Can silence be music? “The Story Behind John Cage’s 4’33″”

Knowledge Questions: What is art? What is the role of the artist’s intentions when interpreting art?

Discovering uncharted sounds became Cage’s trademark. Where other composers heard noise, he heard potential. Pots. Drum brakes. Rubber duckies. It wasn’t provocation; it was necessity. The world was brimming with sounds musicians had never used before—it was as if all the world’s painters had agreed to restrict themselves to only a few colors. Cage heard every squeak and honk as a possible ingredient for music…

People thought 4’33” was a joke or some kind of avant-garde nose-thumbing. During a post-concert discussion, as Cage biographer David Revill notes, one local artist stood up and suggested, “Good people of Woodstock, let’s drive these people out of town.”

https://mentalfloss.com/article/59902/101-masterpieces-john-cages-433

In the Maverick that night, one could likely hear the sound of the breeze in the trees, rain pattering lightly on the rooftop, the chirping of crickets, a dog barking aimlessly somewhere in the distance, the sound of bodies shifting their weight on creaky pine benches, the sound of breath being drawn and being expired.

This was music for John Cage. And unlike compositions designed to make the outside world fall away, here was a music that, when it engaged you, made the present world open up like a lotus blossoming in stop-motion photography. It was all very much in keeping with Cage’s Zen world view, which emphasized the power of unmediated experience and direct perception of what Cage called the “isness” of life.

https://www.npr.org/2000/05/08/1073885/4-33

Who decides what art means?

There is a question that has been tossed around by philosophers and art critics for decades: how much should an artist’s intention affect your interpretation of the work? Do the artist’s plans and motivations affect its meaning? Or is it completely up to the judgment of the viewer? Hayley Levitt explores the complex web of artistic interpretation.

Impact of reading fiction on emotion and social skills

Literature’s Emotional Lessons

Characters are fictitious abstractions, and, without actors to bring them to life and makeup and digital tricks to make the drama feel real, students may strictly do the analytical work teachers expect without the interference of a significant emotional response. That’s a bad thing. An emotional response should be part of the curriculum.

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/04/educating-teenagers-emotions-through-literature/476790/

In the Minds of Others

Recent research shows that far from being a means to escape the social world, reading stories can actually improve your social skills by helping you better understand other human beings. The process of entering imagined worlds of fiction builds empathy and improves your ability to take another person’s point of view. It can even change your personality. The seemingly solitary act of holing up with a book, then, is actually an exercise in human interaction. It can hone your social brain, so that when you put your book down you may be better prepared for camaraderie, collaboration, even love.

http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/polisci/faculty/chwe/austen/oatley2011.pdf

‘They had us fooled’: Inside Payless’s elaborate prank to dupe people into paying $600 for shoes

Knowledge Questions: What role do expectations play in our sense perception? To what extent can our judgments be objective?

But the prank also points to a reality about the human mind: Consumers are not capable of discerning the quality and value of the things they buy, said Philip Graves, a consumer behavior consultant from Britain. Slap a fancy-sounding European label on $30 shoes, and you have an illusion of status that people will pay an exorbitant amount of money for.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/11/30/they-had-us-fooled-inside-paylesss-elaborate-prank-dupe-people-into-paying-shoes/?utm_term=.dab90144f733

 

This is similar to a prank Penn and Teller did at a restaurant telling people they were drinking fine waters but were actually drinking water from a garden hose behind the restaurant.

 

Pearls Before Breakfast: Can one of the nation’s great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let’s find out.

A world famous violinist, Joshua Bell, set up to play in the middle of a busy train station in DC.

“Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he’s really bad? What if he’s really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn’t you? What’s the moral mathematics of the moment?”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/pearls-before-breakfast-can-one-of-the-nations-great-musicians-cut-through-the-fog-of-a-dc-rush-hour-lets-find-out/2014/09/23/8a6d46da-4331-11e4-b47c-f5889e061e5f_story.html

Banksy Has Unannounced Art Sale with Genuine Signed Canvases in Central Park, Sells Almost Nothing

What is the value of artwork? How do we determine? Why did it matter whether people knew or didn’t know whether these were original works?

“For his 13th day in New York, Banksy pulled a fantastic prank on unsuspecting passersby in Central Park yesterday by setting up an unannounced art stall with dozens of 100% original signed canvases. In a world where copies of unlicensed Banksy works are available for a dime a dozen, it’s not inconceivable for somebody to peddle cheap knockoffs for $60 apiece. To further camouflage the artwork the booth was labeled simply “SPRAY ART” and manned by an unsuspecting old man who seemed completely uninterested in what he was doing.”

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2013/10/banksy-art-sale/

What should happen to “offensive” artwork?

Knowledge Questions: What are the ethical limitations of artwork? To what extent are artists responsible for the reactions their work receives? What is the role of the audience in deciding the meaning of artwork? To what extent do the intentions of the artist matter in the interpretation of their work? What are the responsibilities of institutions in deciding what work is appropriate for display?

This is a topic that will never quite leave us. There are countless cases of “offensive” artwork and the reactions it gets. All of these provide great opportunities for TOK.

A Los Angeles School Planned to Whitewash a Mural That Offended Korean Activists—Until Shepard Fairey Stepped in to Defend It

(Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Stanton’s work depicts the late actress Ava Gardner on a backdrop of blue and orange sun rays. It was targeted by Korean-American activists who complained that the sun-ray pattern is similar to that of the Japanese Imperial flag, which has become a symbol of the atrocities Japan committed before and during World War II, particularly in China and Korea. In response, the school district announced plans to cover it up. 

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/shepard-fairey-defends-beau-stanton-mural-1423192

Should Art That Infuriates Be Removed?

“Is the censorship, much less the destruction of art, abhorrent? Yes. Should people offended or outraged by an artwork or an exhibition mount protests? Absolutely. And might a museum have the foresight to frame a possibly controversial work of art through labels or programming? Yes, that, too. “

White Artist’s Painting of Emmett Till at Whitney Biennial Draws Protests

White free speech and white creative freedom have been founded on the constraint of others, and are not natural rights. The painting must go.” She added that “contemporary art is a fundamentally white supremacist institution despite all our nice friends.”

 

Met Defends Suggestive Painting of Girl After Petition Calls for Its Removal

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art will not remove a controversial painting by the French painter known as Balthus from public display.”

 

  • How do we determine whether art is “appropriate”?
  • How does context affect the meaning of art? Notice how the quote below makes mention of the “current climate.” Should the “current climate” affect what is allowed to be displayed in a museum?

“Given the current climate around sexual assault and allegations that become more public each day, in showcasing this work for the masses, The Met is romanticizing voyeurism and the objectification of children,” it reads.

160803093028-australian-artist-clinton-mural-super-169Is censorship of artwork ever appropriate? If so, under what circumstances?

“A controversial mural of Hillary Clinton will be allowed to remain after the artist modified it from depicting the politician in a revealing swimsuit to one where she is wearing a burqa instead.”

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/08/02/asia/australia-clinton-mural-artist-burqa/

Photograph that has attracted controversy for more than two decades attracts protests outside New York exhibition

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/sep/28/andres-serrano-piss-christ-new-york

THE LARGEST VOCABULARY IN HIP HOP

Literary elites love to rep Shakespeare’s vocabulary: across his entire corpus, he uses 28,829 words, suggesting he knew over 100,000 words and arguably had the largest vocabulary, ever.

I decided to compare this data point against the most famous artists in hip hop. I used each artist’s first 35,000 lyrics. That way, prolific artists, such as Jay-Z, could be compared to newer artists, such as Drake.

Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 2.14.57 PM

https://pudding.cool/2017/02/vocabulary/index.html

Artificial Intelligence and Art

Knowledge Questions: How do we define art? Is art/creativity the exclusive domain of humans?

http_%2F%2Fcdn.cnn.com%2Fcnnnext%2Fdam%2Fassets%2F180625112105-vera-molnr-computer-art.jpg

AI can produce pictures, but can it create art for itself?

Creativity is something we closely associate with what it means to be human. But with digital technology now enabling machines to recognize, learn from and respond to humans and the world — from digital assistant

s to driverless cars — an inevitable question follows: Can machines be creative? And will artificial intelligence ever be able to make art?

https://www.cnn.com/style/article/artificial-intelligence-ai-art/index.html

A philosopher argues that an AI can’t be an artist

Human creative achievement, because of the way it is socially embedded, will not succumb to advances in artificial intelligence. To say otherwise is to misunderstand both what human beings are and what our creativity amounts to.

This claim is not absolute: it depends on the norms that we allow to govern our culture and our expectations of technology. Human beings have, in the past, attributed great power and genius even to lifeless totems. It is entirely possible that we will come to treat artificially intelligent machines as so vastly superior to us that we will naturally attribute creativity to them. Should that happen, it will not be because machines have outstripped us. It will be because we will have denigrated ourselves.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612913/a-philosopher-argues-that-an-ai-can-never-be-an-artist/

Warner Music Group Signs an Algorithm to a Record Deal

One of the newest additions to the group of artists working with Warner Music Group — taking a spot alongside names like Ed Sheeran, Madonna, Coldplay and Camilla Cabello — is a bundle of code. It’s under contract to release 20 albums this year.

The creator of the algorithm is sound startup Endel, which uses artificial intelligence to make personalized audio tracks aimed at boosting people’s mood or productivity.

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/warner-music-group-endel-algorithm-record-deal-811327/

Photogallery: Art Created by Artificial Intelligence

CREDIT: Art and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Rutgers University

https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/art-created-by-artificial-intelligence/