”Artists often begins something without knowing how it will turn out”
Elizabeth Fisher, on her book, ”ON NOT KNOWING: HOW ARTISTS THINK”
Over the years, the human intellect has come up with numerous ways of communicating ideas and transporting knowledge from one person to the next. The desire to express ourselves have always been present within us. As time passed, we came about with linguistics and started using many different forms of languages to communicate with one another, from sign languages, to physical tokens, and even lexigrams. These tools of communication have helped us reach a better understanding of each other for we were able to clearly formulate our minds by articulating words in order to make sense of the world around us. Also, social sciences, which derived from philosophy, whether it be Psychology, Sociology, or Anthropology came after to establish a sense of order to the knowledge we already gained about the world. Mathematics also was a particular type of language or rather tool wherein precisions, logical connections and calculations were invited to get an even greater sense of understanding of the many functionalities of our world. Knowing therefore have always been of great importance in these fields of studying and of cultivating knowledge. Out of the many types of expression that exist, there is also another one known as Art. From its early years in sculpture and painting to music and cinema, known to be the seventh art, this new tool of expression in order to share ideas, stories, and a very special type of knowledge have solidified itself over the years, the only difference being that in Art, nothing is ever certain because we are constantly wandering between the two worlds of our minds known as the Known and the Unknown.
How does Art do it ?
Out of all these methods of understanding, ways of expression and studies that humans have developed through time, Art has also managed to find a way to participate in the debate. Unlike mathematics, where precision must be placed above all, Art has been used as a tool of expression where lack of precision participates to the end result of the product being created. In an artistic process, there aren’t principles or rules that one must absolutely follow to make sense unlike the other sciences where limitations, laws, and barriers place the learners or the users within a box if he or she wishes to be fully understood by the ones speaking that same language or using that same tool. Art unexpectedly finds a way to provide to its creator and to the observer a sense of freedom, one that has nothing to do with the feeling we get when we are economically free. This freedom is where the artist is simultaneously attached and detached from the artwork being made to find himself or herself in a transformative state wherein every present moment is one from which he or she grabs inspiration in order to be propelled unto a further dimension yet unknown to oneself along with the artwork being progressively revealed to him or her. It is only at the end of production that the artist can share a common feeling with the observers, if they ever do, as the product now becomes external to the artist. ” The point is to produce something that is going to Tell us (Artists) something ” is the way Paula Rego puts it. Artists therefore face the challenge of potential, and the pleasures of surprising themselves in order to create spaces for not knowing, both physical and intellectual as nothing is ever certain during the process of creation.
Sonia Boyce, an artist who at times has a material, critical, and relational art practice has said :
When I’m able to step back, I see that besides the things that I thought my work was about, there’s other things seeping in. Now, I don’t need to adhere to a declaration of intent; a right and a wrong. Instead, I say, ”Let’s just see what this is and how it unfolds”.
Architecture can be defined as the process of planning, designing, and constructing buildings or any other type of physical structure. It requires creative coordination of materials as well as an adequate technology. The buildings are considered to be works of art once on their physical form. According to Vitruvius, a great building should satisfy the three principle of firmitas (Firmness), utilitas (utility), and venustas (delight). Some other english-art critics like John Ruskin defined it as “The art which so disposes and adorns the edifices raised by men … that the sight of them contributes to his mental health, power, and pleasure.” Some other architect like Le Corbusier stated sentences such as, “You employ stone, wood, and concrete, and with these materials you build houses and palaces: that is construction. Ingenuity is at work. But suddenly you touch my heart, you do me good. I am happy and I say: This is beautiful. That is Architecture.” Hence, the process of creating a building cannot be limited on the physical part, style also plays a major role in defining great works of architecture. They also have to be useful to people by serving as shelter for humans. With time, we started focusing mostly on the crafting part of this particular type of art, thus making “Architecture” become the name given to the highest formalized version of the craft.
Sculpture is one branch of the visual arts which operates in the three dimension. Two processes for making sculptures are carving, which is the removal of material, and modelling, which is the addition of material. With time, different types of processes came about and provided freedom to the artist in term of the choice of materials and of the processes to use. The main use of these artistic products were initially for religion purposes and were used to eternalize cult images that had great significance for a certain community or group of people who had similar affiliation to specific beliefs. To do so, many types of materials could be used. Artist could use gold, silver, bronze, metal, and many more of their choice depending on the importance and size of the work to be done. Also, different techniques could be used. There is the relief techniques, which consists of giving the impression that the sculpture has been raised from the surface. There exists three types of methods for this technique, the low-relief, mid-relief– and high-relief. Their difference lies in the percentage of depth shown. There are also other techniques, for instance, the egyptian used the Sunk Relief technique which was mostly used on external walls and for hieroglyphs and cartouches. The technique consists of cutting the image itself into a flat surface. Another technique used is Counter Relief, where the form is cut into the field or background rather than rising from it.
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigments, or colors to a surface. The early artists were cave dwellers who used to color drawings of animals from about 30,000 BC to 10,000 BC. Ancient drawings of animals were found in Africa, Spain, as well as in France Caves. Throughout the years, this type of art has been influenced by many factors such as the constant change of geography, religion, national characteristics, historical events, and the development of new materials. Through paintings, artists were always trying to describe something, whether it be a feeling, a thought, a person, or specific impressions they had after living a particular experience their life journey. There exists many types of painting media and styles that continuously change and evolve with time along with the new materials being created. With the invention of the camera for example, painters were forced to re-examine the purpose of painting in the modern world, but it was a quest that did not last long, for instead of eliminating the art, the camera brought in a new challenge that artists were trying to overcome; that of creating and painting surrealist images taken from cameras with their own hands.
Music is the art of the soul. Initially, it started and was mostly present in the ancestral population prior to dispersal of humans around the world and gradually it evolved to become a constituent of human life. This particular art form is now found in every known culture all over the world. It is mostly influenced by many aspects of a particular culture where it is being formed including social and economic organizations and experience, the climate, the people, as well as the technology in place. It is an art form that has never seized to evolve through time with the changes in languages, as well as the never-ending growth of cultures and the evolution of the new vision we have acquired all over the globe.
Dancing is the art that involves movement of the body by following a particular rhythm or a music piece. It is used to express emotions to the other gender, to exercise, and can also serve for spiritual purposes. By dancing a choreography, dancers are usually telling a story to the viewers by using their bodies instead of words. Unlike painting and sculpture, the roots and the origins of dancing cannot be traced easily, but the practice leads to believe that it comes from the ancient civilizations who were using it in their rituals, ceremonies and celebrations. Overtime, music and dance were mixed in order to bring out particular styles such as tango, salsa, waltz and other types. Its purposes hasn’t necessarily changed over time. It is still used in rituals in some societies, as entertainment, and as a mean of expressing emotions in many other societies. Great dancers often say, it is a way of finding yourself and losing yourself simultaneously.
Writing is the medium of communication that represents language using signs and symbols. Over the years, it mainly served to keep track of important records that humans did not want to see disappear with time. It is still used to pass on information from one generation to the next, to maintain financial accounts, and to codify laws. It relies heavily on grammar, vocabulary, and semantics. Like architecture, one must respect specific rules in writing if he or she wants to be understood by those speaking the same language in the future. Poetry, on the other hand, is a form of literature that uses the technology of writing. It uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of languages to evoke meanings in addition to the meaning of the words or ideas expressed literally. Every culture of the world have their own poetic style that is mostly influenced by the language spoken in the area, but in today’s world, poets usually diversifies their styles and techniques in order to come about with a more globalized poetry. It is an art form that predates literacy and was used to aid form memorization and oral transmission in ancient societies. In recent years, many debates took place trying to define good from bad poetry, but to this day, thinkers are struggling to find a definition or a meaning that could emcompass formal difference found in the many types of poetry that exists, whether it be love poetry, rap, etc… Therefore, poetry is a lyrical form of writing, used for such things as writing songs or poems whereas prose is the more typical form of writing as used in articles and letters.
Cinema have been invented by the Lumière brothers in 1898 in France. In French, it is known as Le septième art. It is a spectacle proposed to a public in the form of a film on which a director, a scenarist, actors and artists have poured their imagination. It is this mixture of music, images and dialogues that brings about the final product which then can be seen by the viewers. Usually, it tells a story that either come entirely from the writer’s pure imagination or at times inspired by his cultural background, but most of the time, the feelings and the messages expressed are those that are shared and can be understood throughout the world. The first movie was made by Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb. He dreamed to mix the animated images of a singer or an orchestra to the sound they produced and he wanted to present such a show to a public fifty years from his time. It is instead the Lumière Brothers who succeeds in Paris to come with such a spectacle that they presented in Salon indien du Grand Café. All the projections are appreciated and tickets are sold-out every single time. From then it was only a matter of time before an industry takes the art and establish their own rules. This brand new discovery became a huge engine for making money and brought in high revenues to the creators of films.
Photography is the art and science of recording light or any other electromagnetic radiation by using a light sensitive material such as a photographic film or electronically by the means of an image sensor. Photography by means of the camera seems able to capture more detail and information than traditional media, such as painting and sculpture. Those who travel a lot usually have their share of photos every single time they go abroad because it is a pretty fast way of eternalizing moments by storing into pictures the memories of a particular place they have visited. Although almost everyone can now own a camera, very few are those who have the ability known as bringing an image into life, and there lies the difficulty of using a camera. Some artists refused to accept it as art and thus, decided to name it for what it was; that is, the mechanical reproduction of an image. They claimed that photography didn’t meet the definition and the purposes of art. It was until the 20th century that fine art photography and documentary photography became accepted by the english-speaking art world and the gallery system. Many photographs started advocating it as fine art because many started to imitate the different painting styles that exist already.
Is Life comparable to Art ?
”Cultivating wonder is a way of remaining open to the otherness of the other without seeking to appropriate or assimilate them”
– Rachel Jones
”The most important work of art is the life that we create. Art, therefore, could be the mere fact of creating our daily lives as we want it, because it provides and needs freedom above all. We may argue about the definition of the word in and of itself, but that wouldn’t solve anything because the term is so ambiguous. A lot of people would never consider Picasso an artist, why is that would you ask? Isn’t he one of the greatest that ever lived? By comparing his paintings to that of a surrealist painter, we can understand why someone would say that. If it isn’t your case then the degree of skill becomes almost futile when evaluating Art. It is true that the beauty and the emotional power found within every artistic work must be taken into consideration when evaluating the value of a particular art form, but let us not forget that Art itself can have multiple forms. That is what makes this type of expression so appealing, beautiful, and mysterious among the others, for the more we think we know what Art is, the more it reveals our ‘not knowing’ of what Art truly is by forcing us to wander between these two worlds of our minds, the known and the unknown. The artist is someone who finds himself or herself on a continuously transformative state where every present moment is one from which he or she grabs inspiration to be propelled unto a farther dimension yet unknown to oneself as stated in the introduction. We are all living our lives not knowing what tomorrow or even the next second will bring, but we’ve got the freedom to make it whatever we want it to be by using our dreams, thoughts, and ideas. Every human being can be considered as an artisan of his or her own life, our personal portrait lies in front of us at every instant. Our dreams can serve and be used as colors to continuously renew the wonder of the spectacle we are witnessing.”
A story to conclude
”My Bed” by Tracey Emin
Tracey Emin, in her teenage years, while doing her first year in university, attempt to commit suicide on her bed, but she fails. She hadn’t gone out from her bed for several days and after getting well, the bed is surprisingly exhibited at the Tate Gallery in 1999 and receive much media attention. On the bed sheets, we can find bodily secretion, blood, condoms, a pair of knickers with menstrual period stains, other detritus, and functional, everyday objects, including a pair of slippers.
If you think this is surprising, consider these two performance artists, Yuan Chai and Jian Jun Xi, who jumped on the bed with bare torsos in order to improve the work, which they thought had not gone far enough.