Art and Aesthetics: Art in Public Space

Art refers to a means of purposefully putting things in a particular manner so as to influence the mind, senses as well as the emotions. It constitutes of various creations, human activities and several methods of expression of human ideas through paintings, music, sculpture, literature, filming and photography (Creative Intelligence 4).

Beauty on the other hand refers to the characteristics bestowed in an individual that leads to a perceived understanding of satisfaction and pleasure. It emanates from aesthetic. Ideal beauty thus refers to that which attracts admiration in a given culture leading to perfection. Thus art has been broadly explored in aesthetic so as to bring out its correlation to generations and mankind. This essay therefore, uses the concepts from semiotics to discuss art and aesthetics in relation to California Disney Hall as a piece of art in public.

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Semiotic concepts include signs and making meaning out of the signs identified in a particular piece of art whether performing art, sculptural or modeling art. They mainly encampass creation of meaning out of a given sign accorded to artwork. The interpretation of a given piece of art work is based on the denoted meaning identified such as the identification of visible signs as well as the actual cultural relationship that comes along with such identifications.

Therefore, the main aim of semiotic artist is to derive methods of navigation coupled with interpretation of connoted meaning (Bann 128). This seeks to unfold the coded meaning and meaning unfolded in a given object of aesthetic value by determining its relationship to collective consciousness.

Concepts of semiotics have been identified in the history of art for instance, in the works of Panofsky and Riegl (Creative Intelligence 5) including the very important texts by Meyer bringing out visual semiotics. When these concepts are put together and modeled in to what is appealing to the senses of the public, it results in to what is called aesthetics. This is the creation of beauty. Art work that has been well organized in a given media so as to be staged out or performed in a public arena is referred to as public art.

Public art is important to public art specialists, bodies that commission art performances, curators as well as the entire art world with much emphasis being given to collaborations, the specificity of the site of performance and the involvement of the community. At times art is used to refer to any given piece of art that is displayed in a public arena or any public buildings that are easily accessible to the community (Maasik 50).

The California Disney hall is the best example of art in public. The hall is among the four concert halls of the LAMC (Los Angeles Music Centre). It has a seating capacity of two thousand two hundred and sixty five persons which is one of the characteristics of public art which puts focus on community involvement hence accommodating more people during performances (George). It serves various functions alongside being the centre for LAMC (Los Angeles Master Chorale and LAP (Los Angeles Philharmonic) performances.

The hall was built in honor of Los Angeles citizens and to Lilian Disney’s husband dedication to art. The acoustics and the architecture of this concert hall supersede that of Dorothy Chandler Pavilion making the most important piece of art. As opposed to many of the halls used for concert performances (Ronald and Melissa 55), California Disney hall’s entrance is ever open during daytime hence giving room for access by the public to its 7-level subterranean parking space, cafe, hotel box office as well as the gift shop.

The entrance of the hall constitutes of columns of enormous tree trunks made from Douglas fir with straight grains. Apart from providing support to the Hall structurally and visually the columns assist in lighting as well delivering air conditioning. Douglas fir is well appreciated for its aesthetic value, thus most of the surfaces in the hall have inco-operated it, in addition to the musical instruments made from timber.

This has enhanced the beauty and the aesthetic value of the hall that attract the public. Initially Frank Gehry had purposed to have the whole building finished with stone. However, he changed this to have the hall dressed with stainless steel. Frank settled on a stainless steel finish since he believed that this kind of finish worked well with the reflecting and changing the bright sunlight from southern part of California.

As a result of the halls numerous contours and exacting specifications in its design, structural beams made of steel had to be fixed using computer aided three-dimensional interactive application (CATIA).The steel beams were fixed into place only after having intersected the xyz coordinates as they appeared in the plan.

The public park of the hall sits on a one acre piece of land, thirty four feet over the hope street. It is strategically positioned thus making it accessible to all people without any restrictions through the hours of operation.

The park provides a good view point to most of the landmarks in Los Angeles for example the LACL (Los Angeles Central Library) which is on the southern part of Los Angeles, SGM (San Gabriel Mountains) and DS (Dodger Stadium) to the North as well as Hollywood sign which lies to the West. All these are visible particularly on a cloudless day.

The magnificent sight gives a sense of beauty to the public and every person looking at such a hall would appreciate the kind of time devoted to making the building beautiful and appealing to the viewers. The park also consists of full-grown flowering plants with a distinct ability to flourish in designed plant vases.

Many of the plants in the hall were taken from residential homes and lifted up by the help of three hundred and fifty ton crane. The flowers were cautiously positioned facing the initial direction before being uprooted to their new location (David Hume 58). During the entire period of Philharmonics the flowers keeps flowering consecutively offering the beauty of alternating shades of colors.

The hall also constitutes of LDMF (Lilian Disney Memorial Fountain). This was Franks design as he designed this in honor of Lilian Disney. This was in recognition of Lilian Disney’s affection for Roses and Delft porcelain. In creating this fountain, reinforced bars of iron were curved to create structures that resemble petals of flowers.

The mesh made of stainless steel was fixed and then packed with water proof concrete. Furthermore, several tiles and royal vases made of Delft porcelain were broken into pieces which were skillfully mounted by a team of eight people skilled in the art of ceramics. This led to the beautiful fountain present at the California Disney Hall.

The children’s Amphitheatre which is home to educational programs as well as programs owned by the community which are produced by MCED (Music Centre Education Division) as well as the LAP (Creative Intelligence 2). The seating area consists of concentric arcs made in small parts bearing in mind the children seating in this section.

This space provides relaxing place for visitors who would love to relax as well as have lunch or read anything as long as the children are not using it. Within the hall is the REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater) which is the meeting point for audiences and performing artists, home to performing art, experimental theatre and music. Furthermore, there is a three thousand square foot display space including a cafe for multiple functions.

Art in public arena is in most cases developed to interact with the public by allowing the individuals to participate by their sight, feelings as well as their entire senses. For instance, in the Disney hall, the public can participate in such kind of art by sitting on the seats that are curved in a concentric manner thus allowing them to have a feeling of that particular art. The hall has a resonating interval of two minutes hence during the performance the public can listen to the piece of art being presented and appreciate it (George).

By looking at the tree columns and the floral plants one can feel the beauty of the hall as all these features are magnificent. The entire art work portrayed on the walls as well as the surfaces attracts the public thus making the people to feel the surfaces hence participating in the work through hands-on experience.

The Disney hall displays its art in public place by virtue of its sculptural work having to do with the culture of the people of Los Angeles. For example the broken Delft Vases used to decorate the hall are as a result of the affection that Lilian had in Porcelain.

Therefore the culture of using porcelain had to be brought out on this particular hall so as to in co-operate a particular artist culture in this piece of art. This gives a feeling of community involvement and ownership which one of the semiotics in art in public places which brings a sense beauty to a whole piece of artwork.

The Disney hall stand on a very large piece of land giving room for more people to be accommodated hence upholding the norms of art in public places. The kind of architecture employed on the building allows the public to enjoy the beauty of the exterior of the building without necessarily entering the building. It is important to note that anything that does not amuse the public is not art.

Never the less with Disney Concert hall, most of the people enjoy looking at the large columns supporting the building with lots of amusement. Memorials as well as monuments are some of the ancient forms of art in public despite the fact that architectural sculpture is a bit pronounced in bringing out a true picture of art in public. A case in point is the huge columns and the rose flowers in the hall. The large space occupied by the park is suitable for public viewing and this is what attracts the public viewing of the Hall.

Semiotic aesthetics demand that artwork is an indication of a sign whose aesthetic value is founded on a given mode of reference. This is true with the California Disney wall as much of its artwork is based on particular meanings. The porcelain used in decorating the fountain in the whole results from Lilian’s affection to artwork made from porcelain. In addition, to this, her affection for roses led to reinforced iron bars being made to resemble rose petals.

The fact that Walt Disney loved art led to his wife, Lilian designing the California Disney Hall in honor of her beloved husband. Last but not least the love for the culture of the public led to this hall being made such that it attracted and held more than two thousand people hence giving room for most people to have a glimpse of any piece of art being performed. Most of the performing artists take deliberate pleasure in staging their various works due to the acoustics of the hall.

Using the concepts of semiotics in designing the Disney hall is what makes it a piece of art in public. Several features put together to bring out the aesthetic value of the building remains as they are, they carry the meaning of what they are and not any other hidden meaning. For instance, the flowering trees that keep giving different shades of flower alternatively are actually flowers and they do not carry any other meaning.

Furthermore, the hotels, cafe and the shop at the hall just what they are and have no hidden meaning. With such kind of art being displayed with symbols and signs carrying their own meaning and not any other hidden meaning brings into the lime light the beauty of art in public on this hall.

It is also important to note that one of the important things about semiotic concepts is that meaning and signs are never limited. Therefore, to enhance the aesthetic value of any piece of artwork, this concept emphasis that a single sign can take various available meanings. It is therefore up to the audience to extract the exact meaning of a given piece of art without necessarily deviating from the exact meaning.

In conclusion, concepts of semiotics are based on the fact that objects are best appreciated from the perspective of the audience. This implies that the audience can view an object at any given perspective as long as he finds beauty any that given piece.

With various meanings contained in various signs which are employed by the artist, the audience can draw that which is pleasurable to him and accord that given sign. In addition, the meaning given to any piece of art in public can only be expounded once the social or original context of that work has been removed.

Never the less, semiotic concepts insists that irrespective of the meaning intended by original author of art work the meaning taken by the audience supersede the authors. Just like the California Disney hall, different groups of audience have expressed their different views concerning its aesthetic value. In view of all this whether the hall is appealing to the public or not is upon the audience to assert this with respect to how it views this building. However, till to date it remains to be the best art in public space.

Works Cited

Bann, Sawl. “Meaning/Interpretation.” Shift, Ronald Nelson and Richard. Critical Terms for Art History. Chicago, 2003. 128.

Creative Intelligence. “Architectural and Garden Highlights: Walt Disney Concert Hall.” Music Centre ,Performing Arts Centre of Los Angeles County. California: Music Centre, 2009.

David Hume . The letters of David Hume. Ed. John Young Thomson Greig. Vol. 2. Garland Publisher, 1983.

George, Lynell. The Los Angeles Times. 11 May 2008. 8 May 2011 .

Maasik, Sonia. Signs of Life in the U.S.A. Popular Spaces:Interpreting the Built Environment. Chicago: Oxford, 2006.

Ronald Lee Flemming and Melissa Tapper Goldman. Public Art for the Public (Art in Public Places Program) (Art in Architecture Program). The National Affairs, Inc, 2005.

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