Scholar Stones

(“Spirit Stones”)

We have been discussing ART and ARTIFACT, which has become a hot-spot for our understanding of the relationship between PROCESS and PRODUCT in ART, and what, if anything, we should make of having PRODUCTS but with NO KNOWLEDGE of the processes–including states of mind–that may have led to them.    Can a decontextualized object or phenomenon be regarded as a work of art?   Well, if your definition of ART includes a “communicative transaction” between artist and viewer,  the answer would be a definite “maybe!”

Is a “found object” such as a scholar stone (discussed below) much different than a pebble that resembles the female form found by a paleolithic  individual? (discussed at A&O notes on ART and ARTIFACT). or the peculiar black and white pebble I found when I was 7 years old hiking with my dad–and cherished for years after.   Perhaps they both speak to a capacity for symbolic representation of thought–often regarded as a landmark in the evolution of cognitive competencies.

An interesting development is the deliberate creation of scholar-stone-like sculptures (see, for example, “sculpture that resembles a Chinese scholars’ rock from Lake Tai,” made of polished stainless steel.” at the British Museum link)

There is a deep appreciation of nature in many cultural traditions (see Emerson on Nature) but a kind of lithomania took hold in China in about 826AD, in the Tang Dysnasty (Watch: “The Love of Rocks”)

Go to: A&O READING: Robert Mowry on Scholar Stones for a Christie’s Auction