Friday, November 30, 2007

Galeyev’s “Periodical System of Art”

A post by W. Shawn Gray on the iota list made me aware of the article “Periodical System of Art” by Bulat Galeyev ( Galaeyev classifies artforms on a two-dimensional diagram, with the vertical axis running from visual arts to audio arts and the horizontal axis running from “figurative and verbal arts” to “expressive (nonfigurative) arts”.

Galeyev organises the arts into three concentric rings. In the centre is the cultural practice of societies such as Aboriginal society, which fuses what we would call dance, singing, painting and so forth into one practice (labelled “folkloric” by Galeyev). The next ring has eight boxes containing the usually recognised artforms such as music, dance, painting and so forth, with some nuances. Thus singing is a pure audio art, balanced between the figurative and non-figurative poles; of its two neighbours, music is somewhat nearer the non-figurative pole and “art of word” somewhat nearer the figurative pole.

The outermost ring (16 boxes) contains newer artforms enabled by technology, such as TV (balanced between audio and visual art, extremely figurative or representational). I can place what I want to do in the box exactly opposite, namely art balanced between audio and visual art, but not at all figurative. Galeyev labels this box “light-music”. I think that this is distinct from visual music, which at least in part is conceived as a visual equivalent of abstract music, and probably belongs in Galeyev’s box “dynamic light art”. I found some of the labels hard to understand, as the explanation is condensed and there is a problem of translation.

I found Galeyev’s diagram thought-provoking. According to it, the nearest traditional art-form to “light-music” is dance, which is a connection I certainly hadn’t considered. I’m not sure what to make of this.

Galeyev doesn’t consider generative art in this article. It occurred to me that there could be a third axis running from free improvisation at one end, to a middle position where most aspects of the work are fixed, but by an artist working fairly intuitively (e.g. an orchestral score), to pure algorithmic art at the far end. This is an axis of immediacy of intuition. Since almost all artforms fall pretty well in the middle of this axis, this third axis would only give a slight three-dimensional thickening of Galeyev’s planar diagram!

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