Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication


On 11 August 2010, the European Commission decided that a video installation should be classified as “DVD players and projectors”, and a light installation as “light fittings” when imported into the European Union.

The two works, Hall of Whispers, 1995, by Bill Viola and Six Alternating Cool White/Warm White Fluorescent Lights Vertical and Centred, 1973, by Dan Flavin, had been the subject of a dispute between Haunch of Venison, the contemporary art gallery, and the UK’s HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in 2006. HMRC had sought to classify these installations not as works of art but as projectors and light fittings. This meant that instead of applying the reduced rate of value added tax of 5%, it applied the then standard rate of 17.5%, and customs duty of 3.7%. Extraordinarily, it sought to apply these taxes not on the value of the components but on the market value of the works.

The commission rejected the classification of Hall of Whispers as sculpture because “the components have been slightly modified by the artist but these modifications do not alter their preliminary functions of [video players and loudspeakers]”. Does this suggest that the owner of a Viola video installation would use it to watch “Gone with the Wind”? It then states that “it is the content recorded on the DVD which, together with the components of the installation, provides for the modern art”. The commission does not explain why the combination of the image and the other components cannot constitute a sculpture.

Turning to the Flavin, it rejected the classification as sculpture because “it is not the installation that constitutes a ‘work of art’ but the result of the operations (the light effect) carried out by it”. Does this mean that if a Flavin is switched on, it is a work of art, but if switched off, it is not!


While it is difficult to define art - because everybody thinks what he or she created in whatever way he or she wants to is art and argue it is real - it is possible to draw a line between real art and pseudo-art.

I too sometimes wonder whether or not what I see in some art shows are really works of art. For eg., in a recent art show by a famous artist here, I saw baskets of fruits as installation works. Here we see fruit baskets on every street corner! I saw potties (Commodes) as installation works! Food arranged on tables as installation works. We see all these things daily in our homes & streets around us! Does this type of work fit into the definition of creativity? I feel they are only copies of our daily chores! If an artist creates some work, it should make people who see it feel as a real creative work - not a copy! The thinking mind of the artist should reflect in his work. Otherwise people don't accept it as art. I know fellow artists might support the artists who do these non-thinking works as creative art works but for ordinary people (I include myself in this catagory even though I am an artist, a collector, a person who runs an artist network & an art critique!) they don't look like genuine works of art!

Leonardo da Vinci created Mona Lisa. It is  a portrait of a woman. Ordinary artists would have painted it like any ordinary portrait. In fact we see hundreds and hundreds of portraits of women in the art world. But what makes Mona Lisa stand out is the unique way da Vinci created it. Modern Science has found several interesting things about Mona Lisa ( you can read them in the group Research here on Art Lab). He used a technique  known as "sfumato" which is used to produce delicate gradations in tones or colours across the canvas. And it made Mona Lisa smile to you in a very unique way. It caught the imagination of people all over the world making the portrait  one of the best in the world. Not only this, da Vinci used several codes & other interesting things that made this painting very unique.  It took several years for Da Vinci to complete this portrait. The creative genius of da Vinci reflects in his art work Mona Lisa. Mona Lisa is not just "another portrait". The creative mind's work is  what distinguishes real art from junk works.

People told me there is a stone pillar carved in Hampi - in the earlier Vijayanagar Kingdom - which is so unique that when touched by your fingers  produces the seven tunes of Indian classical music! It is extremely difficult to do such things. This stone sculpture is a very good example of how the creative mind can do marvels with its thinking & hard work! It is a mark of human intelligence and genius.

On the other hand, I have read about and seen pictures of some "artists" taking hammers and smashing cars and window panes and boasting loudly that what they did was a new form of art! Of course, most art critics called this "nonsense" . But will the artists who want to create wrong type of art agree?! Definitely not!

And there are people who make a mockery of geniuses by mutilating their works ( like adding beards and wiskers to Mona Lisa)  and laughing at them thinking that they had interpreted  the old works in a new way and invented a new meaning to the art! I would like to call this phenomenon or trend  "anti-creativity".

"Creativity" is something that is linked with brains, minds & souls. If these things are not used properly in creating works of art they cannot be treated as "art". And while trying to  understand an art work, all parts of the brain of art lovers should work at a time to bring the whole picture and meaning correctly before the viewer. Art, which reflects the  depth of the agony  of the creative genius, should not be made  a  laughing stock by shallow minds. There should be a difference between art & arte-facts. Just copying something is okay if it is done beautifully - it itself is an art form- when done in the right way taking lots of time and effort and giving it all your mind has and putting your soul into it,  can  transform  into  master pieces in realism. Doing different patterns - like abstract art- can also be done by animals. But if a really creative person does it, there will be a meaning and message attached to it. This is what distinguishes art from pseudo-art or non-art.

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This website describes well what real art is

"You must not let your life run in the ordinary way; do something that nobody else has done, something that will dazzle the world. Show that Nature's creative principle works in you."  Then only you will be treated as a really creative person.
Only dead fish go with the flow.  Live and kicking ones can swim against the flow and create a new way!
There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and intelligence, transfer a yellow spot into the sun -  Pablo Picasso


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