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Nimis's avatar

Does art exist without an audience?

Asked by Nimis (13100 points ) March 16th, 2012 from iPhone

There seems to be a lot of debate about What is art?

A common answer often references how other people experience said artwork. Whether they are moved by it or whether they are willing to pay for it.

Does art exist without an audience?

A chef can eat their own food.
An architect can live in their own house.

But is an artist trying to experience their own art kind of like trying to tickle yourself? (Unless you’re schizophrenic, it’s not really possible because of decreased sensory attenuation.)

Does art become art through the experience of others?
Or does it exist in its own right?

What do you think?

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19 Answers

cookieman's avatar

As a graphic designer and photographer, I’ve always believed that art becomes art through the experience of others.

Otherwise, I see it as simply work-product, a composite of media and/or ideas (functional or otherwise).

Art is, in my opinion, the synergy of materials and intent, driven by imagination for the benefit of an audience (known or unknown). The audience is the third leg of the table.

In your examples, the chef and the architect can never experience their work without prior knowledge of the process of creation. Therefore they cannot be the audience.

tom_g's avatar

@cprevite – Does the audience have to appreciate or acknowledge – to some degree – that the product is art, or is the mere 3rd-party observation enough to qualify it as art?

This whole art thing is a good question. I have always considered art to be defined by the process of creating it rather than the consumption of it. When I craft a piece of music and record it, I am engaged in “art”, whether or not anyone hears it.

Cruiser's avatar

Britannica Online defines art as “the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others.” So “shared with others” becomes the operative in answering your question. On one hand this creation does exist but by this definition if not shared with others it doesn’t qualify as art….or does it? The definition used the word “can” and even though this creation isn’t immediately being shared with others the possibility still exists that it could at some point in time be shared with “others” so the potential is there for this creation to be shared with others and does this potential now qualify it as art??

Also what if the artist made 2 identical “creations”, one is put on display and the other kept in the dark corners of a basement….which one is “art”??

thorninmud's avatar

I hope I can express this coherently, but I feel that much of our confusion about art comes from the semantic problem of treating it as a noun. The “thing”—what we refer to as a work of art—is more a record of an action, the product of a living being acting upon the world. The object carries the traces of that action, much like a CD carries the traces of musical performance. People who later view the artifact can “read” the reverberations of the act that gave birth to the artifact, and participate in it after the fact. From that perspective, art is more something that happens than some thing that hangs on a wall. The thing simply provides the occasion for the art to happen.

redfeather's avatar

I’ve drawn things I like and I wouldn’t show anyone because I don’t want/have to. I know I’m not the only one. So yeah, art can exist.

Randy's avatar

I believe it does. I’m by no means professional, defining the word as meaning I do it full time and make a living off my work, but when I create songs and music in general I tend to shy away from sharing it with an audience. I enjoy my work and value some of it as highly as some of my favorite artists’ songs. It makes me happy to create something I enjoy because in my own opinion, my joy is just slightly more important than the masses’.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, it’s the same question as “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a noise?” The answer is the same. It puts out the sound / light waves, but if there isn’t the right “equipment” around to pick up the waves then no. It doesn’t get translated into sound or sight.

marinelife's avatar

I think art occurs in the moment that it is created. A bond exists between the artist and the art. The act of making art gives it legitimacy. Even if it is not seen for thousands of years hidden inside a cave. It is still art for all those years.

cookieman's avatar

@tom_g: I feel they simply have to react to it (passively or actively).

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

As a performing artist, I worship the process. From auditioning to rehearsing to performing, it’s all magnificent. It’s all creating art. In the early stages of the process, it may not be worth sharing to an audience, but it still feeds my soul. The rehearsals at times can be laborious, but it resonates within me and shines. Finally, striding before an audience creates an electrical charge in the room. It’s all art.

In my opinion, it’s the creation that counts for much, but it’s little good if no one comes to see it.

Can I give a definitive answer to your question? Yes. I can create art even if no one comes to the performance.

Will that please me? Hell, no!

cookieman's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake: So perhaps we can represent it as art (unseen save for those creating it) and ART (presented to an audience for consumption).

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@cprevite : So long as we don’t call it Art. He’s my neighbor, and he’s a curmudgeon. :-)

Symbeline's avatar

Depending on how it’s defined, I suppose it can exist on its own without ever being experienced, since it would resemble other legitimate art forms. Interesting idea about how art can only be art when experienced by others though. Never looked at it this way. But I don’t really like to think that art can only be defined through the reactions and interpretations of others. And anyways, art can’t exist if it isn’t created, so at least one person will see the art, the one who did it. So I personally think art can exist without being seen, if it matches with what is generally accepted or known as art. And by that I mean anything that can be known as art, whether it’s well received or otherwise.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Ever hear the saying

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”?

If there’s no beholder (audience) there’s no one to determine whether or not something is beautiful (art).

Symbeline's avatar

I wonder though, does art necessarily have to be beautiful?

SABOTEUR's avatar

It think it would be incorrect to define beauty as just the way someone/something looks. Appearance may contribute to beauty, but beauty might more accurately describe the feeling a person or an object invokes within someone, making “beauty” a purely subjective observation and/or personal experience.

lloydbird's avatar

A combination of yes and nope.….....

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes. Plenty of examples of an audience that came into being 100 years after the artist’s death.

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