I personally believe that math was discovered. First of all, math works very well in the natural world. It can be seen in the way plants grow – the spirals of petals and leaves follow mathematical patterns and sequences such as the fibonacci numbers. I do not believe that humans could have invented something that works so perfectly.
However, there may be certain aspects of math that were invented by humans. I think it is something we use to help us understand the universe. The fundamental parts were always out there, but we invented a system that we could use to help us discover them.
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Do the arts give us knowledge, or do we obtain knowledge through the arts? Some knowledge is categorized under the arts, like the principles and elements of design. These principles allow artists to understand line, shape, form, color and many others in order to create aesthetically pleasing pieces. There are also other concepts, like perspective, that artists learn and incorporate in their pieces. But although all of this is related to the arts, it is also linked to other areas, especially mathematics. This is seen with perspective and the golden ratio, which is mathematically calculated.
Arts are also able to communicate messages to us. Through looking at a piece of art, we may understand the intention of an artist. But these messages are rarely about art itself – they are usually commentaries on society or other areas of knowledge.
Because of this, I can see that art allows us to gain knowledge from other subjects, more than it gives us knowledge by itself. But I also believe that art can convey feelings to us, and invoke emotion. This is something unique about art, that is rarely seen so widespread in other subjects.
Early in 2011, Vivian Maier, an 83 year old street photographer had her work “discovered” to great acclaim only days after she passed away. This is not the first time that an artist – musicians, visual artists and actors alike – remained unrecognized for years, only to find fame and fortune after their deaths. Van Gogh is probably the most well-known example. He was not very successful while he was alive and could rarely sell his works. But after he died, his work became extremely valued by society, and he became famous world-wide. There are a few reasons why this could have happened – it may be because collectors were looking for different things when he was alive, and he was ahead of his time. Or, it could be because he was no longer around to produce more art, so his old work became more valued.
There are other cases in which these reasons do not apply. Especially with artists who die young, like Heath Ledger. He became even more well known after his deaths and received many awards.
There is definitely a difference between skill and art. In arts, skill helps an artist create art pieces and convey their messages. If an artist is skilled, the message in his or her work may be easier to understand by the audience, as the artwork is visually appealing and stimulating. However, not all skillful work is immediately considered art. Skill is learned – it is the ability to do something very well. But this means that skill does not require much originality, whereas creating artwork usually involves both creativity and originality.
An art student copying the painting of the Mona Lisa would exhibit great skill, but a skillful rendition does not make the copy “art”, as it is not original or creative. Conversely, a person learning to play the guitar may practice famous songs and learn to play them well, but the songs are not art – this person would only create art when he or she learned to combine the techniques learned and create new, original pieces.
Can something that requires little skill still be considered art? For example, Jackson Pollock is a very famous drip painter. His drip painting (a form of abstract art where paint is dripped or splashed onto a canvas) does not seem to require as much skill as realism, but it is definitely considered artwork. Knowing this, I think that skill aids artists in creating artwork, but not all artwork is dependent on skill.
When artists create pieces of art, be it visual art, music or any other variant of art, they are often trying to convey a message. These messages are put into the work intentionally by the artist, and may be linked to their personal lives, or be commentaries on politics and society. Evidently, it is inevitable that some artists will create work with negative, violent themes. When this happens, these works may offend people. The artist may be blamed for inviting more violence or even promoting violence. Marilyn Manson has been accused of this in the past, because certain people believe that his music is inviting youths to commit more violence. But even so, is Marilyn Manson responsible for these youths, or is it their completely their own fault?
I believe that the intention of the artist is important. After all, the artist is intentionally including a message in their work. Is the artist intentionally inviting youths to be violent – egging them on? This is most likely not the case. Even if a piece of art has violent themes, or if the lyrics of a song are violent, it does not mean that the artist wants more violence in the world. Art is always interpreted differently by different individuals. Next, every individual is responsible for his or her own actions. Even if the actions of an individual is affected by something, like song lyrics, this does not make the actions of the individual the fault of the artist’s.
Finally, as individuals are responsible for themselves, artists do have certain responsibilities when creating artwork. The messages that they are sending out through their work should not be harmful, as to avoid offending or discriminating against others.
In the past, art was aesthetically pleasing, created by great masters and professionals with refined techniques. But today, we are able to find art in many variations. Even common objects have been called art and are exhibited in galleries. So, how can we define art and what falls into its boundaries?
Personally, I believe that art is created to invoke emotion or convey a message. Art is often aesthetically pleasing and stimulating, but the message that the artist intends to convey is equally, if not more important. Any piece of art can be interpreted in many different ways, and will cause individual people to feel different emotions. If an artist creates piece of work which intentionally invokes emotion or communicates a message, it is art.
Other than conveying messages, another important part of art is its uniqueness. In my opinion, not everything can be considered art. If there is no thought put into the creation of something – if it is mundane and non-creative – it should not be considered art. Thus, something that is mass-produced will probably not be considered art. For example, fashion and clothing is art – but unless it is individual and unique in some way, a plain unaltered uniform worn by hundreds of students is not art. In the same way, a plastic souvenir of the Venus de Milo would not be considered art, because it is machine-made and unoriginal.
History is not simply a record of all past events, but a record of what we think is important from the past, and what historians have chosen to interpret from the sources we have available to us. As they are interpreting history, these historians may unintentionally explain events in a way that will benefit certain groups more than others. These historians will inevitably color their arguments with their own biases, as different historians will interpret events differently. To add on to this, the history that we know is always changing based on new evidence that we find – historical revisionism.
Different figures can also shape history by rejecting ideas, changing our records of the past and changing our knowledge of history. This is different from revisionism, as revisionism entails refining a historical event based on new evidence, not denying the event itself. Historical denial is protecting information from being shared and claiming that facts are untrue. It can involve blame-shifting, censorship and media manipulation. Some government figures and leaders do this, altering history in their nations to help themselves. An example of this would be the Russian president Dmitri Menvedev. In 2009, he established the History Commission of Russia, to counter attempts to rewrite history in a non-patriotic way, that would disadvantage Russia. Historian Isaak Rozental said that “[This] approach is not to study history but to use it.”
Evidently, we cannot say that history is comprised entirely of facts – it is subjective, full of many perspectives or viewpoints. So, it it interesting to consider how “true” our history really is, and how to justify this truth. But in my opinion, absolute truths are not always available. Through historians, we can only interpret evidence to the best of our ability, and try to find a glimpse of the truth.