As I read the Danto reading, 2 main thoughts came to my mind: Dewey and Critical Design.

For the part of the critical design thought, here are some key quotes that triggered the thought:

I seek to identify the importance of the art I discuss not in terms of the art it influenced (or which it was influenced by) but in terms of the thought it brought to our awareness.”  (p 63)

Warhol’s art, in film and elsewhere, goes immediately to the defining boundaries of the medium and brings these boundaries to conceptual awareness. ” (p 67)

“Andy took every conceivable definition of the word art and challenged it. Art reveals the trace of the artist’s hand: Andy resorted to silk-screening. A work of art is a unique object: Andy came up with multiples. A painter paints: Andy made movies. Art is divorced from the commercial and the utilitarian: Andy specialized in Campbell’s Soup Cans and Dollar Bills. Painting can be defined in contrast to photography: Andy recycles snapshots. A work of art is what an artist signs, proof of his creative choice, his intentions: for a small fee, Andy signed any object whatever. This list could be protracted indefinitely. To be sure, Warhol’s way was clearly a via negativa. He did not tell us what art was. But he opened the way for those whose business it is to provide positive philosophical theories to at last address the subject.” (p 71)

We can see interesting aspects in the quotes above. First, an artifact, design, piece of art, critical design (any), brings to the foreground specific thoughts to our awareness. With Folkmann and the Dunn and Raby’s poop lunch box (and others), we saw that the medium and execution of the artifact, along with the aesthetic coding embedded in the artifacts help the artists increase our awareness to specific topics. It is interesting to see also bringing about the “boundaries of the medium” as a way to expand the problem space (my mind is now going to Defamiliarization as well). So then, is the merit of art and critical design that they bring to the foreground specific ideas/feelings/awareness (which of course goes beyond aesthetics perceived sensorially)? I really like the thought that Warhol did not define art, but simply opened up the space for discussion on what art is. It makes me think that the discussion itself is art. So, was our discussion in class art or was the artifact leading to the discussion art? (I lean towards the latter, but we somehow “changed” a bit from having the discussion itself).

As for the Dewey thought:

In a way, it seems that the underlying argument that Warhol could have made is that everyday life is aesthetic, but not everyone is in-tune or aware of the aesthetic qualities of everyday life. Dewey was an advocate for aesthetic experiences outside of museums, in our day to day activities and environments. Some of the key quotes I associate to this thought are:

“Pop art is a way of liking things. So it was not just the ordinariness of ordinary things that came to constitute his subject matter. His art was an effort to change people’s attitudes toward their world.” p 74

“It could only be framed when it became possible to accept the ordinary and to see that something could be art and yet look as much like an ordinary object as one ordinary object looks like another-the way Brillo Box resembles Brillo boxes as much as they resemble one another… Philosophical understanding begins when it is appreciated that no observable proper- ties need distinguish reality from art at all. ” (p 80)

“Unlike Duchamp, Warhol sought to set up a resonance not so much between art and real objects as between art and images, it having been his insight, as my aphorism from Kierkegaard implies, that our signs and images are our reality.” p81

In a way, I feel the social agendas of Dewey and Warhol align in a way. Dewey wanted to create a better life through aesthetic experiences, as an active, participatory relation to artful material and collective activity. So it requires an active subject. I would argue then that Warhol was trying to make people more active subjects in everyday life, more in tune with the beauty of everyday objects. Throughout the text we see references to a “difference between art and reality”, so “something could be put forward as art which so verged on reality that the two were undistinguished by any interesting perceptual difference.” I find this thought interesting because art in a way has to be grounded in our reality to be able to effectively bring to the foreground specific aspects of our culture, ideologies, etc.  So the two should not be differentiated in my opinion.

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