Now I want to dive straight into a recent experience I had, regarding my topic. A couple of months ago I visited an art exhibition, as I do occasionally. However this was no ordinary exhibition, you may ask how or why? And I will tell you that an Exhibition is defined by a public display of work (in this case art) but in this particular exhibition what was displayed was all but empty canvases or artwork, which one could very well initially presume to be not art at all. I’m talking about invisible art here, art that you cannot see, feel or sense in general.
As I went from artwork to artwork, piece to piece. I became bewildered by the irritation of not being able to know what the art was about, what it looked like but above all, WHAT THE ARTIST INTENDED. Initially I had no knowledge of what some pieces meant, I had no means of extracting any knowledge from it although I knew it existed on the canvas (special ink) however what I did have was my creativity, which I utilised to generate different meanings, different interpretations for different pieces of artwork!
Unfortunately, this new and one could say addictive experience was put down when some pieces of artwork were either being explained to me by guides (whom possessed what many deemed the ‘true’ knowledge of what the artwork was based on/how it came about/who the artist was) and also when other pieces were elaborated upon through blurbs/hand-outs, which I inevitably came across. And this ladies and gentlemen is where my knowledge issue arises. Which is better illustrated through the following: To what extent does the intent of the artist affect how we see and feel towards their artwork. And in this presentation I will be focusing on perception, emotion and shortly on language as my ways of knowing. I will also be focusing on the arts as my area of knowledge.
Now I truly believe this knowledge issue is imperative as countless of people visit exhibitions and these questions are constantly tossed around in the minds of both observer and artist. So to begin then, when I say ways of knowing I mean the manner in which we understand and one of the ways we know in this context is perception, which is defined by “THE AWARENESS OF OUR SURROUNDINGS THROUGH OUR 5 SENSES: SO I WILL BE FOCUSING MORE ON SIGHT PERCEPTION AS MY EXPERIENCE RELIES HEAVILY ON THIS PARTICULAR SENSE.
And the other way of knowing is Emotion which is defined as CLICK. Now it’s important to highlight that these ways of knowing tend to be rather subjective, in that one person’s perception and emotion can be different to others. Our ways of knowing can also be biased in that external factors can affect the manner in which we perceive or feel towards something. Now let me apply these concepts to my personal experience. Ill start by showing you a piece of artwork. SHOW A PIECE OF ARTWORK. WHAT DO YOU PERCEIVE THE MEANING TO BE, ANY EMOTIONS YOU FEEL IN RESPONSE? Now many of you will perceive a thing from this artwork that others wont, and many will have different emotions towards this artwork that others don’t. You may feel sad towards this art, some may believe it to be surprising (once again different minds undergo different states). SHOW ANOTHER: ONCE AGAIN WHAT DO YOU PERCEIVE IT TO BE, WHAT EMOTIONS emanate from this art?
Now going back to the first piece of artwork what if I told you that for this image, the ukranian oleg shuplyak intended to portray a metaphor for individuals who have lost their loved ones just as trees shed their leaves in autumn, now some you may have had different interpretations running through your mind, you might think that this is actually how we should perceive or feel towards the artwork, it is rational (i.e reasonable) for me to accept the creators intent on the creation as the creator knows of his creation far better than the observer.
What If I told you that for the second piece of artwork C.M. Coolidge intended to personify every man’s hopes and dreams for the future, you may be thinking the same thing, because the artist is the creator and therefore any intent he gives must be true and relevant. You ask your selves the same question over and over again? Do I perceive (using my sight senses) and feel (emotionally) how the artist intended me to or do I choose to ignore the artists intent.
And here is where it gets interesting. At this exhibition, the main art that I was observing looked like this: BLANK SCREEN. Now you might be waiting for me to realise that there’s nothing on the screen and say “Im experiencing technical difficulties” but no. What you see, rather what you don’t see is exactly what I saw. Invisible art. We now realise that there is no clear substance to perceive or feel towards in a certain manner, rather we are free to make our own perceptions, free to feel how we like towards it.