I’m posting this late because I didn’t pick up on the importance of McCloud’s last section until class and couldn’t, for the life of me, think of anything worthwhile to say, and then, after class, I needed more time to think about it.
I really wasn’t with McCloud at first with regards to the whole art is anything that isn’t born of survival or reproduction. It seemed a little reductive, but when I removed my current understandings of survival and reproduction, stripped them of anything but their bare minimum, it made more sense. I think, as a society, we’ve come to think of art as acts of solo genius, as places where innovation and beauty meet, and anything less than that is Not Art.
But McCloud has a point. The things we do in our free time are all based in creation, and there is inherently art in the act of creation (unless you mean creation as reproduction, in which case, I guess not). I wish the lines between Art and Not Art had gotten a little blurrier, though.
The fact that a good majority of the class resisted this idea makes it seem like it’s already blurry. Is there not, now that we’re past imminent danger from animals that want to kill us, teetering on the edge of starvation all the time, and in great need of producing children so we don’t die out, a little bit of artistry in the way we feed ourselves or do these basic survival tasks? We don’t need Gordon Ramsay plating for our food, but it still feeds us and keeps us from getting hungry, and so the lines there between survival and art are, if not overlapping, at least tangential.
I’m both suspicious of the broadness of his definition, and incredibly thankful for it. What McCloud does here is provide very little, if any, room for people to qualify art, effectively removing the problematic elements from other ways of seeing what is/n’t art. From McCloud’s definition, we can no longer play the high art/low art/not art game, an overall tradition that, if I may, has been steeped in a lot of fucking classism since its inception. If everything we do outside of survival and propagation is art, than the art that isn’t supported by the tradition of art history’s lauding the greats, we give room to art made by minorities, art made in socio-economically underprivileged areas.
I’m suspicious of it, though, because any definition that seeks to quantify so many things without nuance makes me at least a little suspicious. But, I think my suspicion is possibly pretty easily rectified by the fact that we can still have subcategories of art (which somewhat dips into the problems of the above, as well), which can help us position the art within culture better without classifying it as not-art.
I wonder, though, if art is not also necessary for our survival. How long would any of us live if we didn’t have the outlet of either making or consuming art? McCloud quantifies this as anything we do in our free time, but is that free time truly that separate from survival itself? I dunno.