Dewey dwells on the the act of expression in his chapter, and it makes me rethink my sometimes superficial experience as art audience. Dewey’s theory of expressive acts begins with his claim that every experience begins with an “impulsion” instead of as an “impulsion;” it is the beginning of a complete experience rather than an instant impulse. However, simply giving way to an impulse does not equate to expression – in other words – not all acts are expression. Just merely an act of emotional discharge does not constitute expression because it lacks a medium, according to Dewey. As a complete experience, art and expression require a “prolonged interaction of something issuing form the self with objective conditions, a process in which both of them acquire a form and order they did not at first possess” (p. 65). A work of art does not merely happen out of nowhere or a sudden impulse, it takes time, purpose, excitement, prior experiences and the creator’s inner reflection and conflicts. So you basically cannot just call anything art, even God took seven days to create the world, apparently.
To have or understand the entire experience of art, one should appreciate the process and purpose of creation instead of only focusing on the finished product, which we all are all guilty of doing at some point. Like sexuality, there are many who feel that the short-living orgasm is the most important, but I believe it is the process that gives sex meaning and fulfils the purpose. Most of the time, we put so much emphasis on the final product when it comes to art, but fail to take into account the backstory and process behind it – and most of the time that is what make the work of art special. Same goes with the material form of a media. For example, a movie filmed beautifully on actual analogue film would be considered specially artistic, not just because it has nice cinematography and is well put together, but the fact that a conscious choice is made to have it recorded and processed on film. For some, it is the fact that it is shot using analogue equipment and methods that constitute the art.
Brun’s obscure rant of composing music and computers is fascinating to read even though I had a hard time truly understanding what he is trying to say. The fact that it was written in the early seventies where digital music and recording was just starting to be in conversations and analogue production was becoming a mature technology, shows that many of his theories has come true today. Programmed computers can compose music (or at least pleasing sounds that we consider music), we can even now endlessly and freely modify all sorts of media to a point they are not recognisable compared to its original analogue form. With music, many mourn the loss of the warmth and realism of the analogue days, and complain about the harshness and artificiality of digital today. Singers had skills and needed to actually be good singers back then, but now many do not even need to be able to hold a note with the advances of the digital world. But as Brun says at the end of his piece, “it simply is not the computer that threatens to replace people, the human brain, the composer. Much rather it should be asked whether these three could eventually learn how to understand and to handle the systems which they themselves have valiantly conquered from chaos.” I guess we did.