Exegesis Volume 3 Issue #24

From: "William D. Tallman"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #23

From: "Roger L. Satterlee"
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #22

Exegesis Digest Sat, 07 Mar 1998

Date: Wed, 4 Mar 1998 23:08:17 +0000
From: "William D. Tallman"
To: exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #23

 > From: mary downing
 > Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #22

 > Dear Mr. Tallman
 > I love wordy discussions about the nature of art, artists, science
 > and technology somehow evolving into an apologia for astrology.

Happy to oblige!

 > I'm an visual artist working in multiple media, including
 > electronic. Have been making a living at it for at least 45 years,
 > which qualifies me as an expert. I am also an astrologer. Both
 > disciplines require craft, both are technologies. They are no more
 > science than baking bread or brewing beer.

No, these are not sciences, of course, but they are both supported by science, and to the extent the science is ignored, the opportunity to expand the scope and possibilities of these or any media is severely limited. But this is a point that needs qualifying, I suspect.

You claim expertise, and 45 years of successful practice certainly supports your claim. There is, however, a difference between expertise and mastery, and I would elucidate this without either specific or general judgment. The model that is useful to explain this hierarchy is that of the old Guild system, where one is an apprentice to a master, and then expands on what is learned by going from shop to shop, usually traveling from town to town: hence, journeyman.

When one develops a personal and unique style that is well regarded in the marketplace, one then sets up shop to supply that demand with product that is hallmarked, identifying the product as that of a master. This continues today in certain creative fields, notably in fashion design, but there are others. Most of us, and I suspect that includes both of us in our careers, come to rightfully claim expertise, but not successful establishment of the sort of creativity that pushes the envelop of our profession. So we cannot call ourselves masters, I think. On the other hand, it is the journeyman experts like ourselves on whose shoulders the integrity and excellence of our professions rest, and that's quite enough for most of us.

 > Artists are manipulators of media. The quality of their work is
 > judged by the skill and originality/aptness of message being
 > expressed. Biochemists may analyze their media, or programmers and
 > engineers compile electronic tools. It comes down to skill of
 > manipulation, content of message, and domination of media. The
 > "hand", the tools, and the "vision".

The biochemist and the programmer make their contributions to the science and technology that supports the media, and without that support the media stagnates and artistic considerations become more and more rigid as creativity and originality are made more difficult. The artist who elects to not be aware of the science and technology that supports his or her activity is quite likely to become less and less competitive in the changing marketplace that drives science to provide more technology. The thing is, the artist need not *be* the scientist or technologist.

 > "Fine art" assumes a historically unjustified concept that the work
 > was done for itself and not at the behest of a patron. That would
 > disqualify the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, the entire practice of
 > architecture, opera, theatre, and most monumental sculpture.

Hear, hear!!!

 > There is a real difference between the analytical dismemberment of
 > science and the active manipulation of art. The artist has no need
 > for the indepth knowledge of the scientist. He only needs to know
 > what works and what doesn't. "Why" isn't his concern. I do not need
 > to understand why titanium oxide is white to dip my brush in it. I
 > don't need to know why linseed oil thickens when exposed to sunlight
 > to know it makes a better medium -- I just need to know that it
 > does.

And this is the common justification for the irrelevance of science and technology for the practice of a craft or art. Robert Hand has made some interesting observations about this issue: he says that only a few centuries ago the scientist went to the craftsman to discover *what* they wanted to know, and then set about trying to figure out the *why*. Now the situation seems to be reversed, but if the craftsman doesn't take the time to go see what the scientist discovered, he/she is ultimately left out of the loop because the *why* makes possible more potential, etc. of the *what*.

 > In fact, the more the "artist" needs to know about the technology of
 > the media in order to produce a product, the less "fine" the art is
 > considered. We are justly in awe of a Fabrege bauble, but it is now
 > "design" and craft, not fine art. Printing is a technology that
 > requires infinitely greater knowledge than the design component of
 > the graphic artist, yet because of its technological restrictions,
 > graphic design is not a fine art and nobody gives the printer time
 > of day.

What you have said is insightful, but I think the conclusions we draw aren't necessary: because a process is made possible by the results of science and technology doesn't mean that it cannot be a art. Art is the result of the artist, and I have seen some quite startling acknowledged art result from the printing process. I suggest that any process can produce art in the hands of an artist, and the norms of common usage only describe the mean and not the potentials.

 > We can have an artistic "craft", a decorative applied art. That
 > would also include all designers, copywriters, non-creative
 > musicians, etc. Equally I would include chefs, brewers,
 > confectioners.

Probably so, although I think the operative item here is creativity. We call musicians who are not composers *performance* artists, and i suspect the same idea applies to some chefs, brewers, confectioners, etc.

 > So where does astrology find itself in this company? Not "fine"
 > art, unless we limit astrology to mundane prediction. Where else
 > can an astrologer be creative and original?

And this is the essence of the discussion. How does astrology come to be considered an art? Is astrology a medium susceptible to artistic performance? Again, I think this issue begs the question before us, which is the relationship between astrology and science.

 > Astrologers do treat their endeavor as do craftsmen. They use
 > media, which they don't understand in depth, and apply it. They
 > have developed an operative technology that serves their needs. So
 > have bakers, printers, jewelers, etc.

Hand makes this contention, and I tend to agree, though one might ask the same question about professions that are similar in practice to that of astrology. I think we would gain some perspective if we did so. And those who simply use an operative technology could reasonable be called operators, I think, though that refers to another post...

Another contribution to the wordy discussion!



Date: Thu, 05 Mar 1998 09:30:58 -0500
From: "Roger L. Satterlee"
To: Exegesis
Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #22

ON: Mon, 2 Mar 1998 22:40:33 +0000 "William D. Tallman" Wrote:
 > Subject: Re: Exegesis Digest V3 #21
 > < snip >
 > In short, the assertion that astrology is an art is, in my view, a
 > rather feeble attempt to dodge the responsibility placed on the
 > practitioner to strive for what improvement of skill and
 > understanding is possible. It is obvious that the master astrologer
 > is also an artist, but this doesn't necessarily confer the status of
 > art on astrology. Even if astrology is accepted as an art form, it
 > must have a science, and a technology, and etc to support it. < snip >

Astrology is singular in its breadth. It is a means to coordinate any and all of our acquired knowledge, perceptions, whatever. All studies enhance our sublime enjoyment of playing what-goes-with-what, astrologically. Even more important is the examination of what goes with what in our individually configured minds--why we seem to have such convincing personal biases--the *truth* of what we have selected to perceive and to express. In as much as we are individuals we cannot be all things to all people, the narrowness of our human nature seems to seek out the details we need to better describe our breadth. The desirability of any particular *skill* is completely dependent upon what one has chosen to perform. Do I detect a sentiment here that astrology is supposed to be dedicated to meticulous predictions?


roger9 11:53PM EDT 26Jul50 76W48 42N06 http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7406


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