Monday, November 16, 2009
What's the evolutionary significance of art?
There's lots to say about this. Darwin's Camera, for instance, explores photographic art and the evolutionary/visual imagination. If art is fundamentally an expression of emotion and experience, and of the occasionally-elevated feelings experience sometimes affords, the connections between our biological heritage and our creative productions are inescapable.
Dennis Dutton says something similar, in The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution:
Art has been elemental to the ascent of humankind — linking cave drawings, natural selection, and Picasso. Mating habits, sexual selection and Pavarotti. Art, he argues, is not just sublime. It’s instinct, from cave to concert hall. -On Point
Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane," writes Roger Scruton. "It can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. It is never viewed with indifference: beauty demands to be noticed; it speaks to us directly like the voice of an intimate friend.