Richard Sennett on Art and Craft



good evening and welcome to the Getty Center my name is Peter Tchaikovsky and I helped organize the lecture program here at the Museum and we're glad that you found some time this holiday season to stop in for some intellectual stimulation and hope we'll see you again our next lecture is a week from Sunday and as you saw on the rotating screen Peter Scott born from Amsterdam will be here to kick off our Rembrandt exhibition which opens next week Rembrandt and his pupils telling the difference is the name of his lecture that lecture in all programs here at the Getty are always listed on the website get edu the occasion for or the opportunity for tonight's program are our current photographs exhibitions I know many of you got to see them earlier this evening but if you haven't already you still have some time to visit some time before the exhibition's end not tonight Irving Penn's small trades exhibition an example of which is on the screen curated by Virginia Eckert and and Lacoste and it's accompanied by an in focus exhibition this is our series of exhibitions which highlight the deep collections of the photography here at the getty museum and pick a subject or an approach to photography and and illustrate it throughout the history of the medium so the current exhibition focuses on images of workers including this one by Lewis Hine and this one by Walker Evans and both of those exhibitions are open into 2010 one of the little known facts about Jay Paul Gettys extraordinary bequests to this institution was that he did not designate his funds for the study of art history but rather for the very simple and broad purpose of the advancement of artistic and general knowledge our Guinea perspectives lecture series explores the relationship between artistic and general knowledge by periodically bringing speakers and scholars from a variety of disciplines to explore this what what an art museum can teach us about general knowledge as you saw on screen and I'll just mention our next getty perspectives lecture that a scheduled won't be until May but it'll bring the author Jeff Dyer here to the getty museum and many of you may not have read jeff dyer but he's quite a gifted writer who works in both fiction and nonfiction and is generally classified as a writer whose unclassifiable so i highly recommend that you mark that on your calendars and come back some of his titles include Yoga for people who can't be bothered and Jeff in Venice neither of which are what they might seem from their title tonight we're very pleased to welcome Richard Sennett to the Getty Museum Richard Sennett is someone who I think embodies in many ways this idea of the advancement of artistic and general knowledge in his rich body of work which I won't recapitulate now he brings in many ways an artist sensibility having been a cellist for most of his life he frequently draws on the art of music to inform the way he thinks about social sociological problems and he's also a person in the social sciences who very frequently relies on and explores artistic creation as something that can help him understand the problems that he's set forth in his own work his latest were book the craftsman obviously as the title indicates is one such an example where he uses the accomplishments of artists to help him understand broad sociological issues and he just told me that the book was awarded just two days ago the Spinoza he's changed the title of his talk tonight so if you came to hear about an old unhappy marriage you're going to instead hear about simply craftsmanship please welcome Richard Sennett well thank you very much for inviting me I'm going to read for about 45 minutes and then maybe we can talk I mean it's a very grand hall but we may be talking formally for for 15 minutes after that I gather there are people with roving mics who can help us do that I changed the title of my talk because I really sort of seduced and interested in the exhibition that's that that's here and it's it's a fantastic exhibition and I urge you if you haven't to go see it these the photographs had make up small trades pan shot in 1950 and 1951 and in Paris London and New York and these are really landmark images in photography but I'm gonna speak this evening about their subjects rather than about pens art the people who figure in small trades are artisans craftsmen of all sorts waiters – welders – window washers and I want to explore with you tonight three issues first a sort of political aura is surrounds craftsman and second I want to say a little about the nature of craftsmanship is kind of pricey of my book and I'm not sure it's clear but you'll tell me and finally I thought it would be interesting for us to think about in what ways the people that we see involved in these small trades might hold up a mirror to ourselves we recognize anything about ourselves in these craftsmen now all of these are big subjects and and my aim is only to raise in your minds questions about what you see on the walls of this exhibition let me say something first about the political image of the craftsman because the people in these photographs are subjects loaded with political value these artisans are the sort of workers which modern capitalism appears to have doomed their trades replaced by industrial machines or if their service workers by voice answering and other computerized technologies the artisan worker figures this kind of victim and social thought this is this is true from the time of Adam Smith on yet pens subjects look nothing like victims they tell another story and we could start this story in 1751 Wendy needed a hole and a raft of collaborators began publishing the encyclopedia of arts and crafts which was a vast enterprise of many volumes his publications spread over 20 years Diderot enlisted a diverse band of writers and engravers in Paris few money be paid most of whom squabbled with each other and with him but with a single aim in mind to affirm and explain the dignity of craft labor small trades involve Diderot asserted real skills skills which polite society has ignored or scorned as menial that scorned as an ancient route in attitudes the Romans first harbored about the work of their slaves and their plebs but to the editor writer of the 18th century this ancient attitude ill-served society deed arose affirmation of the dignity of all labour had a sharp point he took advantage as a very amusing thing of the alphabetical format of a dick canary for instance to make that sharp point he put the article on hoody Sarah that's roaster of meat near to the article on haha which is king now both had their own trades each was skillful and in that sense Diderot wanted to make his readers feel they stood in something of an equal footing and that political point about the dignity of labour of artisan labor was taken up by many of the encyclopedias readers American readers like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison concluded that the craftsman made the ideal citizen of a republic due to the workers self-discipline cooperation with others in the shop and quality mindedness about results the craftsmen rather than the gentlemen living off the labor of others seemed to be the sensible citizen now the Enlightenment s' ideal craftsmen had another side and cyclic pedia evoke the sheer pleasure in the practice of craft an evoke ation which connects the 18th century images directly to Irving Penn so to graph pleasure D gyros roasters and Weaver's like Penn's subjects can say convey something other something deeper than kitsch smiley happiness they appear serene that's the overwhelming feeling you have both groups from the past and what you see on the walls here we'd say are inside their work they evinced a kind of quiet pride in what they do in that 18th century this inner serenity appealed to readers of the encyclopedia like Catherine the Great in Russia much as she might dispute the equation of HO T Sarah and Hwa this calm side of craftsmanship matters to us too because both the past and present images despicable being which is acquired by the acquisition and practice of skill that is that a certain kind of selfhood is formed by being good at doing something and that's it and the kind of selfhood is expressed in in in in this quiet serenity no that's a story that has a peculiar politics because there's another story which is a kind of victim story which is about artisans who are deprived of skill and so deprived of well-being in the course of capitalist development the artisan was reduced to an animal pair of hands or in the modern social imaginary he or she confronts the specter of uselessness because automation has no need of human workers now this victims story is not false it's often how we think about artisans you know they're doomed as I said before but it's incomplete new crafts are being created all the time for instance had Penn chosen to take people from hospitals or scientific laboratories he could have shouldest a whole new host of modern small trades the victims story also focuses it forces the worker into a mold because the most important fact about work becomes oppression to regain well-being the oppressed must revolt this is for instance Delacroix's worker in the great painting of the 1830 revolution Liberty leading the people to even most of you must have seen this this ragged band of people led by this this half-naked allegorical figure of Liberty these are people who are suffering want to break their chains that's fine but the victims story lays upon the worker the burden of being an avatar of radical social change of making it happen for everyone else getting on with one's life as best ones can is not included within its frame now perhaps pen does not show us the victims story because he took artisans out of their ordinary setting and placed them in makeshift studios against nondescript backgrounds his workers brought their tools of the trade to the studio as you'll see in the exhibit but neither their bosses nor their co-workers if pen is an imagist whose politics belong to the Enlightenment so – it should be said is this true of his nearer sources Auguste Zander and huge energy both the Germans under and the French as Jay had issued the aesthetic of the suffering worker both it emphasized the dignity of even the smallest trace those unders art and you can see one wonderful example of that I was under in this show only one I may add those Anders art is largely place bound to curl and to his hometown a festival his people spring out as presences independent from place as do I judge AJ's photographs of workers in the streets of Paris Xander a giant pen show us people who they're resting from interrupted in or simply AWOL from their jobs and for all three skill has become the aura the halo of individual care so that's the kind of politics that's in these photographs it's a politics emphasizing the dignity of work rather than the oppression of workers if you're engaged in the history of photography you will know that there's another way of photographing work which again does not resort to the victims story it appears in the images of Francis Johnson who at the end of the 19th century went to the Hampton Institute in Virginia to photograph to craft workshops for exclaves and also for displaced Native Americans after the Civil War they this was the Hampton Institute like Tuskegee Institute was set up by Booker T Washington her photographs show us people actually doing work and doing it together this work of a more agricultural character than we see in dependents work for instance cheese-making and greenhouse management Johnson's images show what work could look like once the worker is free it's again a politics she highlights the industry and orderliness of ex-slaves in the Hampton Institute an emphasis meant to counter the racist view of african-americans as slovenly and chaotic once freed from the Masters whip but still the human visages in these photographs resemble the faces of OJ or Penn's urbanites they too are serene and calm so we might wonder what is it about craftsmanship that can produce this inner strength to put it another way what's the human connection between Penn's artisans who practice such different small trades what produces this inner strength and in the second major part of this talk I want to give you the answer that I understand about why craftsman look like this these people on the walls let's explore the question of craftsmanship in two ways first by accounting the self-confidence so visible in pensive autographs and then by bringing to light the cooperation between workers which is invisible in these photographs because we don't see people actually working with each other skilled confidence plus skilled cooperation add up to that quality which I call craftsmanship the self confidence bread into skilled workers is a matter of time is the most important thing I have to say to you craft work is slow and it's long one measure of the time it takes to become skilled in the practice of a craft is the so-called 10,000 hour rule this rough number translates into practicing three or four hours a day for five to seven years the time needed to gain mastery whether one was learning piano technique glassblowing a sport or surgery what happens during those 10,000 hours in my view three things happen first in practicing one repeats an action again and again until it comes out right in my own crafted music for instance the student goes over scales again and again until the tones of the cello sound exactly in tune and the shifting between notes becomes seamless you're actually going from positions but you don't feel that takes years getting something right the first time you do it is not really skillful just because you may not be able to do so this second for the tenth time you really need to ingrain facility into your body so that it is a habit on which you can rely but repetition of this sort can't become a static activity the musician practicing scales will only gradually lighten finger pressure develop more flexible action at the knuckle Ridge the body is after all learning an unusual habit and you develop such habits slowly in graining habit moreover requires a musician or any other craftsman to remain alert even while doing the most routine things week after week month after month like playing scales going over something again practicing how to do it our behavior has to evolve in the course of those 10,000 hours and to put this abstract lee it's through practicing through slow time that our bodies metamorphosize into skill and puts quite simply this is how we improve now this is self-evident and playing the cello or playing golf but what about photography which to the outsider can seem now to require much less physical technique and much less time I was interested in the answer the photographer Thomas strewed gave to me when I raised this issue with him a man who clicks the shutter rarely during a photo shoot strewed obliges his students to click a lot much more than necessary and to vary their own postures in holding the camera similarly he obliges his students to work in the darkroom with the same variety of effort with printing the same image on different papers with different chemicals instant photography so easy with today's digital cameras means strewed says the photographer does not learn out of approve so the 10,000 hour rule in practice in principle if not an actual number it still applies by forcing them to slow down strewth teaches his students bodily habits of posture and sensitizes them to materials in the darkroom he says the photographer learns how to coordinate the eye with the nose as well as with touch and this is the phenomenon we call embodiment that is we're embodying the thing in ourselves and that's what happens in slow time is embodiment the second aspect of craft skill follows directly from the first from learning to do one thing well there can emerge many different alternative ways to a goal this is the and I quote more than one way to skin a cat rule one of my students a skilled glassblower describes the sense of mastery which came to her in manipulating the blowpipe when she found several alternative ways to hold a pipe always with the same goal of keeping a blob of molten glass rounded at the tip the habits we learn a long slow time of craft work become tacit understandings that is unconscious when embodiment is a way of producing a kind of unconsciousness in us which means we don't have to think consciously about what we're doing it when we do it I will now raise my knuckle in order to play B flat perfectly we don't have to go through that but the cat rule if I can shorten it applies to a more conscious movement of thinking there is another way to do this then pursuing the possibility then in graining at once again is habit through repet so these two rules lie lie to each other as the relationship between consciousness and then what's called tacit a behavior or learned unconsciousness developing a repertoire of multiple solutions serving the same end is important because in the artisans realm raw materials can vary and even more because the circumstances of practice vary a football player put into a new team we have to look at change his or ways of playing of throwing or kicking to adapt a musical work the physical temperature of different halls or the emotional temperature of different conductors oblige us to achieve the same goal by different means above all the cat rule builds up confidence the craftsman is confident that he or she can meet the challenges of different circumstances because he or she has developed a repertoire of techniques rather than and is reliant on just one way of doing things so that's the first two elements that create in the way in which skill creates this psychological condition of confidence the third element of craft confidence is perhaps less obvious than the 10,000 hour or the cat rules but it's of equal value there is in learning a skill an intimate connection between problem solving and problem finding once we know how to make something work we then want to know what are its implications what it leads to the difficulty is that these implications are not immediately clear give you an example for instance in the 16th century new ways of mixing metals and tempering them produce the first Trulli sharp steel knives and scissors but the butchers and barbers who bought them didn't know quite what to do with these improved tools took about 60 years for barbers who frequently doubled as surgeons to learn it must have been a horror system imagine cut your hair cut your neck I did it took about 60 years for barbers who frequently doubled as surgeons to learn new knife techniques in the history of technology this is pretty common the tool appears before people know how to use it another version of the intimate connection between problem solving and problem finding is the pregnant wrong answer that is the answer which proves more productive opening up new terrain than the quick right answer an example here comes from weaving the jacquard loom was initially developed by Weaver's and Leo threading their looms the wrong way it's a pregnant mistake which after it was pondered and studied created a whole new craft I want to just add something to the text in this regard what if you buy my book which is wonderfully cheap and I'll leave that even sign a copy for you you'll see that I am very against multiple-choice tests in learning there's anything that has to do with skill development and you know if you're youngsters you know the reason for this you have to get to take a test as many right answers as possible so you've got to you know go superficially through an answer as knowledge whatever you can immediately do to get the most numbers this means you can't dwell in the all the possibilities of a wrong mistake you know in mathematics and music glassblowing and weaving it's often doing something wrong which is stimulating and we have a whole educational regime for teaching crafts and I think also teaching art which disables people from exploring the the beauty and the pregnancy of the wrong answer so that's why I insist on this and it's a way of distilling students by forcing them to to only care about getting the right answer rather than understanding the pregnant wrong answer now what lies behind this the intimate ambiguous relation between problem solving and finding enables curiosity no skill develops without a good dose of curiosity which enables us to think what might be rather than what is like the barbers are again to become self-critical like the weavers Irving Penn in the darkroom offers a good example of both the images of small trades when first printed seemed him to contain unrealized possibilities in later decades he experimented with gelatin silver and platinum palladium prints made from these negatives in this he'd like any good craftsmen had understood the resonance of the word mastery mastery of a medium is not a static condition as me Matisse observed in 1815 when he was struggling with the possibilities of black as a color others thought he was by then a consummate colorist but to him he knew better his control only opened up new questions it's true and more prosaic work as well and one reason why a good measure of anxiety attends a much highly skilled labor what's next now it might seem odd to join worry of this sort what's it about what can I do with it what's what's it mean to self-confidence yet in the real world of practice they do marry again the issue of repetition reappears and now in a productive form the master craftsman be she a Potter nurse or Stradivarius does not usually want to do something perfectly just once and then retire to grow roses she wants to do it again from which follows what next what then now I've tried to account in some three elements which create in craftsmanship the sort of calm confidence so visible in pens photographs the embedding of habit over 10,000 hours of so of practice multiple solutions to the problem of skinning a cat a proactive join between problem solving and problem finding a join in which mastery and anxious curiosity combined these are in my view the most important ways we achieve skill and cotton and continue to grow once we've got that a skill under our belts now I want to end this talk with just saying something about the social side of this labor which you don't see in these photographs that is people actually working there are indeed a few crafts which can be practiced all alone but no one I know of has ever learned how to be a powder or a weaver simply by reading a book craftsmanship involves hands-on learning this phrase hands-on learning can simply invoke the cliche of learning by doing but more cogently it applies a set of social relations a master teacher who shows as well as tells the nob what to do or a master teacher who serves as a coach and critic for the novices effort hands-on learning implies so that there's an inequality in that social relationship hands-on learning implies also community of other novices here's there there's equality but in this equality what measures oneself against one's peers one learns from them and of course when gossips and complaints about the master this social scene is kind of unequal sociability shaped a classic medieval workshop the Renaissance artists a delay as it does the modern scientific laboratory now cooperation comes in two forms one is naive and natural and the other is skilled as a species we share with all social animals certain instincts of cooperation which appear among infants for instance and coordinated work with a mother or a nurses nipple a little later in childhood this naive cooperation appears in play with other kids cooperation at later stages of the lifecycle depends of course much more in cultural service circumstances and requires a developed skill which I'm going to describe to you rather than sheer instinct in order to succeed the classic craft workshop like the modern science lab was a hierarchy as I've said three elements were the master the journeyman and the apprentice in the lab the professor the postdoc and the graduate student the most interesting figure to me in this hierarchy is the journeyman and the one that's the man or woman in the middle and the one most in need of skilled cooperation he or she has put in the hours learned the cat principle perhaps as a glimpse of possible ways of working beyond what the master does and yet still the journeyman is not free he or she remains dependent I've observed photographers in the position and I wanted to say something's a little more personal than a formal lecture about about this about how people in the journeyman position deal with that ambiguity and the kind of skilled cooperation they learn to deal with it some people at the journeyman stage handled this situation well for instance my friend Richard Avedon who like Irving Penn learned from Alekseyevich and she did his master with lifelong respect both photographers in turn had in Alexander Lieberman that vogue a more ambiguous relationship Lieberman acting as a demanding master who however lacked a particular craft a familiar situation to all of us the boss who's got the power but can't do the work although in Lieberman's case he was a maker a wonderful monumental sculpture Lieberman was also their patron and when they were starting out they frequently needed to appease him and he needed to be stroked and so on sorry to give you all these personal details but just to make this resonate to you about what this journeyman position is like in the classic craft workshop the journeyman status could be somewhat resolved because in time one of the journeyman would eventually take the Masters place again that replacement can occur in a scientific lab but neither of these photographers wanted to become eventually Alexander Lieberman cite this because more largely hierarchies pose this problem for people middle what to do with their achieved skills how best to put those skills to use before one is either a boss or independent social thought from condor se-young has imagined cooperation via the respectful division of labor each person lets the other get on with doing their own thing and the some of these individual labors produces a product pen shoots the image lieberman positions that on the page but do your own thing is a child's fantasy of cooperation it assumes that everyone is as it were on the same page desiring the same end and that everyone is nice whereas people are not in complex hierarchies on the same page because they have different interests they're often intensely competitive resentful or jealous all of which renders them not nice and the result therefore does not add up particularly for people in the middle of the hierarchy people can deal in the workshop with this tension and indeed they have to deal with it practically to get work done they can do so the workshop itself can train people how to cooperate as though cooperation or a craft of everyday diplomacy back-office white-collar workers are in the journeyman position become good diplomats of cooperation for instance when they do not repeat the bosses criticisms of fellow employees oh when they recognize the good work of another employee with a smile rather than fulsome melodramatic self-conscious praise to take again a musical example when we rehearse a string quartet we are constantly facing the problem of everyday diplomacy your technical skill isn't going to play make us play well together nor will the solution be found by imposing one's person a vision of the quartet on the other three and certainly being nice will not produce good music the secret of good cooperation is a matter of giving signs of recognition and balancing those signs by letting other people do their own thing it's also a matter of collective problem solving and problem finding that is of finding what people need each other to do or they need each other to get something done this kind of adult cooperation always takes time to develop in the non-it artistic world it also requires an office or a factory which is stable enough and function that people get to know one another the craft workshop embodies the sort of environment in which cooperation can be learned an environment which is far different from the officer factory in which people shuttled in and out far different again from the consultants realm in which superficial pleasantness masks a lack of sustained engagement in other people or their work and I'm now trying to study more this kind of everyday diplomacy as a form of cooperation many many different fields but it's something particularly in the ratings about evidence I don't know how much patent wrote about his relations with Lieberman and where he said I had I learned I had to learn how to protect myself and give something to Alexander Lieberman and in the end I became a diplomat and I respected myself for learning that art of diplomacy it's a very complicated problem to sum up craftsmanship names two things the development of skills within an individual and the practices of cooperation itself as a craft adults and character rather than naive and modeled on diplomacy of course I'm reading into pens images of craftsman when I know about craftsman more broadly and I make no apology for doing so the images resonate I'm reading these into these images something very specific and I hope this what you take away from this lecture that there is a narrative in craft work that's what I've tried to describe to you that is there are the stages of its becoming and unfolding I just want it I'm not gonna read you that I have much more to say to you but I've already talked too much so I just kind of summarized to you the end of this talk what's this got to do with us do we see in these pictures from half a century go anything that looks like house do they hold up a kind of mirror to us it's often said and I just say this to you informally it's it's often said about artisanship that it's over that these this is all nostalgia you know romantic longing for the pre-industrial era and so on this is a very very dangerous thing for us to believe because it it makes us really puts us out of touch with how we might be able to use the machines of our own time to treat the machinery we have in our own time as craftsmen rather than simply as consumers and there are many dimensions of this we don't think like craftsman for instance when we want user-friendly objects a computer that we never have to inquire how it works so the word we just run programs somebody else gives to us we do think like craftsman when we use computer programs like Linux instead of Microsoft programs that are open-source well we actually none of us can become computer Maven's maybe some of you are but not most of us but at least we can understand that there's a connection between what we make and what we use and what I feel about this subject is that the problem give you another example of this in the learning process that described to you you might think well this is all replaced by people learning on you know sitting in a computer terminal you know getting learning in that nice cheap way that the you know screen talks you don't need to hire a teacher and so on enough studies have now been done of this and again you can reduce it about these in my book to know that this kind of learning on screen learning is very slow and very superficial and the reason is not very people for instance learn mathematics much more slowly by learning algebra on screen than they do in a traditional classroom the reason and to you by what I've said that in order to learn something you've got to dwell in its difficulty every time you reduce difficulty you're no longer animate the sense of curiosity the fault is not these machines and indeed the fault is us that we don't have a craftsman like attitude about the technologies of our own time I've been very struck by the fact that I've gotten to know people in the craft encode movement with among programmers which is a movement to get the users of modern technology to do exactly like that to think about themselves as craftsmen who can participate in this and be intelligent about it on the social side there's something called Google Wave which is now in beta testing which is trying to use the machines to get people to actually cooperate and talk to each other rather than to do this passive on-screen learning so what I would say and some about this is that when I look at these pen photographs there are crafts that have passed that have disappeared most of them but that the process of craftsmanship hasn't disappeared the problem is that we have difficulty seeing our relationship to the technologies and tools of our own time as one of making of being ourselves craftsmen so in that sense I think they're extremely challenging so this what I really wanted to say to you about about what their thoughts that this exhibition has inspired in me it contains a politics of a very noble sort but it hides the kind of narrative as navigable in the still image the narrative of becoming skilled and our challenge I think today is to engage in unpack that narrative rather than to be merely passive consumers of the tools of our own time so thank you very much if you so we have a couple of minutes of questions anything you want to ask me about this argue with yes this gentleman right here if somebody gives you a microphone then you'll be in registered in the Getty forever hello eternal look I can't speak for the people in this room in terms of their interests in in being craftsmen but it strikes me that the average person in the average situation doesn't know or care about craftsmanship and so I think we're are we sitting here talking about something in a bubble or are we how do we in undred years ago or X number of years ago maybe two hundred fifty years ago craftsmanship was very important because it took a person to create something that lasted and that functioned today that's not necessary and so I think the average person doesn't know her care and I'm wondering how you respond to that well I think you're saying two different things one is that people don't think very much about it which is I think quite true where I where I would look at this differently than you I must say is that I think in fact people are engaged in skilled activities all the time and they want to be good at those skilled activities but the way our society is set up and our economy is set up there isn't much reward for instance for doing a good job for its own sake in fact I don't say anything about bankers or the rich but we can see that rewards can come for people who are not very well you can complete the sentence and competences its own reward in some some way so I would say if you said to a nurse do you really care about your nursing skills she's absolutely and I want to improve them but if you said to her do you think that being a nurse has anything that to do with being a Potter she'd have she or he would have a hard time making that connection and that's where the I think this discourse has to develop you know I don't agree that people just do indifferent work that they don't care about it I would just comment that possibly the term craftsmanship is anachronistic in the 21st century and I say that right that could be rightly or wrongly but I think it's a fact and maybe there's a maybe there's a more of a Google esque word or a twentieth-century word yeah I'm being facetious but you know maybe there's a word but what would it be I don't know I mean I what do ya accept oh you know maybe do it yourself I'm not happy with that either let's get another thank you for that will you write me when you come up with this word I changed the title of the book you know let's get another question right here the other side I want to make you work you know you need exercise you've got a you talked a lot about the people in front of the camera yeah artisans the craftsmen you talked a little bit about the man behind the camera who is he another artisan and craftsman or using artists yeah and where's the transition yeah well I originally was going to talk to you about that tonight I'm always disappointing people you know it's just it's in the nature of life you know I'll give you a three minute answer my answer to that question and then after that let's let's call it an evening and just stop me if this three answers gets to be at about three or four hours first of all I have to say something too as a musician what I feel is that there obviously is no art without craft and that the the greatest challenge we face as musicians is learning not to have an idea about something the way something sounds but actually to have a sound when somebody starts I don't know if this is true in art school but in conservatories when somebody starts talking about what Brahms means I want to reach for my metaphorical gun you know now be ours a very physical art you know and I don't mean it's unthinking but I mean that the for the man behind the scene for the artist finding a physical embodiment for expression is what we spend all that time about the photographers I know would make the same argument now you could make it otherwise you could say that people sculptors who don't do their own fabrication can make a different argument right but so the first my first response to you about this is it depends whether you are the author of your own object and if you are like any musician or dancer or actor the author of your own object it's in technique that you build expression you know there is no other beyond that that's why I just give you an example when you go to hear Gustavo Dudamel who is your new conductor here who is who is a genius as a conductor if you can go hear him or hearse it's a revelation of this does he talk about Brahms intended X here we have ironic subversion of the tonic no he goes not so much something's wrong that's how he conducts and it's that kind of visceral way of doing it which proof Pro provokes a freedom in in the people who rehearse from him what's this mean you know what's going on here but I would say that that's within the realm of making art that that's a huge divide anybody who has to engage in embodiment has to be first and foremost a craftsman I also feel about this that this question about the relationship between art and craft is embedded in another question which is not a good one which is about the role of genius which is that the craftsman is just your ordinary schlep you know a guy knows how to do it but that a true artist is exceptional a genius you know and politically to me I find that very troubling because I think or you know in most popular arts it isn't a question of being you know the Michelangelo of of country music you know it's about being expressive about making it and a synthesis of I think it's a from a social point of view a very destructive distinction because it's really about the the sort of superiority of the artist and more when it's drawn out in the performing arts about making a divide between subjective feeling right the the artists inner vision all that kind of nonsense language and the actual physical result so that you get a kind of inequality and you get a subjectivity which are privileged over the moment the event that they're happening and I think this is a fatal an expression when I hear young people you know young writers say to me I've got such a great idea for a novel I know it's never gonna happen do you know what I mean it's never going to happen so to me this should be a non question we should forget about the distinction between art and craft and focus on craft and that's I guess how I'd answer you and with that let me thank you all for coming and I'll meet you outside there might even be drinks outside is that correct something like that and I'd be glad to sign her you

2 Comments

  • serge siweck

    April 14, 2019

    last time one off dose talk about craft he sad "the ornament is a crime" the crime is a preogrative off the elite. wat do you want now? the most precise description off wat craft is is "stalinist cutural therorie" a stade of mind were all braincells responsebel for words are not active.

    Reply
  • BIZEB

    April 14, 2019

    Is "The craftsman" the book which most resembles the talk being presented here (specially the last response), or is he publishing a new one?

    Reply

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