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Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Regarding "Art and Cognition"

By Kirk Hughey

Regarding: Art and Cognition: Mimesis vs. the Avant Garde
by Michelle Marder Kamhi

Any article appearing on the Aristos site can be counted on to present a Randian view of art that begins with David and ends with Ingres. It will predictably proscribe any art that relies on imagination and visual sensitivity over the didactically conventional. 

Certainly there are many people incapable of any direct response to art or life who will  always require some reference to another thing or concept to discern any "meaning" at all. Experiencing abstract art should be no different than experiencing anything else if we have an awareness that leads us to appreciate it for itself rather than some reference or use- a tree, after all, is not a "representation".  

Abstraction makes a direct appeal to the emotions and intuitions as all authentic experience should. On the other hand, if we demand some reference to reality it can certainly be argued that it presents a more insightful (and modern) view of fundamental physical reality than any conglomeration of phoney posies and cherubim.  

Since abstract art did not suddenly appear a hundred years ago but has been in evidence in many cultures and periods in all of human history it would seem at least as valid a subject for inquiry into human cognition as mimetic art. From a purely personal view, though, articles like this tempt me into the dread waters of the ad hominem fallacy and I can't resist thinking that any form of art so universally rejected by all totalitarian dictators (like Stalin and Hitler) as well as obsessive-compulsive ideologues (like Ayn Rand) can't be all bad.

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