Signs Of Authenticity

What are the signs of authenticity? We live in a world where there is a great desire on the part of people for art that connects with them personally that comes from a genuine place on the part of the artist. Yet there is a sense of artifice about everything that is involved in art. Art consists of the selection of elements that uses the skill of the artist to create something in a particular medium that represents something and communicates something. The artist often finds himself (or herself) in a dilemma in seeking to create art out of one’s own thoughts, feelings, observations, and experiences but also one which resonates with a hopefully paying audience. This is especially true if an artist has careerist ambitions and desires to make a living from art, which requires that there be people willing to pay for their art in some fashion.

One of the most persistent aspects of art is that there are people who deny that art itself involves artifice. This leads to the often vain and futile attempt on people to seek after forms of art that are incompetently made, as if that incompetence is a sign of something being real and authentic. So it is that some people praised atonal music rather than celebrating the competent arrangement of notes. Other people celebrate punk music made by people with no skill in singing or playing instruments while dismissing those who have spent the time and effort acquiring skill in such matters as being phonies. To the extent that we understand that all art is to some extent artificial and a pose and a simulacrum of reality, we can appreciate the skill that people use to turn the messiness of the real into beautiful art. We get enough messiness in life that there is no need for us to seek its presence in art.

When we examine questions of authenticity in art, we are led to ponder the purpose of the artist in the first place. Is the artist merely a slave of reality and all of its turmoil and messiness or does the artist have a responsibility to transmute the base material of reality into something glorious and beautiful that imitates the Creator’s skill? What is the responsibility of the artist? A great many artists mistakenly believe that their responsibility is to portray the world in all of its damage and brokenness. Yet anyone who is remotely aware of the state of this world is all too aware of its fallen state, and people often seek art as a way of overcoming or escaping this brokenness. When we instead see that it is the responsibility of the artist to provide a means of making the world more beautiful and less broken through skill, a great many artists are completely failing at their primary task. We do not need our faces shoved in the manure that this life has for us in abundance, but rather a way of turning that manure into fertilizer so that something useful and pleasant may grow thereby. Who are the artists who are going to make the world an authentically better place?

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Musings, On Creativity and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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