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Human Knowledge: Foundations and Limits

LIFE AS A WHOLE: Art and Communication by …

modernlatinamericanart | Curated and edited by Dr …
I believe drama is the most complete art form because it includes all the dimensions of space-time, language, visual art, may incorporate music and dance, and uses human beings as the primary instruments of expression in the wholeness of their bodies, voices, imagination, emotions, mind, and spirit. Drama attempts to recreate or portray these various aspects of life in a living experience before an audience of spectators. Since the electronic age of motion pictures, recording, radio, and television, drama may be captured by these media to be played or broadcast in other spaces and times. This reduces the aliveness of the performance but allows the art to be enjoyed by millions of people and posterity. Whereas reading is usually done alone, dramas are experienced most often by a group. Theater has always been a social and communal experience that can draw people together in this shared art, which may even be ritualized and religious. With television and radio individuals and small groups (usually families) watch and listen in their own homes at the same time as millions of others do. With recording machines, as with music, people can now watch and listen according to their own schedules. These new media of communication have improved and altered greatly our life-style.
Like fiction, drama usually tells a story that has been imaginatively created by the author. However, instead of merely relying on language and perhaps illustrations in a book, the story is presented and played out on a stage or set by actors and actresses in costumes and makeup or masks, often with music accompanying for mood, and occasionally in song and dance. Thus drama is a group art on the creative side as well, whereas literature and painting are usually created and edited or revised by one person at a time. Drama shares with music and dance the aspects of performance before an audience which include close cooperation and teamwork, though writing music or plays can be as solitary as literature and art.
Voice, facial expression, and gesture are subtle arts that actors add to literature. Acting, as the word implies, is the closest art to living action. The art removes the actual consequences from our lives, except that the make-believe experiences do affect the emotions, thoughts, imagination, physical habits, and personalities of those acting them. Thus people can vicariously (but more completely than with literature) experience many things they would not want to or could not actually do in real life. The spectators vicariously experience these through observation. However, the group experience can be contagious such that it is easier for a member of an audience to get caught up in the mental and emotional vibrations of the people around them. The art of acting can teach us so much about ourselves because to express anything well we must draw upon our own feelings, memories, imagination, thoughts, and personality traits. Acting can help us get in touch with many things that may be buried deep in our subconscious and even the subconscious of the human race. Inside each person is the prototype of all human characteristics, and good actors and actresses draw these forth from the universal reservoir within themselves.
The director is usually responsible for coordinating the action, the scene design, and the music. Many artists, musicians, and technicians work together to create a dramatic production, but the director must integrate all of the elements into an artistic whole.
Like literature, drama is essentially storytelling but by demonstration rather than mere recounting. Thus plot, character, theme, mood, and language are all important factors, but there is also the visual spectacle. In ancient Greece drama was divided into tragedy and comedy using masks with the corners of the mouth turned down or up. Since then the genres have become mixed with many variations such as farce, satire, tragicomedy, romantic comedy, melodrama, mystery, thriller, horror, musical, opera, history, biography, avant garde, etc. Usually the purpose of dramatic art is to entertain and enlighten at the same time. Tragedy holds our interest with its terror, suspense, deep probing of emotion while we learn about the consequences of actions and character traits. Comedy creates psychological tensions that are suddenly released by insights or perspectives that make us laugh. Through observation of folly we can become wiser without suffering the consequences.
The mass media of the electronic age have altered and extended drama to millions of people. The camera and microphone can go just about anywhere, and diverse scenes can be edited together. Thoughts and the movement of consciousness can be conveyed by voice over, point-of-view shots, or montages of images. Now that television is widespread and cable and satellite stations are proliferating, a greater variety of programs is developing to offer the millions of viewers a broader selection of drama as well as journalism and educational programs. However, unlike audience response in a theater, the communication is more one-way. Also massive audiences can give these new media tremendous influence on our society. As these media also communicate many things other than drama, let us turn now to discuss the art of communication in general.

» Some Thoughts On Endurance Performance Art …

Music is expressed in time rather than space. Excepting the words of songs which are poetry, music is the most abstract, ethereal, and mathematical of the arts. As vibrations without direct and clear reference to representation of practical experience in the physical world, music is perhaps more heavenly than earthly. Music has tremendous power to move us emotionally directly as it bypasses our conceptual categories. Abstract art can also do this, but most visual art works with our concepts of what we are seeing. With music usually a title or lyrics are needed to focus the mind into conceptual categories.
Music uses the sense of hearing and is expressed through melody, rhythm, harmony, tone, timbre, etc. We make music with our voice and other instruments. Because music essentially fills all available space during its sequence in time, it can give us a great sense of oneness with our environment and other people. Although the individual attention of listening may vary, all the people in the same area hear more or less the same sounds. Thus the basis of our musical experience is this common ground of sound. We do not move our ears the way we move our eyes.
Music affects our feelings easily, is a great source of joy, and can be used in many ways to shape the attitudes, moods, and demeanor of an audience. Thus it has become an essential factor in drama through the electronic media. Military bands have been employed to rouse and stir people into patriotic excitement and enthusiasm while muzak is increasingly being used to pacify people in commercial establishments, workplaces, elevators, and waiting rooms. Music, like other arts, can be used to manipulate people.
Music stands on its own as an art when it is listened to for its own sake. Music surrounds us and is absorbed into ourselves rather like a bath. The rhythms, melodies, and harmonies deeply affect our subconscious. Because of the innate rhythms in our bodies, it is natural to move spontaneously with the music we are hearing. Music can help us to attune ourselves to a harmonious, rhythmic and universal spirit and can subtly heal us on many levels of consciousness. Cacophonous noises, which can be the worst kind of pollution because there may be no escape, can cause irritation and disease-causing stress.
The making of sounds comes naturally to new-born children, and most people have a spontaneous desire to make some kind of music. Though many may be deterred by professional competition and formal training, people can benefit greatly by experimenting with music, even if it is just singing along. The creation of music is a spiritual process. More than any other art, the gifts of composers can be re-experienced and brought to life again by each new generation in the playing of their music. New music can also be composed by anyone. In jazz musicians can have great fun in playing with music.


Some Thoughts On Endurance Performance Art

Both technology and art are considered artificial in that they are made by human beings through creative action which transcends the natural processes of all other living organisms. Science aims to know; art endeavors to express well. Technology, which applies the knowledge of science, always has an artistic element in its creation and production even though it may not be emphasized. In a broad sense there is an art to doing anything well, and any activity can be perceived as an art by looking for beauty in the process and result.
Beauty is certainly a key principle of art. While we act for the good and contemplate the truth, beauty is experienced through observation. Art is the beauty created by human beings. Natural beauty can also be enjoyed, but art depends on creativity. Although all art is understood by some means of perception, various value systems may add other criteria of appreciation besides beauty such as harmony, balance, meaningfulness, originality, intensity, unity, purpose, expression, etc. The experience of art has two sides—the creative process of the artist and the appreciation of the observer. Both can be enhanced greatly by education and training, though many believe in God-given or innate talent for artistic creativity and the innate intuition of appreciation. I believe these innate qualities come from the spirituality of the soul and its many experiences in previous existences. This helps to explain child prodigies and the varying talents of what should otherwise be equal souls. The gift of talent has been developed and earned either in previous lifetimes on Earth or in experiences in other realms of consciousness.
For many people art is the most meaningful part of life and a highly esteemed value, and almost everyone enjoys some form of art, if only for occasional relaxation. Art serves as communication for the improvement of social relationships through greater understanding of human experience. Art is society’s great cultural university that is open to all. Art also serves as a channel of expression to release, elevate, and understand our inner conflicts, fears, and tensions as well as our aspirations, hopes, and ideals. This sublimation may occur both in the creating artist and the sympathetic audience.