Is memorizing a form of art

Is memorizing a form of art />

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…”Stephen Wiltshire, ma main man!”

Do the innate absolute criteria of fine art judge Stephen Wiltshire’s art, or is it only the jealousy of one private subjective ego?
Stephen Wiltshire became famous after appearing in some TV show where he presented his remarkable photographic memory abilities. First, I would like to honestly state, that I am truly empathic and happy for his success and have nothing in person against him. He really seems like a cute guy. What I am more concerned about is the definition of art in regards to Stepen Wiltshire’s abilities. I’ll break this down to art’s three basic components, as I perceive them.

The three aspects of fine art


Stephen Wiltshire’s art scales from basic sketching lessons to advanced architectural drawings at the most. Some of his works are no more than elementary car design sketches or urban views. No innovation of technique and no originality in the perception of reality and it’s translation to art. Just plain sketching you might see scattered abundantly around the internet.
Have you ever seen an architect or a car designer selling their sketches as works of art for prices ranging up to 13,000 pounds? I suppose not.


Plain urban views or different motive transportation. No depths of issues, no message, no meaning, no purpose; just some “pretty things” to gaze at.

The art of introspection begets a Self Portrait of Spiritual Awareness


Having evaluated the first two ingredients of fine art and concluded that they sum up to nothing in Stephen Wiltshire’s case, we are left with the most important one of all.
How does an artist approach a work of art? Well, I assume that there are numerous subtle nuances which define each and every artist of the past, present or future, but the basic grid is the same: you approach art with deep awareness.

What is the motive, the purpose, the essence, the meaning? What is it that which you want to say and what atmosphere will help you convey that message? How will you create that atmosphere and how will the compositional architecture, color scheme, shape formations, light, textures and perspectives influence the atmosphere you are trying to create?
The deeper the awareness the deeper the message will be and the more profound the essence is. So also, the more subtle the philosophy and the more complex the theoretical aspects behind the art work, that much more spiritual awareness and conscious self-awareness must be respectively present in order to realize that work of art.

What defines the essence of art? What is The Artistry of Art?

Basic artistry, lack of Art

On the other hand, when all you want is to copy something from one place to another – with no emphasis on the technique and style, with no intent of purposeful content, with no awareness to the derivative criteria of creation – all you need is the hand-eye coordination awareness, hence the basic instinctual human consciousness.

So far as the context of art is concerned, there should be absolutely no meaning to whether the copying is from another picture using a translucent paper or directly from nature, or as in Stephen Wiltshire’s case using the memory as the copying source. I mean, does writing the theory of relativity from memory make you a math genius?

This is all assuming that he really does have a photographic memory, and that this whole thing is not some get-rich-quick plot by crude PR snakes and art-scam agents – “Let’s grease the world with that black autistic boy, Stephen Wiltshire…3 birds in one shot – he also knows how to draw, so even 4 birds – Great opportunity! Where is that shotgun?…” These things happened before in the art world. But, I’ll give him that at least – For argument’s sake, Stephen Wiltshire has a photographic memory.

…”So, you…you’re the Rain Man?”

Being Stephen Wiltshire an autistic-savant, automatically boosted the value of his art, simply because there has never been in the recorded history of art another one like him. People might have said to themselves: “Well, there is nothing unique about his art, in neither venue, but hey, he’s autistic and he remembers stuff… Oh hey, and it’s just like that guy in that movie… I mean, wow!”

In the name of all which is me, There is art in my Ego

The acquired talent of Stephen Wiltshire

Well-greased marketing also helped to obscure from the art establishment and the general public the fact that actually, so far as art and artistic standards are concerned, there is nothing here to make so much fuss about. Had any other non-autistic artist presented such art to any respected gallery or museum in the world, I think that he would have gotten the cold shoulder.

Plainly saying, in this day and age art is mostly a gimmick, which without the appropriate marketing will not see the light of day, not to mention fortune and fame.

At times compassion might take on a harsh form in order to educate.
Was I compassionate when I wrote this? Truthfully, no. But was I cruel? Also, no. I was just trying to make a point. Check out Stephen Wiltshire’s official website
(9 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5)

8 Responses to “Is memorizing a form of art”

  1. Siennaon 27 Dec 2010 at 12:04 am

    and so… thank you

  2. Hank Joneson 28 Apr 2011 at 9:22 pm

    That is some strong views about art. Well, in an academic sense, memorizing is a form of art. The ways that students use their creativity to retain knowledge in their brains is a fascinating study. But on the artistic sense, memorizing what something looks like could be considered talent, but I wouldn’t categorize it as art. But for someone with disabilities, that is already something big.

    Hank Jones
    Director Remodeling
    remodeling Phoenix Experts

  3. Michael Holmanon 02 May 2011 at 7:56 am

    This completely depends on one’s perception. Something which is extremely artisitc for you may actually be absolutely crap from someone else’s perspective.

  4. findigarton 07 May 2011 at 11:25 am

    Hello Michael,
    This is perhaps true, but then again you can say that quality as a concept is a matter of subjective perception. It might be the face in case but I personally believe in Objective values imprinted in the Order of Creation. Whether or not I am the one insightful enough to grasp and convey them is a matter of another discussion :-)
    I thank you for your comment.

  5. chessclockson 11 May 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I agree with you: art requires the creation of something, not merely the mechanical regurgitation of something… as for Wiltshire’s works, I do feel a certain emptiness looking at them. To follow your own argument, as to whether these sketches could be rightfully considered art, I would have to go back to Wiltshire himself… Does he merely draw from memory, or is his sketches somehow representative of how he actually sees things in his mind’s eye?

  6. findigarton 11 May 2011 at 12:49 pm

    That’s a good point and it takes me back to the question of what is art to begin with? A mechanical engineer sees the world through his mind’s eye in a certain way, he feels things in a certain way, that’s why he became a mechanical engineer to begin with (assuming he indeed followed his heart’s desire and not just followed the footsteps of greed for position and money or whatever motive). Is therefor mechanical engineering considered art?

    It is a question indeed. Is art everything created by an artist? Marcel Duchamp took a urinal and presented it as it was in his art show, stating that it became art merely because of the fact that he, as an “institutionally” acceptable artist declared it as art. It was this mere declaration that turned a plain urinal into an art piece. Do you agree with that?

    Perhaps everyone of us is an artist, because we each see the world and feel it in an individual and unique way. Hence once we choose to create something whatever that might be, it automatically becomes art, by the mere fact that we are truthful and authentic and have let it out. Do you agree with that?

    I said something else about this that might shed a different light (or perhaps darkness :-) ) over this issue: The Artistry of Art, but I truthfully no longer have the answer…

    I thank you for your comment.

  7. Lewis Curranon 07 Jul 2011 at 5:22 am

    Whilst I agree that rationally art must be a creative process, I belive that the perception of something as art makes that piece become art.

  8. Willon 15 Jul 2014 at 9:36 am

    Your error in analysis comes from assessing his hyper-realist sensibilities as mechanical limitations.

    Here, what you’re really doing is positing him as a machine that has no agency of its own. You suggest he’s incapable of making real artistic decisions that would allow his individual, human viewpoint of the world to be expressed. (Can’t tell if you think his disease is responsible or what). Nonetheless, to you, he’s not an artist. He’s a photocopier.

    This allows you to overlook the basic fact that electing to draw (as opposed to writing non fiction, or a symphony, or taking a picture) is an artistic choice and thus a human one. Not to mention the fact that he elects to draw realistically (another artistic choice), elects to draw cities (another artistic choice) with consistent quality of line (another artistic choice).

    You’re using his style to suggest he has no style, his content to suggest there is no content in his work…..

    To quote Big Lebowski, “that’s just like, your opinion, man”

    Not going to get into the “art PR” conspiracy stuff, that’s a whole separate problem/industry.

    Your argument just makes you seem like you simply don’t enjoy the style of a guy whose savant-ish talent has been marketed a little too effectively. You do not convince that his work is not art, though, which is the goal of the piece.

    Do you see what I’m saying?

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