The Idea Is Art

I’ve been known to debate about a subject, which I like to call ‘The Idea is Art’. I defend that whatever imagery we can conceive of in our mind can be considered art, even when lacking a physical manifestation.

‘What is art’ has been debated ad infinitum, and some like to draw the line and say something is not art if it cannot be expressed - as art is, by definition, expression.

My argument is that one not even need express the idea outwards with our own voice, hands, or otherwise. The idea can exist purely in one’s own mind and still be a work of art. It is expression to oneself, therefore it is art.

I also enjoy drawing on this small thought experiment, to say that art can sometimes only be expressed when a technological bridge exposes the work to others:

Imagine first an island, which is surrounded by rocks and perpetual treacherous waves. The island is unapproachable and uninhabited. Now imagine an artist sailor, whos small craft crashes upon the rocks. The artist survives and is washed to the island, along with a bag containing paints, brushes, and some canvas. The artist, the first and only inhaitant of this island, paints a work on the canvas, and hangs it from a tree facing the seas. Other ships regularly sail past the island but cannot see the canvas, because it is too far away. One day, a crewmember of a passing ship uses a telescope and sees the canvas, the first observer. Only through this technological medium, the telescope, was another able to admire the canvas.

Now imagine that island as a brain, and the canvas an idea. We do not currently posess the technology to see the idea without purposeful outward expression by the thinker. The silence of the artist are rocks and waves to the observer. Eventually some device will be developed to allow us to see into the mind, to extract visions and dreams directly from the grey matter and project them onto a screen.

Does the current lack of this technology limit the definition of art? No.

Is the idea art, with or without the medium to admire it? Yes.