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shilolo's avatar

What is the lasting impact of "art"?

Asked by shilolo (17834 points ) January 18th, 2010

Can “art”, in all it’s forms (literature, music, plays, movies, television, photography, painting, sculpture, etc.) be considered to have a lasting impact short of a historical representation of the time when the art was produced? Can our current lives really be considered to be affected by William Shakespeare or Vincent Van Gogh? If so, what is that impact and how is it measured?

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64 Answers

wonderingwhy's avatar

the impact of art, being wholly subjective, varies from person to person and will change over time, gaining and losing relevance. I suppose any lasting impact can’t be better defined than by saying said art hasn’t been forgotten. for what it’s worth measuring it might be done by the number of copies or influences it spawns or the number of people who deem it as relevant to their lives or experiences.

lilikoi's avatar

Well, I’ve read Shakespeare so it has affected my life.

andrew's avatar

Are you kidding? You’ve never seen a theater production or movie that has affected you?

Not to mention the lasting effect of architecture, as well as the very tangible cultural effects of, oh, literature. Language. Writing.

This question is silly.

shilolo's avatar

@andrew Temporarily (i.e. in the moment), perhaps, for how can you not be affected by external surroundings. Permanently, not really, no. For example, I saw Picasso’s Guernica and thought it was very moving. A few minutes later, not so much. In any event, I view something like that as an artist’s rendition of current events.

Architecture is a different issue, since it hovers between form and function (and in any event, no structure can be built without architectural and other engineers). An architect could draw up the fanciest building in the world, but it’s meaningless without the engineering to actually build it. As for literature, literature didn’t spawn writing, it was the other way around. Most early writings were historical in origin, and not for the sake of “art”.

Dr_C's avatar

How many common use phrases today are lines from movies? how much has pop-culture impacted not only the way we view our world but the way we interact in it? I’d say that if a work of art in any form has an effect on our lexicon then it has a lasting effect.
Here’s looking at you kid

Or for a more modern touch: Hasta la vista… Baby

judochop's avatar

The beautiful thing about “art’ is that it is in-fact timeless. Though we may not view it like this it does stand the test of time. Just given your examples of Van Gogh and Shakespeare you can already see where we are headed for future artists. As good or as bad some of the art may be that impacts our lives it is all open for interpretation. Every form of art effects our lives for the better and for the worse. I have a collection of songs that bring me back to good times as well as bad times. I have favorite painters that remind me of certain times in my life and for that I bow down to them for being able to relate to my feelings. As far as an impact of a time period just check out the communist art movement, the paintings of the Berlin Wall, the words of Vonegut, the photos from Arbus. Art is everywhere and it impacts every single one of us and thank God for that. Music has changed my life for the better, painting has changed the way I view things, sculpture has changed my perception, literature has changed the way I speak.

SuperMouse's avatar

Many kinds of art have impacted my life, but none has had a long-term, life changing impact. I have been touched deeply by certain works of art. Many books, movies, and theater productions have moved, disturbed, uplifted me in the moment or even for a couple of days afterward, but I can honestly say that no piece of art has had a lasting impact on my life.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Dr_C I thought of the idea of quotes from plays or movies becoming part of our lexicon, but I’m not sure I see that as the definition of having a lasting impact. A lasting impact to me would be a piece of art having a life changing impact.

marinelife's avatar

You are changed every day by Shakespeare. His inflience on the English language affects how we communicate today all these hundreds of year later.

I can still recall a French film I saw Mon Oncle D’Amerique that profoundly changed me. Also, the film Mindwalk.

I am moved by music every day. It profoundly affects my life and my feelings toward life. I am uplifted by art. I am healed by art.

Art is an innate part of human beings. Ehat about the research that was done that shows that stroke victims can learn to speak again by singing?

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Looking for empirical evidence of the lasting impact of a subjective experience is essentially misguided. People can articulate, as some have done above, the lasting impact of their experience of works of art. It is not amenable to empirical measurement.

DominicX's avatar

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I agree with @Marina. Art has certainly affected me. Yes, much of the effect is short-term, but there is plenty of long-term. Reading certain books (such as James Joyce) has made an effect on the way I view literature and writing, something I want to get into more. Additionally, certain films and books have altered my view on the world a bit. Think of it like debating with someone on the internet. Someone is presenting their ideas that you may never have thought of before. Sure, some of it you’re not going to think of again, but some of it is going to stick with you and may even change your view. It’s just that in this case, the ideas are in the form of art.

I don’t know what I’d be without art. I love art, in all its forms.

shilolo's avatar

@Marina That you are personally moved by something doesn’t mean the work itself has a real, lasting impact. Also, how is it that Shakespearean language affects our communication today? I fail to see that.
@Dr_Lawrence Precisely. Something so subjective cannot have a lasting impact. We are all subjectively affected (or not). Thus, no lasting, consistent or durable impact (unlike, say, Newtonian Physics).

DominicX's avatar

@shilolo

Shakespeare introduced many new words into the English vocabulary through his plays:

http://www.nosweatshakespeare.com/resources/shakespeare-words.htm

marinelife's avatar

@shilolo I respectfully disagree. The moving of me (and other audience members) is producing a lasting impact. It affects how I interact with others, including children.

@DominicX is correct about the words that Shakespears added, but also the phrases and concepts that he invented:

# all that glitters isn’t gold
# barefaced
# be all and end all
# break the ice
# breathe one’s last
# brevity is the soul of wit
# catch a cold
# clothes make the man
# disgraceful conduct
# dog will have his day
# eat out of house and home
# elbowroom
# fair play
# fancy-free
# flaming youth
# foregone conclusion
# frailty, thy name is woman
# give the devil his due
# green eyed monster
# heart of gold
# heartsick
# hot-blooded
# housekeeping
# it smells to heaven
# it’s Greek to me
# lackluster
# leapfrog
# live long day
# long-haired
# method in his madness
# mind’s eye
# ministering angel
# more sinned against than sinning
# naked truth
# neither a borrower nor a lender be
# one fell swoop
# pitched battle
# primrose path
# strange bedfellows
# the course of true love never did run smooth
# the lady doth protest too much
# the milk of human kindness
# to thine own self be true
# too much of a good thing
# towering passion
# wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve
# witching time of the night

shilolo's avatar

@Marina Being temporarily moved by a play is like being temporarily affected by the rain. You use your umbrella and put it away when the rain stops. It’s raining today, I’m affected. A year from now I won’t remember that it rained today, nor will it matter.

As far as your list (and dominix’s link), I fail to see the relevance. Writers (fiction and non-fiction) frequently invent words, as do everyday people. Words come and go in the lexicon all the time, and also, those words are meaningless for the Chinese (and other language speakers) as an example.

lloydbird's avatar

Existence itself may well be ”..the lasting impact of “art”...”.

DominicX's avatar

@shilolo

Well, those words and phrases are still being used today, so the impact of the literature that introduced them is still present. Also, no one implied that for art to have an impact, it has to affect every single person on earth.

marinelife's avatar

@shilolo I am not saying that I am temporarily moved by art. I am permanently moved by much of the art that I take in. It affects how I am in the world. How I interact with others. How I view the world. How I view myself.

Also, Shakespeare has had a profound impact on may cultures and languages other than just English.

Dr_C's avatar

@SuperMouse I agree it may not completely change your life, but the fact that it affects the way you interact and communicate is a pretty big impact in my book. How many pop-culture icons can you recognize by hearing or reading a catch phrase?

gemiwing's avatar

I think my idea of what constitutes a lasting impact must differ from yours. I see art having had a permanent impact almost everywhere. Look to the history of photography for example. How photographers were influenced by Japanese block prints.

How people see the world is existentially connected to how the world exists. Art can change how people perceive the world, thus it is changed. Butterfly effect and all that.

shilolo's avatar

@gemiwing Indeed. I see the invention/manufacturer of cars or plains or trains (and many other tangible things) as having a more lasting/meaningful impact than Van Gogh (clearly, I am in the minority here). However, I think some people mistake having a visceral response to something (say, a movie) to a lasting impact (i.e. the invention of the wheel).

gemiwing's avatar

@shilolo So when you say impact you’re talking in a more physical sense, then? I want to make sure I am understanding you properly.

I feel that art does impact us in that sense, yet through something else that’s easier to take a hold of. For example, take perspective. It wasn’t always known or used. Once it entered the world of art- everything changed. The amazing CG effects we have today wouldn’t exist without it. We wouldn’t have CAD or 3D rendering. We might (because who knows?) still be living in incredibly simple structures instead of our modern engineering feats.

I feel that art does impact us- perhaps not in a survivalist sense, yet in a way that can effect things slowly through time. Art seems, to me, to widen our minds and allow new creative and more tangible ideas come to the fore. Art turns it up to eleven.

MagsRags's avatar

Good art creates a common emotional language that can cross time and distance.

The universality of the themes of revenge and jealousy in the tragedy of Othello ring true to me and connects me to Shakespeare audiences of the past and future. Van Gogh’s sunflowers tap a sense of joy and wellbeing that others have felt and will continue to feel for as long as the paintings exist. I don’t have to share language or politics or religious beliefs to share the feeling evoked by art. Well, actually some types of art Mapplethorpe for example will trigger different reactions in different groups, but it still provides another way of looking at commonalities and differences.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@shilolo Subjective responses can and often are lasting and powerful. People have recorded their subjective responses to art, music, literature and so on for ages. These writings are studied and appreciated along with the art on which they comment.

It is not necessary to be able to measure subjective responses empirically for them to have a lasting impact that passes from one generation to the next!

There are many empirical observations that were made that are all but forgotten. Some because they lead to false conclusions and inferences and others because thay are considered trivial today.

nikipedia's avatar

Oscar Wilde once said, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.”

I am inclined to agree, at least in part. I think a lot of our behaviors and perspectives are shaped by media that was originally intended as art. We gain a sense of what is beautiful, ugly, normal, abnormal, desirable, undesirable, etc. from books, movies, television, etc. All of which I would call art.

But then we get into the question you alluded to in your response to Andrew—what constitutes art, anyway, and if something serves a useful function does that diminish its art..itude? ...ness?

Trillian's avatar

Do you know how many phrases were coined by W. Shakespeare? He has affected your life and speech whether you know it or not. Here are a few; # All our yesterdays (Macbeth)

All that glitters is not gold (The Merchant of Venice) All’s well that ends well (title)
As good luck would have it (The Merry Wives of Windsor) As merry as the day is long (Much Ado About Nothing / King John)Bated breath (The Merchant of Venice)
Bag and baggage (As You Like It / Winter’s Tale)Bear a charmed life (Macbeth) Be-all and the end-all (Macbeth) Beggar all description (Antony and Cleopatra) Better foot before (“best foot forward”) (King John) The better part of valor is discretion (I Henry IV; possibly already a known saying) In a better world than this (As You Like It) Neither a borrower nor a lender be (Hamlet) Brave new world (The Tempest) Break the ice (The Taming of the Shrew) Breathed his last (3 Henry VI) Brevity is the soul of wit (Hamlet) Refuse to budge an inch (Measure for Measure / Taming of the Shrew) Cold comfort (The Taming of the Shrew / King John) Conscience does make cowards of us all (Hamlet) Come what come may (“come what may”) (Macbeth) Comparisons are odorous (Much Ado about Nothing) Crack of doom (Macbeth) Dead as a doornail (2 Henry VI) A dish fit for the gods (Julius Caesar) Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war (Julius Caesar) Dog will have his day (Hamlet) Devil incarnate (Titus Andronicus / Henry V) Eaten me out of house and home (2 Henry IV) Elbow room (King John; first attested 1540 according to Merriam-Webster) Farewell to all my greatness (Henry VIII) Faint hearted (I Henry VI) Fancy-free (Midsummer Night’s Dream) Fight till the last gasp (I Henry VI) Flaming youth (Hamlet) Fool’s paradise (Romeo and Juliet)
Forever and a day (As You Like It) For goodness’ sake (Henry VIII) Foregone conclusion (Othello) Full circle (King Lear) The game is afoot (I Henry IV) The game is up (Cymbeline) Give the devil his due (I Henry IV) Good riddance (Troilus and Cressida) Jealousy is the green-eyed monster (Othello) It was Greek to me (Julius Caesar) Heart of gold (Henry V) Her infinite variety (Antony and Cleopatra) ‘Tis high time (The Comedy of Errors) Hoist with his own petard (Hamlet) Household words (Henry V) A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse! (Richard III) Ill wind which blows no man to good (2 Henry IV) Improbable fiction (Twelfth Night) In a pickle (The Tempest)
In my heart of hearts (Hamlet) In my mind’s eye (Hamlet) Infinite space (Hamlet) \ Infirm of purpose (Macbeth) In a pickle (The Tempest) In my book of memory (I Henry VI) It is but so-so(As You Like It) It smells to heaven (Hamlet) Itching palm (Julius Caesar) Kill with kindness (Taming of the Shrew) Killing frost (Henry VIII) Knit brow (The Rape of Lucrece) Knock knock! Who’s there? (Macbeth) Laid on with a trowel (As You Like It) Laughing stock (The Merry Wives of Windsor) Laugh yourself into stitches (Twelfth Night) Lean and hungry look (Julius Caesar) Lie low (Much Ado about Nothing)
Live long day (Julius Caesar) Love is blind (Merchant of Venice)
There was more, but you get the idea,

shilolo's avatar

Can anyone actually prove that he was the originator of these phrases, anyway? I doubt it.

absalom's avatar

@shilolo: You’re missing the point. It doesn’t matter whether he was the originator. What matters is that if Shakespeare hadn’t used them, and used them well, we wouldn’t have them today.

(You’re making me facepalm.)

The effects of any lasting piece of art can be traced through history and the art that came after, whether that subsequent art is reactionary/affirmative/whatever. Any art that’s created is informed and influenced by the art before it. I think that means it endures pretty well.

If we’re still adapting Shakespeare today, I fail to see how he hasn’t had a “lasting impact”. Look here for the filmic adaptations alone. There are too many to count and those are just movies. (Never mind paintings, the rest of literature, et al.)

The problem is that your looking at art too selfishly. So it moves you for a moment and then you walk away and it stops affecting you. I’m sorry you haven’t found art that leaves a lasting impression on you. But is that really your argument? How many other people after you’ve lived your life and died are going to be moved by it, too, if even for a moment? It may stop affecting you, but it won’t stop affecting other people. That’s partly how art endures.

judochop's avatar

@shilolo
No proof is needed. Sure it is raining today and you are effected and next year you will not remember that it rained however move somewhere like Portland where it rains everyday for 9 months and you will remember the years when it was better or worse or you will talk about the rain when it is dry outside. The same applies to art. Surround yourself or take recognition of the art around you on a daily basis and you are bound to be effected by the art around you having a bigger impact on your life than you are aware of.
I can walk around ignoring things around me and ignoring the fact that they have ever had an impact.
When you were in med-school did you not study drawings?

dalepetrie's avatar

The lasting impact of art is thought and feeling. It is immeasurable and timeless (if the art is good).

Trillian's avatar

@shilolo. I thought you were looking for good concrete examples. I didn’t realize that you were being adversarial and just wanting to argue or disprove everything people said to you. I’m sorry that you feel so indifferent towards art. I love poetry and literature. Nothing feels so good to me as spending time gazing at the play of light and color across a Monet. To hear the words of Lord Byron’s Childe Harold, especially the third and fourth cantos, which are exquisite…Poetry is best read aloud. I’ve heard it said that the ability to appreciate art is a gift more rare than the ability to create it. If that’s true, I’m grateful for such a gift. To me it seems that your perspective is cold and sterile. Maybe it doesn’t seem so to you.
I like to think and research carefully and to be thorough when I give an answer. Another time I won’t bother wasting my time.

shilolo's avatar

@Trillian I agree (and by all means, don’t waste your time with my questions…I won’t be heartbroken). Art for the most part is a colossal waste of time. Art doesn’t fix your car, or your broken leg. It’s escapism, pure and simple. People who think that it is a gift to appreciate it simply want to justify their own existence (like art history professors). Also, since art appreciation is purely subjective anyway, who in the hell decides who is appreciating it “right” versus “wrong”. The fact that there are so few concrete examples indeed proves my point.

I think Bluto analyzed this situation best.

DominicX's avatar

@shilolo

As long as you’re doing something you enjoy, it’s not a waste of time.

Trillian's avatar

@Marina . Ooooo, I saw Mindwalk years ago and loved it. I’ve never known anyone else to have seen it. I looked it up and saw some fairly negative reviews, but I still would like to see it again. I was breathless all the way through the dialogue, and they kept saying things that I had thought but never articulated.
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet was life changing for me, or at least had a major impact. So did The Celestine Prophecy.
I didn’t see your answer earlier. Thank you. Seeing it now saved me from something like irritation with what is, after all, a trifling thing. Or trifling person, which amounts to the same thing.

shilolo's avatar

@Trillian You proved my point again about art being a “the trifling thing”. Thanks.
@DominicX I enjoy watching sports. That neither makes it meaningful, nor does it mean it will have a lasting impact. Whomever wins the Super Bowl this year will be famous, but 50 years from now it will be meaningless. All of these things, sports, art, etc. are diversions from the everyday mundane (such as having meaningless internet arguments with people who like to throw around big words like trifling because they like to appear intelligent)...

SeventhSense's avatar

The beauty of art is it’s subtle and profound effect on society. The subtle shifts at what we appreciate in the art of the day is both representational and trans-formative of the entire praxis of society. Artists have always been powerful figures.

There is not an arena of study that has not been influenced by the arts. Let us take for example shilolo’s beloved architecture:
The Renaissance has been described as the greatest flourishing of discovery in the arts and sciences that has ever been seen. It was led by the decorative and architectural arts (which were inseparable). Without the artistic discovery of perspective in drawing architecture wouldn’t even exist. The virtual 3d space on the 2d paper which artists struggled for centuries to comprehend. These ideas not only expanded horizons, they expanded consciousness. The frescoes of Michelangelo were painted into the wet plaster itself. Sculpture and painting influenced our understanding of the human form. The human form in motion, The human form in imagination, the human form in flight. The imaginative fancies of Leonardo Davinci were the forerunner of the helicopter centuries later. And in fact the imagination of the arts is most always 100–200 years ahead of the sciences. Invention fills in the blank but would not exist without the vision. Today’s science is yesterday’s science fiction.

In the 19th century advances such as Monet’s contribution to color theory the way light is absorbed by objects and the various visible wavelengths. And writers like Dickens brought to the popular imagination the sympathy for children and the less fortunate. By the end of the century Victorian mores were considering children as beings with developing minds unique in their own right not simply as little adults as education for all was being established.
There is not an aspect of the modern world from the airplane, automobile, i pod or page we are typing on at this moment that has not been influenced by the arts. One only look to the early to mid 1990’s to see the incredibly boring place the internet was without the vast improvements in graphic aesthetic in our own time. Without the arts science, language, expression. visual appeal and functioning form would be handicapped and vice versa the arts with the contributions of these others.
All things work together.

DominicX's avatar

@shilolo

As far as I’m concerned, meaning is something you assign to things yourself. If it has meaning to you, then so be it. It’s not up to other people to tell you it has meaning. You don’t continue to do something if it doesn’t have some kind of meaning for you.

I don’t consider them diversions. I consider them simply another facet to the mutli-faceted experience that is life.

judochop's avatar

One can ignore art even while it’s happening around him. There are people who still think the holocaust never happend. Oh and speaking of literature, anyone ever hear of the Bible?

Trillian's avatar

@SeventhSense You rock! Lurve to you.

SeventhSense's avatar

Thanks I’ll take some of that cappuccino :)

YARNLADY's avatar

I’d have to say it pretty much the same as the lasting impact that the development of language has had on humanity. It’s immeasurable, yet found in nearly every human on the planet.

absalom's avatar

@shilolo: It’s so cool that you can link to videos like that. But by using a scene from a movie – a work of art – you’re not exactly helping your case. Obviously it said something you weren’t capable of expressing yourself. Doesn’t that make it pretty valuable?

Doesn’t that make art pretty valuable?

Contra your very dismissive and irritating assertion(s), art isn’t escapism. If you’re using art to escape then you’re abusing it. Thank you for ignoring my first post, though. (It was very escapist of you.)

shilolo's avatar

@absalom Yeah, predictable. I was simply trying to lighten the mood, though the movie scene did capture, for people incapable of understanding my words, my thoughts on poetry and fluffy music (etc.). I’m sorry I offended you by ignoring your post. Perhaps it wasn’t worth replying to?

absalom's avatar

@shilolo

I don’t understand what’s predictable.

(This question wasn’t worth replying to but I gave it a shot anyway.)

judochop's avatar

I love this thread.
And oh damn @absalom you just shot yourself in the foot. If you hurry and take a picture I am sure you can sell it as art.

SeventhSense's avatar

Here’s another. The symbol for this site-the abstract jellyfish wouldn’t exist without
the classic ‘70’s Space Invaders game
But of course that sprung from the abstraction of the human form like these
And that developed from examples like this
And it all sprung from the oldest artistic expressions
And of course there are countless connections and branches along that tree but I’d say that’s a pretty serious thread (and lasting impact)-from the oldest recorded visual expressions up until today

andrew's avatar

@shilolo You misunderstand the value of culture.

Solely valuing aspects of society with regards to “usefulness” is a dangerous thing to do. Even in science, there are myriad aspects of research that are not ‘useful’—even whole branches of science that aren’t readily useful. How does it immediately benefit humanity to know about conditions near to the big bang? What about theoretical, high-level math, where perhaps a handful of people in the world even grasp the history and concepts being proven? Not particularly useful.

Art is “lasting” because it contributes to the ever-evolving cultural dialog, which in turn modify the way society views itself, and what it values, which in turn affects everything from politics to science. Never mind the fact that art and storytelling predate science—art (and culture) is how a society asserts its humanity, processes tragedy, and musters the will to persist.

Great cultural figures are significant not only for the works they create but in the way they change the culture around them. Shakespeare, Picasso, Elvis, etc have lasting effects not only on their time, but also in the development of their respective cultural forms today.

For a more concrete example, let’s take the anti-war movement of the ‘70s—which still has a societal effect on the dialog we have about war today. Would that movement have existed without its artistic and musical components? It’s impossible to say—they are part and parcel to the creation of that culture, to that movement, and to that movement’s tangible effect on our society today.

(written 4 hours prior to posting)

SeventhSense's avatar

@andrew
Good point. Dismissing a thing based on it’s apparent utility is a dangerous path and leaves open the possibility that any number of pursuits, intellectual queries, or scientific research can be dismissed by opinion.
The question itself seems to raise an uneasiness. “Art can step down from the stand..no further questions”

shilolo's avatar

@andrew You raise some good points, but I remain unconvinced. Following the adage “time is money”, I am struck by how much time is (imho) wasted on frivolous things that, to me, have no lasting value. In contrast, I think obtaining a truly fundamental understanding of the physical world (to wit, your examples of cosmology and math) are useful, no matter what. Furthermore, while it is true that much research appears random, eventually many random-appearing discoveries coalesce into something bigger. I’m just not sure that one can make the same argument about Monet or Van Gogh.

Ultimately, it remains my belief that these exercises are merely distractors from our daily existence. Perhaps that is the ultimate “goal”. Our daily lives are boring, and in order to not implode, we need to avoid recognizing how mundane we truly are.

SeventhSense's avatar

@shilolo
I remain unconvinced. Following the adage “time is money”, I am struck by how much time is (imho) wasted on frivolous things that, to me, have no lasting value.

Yes like this question.

shilolo's avatar

@SeventhSense I see that art education is listed as part of your areas of expertise. Perhaps this thread hits too close to home (the truth hurts sometimes, like removing a bandaid). I’m sorry if it bothers you, but no one forced you to participate. As such, feel free to leave your snide remarks to yourself.

Trillian's avatar

@SeventhSense. You and everyone else on this thread has given a positive answer to what turned out to be a very negative question. This person has twisted everything said to pretend as if the answers we’ve given validate his point. They do not. I do not understand the intent behind the question, or rather, since the asker was so obviously trying to prove to himself or someone that art has no lasting impact, why he didn’t frame the question differently. I say we all drop this thread and stop wasting our time and go get a coffee. We can find a nice coffee shop with books, music, and some nice Monet’s on the wall. Lurve to you!

SeventhSense's avatar

@shilolo
Wow here’s a box for you. pretty neat huh? a whole concept in one lasting impactful image
Truth has nothing to do with this or you would address any of the excellent points I and many others raised. If convincing you is the criterion of the argument then there is no argument because you’ve chosen to ignore evidence that was presented to you for apparently personal reasons.
Perhaps if one imagines that the academic and intellectual world is neatly divided into subjects such as art, science, math and history one can make the error of assuming that one area of study has no influence on the other but this is simply an error at best and at worse a blatantly ignorant position.

absalom's avatar

@shilolo

How would you classify art that questions why our lives are so mundane, then? Or art that, e.g., reflects on social injustices? Raises questions and issues and doesn’t let us escape? If it’s good art it’s going to do this. If it’s good art, it’s going to address something significant that people deal with daily, that people have been dealing with for, like, ever. Universal, timeless: you know. But if it’s just providing an escape, like what you’re talking about, then it’s really only entertainment.

Sometimes people tend to conflate art and entertainment, which is understandable. The boundaries between them have blurred over the last century, for better or worse. (Who can say?) But even ambiguous media like film and television and music, which are often entertainment, can be art/istic. Don’t you watch movies or television, listen to music?

Unless you’re inflicting persistent sensory deprivation on yourself, I find it very hard to believe that art of some kind doesn’t enter into your daily life and influence you somehow. It’s seriously all around us (you).

nikipedia's avatar

I haven’t actually read the book, but this might be relevant:

In his debut book, Lehrer argues for an intimate relationship with science and the humanities, and he argues that many discoveries of neuroscience are actually rediscoveries of insights made much earlier by various artists, notably including Marcel Proust.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proust_Was_a_Neuroscientist

dalepetrie's avatar

I gave a pretty simple answer before and I stand by it, but I’d like to expand slightly. Art is a form of expression, one that is less direct than language, it is perhaps a “higher” form of communication, one that is only accessible to humans after all…it seems to be part of what sets us apart from the animal kingdom…the ability not only to appreciate, but to create art. When an artist, regardless of the media used, creates a work of art, he or she is basically communicating something from his or her perspective, and is using a somewhat symbolic way of communicating meaning and intent. It is up to the beholder to interpret the meaning behind the work. In this way, a number of important things are happening.

1) The exchange of ideas. Everything that happens, everything that is done or created or discovered is based on that which was discovered, created or occurred before it. Without a more permanent method of conveyance for ideas than simple speech, ideas can be lost to the ages, and with them, one can lose….

2) insight. Often an idea is a discovery of the connections between things in the natural world. Though things may always have operated in a certain way, many advances can come from discovering these underlying relationships, and art is one way of conveying these types of perspectives. It is often the perspective of the artist, the keen observer or that which is around him or her, that become the scientific theory of tomorrow. The observance and appreciation of art allows people to broaden and expand their horizons, to see otherwise mundane things in a different way, and often it is the spark of seeing something routine from an innovative new angle (i.e. via looking through the eyes of the artist), that allows people to put two and two together and make groundbreaking discoveries.

3) Aesthetics are a matter of creating mass appeal and acceptance. For example, the internet is perhaps the most revolutionary piece of technology in the history of humanity, yet it existed for 30 years before the world wide web (an aesthetic improvement) was added as an overlay, which brought the internet to mainstream acceptance and eventually ubiquity. The same can be said for other art forms, including music, movies, and television…the words, “c’mon people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now” did not single-handedly change the world, however that sort of hippie aesthetic, very much an artistic expression of a particular point of view, began to permeate youth culture and did bring about change. Or look at the fact that we have an African American president less than half a century after African Americans weren’t even allowed to use the same drinking fountains as white people. Look at the influence of television and movies…look at how something like All in the Family pointed out, in a very artistic manner, the foibles of racism, and how shows like the Cosby show brought African American families into a perspective that white people could relate to. Things were once not even depicted in artistic expression first gained tolerance, then acceptance, and finally ubiquity in our culture. These are lasting impacts of all forms of expression, artistic included.

Yes, art can provide a trivial distraction, something for people to sit in awe of, most people who perceive the work of others will never be successful at making their own, but they may draw inspiration in their own fields from what the art communicates to them. Anything that can convey a deep meaning can change lives, both on an individual and global basis. Consider that after the dark ages, we had the Renaissance (French for re-birth), wherein not only did a stunning lack of artistic expression come to an end, but so did a stunning lack of scientific discovery. The so called “dark ages” were one devoid of the type of intellectual stimulation that artistic expressing brings forth, and it was not until that inspiration began again in earnest that society and human culture moved forward. Scientific and artistic discovery are essentially one in the same. When you get right down to it, after all, every form of art can be broken down into science. Music is very mathematical, as is drawing. Chemistry creates colors, optics create illusion. Art and science are inextricably linked to each other in a one hand washes the other symbiotic relationship. A world without artistic expression would be a world devoid of the most human qualities that exist, qualities which make us seek out the answers and to make the big discoveries. You would not want to live in a world where art did not exist, trust me.

andrew's avatar

@shilolo You’re picking and choosing what you assign ‘value’ to. If you want to talk about impact, modern media and culture has a much more tangible daily impact on nearly all of our lives than any research on AIDS or HIV.

What lasting societal effect does a doctor administering a vaccine to a patient have? None.

Perhaps we can debate whether any culture—politics, religion, music, art, tradition, has “effect” after it’s produced (though that is easily refutable)—likening a performance of a play to the administering of a medicine—but the reason this question is silly is that within this question is the summarily false conception of “value” through use, as if any of us exist outside the culture we participate in.

If you want to bemoan the focus on popular culture, that’s one thing. But dismissing “art” because of it is like dismissing “science” because we created Viagra: it’s rather small-minded.

shilolo's avatar

@andrew I disagree. Modern media may affect the minutiae of our daily lives, but has no lasting impact, which is precisely what this question is about. Thus, a discovery on say, effective treatments for HIV has much more of a durable or lasting impact than whatever commercial is shown during the Super Bowl. Likewise, that administered vaccine eventually may save that person from death (or his child, or father), which itself is quite a lasting impact.

Whether popular culture has any value is quite another argument, but we (and by we, I mean, a select few critics and “producers”) have historically selected the “art” which is promoted (i.e. Shakespeare is great, but Stephen King is a hack…) It fluctuates based on individual’s whims. I fail to see how, 500 years from now, American Idol (or gasp, dare I say, Van Gogh) will matter one iota, but you can be damn sure that advances in solar energy, information technology or biotechnology will.

SeventhSense's avatar

<going to the museum

nikipedia's avatar

@shilolo: Then it seems like this question is a setup. By your definition, something only has a “lasting impact” if it lengthens our survival on a large scale.

Art is rarely a life-or-death matter. That is hardly contentious. But it certainly improves the quality of our life while we’re here, making it lastingly impactful to people on an individual scale.

marinelife's avatar

@shilolo You are wrong when you say there is no lasting impact of art. That 500 years from now, art created now will not be relevant.

The fact that we revere artwork (daVinci, the Venus de Milo, etc.) from hundreds of years ago, music from hundreds of years ago and the works of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Chaucer, Euripides speaks to the lasting value and meaning of art.

Art shapes our very patterns of thought. It colors and shapes our world.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Marina You could go back much farther than that in your example, the Mayan and Egyptian art comes down to us from as much as 10,000 years and the cave paintings in Spain and France are believed to be over 32,000 years old, yet still are appreciated by art lovers around the world. Art appreciation is one of the things that separates humanity from the rest of the animal world.

lloydbird's avatar

It was ART that saved this world.
And brought stability.
What else could have?

lloydbird's avatar

Apologies for speaking in the past tense.
But it was mean’t.

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