Week 1/Art, Science, and Monkeys Part1/Connor Petty

The idea of art and technology can be considered a very wide and diverse subject that has only come about in the last century. Art in and of itself is such a broad topic that it can quickly become all encompassing in the realm of human expression. But for the sake of keeping my sanity on this subject, I will attempt to find the limits of art, or in other words, non-art.
To start, art must have a definition, and in order to make the best argument, I will give it the broadest definition I will allow; Art is as any form of human expression. With this definition, it is easy to identify some things that are not art. Anything that is not created by humans cannot be considered art, namely anything created by nature. Trees, animals, rain, snow, insects, rocks, etc… cannot be considered art. While entities of nature cannot be art themselves, they can be used to create art by some person; Stonehenge is the best example of this idea. But nature is just the easiest examples of non-art, but with a little imagination, I’ll try to see the limitations of art.
Let’s have a little thought experiment. We are familiar with a type of art called spin-art that involves a sheet of paper spinning on something similar to a potter’s wheel and that spinning piece of paper is then painted upon. The reason that this is art is that a person is controlling the paint that is applied to the spinning paper. But for the sake of argument, lets try to remove the human from the equation as much as possible. Lets say that the wheel is left running at a constant speed inside of a cage. In that cage is a monkey and several bottles of paint. Now, assuming that the monkey doesn’t end up killing himself from ingesting the paint( this is a monkey we’re talking about) and that the monkey is somehow trained to pick up the bottles and throw them at the potter’s wheel, if after the monkey is left alone for an hour, should the mess that the monkey leaves on the paper be considered art? From the definition that we working from the answer is no; the resulting mess was not produced from direct human intervention, but was instead produced through a medium aka the monkey. I don’t want to get into a huge debate about whether or not monkeys are artistic, they aren’t, and if you can prove me wrong, cite some sources otherwise I’ll leave that discussion for some other time.
From the monkey experiment this we can conclude for the most part that non-human sentient creatures cannot produce artwork.
-Connor Petty

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