My art is my most truthful expression. It is the natural and creative impulse recorded in the clearest representation of how I am. In my experience, there is no way that I can be more honest with myself than when I am in the studio, completely engaged in the creative process. Therefore the result of these efforts can only be honest. Now whether or not honesty and truth are the same thing is not for me to decide, but this I can say for sure, that the music that I create, is a true representation of my creative abilities.
Patrice Rushen said something that struck a chord with me on this topic when she says that “you can have a high artistic aesthetic, and commercial sensibilities, and the two are not mutually exclusive.” This I believe to be true, however, there was a time that I felt otherwise. For a long time I considered Pop music, or music with “commercial sensibilities” to be somewhat contrived. Something about making music that sounded just like everything else, what Plato would label as ”imitation,” didn’t really appeal to me. I thought that it was like cheating almost; like the musicians and producers were trying to fool the audience into thinking it was something new and fresh. When we began this topic, admittedly, my mind first landed on Pop music as being untruthful. Now maybe this is personal preference stepping in, but in this particular instance, I would have to side with Plato. Imitation feels untruthful to me. Like plagiarism.
I have always believed that pushing the envelope in a creative industry is not only a great way to make a name for oneself, but also necessary for the medium. Art that is original, fresh, innovative while still being appealing to the masses is what we should all strive to create, in my opinion. Anything else, is imitation. But we are all guilty of imitation. And it works, it serves it’s purpose, as Aristotle says “people come to understand concepts, feelings, situations and ideas that they would otherwise not understand.” However for me, it just doesn’t satisfy. Being an educated musician I have a more educated palette than the masses, and I fear for the, as I watch them blindly consuming recycled progressions and rehashed stories with different sounds. It just can’t see how that is truth in art.
I don’t think there is a formula for instilling truth in art. But I think to have the skills to deliver a piece of work that truthfully represents the feeling of the artist is a step in the right direction. Not every artist is interested in making original works. As we discussed earlier in this course, imitation is a great way to learn a craft and develop the ability to find your own style, which in the end is essential. Practice allows for you to be in the moment and be free with your expression, so honing your skills is necessary as well to be able to create “proper art.” As Picasso states “The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.” The lie being the art, the representation of real life, or “perceived reality” as Plato would say. A good stepping stone for that would be becoming a technically skilled artist to open up the most opportunities. Now Picasso was an artist whose work was far from a representation of reality at first glance, but most people are able to understand it, and it was innovative at the time, so by my definition, he was a true artist.
To further define truth, I’ll go back to my opening. I believe that one’s skills will limit their ability to be truthful in their art. If you do not possess the right tools, you cannot do the job. These days, as producing becomes more and more accessible, I think we will see more “improper art.” As companies try to make more money be selling more products, they need to make those products appealing to more people. People who did not or could not get a proper education in the arts, but have enough wherewithal to work a sequencer and a drum machine. This will not yield a great result. No if one does have the ability, and the conviction to be truly original, to strive to create something new, to use their influences in the right way, and develop a truly unique engaging product, that is something I admire, that is true art.
Finally, we must acknowledge the audience, the true test for truth in art. Yes one should make art for themselves and not for others, but in the end, if one is to have a career in art, they must be able to sustain themselves, and the only way to do that, is to figure out a way to get people to pay to consume that work. Thus, whatever one creates must be appealing to the the masses on some level. It doesn’t need to make everyone feel good as Bobby McFerrin does, rather, I feel it needs to make people feel something. Fear, sadness, nostalgic etc… I think if a piece of art, be it a song, painting, dance or film awakens something inside of the consumer, it has served it’s purpose. It is true art.