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Food as an Artform

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Pan wrote: "Art is the ability to give people what they want."

Where did I write that? I would think that it is a good businessperson, above all, who would give people what they want, so that's a commercial rather than artistic consideration (although the boundaries between "art for art's sake" and art created to the specifications desired by customers are certainly fluid).

Is it? I think the highest-level cuisine challenges the person who experiences it as much as a painting or a sculpture does. Food is ephemeral, meant to be consumed, therefore temporary. It gets used up in the process of experiencing it.

Which is true of some arts and not others (such as architecture, painting, sculpture...)

I don't agree that the highest level of any art has to challenge. That's just one possibility. High (and arguably "low," if these terms even have any objectively definable meaning) art can also delight, edify, console, excite, inspire, give spiritual sustenance, promote loving feelings, and do so many other things.

Art is not always "comforting." It can be challenging, confusing, even disgusting. Consider the delicacies of other cultures that are considered delicious by their indigenous cultures but which are disgusting to us (e.g. durian).

Please speak for yourself! I don't find durian disgusting, and if I did, I wouldn't consider it "art" (unless God or Nature is the artist), merely a form of fruit I considered unappealing.

The thing that bugs me about occasional threads like this is that it's not enough for some of you to establish how cuisine is an artistic medium; you feel impelled to make arguments about how it's somehow the "best" (or in this case, "most abstract") medium. Nothing personal to any of you, but I find arguments about which artistic medium is "best" to be puerile and sterile. Rather than to advance the notion that a concrete medium to be consumed is "most abstract," it would make more sense to have a discussion about WHETHER and HOW cuisine COULD be abstract! That discussion could be interesting and actually advance knowledge and thinking about food, in keeping with the eGullet Society's Statement of Purpose.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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I want to clarify that when I said "abstract," I wasn't talking about "non-representational" as used in painting. I mean, a Carvel ice-cream cake in the shape of a whale is "non-abstract" by that definition, but a cube of chocolate in the middle of a white plate is "abstract." I didn't mean visually abstract, I meant "intellectually abstract." I wasn't opposing "abstract" and "functional" as opposites, either--of course, food is primarily intended to be eaten, rather than just looked at, so it's necessarily functional.

There are specific adjectives used to describe various tastes, but the tasting (as opposed to the cooking) is definitely qualitative rather than quantitative, therefore "abstract" as opposed to "concrete."

Are you talking about anything other than the fact that people make judgments about what they eat? I'm not understanding your point.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Pan wrote: "Art is the ability to give people what they want."

Is it? I think the highest-level cuisine challenges the person who experiences it as much as a painting or a sculpture does. Food is ephemeral, meant to be consumed, therefore temporary. It gets used up in the process of experiencing it.

Art is not always "comforting." It can be challenging, confusing, even disgusting. Consider the delicacies of other cultures that are considered delicious by their indigenous cultures but which are disgusting to us (e.g. durian).

I wrote that sentence, just to take the blame. :smile:

I think for me, in terms of food as art, that's the definition for me. It may branch out to other mediums, but whatever.

As much as "giving people what they want" might be perfectly recreating their mom's Mac'n'cheese, or some other such thing, I think it can be broadened into the unknown.

Maybe it stretches the concept of of human "want" to say that if a person has a meal they thoroughly enjoy but didn't expect that they originally "wanted" that particular meal. It could be a challenging meal, it may not, but as long as they appreciate some value from it, I think it can be considered art.

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Where did I write that?

Whoops, sorry, I had your comment confused with theisenm85's.

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Are you talking about anything other than the fact that people make judgments about what they eat? I'm not understanding your point.

I'm not talking about judgments. And I'm not talking about functionality--of course food is ultimately meant to be eaten as well as appreciated visually. I'm saying that food, especially at the highest levels (finest restaurants) can convey a message, and that message is non-representational, non-verbal, and as difficult to articulate as a "philosophy of art" or a "philosophy of sculpture" would be. More so, because the gustatory descriptives are more subjective.

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Are you talking about anything other than the fact that people make judgments about what they eat? I'm not understanding your point.

I'm not talking about judgments. And I'm not talking about functionality--of course food is ultimately meant to be eaten as well as appreciated visually. I'm saying that food, especially at the highest levels (finest restaurants) can convey a message, and that message is non-representational, non-verbal, and as difficult to articulate as a "philosophy of art" or a "philosophy of sculpture" would be. More so, because the gustatory descriptives are more subjective.

Please give one or a few examples. (And I'm not convinced that taste in food is more subjective than, say, a listener's interpretation of a Beethoven sonata. But perhaps this thread is no longer about which art is "most abstract," but about how cooking and dining can be abstract.)


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Are you talking about anything other than the fact that people make judgments about what they eat? I'm not understanding your point.

I'm not talking about judgments. And I'm not talking about functionality--of course food is ultimately meant to be eaten as well as appreciated visually. I'm saying that food, especially at the highest levels (finest restaurants) can convey a message, and that message is non-representational, non-verbal, and as difficult to articulate as a "philosophy of art" or a "philosophy of sculpture" would be. More so, because the gustatory descriptives are more subjective.

Please give one or a few examples. (And I'm not convinced that taste in food is more subjective than, say, a listener's interpretation of a Beethoven sonata. But perhaps this thread is no longer about which art is "most abstract," but about how cooking and dining can be abstract.)

I continue to agree with Pan on this point...my only problem with this thread is the "most abstract" characterization...for example, I think it's pretty easy to prove that music can be and has been taken to further degrees of meaningful abstraction than is possible with food, and that "gustatory descriptives" are not any more subjective than those involved in appreciating and describing music.

But: I'm also not feeling like dragging this thread down into meta-geekery (unless that was the original intent :wink: in which case...I'm there!)....

mem

ETA: removed questionably relevant link.


Edited by markemorse (log)

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