Just what does ‘art for art’s sake’ actually mean?
It’s only human to find murky weather a bit depressing. There’s often plenty of mud, dirty puddles and so on too.
Of course, mist and fog (it’s a question of density) are often the backdrops for winter days and I was going to create a gallery of appropriate photos. But I found an existing one, on one of Caversham’s sister sites, Getting Directions. They were all taken locally to Caversham, and demonstrate the soggy beauty of it well enough.
As a by-product of mist and fog, dank days can serve to highlight the spiders’ webs that are all around us. I’ve always found them something to marvel at, not least the combination of their delicacy and seemingly impossible strength.
And from that start point I found myself wondering about art in nature. I imagine that for a spider, a web is just something they make, and what counts is whether or not it is doing its job (catching meals). I suspect how it looks is neither here nor there for the spider. We can think deep and meaningful things about the arty wonderfulness of them, but arachnid contemplations?
And then things get complicated! How about all the different animals? What things can you call art? Why are things made in the first place, and for what reason. And so on and so on. It gets complicated – but interesting. Complicated – and beyond the scope of a little web site about Caversham!
There are any number of ways to explore this topic if your curiosity has been aroused. And I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how to use a search engine. (If you do want a way in, this BBC article might fire up your grey cells nicely.)
But if you’re groaning at the thought of researching and thinking about all this, I’ll tell you my initial conclusion after my own (very limited) trawling around. And it is that for something to be art, it has to be being judged as such in a ‘disinterested’ way. And that means ‘the art’ (whatever it is) is being considered purely as it is – with no additional hoped-for gain of any sort. And naturally, of course, the judge can vary and thus the judgement can vary too. So for example, you might legitimately think of something as art in the ‘disinterested’ way I’ve outlined, but someone else might have who-knows-what emotional stake in it, or a financial interest. And so on. I’ll leave you to expand from that start point.
Meanwhile, to take us back to webs, I think it’s probably fair to strongly doubt whether the average spider is spinning one just for its own stand-alone ‘disinterested’ pleasure, whatever we humans might make of it.
And I’ll stop there! A gallery of wet web photos is to be found on the RG4 site, here:
All were taken in 2022 in a handful of locations in Caversham.