06w16:2 Ellen Dissanayake

by timothy. 0 Comments


The Artistic Animal | Caleb Crain
“But is art a well-defined category for biological study? In its freedom from social rules, art resembles play, while in its emphasis on display and embellishment, it resembles ritual. Art, play, and ritual benefit different individuals in different ways, however. Art enhances an artist’s prestige, play is linked to learning in juveniles, and ritual achieves a large number of social aims, from mourning to coronation. To focus her inquiry, Dissanayake has picked out a common element: During all three activities, humans make something special. That is, they distinguish an object or action from the ordinary. ‘What’s interesting about humans,’ Dissanayake says, ‘is that they gild the lily. They do more than is necessary.’ ‘Making special,’ rather than ‘art,’ is the behavior Dissanayake studies.”

The Core of Art: Making Special | Ellen Dissanayake
“Previously, the sorts of objects that in the post-eighteenth century West came to be called art—paintings, sculptures, ceramics, music, dance, poetry, and so forth—were made to embody or to reinforce religious or civic values, and rarely, if ever, for purely aesthetic purposes. Paintings and sculptures served as portraits, illustrations, interior or exterior decoration; ceramics were vessels for use; music and dance were part of a ceremonial or special social occasion; poetry was storytelling or praise or oratory to sway an audience. Even when beauty, skill, or ostentation were important qualities of an object, they did not exist ‘for their own sake,’ but as an enhancement of the object’s ostensible if not actual use. This enhancement would be called beautification or adornment, not art. The word art as used before the late eighteenth century meant what we would today call ‘craft’ or ‘skill’ or ‘well-madeness,’ and could characterize any object or activity made or performed by human (rather than natural or divine) agency—for example, the art of medicine, of retailing, of holiday dining. It may be a surprise to realize how peculiar our modern Western notion of art really is—how it is dependent on and intertwined with ideas of commerce, commodity, ownership, history, progress, specialization, and individuality—and to recognize the truth that only a few societies have thought of it even remotely as we do.” NOTE: tinyurl links to 249K PDF, 26 pages

Long links made short by using TinyUrl (http://www.tinyurl.com)
To remove or add yourself to this list, go here

emailed by Timothy on Tuesday 18 April 2006 @ 10:07 PM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *