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Art is an activity of creation and not of production. It is not intended to transform the world, understood here as nature, unlike a craft object which owes its existence to its usefulness. (first part). But, for all that, “the world” means something other than the external natural reality, raw or already modified by technology: it is the set of relations that we permanently weave with what is not us: nature, in the most banal sense of the word, but also other human beings, images, language, etc. As such, “artistic practices” transform the world because they modify the ordinary, instrumental relationship, by offering a particular type of experience. (second part). Moreover, artistic practices themselves undergo transformations over the course of history which contribute to influencing its course. (third part).
First part / Art is a creative activity that is not intended to transform nature and modify daily reality
Artistic practices are not guided by the search for technical efficiency. This is also why they are not assimilated to work which itself produces utility values. On this subject, Aristotle distinguishes the practice (which gives the word “practice”), namely an action that is directly valid for the agent himself, from poiesis, production of a work external to the agent.
If artistic creation implements techniques, these are not intended, as in work and production, to modify nature by giving it a form (“transformation” literally means changing from one form to another) which allows man to master it as far as possible. Think of agriculture which, for example, transforms the world in the interest of humanity.
Part Two / By offering the possibility of a different relationship to the world, artistic practices transform our relationship with it
However, “the world” is not reducible to nature or to the reality outside our minds. This word, in a relatively indeterminate sense, means both the ways of thinking, of imagining, of projecting oneself into existence. In other words, the world does not exist independently of the different relationships that we weave, individually and collectively, with others, the living, nature, etc.
Go further : what we call somewhat vaguely “the world” is it not basically the result, always provisional, of the totality of these relations. Among them, there is of course the search for objective knowledge called science. But there are many others, starting with the artistic relationship. In this sense, artistic practices transform the world by modifying the relationships we have with it. That’s exactly what it says Bergson in this passage from Thought and the Moving where the artist plays the role of a revealer in the photographic sense of the term: “What does art aim for, if not to show us, in nature and in the mind, outside of us and within us, things that did not explicitly strike our senses and our conscience? […] The great painters are men to whom goes back a certain vision of things which has become or will become the vision of all men. A Corota Turner, to name a few, have seen many aspects of nature that we did not notice. »
Third part / By extending the concept of artistic practices to its modes of reception and dissemination of works, art contributes directly to transforming the world
For a little over a century, the distribution of works of art has made considerable progress. Access to art is no longer reserved for a social elite. Similarly, advances in education and initiation to artistic practices represent a real democratization of which we have proof every year during the Music Festival. As shown Walter Benjamin in The work of art at the time of its technical reproducibility, when he takes into account the historicity of artistic practices, these, because they are themselves part of the “world”, experience changes which, in turn, transform reality itself. The invention of the cinema and the generalization of its access for the general public testifies to a change whose consequences go well beyond the mere increase in the number of possible spectators.
Positive and negative consequences, because, as Benjamin shows, if the cinema participates in the progress of the freedom of creation and expression, if it gives easy access to culture to the popular masses, it can, in certain circumstances, be used for the purposes of propaganda. We therefore observe here that an artistic practice contributes to transforming politics, which is one of the dimensions of the “world”.
“So what is Nature? She is not the Mother who bore us. She is our creation. It is in our brain that it awakens to life. Things are because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the arts that have influenced us.” said Oscar Wilde in “The Decline of Lies” (Intentions, 1928). In other words, the world is nothing other than the totality of the representations that men have of reality based on their experiences. These experiences are, each in their own way, the result of a relationship between the subject and reality. The world therefore does not pre-exist the gaze that I place on it, it is its product. This is why artistic practices transform it.
Find all the answers to the Bac philo 2022 test:
➤ General stream:
3. Text Comment: Essay on the foundations of our knowledge and on the characteristics of philosophical criticism, by Antoine-Augustin Cournot
➤ Technological sector:
1. Does freedom consist in obeying no one?
2. Is it right to defend your rights by all means?
3. Text comment: theEncyclopedia, by Denis Diderot