Showing posts with label philosophy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label philosophy. Show all posts

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Philosophy, finally (`we live through maps', art & imagination from a different perspective)

You may be aware that I also maintain a math & science & philosophy blog... I have to admit that I sometimes regret not having integrated the latter blog into this one, which is my first and most important blog. But an important reason for not doing so was a technical one: Blogger does not support LaTeX, which is the formatting standard for mathematics and the exact sciences in general.

The drawback is the artificial separation between my thoughts on art and my thoughts on philosophy that sometimes results. After all, I consider art to be a profound form of philosophy, not less so for (mostly) being non-verbal. I have long been wanting to write something about the relation between art and philosophy, but in a way I was held back by the fact that I had already written something on that Dutch.

In my last year as a student of mathematics, I had to write a philosophy paper. Philosophy was quite an extensive requirement at the time, to obtain a Master's degree in math. I don't know how things stand nowadays. Now, as a math student I seldom went to math classes, preferring to study for my exams from the literature, since already then I devoted more time to my artistic endeavours. (I had already been to Art College prior to my math studies). But I did attend the philosophy classes faithfully, since philosophy has always interested me greatly.

The writing of a philosophy paper I found almost harder than the writing of my Master's thesis. I still remember the mental stress I felt, since I wanted to really write down how I felt about philosophy and our existence on this planet, but I strongly felt that words are often not my preferred medium. How then to put such a philosophy into words? Agonizing, but I did not want to turn in some rehashing of other people's thoughts, and the philosophy requirement could not be evaded.

The result of a month of mental hard labour was a 7000-words paper, a typewritten manuscript for which I used my preferred sketch paper type, which gave a beautiful `aged' feel. Not standard for documents of course. The teacher graded it an A-...which in my natural modesty I found too low:-). But the contents were even more non-standard I think than the exterior, so perhaps I should have been very happy to pass at all.

Nonetheless, the paper actually surprised me, since it came very close to expressing my feelings on philosophy and on our Western culture. I occasionally reread it, and then each time was struck by how close to home the words struck me. Surprisingly to me at least is that I still feel the same way.

So finally, after 22 years, I decided to translate it into English. As a series of posts on my math & science & philosophy blog, titled `We live through maps'.

The paper should go a long way in explaining my feelings on art in relation to verbal philosophy. It also explains why I think we should actually integrate science with art and philosophy much more than we usually do. Finally, it gives me a basis to refer to when I'm writing on art and philosophy. This is really nice about the internet: we can share thoughts, knowledge, pictures, music much more easily than ever before.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

art of dance, pina bausch, dance of life

youtube compilation of wim wenders' movie pina: dance dance otherwise we are lost. the music is by jun miyake, the song is called 'lilies of the valley' and features prominently in the movie.

this movie about dancer /choreographer pina bausch is absolutely stunning. it reflects the previous post on gauguin, since clearly pina tried to approach gauguin's questions through dance.

dance is a very special visual art form, to me. i do not always appreciate it, but i do agree with pina: dance dance otherwise we are lost. many of my drawings are about dance in some way. the two drawings below are a philosophical approach to dance and life.

dance of life i
dance of life i (own work, 2011, 32 x 48 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

dance of life i
dance of life ii (own work, 2011, 32 x 48 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

art on life (gauguin; tree of life)

i intend this blog to contain more than pictures of my work...but i have been lagging behind so much in putting works on the web, that i'm tempted to create a large number of posts just to show drawings, paintings, sculptures which ideally should be findable on the web.

however, a better (although more laborious) way is to present some of my inspirations as well.

one work by paul gauguin has always been of special interest to me:

paul gauguin, where do we come from? what are we? where are we going?

paul gauguin, where do we come from * what are we * where are we going

the work is so philosophical, through its title, which puts the painting in a perspective different from most paintings of humans in a spatial setting. these three questions, albeit originally put to gauguin by a clerical teacher, are still quite unanswerable today, as far as i can tell, and probably never will be.

call it the mystery of life, i don't know, but it is an inspiration to me nonetheless:

tree of life, drawing by Frank Waaldijk
tree of life (own work, 2012, 32 x 48 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

what is art for? (art in our merchant society)

you probably don't remember me posing that question around new year's day...
and you certainly won't expect me to answer it i hope ;-) !!

but alright, perhaps it is interesting to elaborate a little on this question `what is art for?'. the question smacks a little of utilitarianism (excerpt from wikipedia below:)
Utilitarianism (also: utilism) is the idea that the moral worth of an action is determined solely by its usefulness in maximizing utility or minimizing negative utility (utility can be defined as pleasure, preference satisfaction, knowledge or other things) as summed among all sentient beings. It is thus a form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome. The most influential contributors to this theory are considered to be Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.

Utilitarianism was described by Bentham as "the greatest happiness or greatest felicity principle".[1] Utility, the good to be maximized, has been defined by various thinkers as happiness or pleasure (versus suffering or pain), although preference utilitarians define it as the satisfaction of preferences. It may be described as a life stance, with happiness or pleasure being of ultimate importance.

Utilitarianism can be characterised as a quantitative and reductionist approach to ethics. It can be contrasted with deontological ethics (which do not regard the consequences of an act as a determinant of its moral worth) and virtue ethics (which focuses on character), as well as with other varieties of consequentialism.

In general usage, the term utilitarian refers to a somewhat narrow economic or pragmatic viewpoint. Philosophical utilitarianism, however, is a much broader view that encompasses all aspects of people's life.

so you see, with one little question we are already well into the minefield.

few people challenge the value of michelangelo, rembrandt, van gogh, picasso,...for society. still, recently the pvv (dutch political party) declared by word of spokesman martin bosma: `art is a leftist hobby'.


in the course `world and image' that i teach at the unit academy in nijmegen, we recently discussed the societal importance of colour...not even art, just colour. there is a lot of marketing research going into colour, because -obviously!- we are very sensitive to colour when it comes to buying the things we buy. so i quoted some studies on the economic importance of `knowing about colour'.

and i showed the students the absolutely marvelous book `art of colour' by johannes itten:

kunst der farbe, johannes itten
johannes itten, kunst der farbe (art of colour)

itten was a marvelous teacher, i think, and i also consider this book to be one of the most inspiring books i ever came across. (will continue this in a later post).

one of his art works:

johannes itten
johannes itten "Education is revelation that affects the individual."--Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, The Education of the Human Race, 1780. From the series Great Ideas of Western Man. (1966, click on the image for an enlargement)

[to be continued]