Themes & Concerns

That age-old question: What is the point of Art?

Although the modern art scene is booming, the current financial state of the country has led to drastic cuts in art funding suggesting that art as a whole is still regarded as an inessential cultural privilege.  However to ask the question: ‘What is the point of Art’ can only be perceived as evidence of an ill-informed closed mind, or an invitation into the philosophical debate questioning what is the point of anything?

Zygmunt Bauman nicely sums up the answer to this debate in his book ‘Liquid Modernity.

‘The orderly world of the Joshua discourse is a tightly controlled one.  Everything in that world serves a purpose, even if it is not clear (for the time being for some, but for ever for most) what that purpose is.  That world has no use for whatever may lack use or purpose.  No use, moreover, would be acknowledged in that world to be a legitimate purpose.  To be recognised, it must serve the maintenance and the perpetuation of the orderly whole.  It is the order itself, and the order alone, which does not call for legitimation; it is, and cannot be wished away: this is all we need or can know about it.’  (P55)

The fact that art still exists for the so-called ‘cultured’ elite within the institutions, will have no impact on its continual availability to the masses.  Rising education fees may decrease the number of moulded, ‘valued’ ‘YBA’s graduating from universities; however the existence of an outsider art community is very much alive and expanding.  Surely the long term effect could only be a rise in anti-institutional original art belonging to the people and that can’t be a bad thing can it?

April comer.


I found an article on the Guardian website and found it really refreshing. It talks about the new visual culture and how photo’s are consistently being air brushed etc, and that we are always looking at photo’s with scepticism because of this. It concludes by saying that we need to embrace this change and learn to enjoy it rather than reject it.

”Just because you shrug when you look at a picture in the paper, it does not reduce its underlying power over you.”

This is now the culture we live in, and I think that progression in this way within art and design is healthy. With the ever increasing technology, things need to be moved forward so we don’t get stuck in a time warp. As Ezra Pound says- ”make it new”!!

I personally embrace these new technologies and enjoy being able to push the boundaries of reality within say a photograph, this is what my practice is about, and it was nice to read an article that I agreed with and took a positive view on the issue for a change.

”It has to be healthier, better, more wholesome, to believe in the world we inhabit than to see it as meaningless. Since we are now living in a world of images bombarding us from all directions, we need to start loving them. We need to be moved by a news photo shocked by an advert, and see profound beauty in fashion shoots.”

I have not forgotten the down side that many talk about, which is the fashion industry’s use of airbrushing on their images, but then what makes this more shallow? The media for doing this, or for most of the population being influenced by it??

Article can be found at:

Gina Stockwell

The article Gina was reflecting on was interesting and an unusual take on the manipulation of photos. I understand and recognize that the manipulation of images should be embraced as an art form but I’m not sure as a society how we are supposed to become less cynical about the images that are presented to us through media and advertising. The images are all about enticing us in and convincing us to spend our money and on the other hand, have the consumers who bought the products not viewed the images with a sense of trust anyway?

Yes, we are constantly bombarded with images on a daily basis; and it is because of this we have become desensitized to what we see. News reports of war, famine and disasters are a regular daily occurrence nothing is shocking anymore. As a society we have become more sophisticated and unconsciously demand more shocking and distressing images to ‘move’ us.

The image below is by the artist Levi Van Veluw and I think it demonstrates  well the reaction of ‘cynacisum’ the article is reffering to. Photoshop or real?

 It is in fact real visit his web site

Carol Sowden


4 Responses to Themes & Concerns

  1. Carol Sowden says:

    I agree with everything you said April but education gives people the power to challenge the hierarchy. There would not be an ‘art scene’ if it wasn’t for the working classes. The elite turned to the working man for inspiration, and to me it seems so important that the less well-off of our society should have the chance educate themselves and put their side of the story in to the institution

    Changing the subject a bit, this article was brought to my attention about how Facebook and networking sites are creating a society that is lacking in social skills.

    You can be anyone you want to be on the internet but when faced with the realities of life the façade has to come down and people find the reality too hard to cope with. In this globalized more accessible world social networking sites create an underground even more insular and isolated society. The vulnerable and insecure are sucked into the void of a fickle, hyper reality where genuine friendship and socialising does not exist.

  2. Katie Broadley says:

    I agree with both April and Carol.
    Although as for the Facebook thing its not exactly a black and white picture there are so many grey areas involving both positive and negative things about it.
    I think the majority of people can distinguish between what a Facebook friendship is and what a real friendship is. I myself have about 500 friends but I don’t for one moment think I have an actual friendship with all of them. I think it is an easy and quick way to get in touch with someone which could lead to actual interaction, for example-course nights out being sorted out within Facebook groups.
    Is this not the reason why you have actually got a Facebook account in the first place? 😛

  3. Lauren Robson says:

    Regarding off-the-peg identities and our old friend facebook, I agree with Carol, the world has become a cesspit of mass confusion, we’re no longer in touch with ourselves, nor the people we hold close. Again as Zygmunt Bauman says;

    “The task of putting one’s self-identity together, of making it coherent and presenting it for public approval, requires lifelong attention, continuous vigilance, a huge and growing volume of resources and incessant effort with no hope of respite”

    So whilst we spend our time on creating this facade for the outside world, we’re constantly alienating ourselves, we cannot escape it.
    Thousands upon thousands of images and pieces of information tell us how to live our lives, it is not something that we go into willingly, popular culture creates a ‘norm’ and once you don’t comply to that norm you become a social outcast.

    Even when we are physically alone, we’re surrounded by other peoples thoughts, opinions and pretence, thus we put constraints on our own lives.

    Also, Katie. I don’t think it’s necessarily about distinguishing between an online friendship and a real life friendship, it’s the assumption of these things when you ‘add as friend’ – it’s there, it tells you that you’re now ‘friends’ with someone, you then proceed to look at their ‘wall’ and their photos and that tells you every single aspect of their life and unfortunately most people don’t make that distinction between reality and absolutely pointless meaningless cyberworld life.

    It’s become an addiction for people, life moves at such an incredible speed that the way we receive and absorb information must be at the speed of light, we’ve grown accustomed to knowing tiny little details about other peoples day-to-day business that we just cannot put it down.
    We watch soaps/reality tv, we read ‘celeb’ magazines and laugh at how she’s got a bit of cellulite on her legs?!?! OH NO, shock horror. A human with cellulite?

    And for what? This is at no benefit to us, we don’t develop cognitive ability and analytical thought from any of these things, we do it to create an image, a false one at that.

    Think i might have gone massively off subject here like.

  4. Even though the article that Gina found does make some essential points about manipulation of images and the appreciation of the rise in technology. There are a few issues that concern me when it comes to air brushing pictures of model’s and actual people in magazines. Technology is developing and I do agree that images can be manipulated and appreciated as a form of art but when you manipulate images of people to make them look slimmer or to change certain parts of their features, I do think that this affects people in a negative way as people do start to get a false impression of their bodies.

    Varsha Chouhan

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