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"Art contests" Topic


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342 hits since 12 Mar 2015
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Great War Ace Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2015 9:05 a.m. PST

I've thought about the "DanceSport Amateur Championship" stuff, that my niece is competing in this week. What bugs me is anything artistic turned into a "sport", i.e. a contest with first place on down to losers. That's just messed up. Art is not supposed to be a competitive thing. It is expressive. You can point to accomplishment and compare it to tyro status. You can certainly assert, "She's talented!" And be right about that. Comes along a dancer who blows her own socks off dancing, and you can say, "She sure is MORE talented!" Anyone with half a minute to watch the two of them would agree that the latter is more talented or accomplished than the former. But why, WHY go further and make up a contest to officially recognized the one above the other? Why encourage mobs of dancers (painters, piano players, whathaveyou, ARTISTS) to compete to rank themselves? And why place such confidence in the judgment of a panel of experts? This panel is not every panel, and the panel next year will include new judges with different aesthetics and therefore differing subjective judgment.

What this boils down to is a contest between the judges, not the dancers. It's the same with the Academy Awards. "Best Picture", really? How do you come up with that one? If a hundred movies come out in a year that are terrific, as good as movies get, how does any panel of judges make a significant statement of "best" by picking ONE? Stupid.

I saw no difference between my niece and her partner and partners "416", yet I thought 416 were very, very good. Just different, both looking and moving. Both teams were GOOD. Flawless? I wouldn't know if such a thing even exists. I saw mistakes. Teams got in each others way, sometimes bumped a teensy bit. I saw an occasional imbalance occur, or extra steps to keep from stumbling. Amateurs, all, and very, very good.

My brother-in-law pointed out how to tell if a team was being noted down: watch the judges to see who they are watching just before they write them down. So it was that in the last dance-off, he was watching the judges and not his daughter. And he said, "I have to say that I don't think she made it this time." And he was right. They weren't watching her anymore and she was cut out.

It is a contest of judgment, not dancing. You have to come up with a winner, so those effectively equal are graded below a winner, even though there isn't any significant difference in quality of performance between any of the top dozen or so teams. So why bother? Because we are the race of "honey bunch of stink weeds", and we love the crowd to tell us how wonderful we are. And some of us need it in order to believe in ourselves.

In sports you have clear winners, they finish first, after all. How does someone finish "first" in the arts? Only by being lucky enough to impress a panel of subjective thinkers. Continue. But I am not, and never was, interested….

Streitax Inactive Member13 Mar 2015 9:54 a.m. PST

Certainly any competition that's been around for any length of time soon has 'experts' that can tell you what the judges on THIS panel like to see and help you tailor your performance for them, for a fee of course. It is true in judging teams in agriculture all the way up to piano competitions. You are right, it is no longer 'art', an expression of self, it's just a competition in pleasing the judges.

Smokey Roan Inactive Member13 Mar 2015 11:01 a.m. PST

Exactly. Cheerleading is another example.

Reminds me. I won first place in the second grade "Pearl Harbor Day" painting contest by the local VFW in WPB

(Even then Smokey was politically astute. Did a great painting of that black dude manning an AA gun on the…uh…Oklahoma?) SUREFIRE WINNER! (the hero played by Cuba Gooding in the awful movie)

Won a 25 buck bond.

Still have it. never cashed it in. Uh, is a 25 buck savings bond from like 1975 worth anyone today?

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2015 5:57 p.m. PST

So I guess none of you would read literature that won the Pen/ Faulkner prize, or Booker prize, or Pulitzer prize, or Governor General Award, or Pulitzer Prize, ………..?

How about an Oscar winning movie? Palm d'Or?, any one?

Competitions in Art have been around ever since someone had money to purchase commissions. Just ask Pericles and Phidias.

Personal logo Great War Ace Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2015 6:15 a.m. PST

I know. Mentioned the Academy Awards in my rant, didn't you notice?

No, I don't attach importance to "Best Picture" or any of the rest. I would not cooperate in ancient Greece, when all of this eminence stuff got started for the "West". Peaked during the Roman empire. Went down the tubes with everything else during the "barbarian incursions". Resurfaced during "the age of chivalry", peaking again before the "religious wars" put paid to the status quo yet again. "The age of enlightenment" held the conceit that it was above such mundane things as the arts as worthy material for contests: science was too big in everyone's mind then, the new religion of the deep thinkers. Art was for enjoyment and expression. But slowly the human need to be the best resurfaced in art circles and debates on who was the greatest turned into money making deals. Who was it who bought that French painting a month ago for c. a third of a billion dollars? Nothing more than an eminence "contest" amongst billionaire peers.

I will draw a small distinction with literary "prizes". It isn't that other books lost, so much as it is a recognition of vaunted superior writing in this single case. Doesn't mean that other writers are incapable of impressing the "colleges" of judges, only that writing this time impressed them. There is a huge distinction in a physical production over a performance anyway. If it were not for our capacity to record audio and visually, we would not even have a record of a fabulous performance in dance or music, etc. And the recording is only that, not the actual thing. A book, picture or sculpture, etc., is a thing of beauty forever (while it lasts). It can be judged on its own merits forever. A dance contest is quite a different thing. Much like a race, except that "winning" is subjected to the aesthetics of the "judge". Hardly the same thing as real sport events, or a physical piece of art that endures "forever"….

Smokey Roan Inactive Member14 Mar 2015 10:30 a.m. PST

Generally Bowman, and especiall in the last 20 years, a "Best Picture" movie means it's almost automatically something I don't want to see.

Same with Pullitzers.

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2015 9:49 p.m. PST

Western civilization has benefitted quite a bit from our inclination to divide things up: biology, botany, zoology, ichthyology; electrical, electronic, mechanical, structural, civil engineering; commerce, church, state; art, sport, craft, hobby. But we need to remember that other societies didn't make the same distinction or didn't make distinctions at all. When something hovers on the line and the definitions become a hinderance rather than a help, we need to let go of them.

I agree that competing in "art" is weird. My wife is a member of a local art group that meets monthly. Everyone brings something they've completed recently: a painting, a necklace, a turned wooden bowl, a sculpture, kumihimo braiding, whatever, and then they vote for the best and the creator wins a prize. There are more painters than anything else, so paintings always win. When she comes back from the meeting and tells me about it I jokingly call it the "art popularity contest".

Still artistic competition has been useful over the millennia. Let's remember that Sophocles and Euripides and that crowd were most definitely in formal, public, and municipally important contests when their plays laid the foundation for, well, literature, theatre, film, and narrative structure in the west.

I'm pretty sure that's exactly the same as doing tricks on a snowboard as an Olympic event.

So where these contests are helpful, where people are striving to improve their performances, their craft, their expression, where people are entertained, kids build character, and people share their passion and are inspired and blah, blah, whatever, these things are good. When they don't do anything for you, well, they don't do anything for you. We should neither throw the baby out with the bathwater nor preserve the bathwater. Let the people who care about those things, who enjoy them and profit from them, have them. But just because something won a Hugo doesn't mean I'm going to like it, and, on occasion, just because something is terrible doesn't mean we can't enjoy it.

Now that this is settled let's talk about those board game ratings on BoardGameGeek.com!

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