Monday, February 4, 2019

Would You Choose Nature without Art or Art without Nature?


On Facebook, I shared a little thought experiment: Suppose you had to choose one of the following two alternatives: #1) the rest of your life spent inside a palace / art museum with a changing show of whatever art masterpieces and movies you wanted to see, OR #2) the rest of your life in the ordinary or quotidian world with no access to the art, music, or literature of the ages. What would you choose?

Since content gets buried on Facebook, I'd like to share and preserve the comments here. 

Chris Waller #2. It is the source for #1 after all. Art is about experience, and although great art is indeed intrinsically great, it is already once filtered. Prefer the unfiltered source myself.

Sadie Jernigan Valeri Art museum. But I might change my answer if I get to live in Italy. With a dream art studio.

Linda Crank As much as I would love such a museum, I would choose to live in the outside world - to see and enjoy the living beauty there, to choose those subjects that my heart responds to, and to struggle with the challenge of expressing it to others in some way.

Michael Thom Nature and life is my primary inspiration to create art so although I love art museums, the outdoors would inspire more emoting of art from me.

Jennifer Chaparro #2, and I learned a new word today! Quotidian - of or occuring every day 🙂

Thomas Charles art museum

Carol Allen If 2) can I have unlimited art supplies?

Jason Daniel Jackson Number 2 if I understand the question correctly. With number one you’ll never get to experience nature again.

Zoungy Kligge probably choose the outside world-- most of my life is not spent in a museum right now, so to lock myself away would be a bigger change compared to never seeing classic art again. Also, art follows life. So, to be given the chance to live life and generate new art is better IMO than to never get to live again and only see art of the past. I don't know. Hard question.

Paloma Hill Outside. Somewhere warm. As much as I love admiring art, I love the real thing more!

Scott Elyard So, like living in Alaska with no money? I think I'm pretty well done with that. I'll take the museum.

Jeff Allen Outside world...

Harvey McDowell outside with my motorcycle.......

Tori Wheeler Two, even if I literally can't ever come inside again. As long as it's a reasonably temperate climate...haha.

Josip Aničić 2 because I get to see the real deal and make my own versions of it. As fun as looking at art is, making it is way better

David Nakamura #2. It'd be like being in the Truman Show. Eventually, you're going to want to experience the things being represented in the artwork and you'll go crazy being denied that.

Armand Cabrera Hmm, chances of most people surviving in the natural world for more than a season are slim to none. I'll take the museum.

James Gurney I'm assuming #2 comes with some kind of shelter from the elements, albeit with empty bookshelves and no pictures on the wall, other than the ones you paint yourself. Presumably both options would allow you to make your art and make a living.

Armand Cabrera So no predators? Inclement weather? Disease? Do you have to grow and hunt your own food? In nature, you would not have access to modern medicine? All of those things would be part of living in nature. Easier for a 19-century man than a 20 or 21st-century person.
Delete or hide this

Johan Wing OUTSIDE. Making my own art.

Ellen Kirk Two.

Zane Reichert #2, otherwise you live a life vicariously without substance.

Jeffrey Remmer Well I have seen a a lot of museums and shows so at this point of my life outdoors so I can paint.

Matt Bowe Quotidian.

Morgan Weistling It depends on who my captors are and a number of other factors. Would I still be risking being kidnapped at some point in this post-apocalyptic world. Is the food in the outside world contaminated by radiation at all? How long will the food reserves [last?]

James Gurney Good questions, which we'd have to answer if we were writing a science fiction novel version of the question. For this simpler thought experiment, I was assuming all other conditions were constant, so that the choice is between Art and Nature.

Cortney Skinner By their nature, hypotheticals can never be as complete, nuanced, or complex as the real world. So, I’d have to ask a few thousand questions to get a better idea of those two choices.

James Gurney I suppose the choice also depends at what point in life one was deprived of either art or nature. If you had to choose mid-life, you'd carry the memories with you. Wordsworth explores the feelings of an older artist dwelling in the memories of a childhood spent in nature.

Fernando H Ramirez Outside

Stevie Moore Sounds like the thesis of the question is past/future, old/new reflection/creation. I’m going to go with 2. The past and it’s great accomplishments is important, but they are after all history, and we must move forward, we MUST move forward.

Josh Eckert You'd surely be reinventing the wheel if you lived your life without knowledge of the arts of the ages. But you'd be happier reinventing the wheel (and making pre-Giotto-style art) than being locked away from nature.

Stevie Moore You’d definitely be happier if you didn’t realize you were inventing the wheel, or didn’t notice it. i think we actually have a mix of both now that I think about it. We’ve lost virtually everything about the cave art epochs, we know so very little abo…See More

Michael Syrigos Which the one where I can listen to Iron Maiden?

Jeff Fennel I must admit to being on the outside. Life is outside, therefor art is outside.

Mike Bolger Definitely outside. All the stuff in the museums was inspired by the stuff outside. If you had never seen anything, ever, your work would be as original as the guy who blew pigment on a wall to get his hand outline. Kind of originality by default! :)

Phaeton Holland If I am allowed to *make* art in the quotidian world, and appreciate the new works of others, that option might edge out being limited to the "art of the ages" — but still no easy choice.

Leslie Hawes #1, but I'd sneak out at night...or #2, and I'd break into the museum at night.

Greg Ruth Inside.

Susan Fox Easy choice. Outside. Nothing quotidian about the natural world.

Alex Uhan Outside is the art of the ages by itself.

Theresa M Quirk 1 if I will see people

James Gurney For the sake of this thought experiment, let's assume people are freely available in both circumstances.

Theresa M Quirk James Gurney I’ll still take 1. I find internal space self reflecting and it allows me to do things I enjoy. If people are plentiful we can discuss the art and focus in an internal space. Than there is food, drink, and absolutely great music.
Delete or hide this

Kate Barsotti Outside!

David Vosburgh Would the gift shop in the museum be selling art supplies in addition to postcards and stuffed unicorns? If not that'd pretty much be a deal-breaker for me...

James Gurney Yes, you could make art in the museum.

Ricky Mujica There is no such thing as a quotidian world if you have the right frame of mind. I'll take that.

James Gurney You're right. It would be quotidian only in the sense that with #2 you wouldn't get to watch movies or operas or see museum shows or read novels. And presumably we're talking about an intact ecosystem and not a ravaged post-apocalyptic state.

Ricky Mujica I would still make my own movies and operas if I were alive and healthy. Punk Rock, Rap, Blues, Jazz, Graffiti, Break Dancing, etcc. all come from DIY culture where dispossessed have no access to arts and culture and would be living in a quotidian world because they can't afford otherwise. So they create their own art. That's why it's nearly impossible to be in a completely quotidian society if you have the right frame of mind. The only way I can think of for that to happen is if you grow up in a very strict puritan household where music, dance, and graven images are totally not allowed. Or if you are a prisoner in a concentration camp or something like that where the only thing you have time for is trying to survive. In that case I would prefer the museum! Lol!

Cathy Fenner outside always

VI Herron outside.......always

Vicky Shoupe Outside for sure. God's masterpieces all around us!

Katie Hofgard Option two, I can't possibly live my whole life indoors. Nature is art, AND I can still make my own!

Anh Khoa I think both of them are good. We have to learn from the masters in the past and their masterpieces. But we also have to study from another master - the nature. So I still want to choose both if I can :D

John Perry Baumlin Tough choice, but I'd pick the second option.

Joe Kulka Am I going to the only to admit that they had to look up "quotidian"? (which, by the way, would be the choice that I would make)

Ruth Ann Greenberg Museum, no brainer!

Jesper Myrfors Whichever I chose, I would regret it eventually.

Brian Jones The cafeteria would have to be absolutely epic.

Carolyn Smith This idea makes me miserable, but I would absolutely have to choose 2

Barry Van Clief Outside, making art

Jc Amberlyn Second choice, because as much as I am inspired by others' art and enriched by such exposure, my key joy in life is experiencing life and then translating it through my own art.

Pamela Vossler Have to be with nature. Man can’t compete with what you see in Nature.

Tony Brown Outside. I love art but we can never achieve the full beauty of nature.

Marcy Muncie Stevens Hmmmmmmmm

Matt Dicke Outside

LaRinda Chapin That's a tough one. As much as it pains me, I would probably have to chose 2. Luckily it hasn't come to that!

Harrison Chua B

Harrison Chua As wonderful art is - it is essentially looking at the world through other people's eyes. Seeing the world for yourself is priceless. But... Art is amazing!!! Hope all is great!

Joshua Been I'd stay outside and create the art of the ages 😉😎🔥

Cathleen Richards-Green Definitely outside....creating my own art 🖼...and watching others creating theirs!

Cindy Riddle Blachly If I HAD to choose, I would choose 2, but I’m happy I don’t have to!

Thomas Olson The world.

Shay Eyas Christine Outside. Nature is art :)

Greg Somers I think it was Pierre Bonnard who said: "The best thing in the Louvre are the windows."

Calvin Messinger That is a tough question. I wouldnt have started painting and drawing without the masters, tho, so I would probably pick option #1. Eve if the pieces I did were copies, or derivatives, I would rather have that kind of art than not having the idea to draw at all.

Patricia Ridge Bradley I could never enjoy a two-dimensional, gilded prison that worships the past. I’d choose the world of humanity, the freedom of creativity (armed with my education) and hope for the future.

Eugene Arenhaus Outside. I can make the art.

Ivo De Wispelaere If 2 includes art supplies in thé outside quotidian world, I'd choose that option. It's about creating things mainly for me...

Eugene Arenhaus Ivo De Wispelaere Even if there are none, and no other people, there still will be clay, charcoal, birch bark...

Miłek Ja Outside has so much to offer, infinite value compared to just art. Yes, I did combine the words "just" and "art" :) There is more to life and the world than art, and first hand experience is more valuable than consuming a regurgitation of said experience, no matter how profound or skilled the regurgitator in question happens to be. I pick 2, no brainer. Both choices have a lot of "monkey's paw" potential, though.

AbiChan Senju I would choose 2 without hesitation

Vitaly Umansky Well, can we adjust the conditions? Can ANYBODY be there, too? Can there be an art store inside? Nature might seep in anyway.
Remember Camus? It’s enough to spend a day in freedom, to have enough to think about for a lifetime in prison (or something)

Vitaly Umansky I wonder if you choose one, would you eventually feel you are a permanent exhibit in the museum? Some revered Pygmalion - transforming from the natural to the artistic.

Yogesh Sambahangphe Outside. And then make art.

10 comments:

Timothy Bollenbaugh said...

Were Arthur Denison to have washed ashore #2, his role and a full life awaits. Were he to be interred in #1 he would be researching and contributing to the sources, for others (an artist being the eyes of the archeologist, etc., or something like that, re "Imaginative Realism").

Either way, a vast and staggering range of implications. Either way I'd follow Arthur's example and you statement.

Bob said...

Love your Dinotopian comment, Timothy. I’d opt for #2 but only If I could live in Dinotopia — thus enjoying the best of both options: Dinotopia is nature and art.

nuum said...

Inside you would watch beautiful documentaries about the outside world in wonderful super high-definition screens.
Just imagine a Disney-Style 360 Screen ! This is far better than the outside world.
It would be like living outside and be able to fly.

Paulo
From Rio-Brazil

Jim Douglas said...

Suppose you had to choose one of the following two alternatives:
#1) breathing in, OR
#2) breathing out.
What would you choose?

James Gurney said...

Timothy, are you saying that with the right frame of mind you could make the most of either option?

Nuum, Yes, that option has its appeal. You have the benefit of the filtered consciousness of all artists from the past. And I think we can grant you all the cutting edge VR tech.

Jim, If the thought experiment seems overly artificial or unfair, consider that there have been some societies that have virtually banned visual art, dance, and music, usually driven by extreme religious ideology. Alternately there have been free citizens of certain urbanized environments that live most all of their lives indoors with most of their input mediated through the computer and television. Most of us, fortunately can partake of both #1 and #2, which is obviously ideal. But it's good to consider where you fit on this question, when, for example, you're planning a trip for four days to a new country. Do you spend most of your time in the art museum or outside in the real world?

Judy P. said...

All salient statements have been made previously already. For me it's outdoors; the self-discovery of a mesmerizing view looking into a storm drain cannot be had pre-packaged. Much of the beauty of life is found tripping over it. Anyway, with this crowd Art would soon be created anew, and we would be hanging it on tree trunks and cave walls!

Jim Douglas said...

Jim, thank you for responding so thoughtfully to my comment. To be clear, I didn't mean to trivialize the thought experiment but rather to highlight my difficulty with making the decision.

Choosing between Art & Nature feels like Sophie's Choice to me, where a woman was forced to choose which one of her two children would be gassed upon arrival at Auschwitz. An unimaginable and paralyzing dilemma. But if I were absolutely forced to decide, I would choose "Nature without Art," believing Nature to be the root of all Art, and pray that Art would one day return.

Timothy Bollenbaugh said...

Bob: Thank you!

James: Exactly, just as you exemplified in your books and blog.

Lynnwood said...

I love these questions!(Only a real artist could come with this one,James!)This one is too easy for me though.As a kid,Superman and John Carter of Mars were cool,but I literally wanted to BE Tarzan.I'm deeply in love with art but nothing gives me unfiltered joy like just being in the woods or at a favorite swimming or fishing hole!These hypothetical questions are so deceptively simple though, making you think about relative values,a worthwhile activity.Maybe that's why I love Crystal Bridges Art Museum so much! You kind if have both.....and they have the most wonderful coffee and banana cupcake... ( Judy,you're right.Storm drains are fascinating.)

nmsgwatercolors said...

School gave me a taste of the first. I pick nature any day.