
> here - it is really
> wunderschoen but it is not art.
> On the other hand I have heard much EA that I think
> is pure bullshit.
> But I would call it art. Bad art in my opinion.
> Here is what wikipedia says:
> Characteristics of art
> - Requires creative perception both by the artist
> and by the audience
> - Elusive
> - Communicates on many levels and is open to many
> interpretations
> - Connotes a sense of ability
> - Interplay between the conscious and unconscious
> part of our being,
> between what is real and what is an illusion
> - Any human creation which contains an idea other
> than its
> utilitarian purpose.
> - That which is created with intention to be
> experienced as art
> /Jan L.
> 1 aug 2005 kl. 05.32 skrev Jean-Marc Pelletier:
> > Just in case, some found my original answer to
> > a bit short:
> >
> > Last week, we had an ea concert at our school.
> About half-way
> > through I got up and left. I even left in the
> middle of a piece,
> > which I reckon was rude, but I really didn't feel
> like staying any
> > longer. I went outside and laid in the grass,
> watching the stars
> > and listening to the chorus of cicadas, crickets
> and frogs,
> > accompanied by the wind brushing the nearby trees.
> I couldn't help
> > feeling that all of this was infinitely more
> beautiful and
> > interesting than anything I'd heard or seen in the
> half concert I
> > attended. This isn't a statement about art. It's
> not a statement
> > about music, not even about that particular
> concert, just my
> > current state of mind. I haven't bought all that
> many CDs recently,
> > and haven't really listened to those I did buy.
> Instead my
> > fascination for the order of the world around me
> has grown.
> >
> > I linked to the first sample, the one from Saturn,
> because of its
> > uncanny resemblance to 1960s SF soundtracks
> inspired by the Barons'
> > work. My use of the adjective "cool" was strictly
> tongue in cheek.
> > I was trying to capture a little of that 1960s
> camp in my choice of
> > words. I might have failed.
> >
> > The VLT recordings are somewhat different. As some
> people very
> > thankfully noticed, VLT transmissions just happen,
> by chance, to
> > fall right smack in the human frequency hearing
> range. Not only
> > that, the time-scale of the various events is such
> that there is no
> > need for any time compression. The setup needed to
> make these
> > emissions audible is simply radio receiver -> amp
> -> speaker. This
> > makes it an electroacoustic phenomenon. As in
> electrons to sounds.
> > This is the list of the Canadian *electroacoustic*
> community and I
> > thought this would be more than relevant.
> >
> > Just to re-iteratate: VLT recordings are 1 to 1
> mappings of electro-
> > magnetic disturbances associated with auroras.
> They are not
> > "illustrations" but simple transduction. Unless
> you are
> > unbelievably pendant, they *are* caused by auroras
> (in some cases
> > at least).
> >
> > I find the question of what is "art" or "music"
> spectacularly
> > boring. "Gesang der Junglinge", "Vingt regards sur
> l'enfant J�sus",
> > last week's cicada chorus and VLT emission
> recordings are all sonic
> > structures. As perceptible material, they all have
> value, be it
> > semantic or morphological. "Dawn chorus"-type of
> VLT are so-called
> > because they sound like the chorus of birds in the
> morning. They
> > are "beautiful" in part because they function in a
> programmatic
> > fashion, appealing to the listener's imagination.
> This
> > morphological proximity between "dawn chorus" VLT
> and birdsong
> > causes a number of semantic associations in the
> listener's mind.
> > Entire imaginary landscapes and sceneries arise
> before the mind's eye.
> >
> > In the end, it's all energy. The Pathetic Sonata,
> "Chiaroscuro",
> > VLT, me, you, this e-mail message. However, as I
> sentient being, I
> > choose to try to find beauty wherever I turn my
> ear or eye.
> >
> > Jean-Marc
> >
> >
> >
> >

"The more you think about things the weirder they seem." -Calvin

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