My last post sparked a discussion on how we perceive the world around us and how that has a profound effect on how we view art – and anything else for that matter. Everything that we see or experience becomes intensely personal. So the question is, is it possible to strip down those preconceptions and if so, in what way can that be valuable?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
That is one of the most well known clichés in our culture. How do you judge what is beautiful and how much of that is influenced by the lens of culture? The artist’s job has always been that of the ‘visionary’ – to see what others cannot. A skilled artist or writer can make something profound out of an ordinary object or event. They ‘see’ that object without the influence of popular or ‘group’ perception. That object has it own story and, if we look without judgment, the imagination can run wild.
I mentioned before that great art, in any form, is often born in the person with eyes of a child. Artists often fall victim to external influences on what is beautiful and push their work in the direction of the needs and desires of the market. That often takes out the joy out of the work. Without joy, we can forget how to see, no matter what our occupation or walk of life.
Buddhists and a number of authors including Eckhart Tolle suggest that peace and happiness are found through living in the moment and the resistance to judgment. We are trained from the moment we leave the womb to pass judgments. We experience the word ‘No’ for excellent reasons and some less valid. This is hot or cold, safe or dangerous, good or bad. When we are so well conditioned, it is no wonder we look to the few who seem to escape its grasp – to whom the world appears less black and white.
Some see great beauty and grace in the web of a spider. Others view it as terrifying or disgusting. Which is true? Neither? Both?
In the case of the painting, ‘Hopewell Rocks’ from my last post, is the man walking away hopeless and oppressed by a cold and indifferent world? Or maybe he is us, seeing how small we are in relation to Nature and the Universe? Maybe there is a third way of seeing it. Not as the man, nor judging the man, but rather, seeing the man. Not as a symbol of hopelessness or smallness, but simply as an observer. Perhaps, then, the possibilities become as infinite as our imaginations.
I think that art, literature, film, sculpture, dance, theatre, music and science are all capable of opening up our collective senses and help us to see the world in another way. It is equally possible that those same things can support the narrowing of our vision. We must choose how we want to ‘see’.
The world is everything we think it is and nothing. I think that having vision is something each of us can have. It is not something only for the artist or the shaman, unless you choose to believe that. Our choices make us who we are and for that we will, inevitably, be judged. But then, who cares? Unless you choose to care….
What do you see?
I just discovered on my latest tour of the blogosphere that I was honoured with the “Significant Blogger Award” from Kim at Laketrees . Thank you so much, Kim!