Tuesday, October 20, 2009

(AE) Reflection on Yesterday's Class

Here's a brief argument that I jotted down while listening to the discussion yesterday:

1. Only actions, in contrast to mere objects, can be moral/immoral. (Jacob)

2. Art objects, in contrast to mere (perhaps aesthetically pleasing) objects, are always at least artifactual.

3. The artifactuality of art objects makes them, at least in part, performances. (Dutton)

4. Performances are actions.

5.Therefore, art objects can be moral/immoral.


  1. Interesting, though I think Dutton's point is invalid when applied to this conclusion. I will blog about this some point tonight.

  2. You mean Dutton's premise doesn't support this conclusion? Or Dutton's premise is false?

  3. Uncomfortable as I am with simple-minded moralistic critiques of art, I find myself strangely moved by this argument. Next would be to propose some parameters for good and bad ways to evaluate art objects in terms of their moral content.

    One thing the argument seems to leave room for, which I appreciate, is that an art work could presumably be valuable in an aesthetic sense even though we accurately deemed it immoral. In fact, that might make it even MORE immoral, as it could be insidiously beautiful and do more damage than if it were merely bad art (as well as being bad for us). Think for example of the Peter Greenaway film "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover," which I suspect is an evil masterpiece in just this sense.

  4. I think the argument has promise in the case of (live) performance art -- but, take music composition, for example: are the products of the artist (the scores) themselves performances, even in part?