This Wednesday, June 15, general terminal students take the baccalaureate philosophy test. Here is the answer to one of the two proposed dissertation topics, produced by philosophy professor Evelyne Oléon.
“Do artistic practices transform the world? »
Analysis – problematization:
The expression, in the plural, “artistic practices” refers to the different forms of art envisaged from the point of view of doing: production, creation. It is the work of the sculptor who transforms the material to give it a shape, of the musician who works the sound material, of the filmmaker who takes and edits shots, of the novelist. The subject insists on the diversity of these practices but also invites us to think about what they have in common.
Can they transform the world? Do they have a power of action, of modification on the world? Are they endowed with efficiency, or even effectiveness? They will have to be considered in relation to other practices for which we recognize a power of modification. Technology transforms nature, political action transforms human life. Do artistic practices have an effect on the world? Art often seems to us to arise from the imaginary and not from the real, to open up a spiritual space of contemplation but not of action. Don’t artistic practices interpret the world rather than transform it?
Finally, the question questions the relationship to the world. The world is not only nature, the real, but the surrounding world, what men have in common, what they inhabit together, as men.
Do artistic practices have the power to transform the world? Is it also desirable that they seek to do so? What relationship can be established between this transformation of the world, if it is thinkable, and those initiated by other practices such as political practice for example. Is there a specific way for art to transform the world of men?
1/ Artistic practices do not transform the world and it is perhaps not desirable that they do so
HAS – The different artistic practices transform the material by informing it, by bringing out other possibilities from the natural given (new sounds, new forms), but do not transform the world itself. Aesthetic objects are first of all imaginary objects. They constitute an interpretation of the world and not a real transformation (a landscape interprets the world but does not modify it). The work of art is a world, it does not transform the world. This is what distinguishes artistic practices from technique. Art uses techniques but puts them at the service of the imagination while the technician aims to concretely transform nature.
B- The limits of engaged art which wanted to change the world, to transform the lives of men but which loses, in doing so, the gratuitousness of the creative process by yielding to ideology, confusing artistic practices and political practices. Wanting to change the world through art often means putting aesthetic revolutions at the service of political revolutions – example: the Russian constructivists, the Italian futurists.
2/Artistic practices do not transform the world but our view of the world
HAS – If artistic practices do not transform the world, they can change the way we see it. The arts give to see, to perceive. It is a question of changing not the concrete life of society but of effecting a spiritual revolution. Not of “transform the world”as Marx said of revolutionary praxis, but of ” change the life “according to Rimbaud’s wishes.
B- Art gives to see – as Alberti says about perspective in the Renaissance: “The painting is a window on the world. » For Proust, the painter operates the gaze, gives new eyes to see the world. It creates, for our perception, a geological catastrophe, a real earthquake, overthrowing old models, creating new ones.
3/ Isn’t this aesthetic transformation also a transformation of the world, a transformation specific to artistic practices?
HAS – The changes introduced by artistic practices cannot be limited to the “art world” alone. Artistic practices often have decisive effects on social life, whether we think of photography, cinema, the role they played in the history of the twentiethe century, revolutionizing the relationship to traces, to memory, to the way of doing history.
B- The transformations introduced by art are not only those of the gaze. This is obvious with the artistic practices of the XXe century, which act directly on reality and not on our perception of reality: the land art, it is art that makes the landscape and does not just represent it. the body artit is art that modifies the body and not our representation of the body as the nude does.
But the transformations that artistic practices introduce are specific transformations that cannot be confused with those introduced by science, technology, politics. These are slow, unpredictable transformations, without control of the will, avoiding ideologies and the desire for power, doubtless even avoiding any project to transform the world.
Conclusion : even if it is advisable to think about the specificity of artistic practices, of their possible impact on the world, even if it is advisable to distinguish them from any other practice, artistic practices do contribute to ” change the life “ according to Rimbaud’s expression, and to make worlds.