Presentation on theme: "1 Class 5: High & Low Art. 2 Ted Cohen: “High and Low Art, and High and Low Audiences” Thesis: Whether a work is “high” or “low” (or both) depends upon."— Presentation transcript:
1 Class 5: High & Low Art
2 Ted Cohen: “High and Low Art, and High and Low Audiences” Thesis: Whether a work is “high” or “low” (or both) depends upon a relation of the work with its audience, which may also be “high” or “low” (or both). Class 5: High & Low Art
8 Works & Their Audiences Class 5: High & Low Art Some works sustain two very different audiences (high and low), and some do not. Movies are essentially commercial. There are high and low audiences and works appropriate to each. A single person may join both audiences. A single work may find favor with both audiences.
9 Ontology Class 5: High & Low Art Is it the same person who enjoys high and low art? Is it the same work that is enjoyed by high and low audiences? -Pierre Menard’s Don Quixote
10 Artists & Their Audiences Class 5: High & Low Art For whom does the artist think he is making art? -Himself? -Everyone? -A “high” audience? -A “low” audience? Consider: -Walton’s “categories” -Carroll’s “mass art” How much does an audience member have to be like the artist to enjoy a work which the artist created for his own satisfaction?
11 Artists & Their Audiences (cont’d) Class 5: High & Low Art “If a is the artist, A is the intended audience, and x is the work, then when a thinks of himself as making x for A, does he take himself to be a member of A? If not, if the artist thinks of himself as making his art for someone else, then I will call this kind of case a case of “fraudulence.” (139) “If I do find J funny, then, we might say, I expect members of A to find it funny because I think they are like me. If I do not find J funny, but nonetheless think that someone might find it funny, why do I think that I do not find it funny? Well, perhaps it is that J is too simple for me, or too vulgar, or something like that. Or, quite different, perhaps it is because I do not understand J.” (139)
12 What’s Wrong With Popular Art? Class 5: High & Low Art On what basis does one object to “popular art”? -Objection #1: “Slightness” (non-moral basis) -Objection #2: The artist has no commitment to his art: his art will find an audience, though he is not a member of it. Without personal conviction, the “artist” becomes a “prostitute” (more like moral failure). -This doesn’t just apply to “popular” art. Is there a significant moral or aesthetic difference between pandering to high or low audiences?
13 Parochial Art & Audiences Class 5: High & Low Art Parochial art intends not to be universal. Parochial audiences sometimes appreciate being parochial. Essential vs. contingent parochialism. -“[O]ne thinks that the appreciators and the nonappreciators are only “contingently” what they are, and any of them “might” belong to the other group.” (141)
14 Bilateral Art & Audiences Class 5: High & Low Art “After my experience with North by Northwest in Colorado, I have come to think that many Hitchcock movies are bilateral.” (141) Communities consist in a shared response to something (for example, a work). (1) The community or a work is its audience. (2) The common bond unifying the audience is an acknowledgement of sameness or feelings regarding a work. (3) There is no specific “sameness” in a bilateral work.
15 Bilateral Art & Audiences (cont’d) Class 4: The Nature of Art The differences between objects of appreciation are not always divided into High/Low camps. “When you love a work of art, you are likely to want others to care for it as well. Does it matter to you whether they like it for the same reasons as you?” (141) -Taste vs. Value? Case #1: Different audiences like the same thing. Case #2: Difference audiences like different things.
16 Bilateral Art & Audiences (cont’d) Class 5: High & Low Art Appreciation of very good movies tends to be connected to liking movies in general. (142) -This does not tend to apply across arts – liking very good movies does not tend to be connected to liking painting or television in general, for instance. -People who do not like an art form generally find a work good only in special cases. -There is a group of people who are eager to confine their appreciation to very good works.
17 Considerations Class 5: High & Low Art What is it that makes “high” art “high”? What is it that makes “high” audiences “high”? If a work reaches high and low, is it both a high and low work?
18 Questions & Problems (1)How seriously should we take the high/low art distinction? (2)What is the relation (if any) between “mass” art and “low” art? (3)If a work is intended for popular consumption, but is only appreciated by a select few, is it “high” art or “low” art? (Plan 9 From Outer Space) Class 5: High & Low Art
19 James O. Young: “Artworks and Artworlds” Thesis: Works are not conferred arthood status by a single Artworld; rather, works are artworks relative to artworlds. Class 5: High & Low Art Background: Young is responding to an early version of Dickie’s Institutional Theory, where he argued that a work becomes “art” by having the status conferred upon it by members of the Artworld.
20 Are good things good because the gods love them, or do the gods love them because they are good? What happens when the gods disagree among themselves? Class 5: High & Low Art Euthyphronic Issue: Are things art because members of the Artworld say they are, or does the Artworld say they are art… because they are? What happens when the Artworld is divided about a particular work?
21 What if Andy, Arthur, Clement, and Peggy (all qualified members of the Artworld) are divided on whether some work is “art”? Class 5: High & Low Art Intra-Artworld Disagreements It seems the work will both be and not be art, which is impossible.
22 Class 5: High & Low Art Solution: A work is only art if the Artworld is unanimous about its being so? -Response: As soon as one member of the Artworld has conferred status upon the item, it is art, even if the other members of the Artworld don’t know it. -Problem: The other members of the Artworld have conferred non-art status upon the item. This will lead to conflicting art/not-art status being conferred on the same item.
23 Complication : Unanimity in the Artworld is sure to be a rarity. -Response: Art is what some sufficiently large segment of the Artworld accepts as art: critical mass. Class 5: High & Low Art -The same problem arises: the minimum number of Artworld members required to confer art status and the minimum number of members required to confer non-art status may both be reached for a given work. So a work could still be both art and non-art.
24 Solution? What if, say, 51% of the Artworld needs to agree that a work is art, or 51% that it is non-art? Or we might set critical mass for arthood at one member, provided non- arthood requires agreement of all members. Class 5: High & Low Art -Problem: How do we set the critical mass amount non- arbitrarily? †Any small amount will fly in the face of the equally- qualified majority of the Artworld, who feel the work is not art. †If the critical mass consisted of a large majority, what are we to make of avant-garde works? Are they not artworks upon their creation?
25 “Already it is widely accepted that different works are artworks only relative to the artworlds of particular times. Fountain did not exist in the sixteenth century, but it is fair to say that, if it had, it could not have been an artwork. […] Rather, it is an artwork relative to a contemporary artworld and a non-artwork relative to a sixteenth century artworld.” (335) Class 5: High & Low Art Proposal
26 “We should treat disagreement within our own times just as we treat disagreement between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. We should, again, relativize arthood to an artworld. Relative to the dada or avant-garde artworld, Fountain is an artwork. Relative to the conservative artworld, it is a non-artwork. There is no absurdity in saying that a work is an artwork relative to one artworld and a non-artwork relative to another. (335) Class 5: High & Low Art Proposal
27 There is a planet, very much like ours – the only difference being that, on our Earth, members of the Artworld confer arthood upon a urinal, while on Twin Earth, the same members confer non-arthood status upon an all-but-numerically-identical item. The same thing happens on our Earth: “Earth is populated not by a unified artworld but a number of mutually hostile and suspicious artworlds.” (335) Class 5: High & Low Art Twin-Earth Experiment
28 The principles of an artworld guide its members (who have mastered these principles) in conferring arthood status. No artworld recognizes the credentials of the others. “The only consistent position for the institutional theorist to adopt is the view that both artworlds can confer arthood and non-arthood, but only within their own purlieus.” (336) Class 5: High & Low Art Artworlds
29 Questions & Problems (1)Is the not-conferring of art status on an object the same as the conferring of not-art status on an object? Does this make a difference for Young’s argument? (2)Does it make sense to say that an item is an artwork relative to a given time, and not an artwork relative to another? Does it make more sense to say that it had not yet become an artwork? (3)Does Young’s hypothesis describe the tension between the “high” artworld and the “low” artworld? Does it dissolve the problem of “high” and “low” art? (4)Won’t there still be disagreement within these artworlds? Can’t one be a member of both artworlds? Class 5: High & Low Art