Week 12: Art is Argument

by Stuart Marsh

The most classic university question came up in our tute the other day, other than “want to go for drinks? Just one or two…” and “When is it due?”.

It was:

“But what is art?”

Shudder. Yes, so far away from the univeristy buildings that house philosophy graduates sipping chai lattes and reading penguin classics over denim-taught thighs we were discussing what is art. And what effect does New Media have upon it? The resolution was final: no effect.

It seems most of us believe that art can be created within any medium for any purpose for any audience – it doesn’t even as my father suggests, “have to look good”.

But I was still troubled, what (excuse the arty french) the fuck was art?

Thanks Leon, but that’s much too broad for my tastes. So my answer is this:

Art is Argument. Art is anything that makes people debate whether it is art or not, art is anything that is debated to be ‘good’ or not. Yes, it is self expression, but what isn’t? Art is something that challenges or reflects our society in such a way as to produce conflict. Even pieces that deliberately aim to blend will draw argument over whether they challenge enough or reflect enough or are simply good enough. Good art is simply art that helps us to argue, to discuss.

I’m afraid I’m down the ol’ road Leon went. Pretentiousness.

So what does new media have to do with all of this? Is creating paintings upon an ipad still art? Of course. Is making a spectacular drawing in the revolutionary app ‘draw something’ art? Of course! Sick of rhetorical questions through 10 weeks of blogs? Then your argument is art, and vice versa.

Art is as simple or as hard as you want to make it. For me, I’ll DIY:

Armstrong, Keith (2005) ‘Intimate Transactions: The Evolution of an Ecosophical Networked Practice’, the Fibreculture Journal 7, <http://seven.fibreculturejournal.org/fcj-047-intimate-transactions-the-evolution-of-an-ecosophical-networked-practice/>


Whitelaw, Mitchell (2012) ‘An Interview with Paul Prudence (Neural 40)’ The Teeming Void, <http://teemingvoid.blogspot.com/2012/01/interview-with-paul-prudence-for-neural.html>