What is the point of art without religion? In listening to a talk on the ‘genius of creativity’ I see a slightly theist hint in the wordings, or at least a suggestion of divinity. What gives the ‘artist’ the right to consider themselves a creative, and who’s eyes are these assumptions being judged in?
As is my usual disclaimer, this is merely a question or opinion, not anything following significant research, but perhaps a topic that I might grant some research in the future.
Beauty is subjective, people agree or they don’t on the beauty of an object or a person. In art it is the same.. a painting or drawing will always be a painting or a drawing, but will it ever really be possible to label it as art, and who is to decide?
I personally have some issues with creativity, some are probably semantic, in that I would rather consider myself a problem solver with an eye for layout and aesthetics, than an ‘artist’. I feel that art often has the opportunity to be very lazy in creating a product, whether painting or installation. What I find questionable about ‘art’ is that for example, on a film with an art department, the team work as a hive to produce a coherent work, which in general far outstrips what one person could achieve. However, an unmade bed, a pile of bricks, a badly made film, however conceptual, will never to my mind compare to the collective talent put together in a truly good film without limiting budget constraints that’s developed over time specifically to get emotional response, tell a story, and possibly even change the world at some level. Yet we question paying £10 to own it on DVD but if we can afford it, and it is our interest, we may have no reserves about paying thousands for a single painting.
Aesthetics aside, people can be considered great artists because of a way that they choose to portray a concept. The concept may or may not be particularly revolutionary, and the reason to do the art is not always true inspiration but often pressure and need.
That I mentioned the unmade bed and pile of bricks does point to the importance of these ‘artists’ in our society. Like the lost generation of TV watchers, we need ties that remind us what happened at a point in time, that is part of what defines our existence.
This is not to say that nothing is art, more that what is often considered art these days, is quite far from it to my mind.
Like many jobs, for example, a writer may fight against a block to put across what they want to put across, and when they do, perhaps it’s not in the way that they see it in their mind, they see their product as unsuccessful and wish to refine it until it either carries their signature, or has no further progression in sight, based on constraints for time and money, or lack of will to continue to perfection.
Perfection is where the argument of this post is aimed. What is perfect, is perfect what some would consider divine?
Perfect can be mathematical in nature, at least in some ways, for example, a friend made a perfect sphere from a stone. This in itself took a couple of weeks of labour to turn out a small perfectly smooth object about 2cm high. I could argue that to create an object to the tolerances that would allow everyone to see it as a sphere is quite an achievement, perhaps deserving the respect of a great craftsperson. The object carries a history of thought, to hold it and know how it was made, you can carry the story and visualize it at all stages of production. We can also manufacture in huge quantities metal ball bearings to very high tolerances, but have no excitement when we hold one in our hands. By hand seems to carry huge value in comparison.
I’m not putting forward a particularly coherent argument because I don’t have very strong beliefs either way, I just take issues with the way that the terms “art”, “artist”, and “creative” get thrown around like they are meaningless, and as such, have become meaningless.
From my point of view, religion is a construct, and the notion of divinity in a religious sense is wrong to me. But without religion, what is the frame of reference? Are morals inherent or are they brought about by religion? Without morals, would we have a concept of good and bad, in action and in content, or is action and content so far removed that we cannot compare them in the same sense.. do we know good or bad without god?
Now I think it’s fair to argue that because we don’t all subscribe to a religion these days, we’re not going to run around and just kill people and steal because we don’t know any better. It is further in our nature to be social animals, and in a society we understand the repercussions of such actions and as such do them at our own risk. We can almost look at religion as an excuse to do things against society rather than for it.. but did these inherent morals in society form because of historic religions?
I know that I am asking more questions than I set out to answer, and I suppose that was to be expected. My dilemma is that I perhaps see ‘art’ as pointless without a god, and the fact that I don’t believe in a god, logically leads me to thinking that the creation of art is pointless. Art should be a reflection of a soul, which without god there is none, and so I can still believe that the artists in history who have believed in god, can create such masterworks, because their goal is impressing the divine, not the wallet.
Religion is a broad tool to give people the need to exist, and to co-exist. Without this tool, the question of ‘why am I here’ takes on a new meaning. The difference being, god would have me here for a specific purpose, but since in my mind there is no god, then I have no meaning.. yet I still exist. I don’t find this at all depressing, if anything I find it empowering that the only person that controls what I should do with my life is me. I choose to do what I choose to do because I know how that will affect me in society, and that is working towards how I wish to be.
Perhaps that selfishness is part of the trouble in the world today, should I wish to, I can focus my life on self improvement, whilst religions teach to look out for others and generally make the world a better place with compassion. Perhaps I’m not an artist, but I can still be a compassionate Atheist.