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"Remembering the Flight" by Mihai Criste
Defining the Arts...
"Ars est celare artem" – true art conceals the artifice of its making – an old Latin saying

The place of the arts in establishing and supporting vibrant communities is widely understood.

The arts contribute to the development of our sense of identity, both as individuals and as members of society, and galvanize community engagement and participation on issues that impact the quality of life for everyone.

Arts practitioners have a key role in envisioning, designing and presenting creative and imaginative propositions to the public realm.

Global Arts Collective is a resource for liberal, performing and visual artists who are dedicated to working for a better world.

Liberal arts include languages, literature, history, philosophy, mathematics, law, science, music, culinary arts, and interdisciplinary arts such as economics, architecture, town planning, and the healing arts, and includes poets, writers, genealogists, lore and tradition bearers.

Performing arts include theatre, film, drama, comedy, music, dance, opera, magic, etc. and includes actors, comedians, singers, storytellers, public speakers, dancers and musicians.

Visual arts include the fine arts of painting, sculpture, photography, illustration, animation, filmmaking, landscape design, applied art and craft which includes ceramics, jewellery making, and others, that focus on the creation of artworks which are primarily visual in nature.


 
On the evolution of empathy and the profound ways that it has shaped our development...
Watch the full Royal Society for the Arts lecture here:

From around 500BC, Liberal Arts education began to take shape in Ancient Greece. To begin with, Pythagoras argued that there was a mathematical and geometrical harmony to the cosmos or the universe. >>> more
"Grammar speaks; dialectic teaches truth; rhetoric adorns words;
Music sings; arithmetic counts; geometry measures; astronomy studies stars."

"Nothing can touch a work of art so little as words of criticism: they always result in more or less happy misunderstandings. Things are not all so easy to grasp and to express as most people would have us believe; most events are inexpressible, and take place in a sphere that no word has ever entered. Most inexpressible of all are works of art, existences full of secrets whose life continues alongside ours, whilst ours is transitory." – Rainer Marie Rilke (1875-1926)
Download a free copy of Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet
"In fact, it's the arts that make the oxytocin get secreted
because a ritual ceremony is nothing without its arts."

Ellen Dissanayake

7 wondersABC-RN The Science Show
How art made us as a human species:
Why do we have art? Why do we have music?
Some birds elaborately decorate their nests. Is this in any way art as we know it? Are the pleasures of art quintessentially human? Ellen Dissanayake discusses the place of the arts in human existence and what, in addition to pleasure, we get from our various cultural pursuits.

Excerpt:
Presenter, Robyn Williams: Tell me, what exactly are you doing with the Pleistocene? How are you investigating it?

Ellen Dissanayake: Well, it's a somewhat complex hypothesis that at first seems to have no relationship to art at all. But I have been looking at the mother-infant interaction as it occurs today. This is why I said Darwin did not go into the nursery to mention it. But all over the world in every society that we know, adults behave with babies very differently from the way they do with anyone else. And what it boils down to – I'll make a long story short – they make their ordinary smiles, sounds, movements extraordinary.

I don't know whether you are familiar with the ecological concept of ritualisation of behaviour where an ordinary movement like plucking grass or preening the wing feathers or fanning the tail or something over evolutionary time becomes a signal that is exaggerated and elaborated and repeated and then comes to mean something else, usually having to do with aggression or courtship or mating. ...something over evolutionary time becomes a signal that is exaggerated and elaborated and repeated and then comes to mean something else, usually having to do with aggression or courtship or mating.

So in a similar way I think that mother-infant interaction can be called the seed bed of the arts because the mother's voice becomes exaggerated in its vocal contours, in its lengthened vowels it's very slow. The mother also raises her – her eyes are wide, her eyebrows are raised, her smile is exaggerated, her head is bobbed back, she nods, all of these things in repetitive, regularised, formalised ways. And her movements also, the touches, pats, embraces and kisses and things like that are all drawn from our affiliative behaviour with other friends, with adults, but between mothers and infants they are regularised, exaggerated, repeated and elaborated. And these are operations, if you will, of ritualised behaviours in other animals.

Robyn Williams: And is this something you see as a basis of things like painting, of art, visual art, of music even?

What do people do when they 'art' or 'artify'

Ellen Dissanayake: Yes, well remember that I say what do people do when they 'art' or 'artify', and I think they do these same things that animals do in ritualised behaviours and that mothers do with infants, which I am prepared to call ritualised behaviour since it occurs universally around the world. They formalise, that includes composing and arranging and organising, they repeat motifs, colours, patterns, et cetera, in visual art. They exaggerate, and they elaborate, and a fifth operation is to manipulate expectation. And I say these are the elements of the predisposition to 'artify' that occur in this early mother-infant interaction. And then, later on when humans invented the arts, they were prepared to do these things, to 'artify' or to respond to the artifications of others. Because babies come into the world wanting this kind of behaviour from the adults around them. We don't teach babies to like it, they teach us by their responses, their smiles and their coos and kicks and wriggles and everything, and so we want to keep entertaining them, and our entertainment is these exaggerated kinds of signals.

Robyn Williams: And do you see fathers as being good at artifying in that?

Ellen Dissanayake: Men are included too, of course, because they were babies once too, and you grow up in a culture where people are doing these things in culturally specific ways. But what really holds this to biology, I think, is the fact that early in our evolution as we were becoming bipedal, the female pelvis had to be reshaped, and it was no longer able to give birth to a baby whose head was enlarging. Our species' heads were enlarging at the same time that we were becoming more and more bipedal. So there is what is called an obstetric dilemma at the time of parturition.

So evolution has taken care of some of this. The baby's skull can be compressed with the fontanelle. The mother's pubic symphysis can separate slightly at the time of childbirth. There is a lot of brain growth after the baby is born, much more than any other species. Babies' heads triple in size between birth and four years. And then the baby is born at a much earlier, more premature and helpless state than any other primate or anthropoid baby.

It's an accident that these artistic or ritualised things happen to be the seeds of the arts,

So all of these things together meant that babies were very helpless for a much longer period – two, three years – much longer than any other mammalian species. And so even though mammals are good mothers, I think that the mother-infant interaction that I'm talking about evolved as a behavioural adaptation to this situation.

It's an accident that these artistic or ritualised things happen to behold the seeds of the arts, but the signals that she uses are ritualisations of signals that adults use in everyday ordinary communication with each other. So by doing that she is reinforcing the neural circuits in her brain for feeling fondness and love for her baby because she is exaggerating the brain chemicals, which I've only learned about in the last 10 or so years.

Music has a bonding effect on the people who participate
— the oxytocin that is secreted is a hormone that promotes the feeling of trust and confidence — aka the bonding hormone.

But my intuition that somehow mother-infant interaction held the key or the clue to the ingredients of later arts, then, I think has some support from the fact that oxytocin, it has been found, is secreted in mothers when they are giving birth and when they are lactating but also in close rhythmically coordinated, one might even say synchronised or entrained interaction with other people.

And that has just been found out recently. And so it seems then that that really is a good way to look at the invention of music, then, as having a bonding effect on the people who participate.

The Bonding effect . . .

And by 'music' I mean dance and the movements that go along, clapping and marking time with sticks or with the feet or something like that. That groups of prehistoric individuals who did this together, the oxytocin that is secreted at this time, is a hormone that promotes the feeling of trust and confidence. It has been called the bonding hormone. So I think that makes a good case for that.

In fact it's the arts that make the oxytocin get secreted because a ritual ceremony is nothing without its arts.

And another evolutionary advantageous result of moving together in time and coordinating behaviour in time is that oxytocin suppresses cortisol, which is the stress hormone. And often in premodern societies the arts are performed in ceremonial rituals, and rituals are about things that people are anxious about or uncertain about. They are going for a hunt, will they get game? They are going into battle, will they be successful? Will the patient get well? Will the rains come? Will the child successfully become an adult? Will the marriage work? Will the dead person go off to the land of the spirits? So ritual ceremonies occur at times of uncertainty. So the fact that oxytocin is secreted in these ritual ceremonies that are full of arts. In fact it's the arts that make the oxytocin get secreted because a ritual ceremony is nothing without its arts. >>> more

"When you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout." – Anita Collins Ph.D.



"This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender"

Adey May wrote this inscription on Pete Seeger's banjo

Art for people's sake
The ability to articulate our essential thoughts is a great gift to give back to society, especially today when we have moved so far from understanding the roots of our cultural imagination.
Nick Rabkin makes an outstanding contribution in this piece:
Teaching Artists and the Future of the Arts

"...the impulse to create, express and connect is universal, that we all are culture-makers, and that art is highly social, moral and cognitive. The arts were a strategic part of their agenda to make our democracy more robust and inclusive, powerful tools for weaving the webs of social connection that build strong communities and for facing the challenges of social and emotional development while living in poverty. They were for preserving the connections of immigrants to their traditions, and for imagining worlds better and more hopeful than those they had left behind or in now.

"People in the arts often assume that applying the arts to social purposes diminishes the art; art should be for arts' sake. Teaching artists at the settlements, though, rediscovered that the arts are for people's sake. The need to communicate, connect and express ourselves is fundamental and biological. The bright line we are told divides art from entertainment, education, individual and community development is fairly new in human history, and it diminishes the complexity and the value of the arts for everyone. It is one of many reasons so many Americans consider the arts unnecessary. ...teaching artists are reminding us once again, that the arts are for everyone, and that making culture is everyone's- not just professional artists'- birthright." Nick Rabkin

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