Friday, December 10, 2010

Intelligent communication

20th-century composer John Cage thought that any sound can be music, saying, for example, "There is no noise, only sound."
Musicologist Jean-Jacques Nattiez summarizes the relativist, post-modern viewpoint: "The border between music and noise is always culturally defined—which implies that, even within a single society, this border does not always pass through the same place; in short, there is rarely a consensus ... By all accounts there is no single and intercultural universal concept defining what music might be" Nattiez, Jean-Jacques (1990). Music and discourse: toward a semiology of music. Carolyn Abbate, translator. Princeton University Press. pp. 48, 55. ISBN 0691027145. 

Communication studies focus on "communication" as central to the human experience, which involves understanding how people behave in creating, exchanging, and interpreting messages; on that account, communication and culture are in concomitance. Communication, the imparting of information or news, the successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings delivering the message the way it was intended to, is a double sided occurrence, whether visual or auditive. 

Music, serving as intellectual stimulation to the listener, communicates a message that starts by a stimulus and ends up publicly applied on the final outcome.
Graphic design, is the creative process combining several medias and mediums to convey a message from the given brief to a target audience.

But one doubts: Since music actually falls under Communication [which requires rational thinking in order for it to be delivered as intended], wouldn't it be evenhanded to categorize it as a Fine art ONLY ?
Also, wouldn't Creativity in the "artwork" of a design project -disregarded by the client- be considered as Fine Arts ?
Through the analysis of the process of work in music and design, the complicity of the fields serves both Fine and Applied Arts; thus, falling under what I would call INTELLIGENT COMMUNICATION.

A Fine Process for an Applied end 
Fine Arts describes an art form developed primarily for aesthetics and/or concept rather than practical application. It has been distinct from applied arts as the result of an issue raised in Britain by the conflict between the followers of the Arts and Crafts Movement, including William Morris, and the early modernists, including Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.
Music is classified as a Fine Art. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of music vary according to culture and social context. Music ranges from strictly organized compositions (and their recreation in performance), through improvisational music to aleatoric forms.

Applied art is the application of design and aesthetics to objects of function and everyday use; it incorporates design and creative ideals to objects of utility. Graphic design falls under Applied Arts. It is a creative process that combines art and technology to communicate ideas. The designer works with a variety of communication tools in order to convey a message from a client to a particular audience Graphic Design: A Career Guide and Education Directory, Edited by Sharon Helmer Poggenpohl Copyright 1993, The American Institute of Graphic Arts

Creativity is the nucleus of music. Diversity, styles, improvs, soundscapes, genres.. are all the result of the work of highly expressive musicians daring to perceive this discipline as an emotional fugitive; thus the association with Fine arts.
It starts personal, subjective to the artist by either emotion or reaction.This moto is then delivered to the targeted audience and hereby made public; therefore, music would fit Applied Arts criterias as being an auditive communication.
The conception of publishing the composition or track is by far deeper than "Sharing" in its common sense, for the audience is the main recipient of the artist's message and is responsible for the 'continuity' and validation of the preplanned substance. This preplanned substance serves either emotional/personal or commercial/informative.

Design starts with a brief intended for a specific target audience, it cannot survive on its own since it is always serving a determined functional purpose to a precise crowd. The process therefore commences public and reaches its successful end once it becomes "personal" = acquires the desired purpose. It is the main branch of visual communication fulfilling an objective.
A designer that puts his heart in what is called 'artwork', has created a masterpiece regardless of the market limitations. The definition of graphic design drops the personal input of a designer; such a denotation does not coincide with the oscillation of a designer's state of mind and change of fields, hence perceiving the world as a design lifestyle. If design was such a static process, the term creativity would not belong to this field.
The definition of Fine Arts on the other hand excludes graphic design; but one wonders: if aesthetics do not define graphic design, then why do clients have an opinion? Why do they use aesthetics related arguments? The message in design is more varied than music. It is delivered and categorized into 4:
it could be informative, creating awareness, personal and commercial/advertising grounds.

"Rational creativity"  
The musician has to be able to relate the abstract shape and structure of the composition with the emotions generated by the sounds, with the combination of the real practical requirements of playing the music on real physical instruments, the technical constraints of the score and the orchestration, timing and intonation. Leaving The Land of Woo Bob Lloyd.
So does the designer. He has to be able to manipulate symbols, spatial relationships, real colors and contrasts, sizes, spaces, at the same time as understand the abstract significance of the images produced, the emotions generated in the viewer, the sensations and perceptions..

In "design life", the communication is between the designer and the client whereas in "real life", it is between the client (company/product/service) and the audience.
In "music life", communication roams around the musician and him/herself . In "real life", it is between the emotion/message and the audience. If the intended idea is not delivered, it does not fail because it would still be considered as a FINE ART.
Same applies in graphic design: when a design job that a designer believes in does not conform with the client's needs.

Intelligent communication 
Design and music follow the same process.
Any creative person will stress those different aspects of the creative process at different times. They will analyze, experiment, speculate, measure, introduce random elements, repeat previous work, borrow from others, sometimes being systematic, sometimes following apparently random associations that come to mind. They will go with the flow but also impose rigorous control, break all the rules, then follow them, see what happens, then structure it. They cannot be creative without also using their sense of rationality.

What distinguishes a designer from the other is what has been forgotten when graphic design was classified as applied arts. What makes music communicative is what has been disregarded when it was considered as Fine Arts.
Therefore, as a practitioner I consider limiting music to fine arts and design to applied arts and vice versa, an idiosyncratic cycle leading to an endless dilemma. I hereby declare music and graphic design as "Intelligent Communication"

Liliane Chlela

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