What is art? What an enormous question: yet, philosophically, I believe finding a portion of an answer is a fairly straightforward exercise. Art is artificial, or it is nothing. It is artifice; created; made; constructed; conceived; solidified; materialized; realized: foolery. Art may try to convince you it is the real thing, but it is not: it is impossible for it to be; it is fake. Not a pejorative fakeness, but the fakeness of models; living symbols; simulacrums. This foolery is what gives art its power; its autonomy. It provides suspension of belief as well as unbelief. The man who cried impulsively, "Lord, I believe; help me with my unbelief!" could have been uttering the cry of a working artist. The label of "art" bestows foolery on even those things that belonged to the world of actuality even moments before: once some thing enters into the realm of being perceived as art, it has, whether truly "art" or not upon inspection, dissection and reflection, become a shadow of its self. It is artificial, even if it's not autonomous. When a thing is both artificial and autonomous - then it is truly art.
Try to point to any one single work of art and explain how it is not artificial in some way, or autonomous in some way - it's not possible. An old quasi-synonym is abstraction. It is an outdated, insufficient term, which should be supplanted with artificial autonomy. And by autonomous is meant the artwork possesses a power which goes beyond its original "artificer", and even its material, and moves into and within a larger, communal reality . It continues to exert power over people, things, actions, emotions and reactions far beyond, in time and space, the original understanding and even intent. It has entered into a high-functioning pantheon. But this is not a rarefied pantheon, but rather one which, like the Greek gods and goddesses, lived among the people, slept with them and had progeny by them. Like the Nephilim, true art produces a race of giants among humans. If any artwork is thought to be non-autonomous, then it is no longer an artwork - it is merely an image, or a hollow, excoriated symbol. Art must have its power, or it is nothing.
(to be continued)