Friday, November 19, 2010

while i wait for the masking fluid to set up

I decided to come over and re-post something from the private journal as it has to do with something I will be blogging about that happened today, later on.

so this is from June 5, 2009 on the private journal, although the entry itself is public.

I wanted to say a few things about art, and I have been kicking over these concepts in my head for a while, I am taking the time to jot them down. Feel free to skip if you are not interested, I just want to get this written out.

Why art shouldn't ever make you feel stupid.

There are several kinds of art, some I love others I feel are lazy, some I feel are pretentious, at any time different schools and disciplines become trendy.
I want to talk about a few of them, in the context of communication.

"modern" art
This would be the squiggles and blobs and splashes of paint OR geometric forms painstakingly aligned, colored according to a theory or taste to evoke or communicate certain vague feelings. Some of these are styles that work to get a feeling across to the viewer, some of them only engender dismissal on the basis that the painter clearly is incapable of doing anything other than wasting paint. Or a feeling that you or your 4 year-old could do better. The truly significant art in this style still gets you to say "How did s/he do that?" not "What a bunch of crap! I could do that!"
Both styles will sell; the first because there are strokes of genius and a clear communication from artist to viewer (they get their point across, or make you want to look and examine the piece to find new treasures of feelings), the second because through some fluke of "critique" or commission driven snake oil salesmanship, the artist becomes a Hot Buy and you are made to feel stupid if you don't "get it" or buy it.
Here's a tip: If you don't get it, its because there's nothing there for you to get.
To purchase a piece of art that doesn't speak to you is stupid. If someone else "gets it" I mean it really actually spoke to them, not that they are too embarrassed to admit they bought crap based on pressure from a salesman, all this says about you is that there was nothing in that piece for you. You aren't stupid or culturally void, or lacking taste. You just aren't a sheep with an empty wallet and a piece of what you really see as crap on your wall, that you will grow to resent the purchase of.
A true Master in this style will be able to evoke some communication of feeling or concept in everyone who views the piece.

Impressionism is meant to evoke a feeling specific to the common experiences around us every day.
Everyone can remember a sweet and refreshing breeze through a field on a summer day. Or a candlelit evening dance or a spring rain in a garden. Rather than trying to hit a realistic depiction of these things Impressionist strive to get you to remember the feeling... the feeling of dancing, the peaceful sigh in your soul from the breeze, the sparkling clean of the rain.
Its about a the movement, the light, the art of a gesture or the tricks of the wind. The feeling of just now... the recording of the golden moment. "Right here at this point, is the Epitome of this experience"
It doesn't get more itself than this moment, this light, this movement. This says it all.
Its very hard to look at a master of impressionisms' work and not feel what they were trying to communicate. The images are so perfectly a record of that golden moment, that even if we've never been in a candlelit nightclub in Paris, or at a pond of water lilies, we can still "feel" it, based on our own golden moments.

There are two types of realism that I will discuss here, there is the realism where the settings and figures are clearly defined, anyone can look at it and say "There is a guy standing in the rain" It may not be a scene that ever actually happened or a real person, but the guy is definitely there and it is definitely raining.
Then there is Photorealism, an exact and painstaking reproduction of a real thing or person or place. Every detail perfectly recorded.
Realism in general is the artist saying "There is this and I think its art so I am going to paint it to communicate to others why this moment and set of objects/people is beautiful to me." The artist takes liberties with color, shapes etc. to accentuate or play down certain aspects of the image to direct the viewer to the things about the subject that matter to the artist.
Photorealism is usually "This is here and this is what it looks like" The artist takes no liberties with form or color, recording a historical object or person for posterity usually falls in this category. Photorealism is purely letting the subject speak for itself with very little of the artist added in.

Now, the point of this is all to communicate.
The artist is saying "This is how I feel" or "Remember how this feels?" or "This satisfies something in me and here's why."
The human brain is set up to read symbols, its how you are reading this, we are hardwired to learn a language of symbolism. These little pictures that I am stringing together make sense to you as words because you were taught English. if you speak a different language you might not understand the writing, but you recognize it as writing, you know that there is something being communicated here, even if you can't see the meaning or follow the string of little pictures. If you boil this hardwiring down to the very base ability, it is the ability to see a symbol and know its meaning. and we are born already understanding the language of symbols to some extent.
for instance take this,   Its a smiley face. A circle, two dots and a curved line. It looks nothing like a human face really. If you saw someone who looked like that really, you'd run screaming in the opposite direction. But drawn on the sidewalk in chalk, you see it as you pass by all the people in the world who don't actually look like this, and your brain goes "Ping! Happy Face! YAY!"

Or you see a thick brown line with a green oval Perched on top and your brain goes "Ping! Tree!" But trees don't actually look like that. But you see this symbol for tree and you can know that the tree is what is being communicated. But, by the same token you don't go outside and see a maple and go "What the heck is that? It looks nothing like that symbol!" So everyone has it in them to recognize the simple symbol and the complex data of the reality and put them both into the same category. They are both "Tree".

So because of this, most people are comfortable with art that falls somewhere in the range of "Stick figure" to "Wyeth Portrait". If you ask the viewer to leave that comfort zone, you are challenging their ability to recognize symbols...which since it is a basic wiring, is saying "You are wired wrong if you can't see that these three blobs of orange paint are a parrot and six naked women"  or "This fluffy pink blob speaks of eternal angst and if you can't see that you lack the finer feelings and a soul" when in fact the artist is at fault for failing to get across the communication on a human level.
The end.
Now leave me alone, I'm painting.

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