An arty realisation…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s architectural term is Pulvinated – convex in profile; a term usually applied to a frieze. I used to have a pulvinated frieze, but I found it a bit noticeably bulbous, and had it taken down.
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It is pretty obvious really, I’m surprised that I’d never thought of it before. Information!…
By the way, did you know that cosmologists and theoretical physics people, who are very much at ease with super-clever mathematics, reckon that the whole universe, all matter, and even reality itself are composed solely of ‘information’?… Phew!…
No, but that’s not what I recently realised (I’m not that bright), my idea isn’t so grand. It’s just that the appreciation of art, in all it’s forms, is about ‘information’ too. I don’t mean that in the sense of reading a book, or looking at a painting, a building, a sculpture, and actually learning things from it, or hearing a piece of music and learning to hum the tune. These things do happen of course, but I’m trying to take a wider view of it all.
Am I trying to reduce the appreciation of art, and being intellectually or emotionally moved by a work, down to digits and equations? No, I wish I was that clever, but what I was pondering on was how long one’s brain can be bothered to be engaged on taking in a piece of art.
Sometimes you walk into an art gallery, you see some sticks of wood on the floor, some words or marks scrawled on the nearby white wall, and after a glance around, you have quickly taken in all there is to know about the sticks and the marks, and your brain starts to whisper in your inner ear, ‘Can we go and look at something else please? I’ve squeezed all I can out of this’.
So, you soon find yourself in another part of the building standing in front of, oh, let’s say a big Victorian painting of some lithe wet naked sirens tempting Ulysses who is lashed to the mast of the Argo, his eyes bulging in torment. Your brain seems happier and more occupied now; you can stand around for several minutes admiring the liquid sloppiness of the frothy churning sea, the shiny skin and the mermaid scales on girls, the knotted tendons on the rough-skinned beefy oarsmen, the flying spume, and such like stuff.
Some people wouldn’t compare these two works of art because they are so different and from different times, but Ulysses and the girls certainly win hands down on the level of information.
‘What about more abstract pieces, like say a Miro, or a Picasso Dave?’ I hear you ask. Well You can still get plenty of ‘information’ and brainal amusement from abstract things – I can happily stand in front of a Miro for a while watching the spiky coloured things jump about for me. Abstract stuff, it’s a sort of puzzle, the old brain likes a puzzle now and again; you like looking at things that you don’t recognise, the brain is stimulated and being made to think a bit, something it is perhaps not that used to doing…
Then, on our way out of the gallery we again pass by the sticks on the floor and the marks on a the wall. Perhaps our brains should be reconsidering, and coming up with questions like, What the hell is all this? and I think more to the point, What is the artist communicating here?, and in desperation, Ah, perhaps this piece is so subtle and sophisticated, I’m completely missing it? – Perhaps I should stand here another ten minutes or more until I get it?
No, no, don’t do this! If you don’t get the idea in the first few seconds, the artist is failing to communicate, the work is inefficient, and it is failing completely to do the one thing it is supposed to do…
Should you sashay across the room and read the artist’s statement pinned to the wall over there by the door? The piece of paper where he/she describes the all childhood abuse and the hours of sobbing spent locked in a dark woodshed scraping his/her thoughts with a fingernail onto the wall? Definitely not! All of this is, I suppose, ‘information’, but it’s not art, it’s miserable private information and it doesn’t make those sticks and those marks any more meaningful or interesting, does it? – And it’s not really what you came into the gallery for, is it?…

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in architecture, art, brain, humour, information, learning, observations, painting, physics, science, sculpture, seeing, thinking and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to An arty realisation…

  1. I really like this post. I mean, I agree with it somewhat – in that information from an art piece should be reflected in the work itself without having to go and read the blurb. However, some works are so obscure and personal, that (imo) I don’t understand how the artist can possibly put them up for public view/ridicule. Maybe its the introvert in me that shies away from such naked visual venting. Anyhow, a pile of sticks is a pile of sticks. I have one in my room actually, probably worth a small fortune if you like pure dead scottish fir twigs. I also have an umade bed – which is probably expresses me more as a person than Tracy Emin’s bed ever could. I’d best go fix that up right now before hubby gets back…..got to keep *some* mystery in a marriage haven’t we?!

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