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Can You Make Dead Art?

Clarification: this post isn’t asking the question “is art dead?” That’s an entirely separate issue that will argue itself in circles. No, to ask if art itself is dead is to ponder things such as, is art too self-serving, is there no such thing as originality, and can art be art in concept rather than existing to actually please an audience. No, we’re not here today to circum-reason ourselves into wondering if art has a pulse.

Our question is, in fact, quite the opposite.

Can you create art without breathing life into it? At what point does art cross the line from "vision" to "commodity?"

Image of a sculpture via:

The Muse

To answer these questions, let’s first start by examining the concept of ‘the muse.’

History has provided many forms of the muse. While it can be anything, a muse is typically a person who serves as the artist's inspiration. Zeus, the ancient Greek god the sky of formed the Nine Muses who oversaw the arts and sciences. In modern culture, the muse is often referred to in the feminine form, and because of this draws criticism by way of female idealism.

While the muse is romanticized more than it's criticized, we’ve indirectly blogged about the muse concept as being counterproductive to consistent creative output. Writing, painting, playing, or creating to a larger goal often involves a more regimented routine than waiting for inspiration. Either way, the muse stems from inspiration, and inspiration, we’d guess, stems from love of the thing itself.

Art from Emotion

If it’s not for love of the art itself, the process of artistic creation can be argued as the result of an emotional response along a wide spectrum. From this emotional spectrum, the output of creation is art. Therefore, it can be argued that art itself is an expression of emotion, whether that feeling be love, fear, anxiety, desire, or any of the myriad of emotions that humans experience.

Not to get too far off topic, but we know that art is so connected to emotions and emotional expression that there’s an entire integrated mental health subspecialty known as art therapy. Art therapy combines both the creative and visual arts with psychology to improve psychological outcomes.

Where does it derail?

Without asking him directly, let's assume that George Lucas create the original Star Wars franchise from a place of love and inspiration. Those that love Star Wars celebrate their fandom unlike any other (well, as a good fandom should). Then, let's say George Lucas sells his franchise to another company, and that company creates more Star Wars movies. Are the new movies any less valid than the originals? From the point of view of the fans, perhaps. From the point of view of the writers and directors? Perhaps not. It depends on the internal set of creative drivers. If I was a self-proclaimed "world's biggest Star Wars fan," and New Company hired me to write, direct or make new Star Wars movies, I'd be doing it because I was inspired. I'd be doing it out of love. But, if I was world's biggest Trekkie, perhaps this might be just another job.

The question becomes one of intent, leading back to art through the eye of the beholder.

In Pseudo-Conclusion

Ultimately, we’re back to the question that started this post. Can you make art that is completely devoid of emotion? It’s a tough question because it’s a personal one. Once the art enters the world, the intent of the artist is their own. It stands to reason that art is, on some level, “love and.”

Love and fear.

Love and loathing.

Love and pain.

Love and... money?

Why do you make art? If it's for love, hit the heart. If it's for "love, and..." tell us below! If it's for coffee, perhaps share one with us?

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