Escrita Com Luz Art Art Illuminates Minds
Watching people walk through an art exhibition and how Art Illuminates is a fascinating exercise in observing how the human mind works in all of its glorious complexity and mysterious wonder.
A person can look at a sculpture and see nothing but an image of a smiling children carved in gray stone and comment on it’s lack of artistic value, while the next person can look at the same sculpture and see an excited child and envision that they are excited about a new toy. A third person look at the same sculpture and see a child returning home from school, happy to see their parent.
This can be further examined through the examination of modern and conceptual art, where the blue painting with a single white stripe, titled ‘Onement VI’ by expressionist artist Barnett Newman sold for 43.8 Million dollars at an auction at Sotheby’s. The article written in the New York Post with aptly named its article ‘$43.8 Million for this!?’ and the punctuation demonstrates the differing thinking between various people, and their appreciation of art, and artistic value.
The idea of such a painting with all its simplicity being listed at that price, is invariably confusing to some people. The thing is that each person that looks at the artistic piece or the aforementioned sculpture and will notice something different than the person before them. Ultimately, they will have a potentially vastly different interpretation or view about why the child in the sculpture is smiling, each person will hold a different opinion about what the artist is trying to convey in the sculpture. Perhaps the sculpture is of the artist when they were a child. Maybe it is an image of their child or a relative. Maybe it’s just a passing face of a stranger or a made up image of someone who doesn’t exist in real life. Each person who looks at the child is not wrong in their perception. How they view the sculpture is a reflection of the way their mind is working consciously and subconsciously. It’s based on the contextual relevance that it had for the artist, the emotions that they have used in the presentation of that, and then the contextual understanding of that in regards to the consumer of the art piece.
Why do we do this though? John Dewey who has written the book ‘Art as Experience’ explores the differing ways that we view, appreciate, and ultimately consume art. He argues that art is ‘An experience is a product, one might almost say bi-product, of continuous and cumulative interaction of an organic self with the world. There is no other foundation upon which esthetic theory and criticism can build’ Dewey, in his comments relies heavily on a biological/psychological understanding of humans in the ways that they interact with the world and the experiences that they have gained from those interactions, as the driving force between the markedly varying degrees as to how and why we consume art.
Through Dewey’s original work in 1934 – other theorists have developed, studied and put forth many other key factors which play significant roles in how we interpret different objects, spaces, images and events within our surroundings. Direct and indirect experiences from our past as well as our present, knowledge that we have acquired through education, experiences and external sources as well other moral and personal values, religious beliefs, emotions and genetic dispositions all play a role in shaping our personality, emotions, thoughts, knowledge and judgment of how we knowingly and unknowingly see the world around us today. Malcolm Richards takes this a step further, in his book ‘Derrida Reframed: Interpreting key thinkers for the arts’, he argues for both the cultural and historical contexts, both past and present, which form our reactions to, and consumption of, art. He states that artistic pieces such as the Mona Lisa‘ acquire different meanings at different moments in history’ and thus ultimately that the meaning of art is ‘impacted both by time and place’. He goes on further to state that this impacts how we talk about art, and what makes ‘good’ art. He argues that whilst a contemporary art critic from London, may have a different interpretation from a critic in New York, they will invariably have some common ground. However, when this transcends the constraints of time by utilizing an art critic from the 19th century, with a contemporary art critic will view the art in a completely different and potentially be unable to find common ground.
It is thus clear that the brain is a complex organ that is always evolving and learning. Information that goes into the brain is not just data that is inputted into the deepest corners of our brain tissue like a computer program. There are a multitude of different inputs and sensory inputs that will impact the output significantly between people. The key here is in understanding that whilst there are a myriad of different sensory inputs – which these inputs will vary between individual people, thus allowing for a conceivably infinite amount of interpretations.
As an English teacher this has been seen first hand within a classroom and it is one of the reasons why some individuals immensely love teaching. They might have been teaching a particular text; a poem, film, extract, piece of literature, and there will come a time where there is a student within the class that refuses to acknowledge ‘traditional thought’ and will come up with a unique interpretation of the text. Since the interpretation of the text is based on their understanding of the world, and since that student can undoubtedly reinforce that opinion through textual references, there is little room for them to be wrong. As such, there are many components that impact how the information is ingested and interpreted within the crevices of the dynamic and fascinating matter that make up the human brain.
Emotions, numerous external factors, personal experiences and short and long term memories are just a few attributes of the factors that ultimately play a significant role in how we see, perceive and interpret information. They reflect how we illuminate our brain be the way we look at, see and interpret our surroundings along with the shapes and objects around us within our conscious and unconscious thought processes.
Art is a very diverse medium that plays a significant role in enlightening us as humans. Music therapy, for example touches deep within the brain, stimulating different cells and parts of the brain itself to create a reaction that is very unique and different from the spoken word. This is very evident when watching some with a debilitating condition, who cannot speak or comprehend speech, come to life when music is played. It is an extremely useful tool in terms of communicating in a way with people that struggle with communication. While speaking words cannot garner a reaction, singing can and will result with the patient often singing the words to certain songs. The music stimulates the brain illuminating parts of the patients conscious and subconscious to garner an often positive and powerful reaction.
Have you ever read a birthday/sympathy/gift card and started to tear up only to see a stranger beside you put it down or snicker at the verse? Personal experiences, sentiments, feelings and relationships towards the people in our life and the occasion for buying a card impact how we view the words. Escrito Com Luz, or the written art and its other interpretations, can draw emotions from us that we didn’t know were deep within us. It can put into words, what we cannot find the words to use to express our deep emotions and feelings. Many people who read cards, a written form of art, often have an “a-ha” moment when they read a verse that says exactly what they are feeling and will feel an instant connection with the card because of the sentiments that it expresses through written verse. Poetry is an extension of this – where the words within the poem will speak directly to the audience, and they will find words for a particular event, memory or emotion that they are currently dealing with. Poetry is immensely interpretative and people will often find the ability to assign it a specific meaning that is only relevant to them, or to their own personal experiences.
The reaction of a child to works of art is also very different than that of an adult. As children, our minds are like sponges; open, ready and willing to absorb anything that comes our way. Children look at the world with unbridled innocence, excitement and wonder. Their unshaped imaginations run away with them and they are free to see the art openly and with a sense of spontaneous freedom. Many objects and places that we see are new and they are seeing and exploring their surroundings for the first time. Their reactions are not jaded by past events, memories, ingrained values and emotions.
Because children have had little or no exposure to the harshness of their surroundings, their minds are open. This theory has been tested and demonstrated in many studies and tests where children have been able to solve puzzles or problems that adults cannot see or solve. The child looks at the situation and the world differently than adults. I bring this up because if you were to look at a piece of art, listen to an instrument or watch a dance move with a child, their interpretation of the art would be much different than yours. They do not share the same emotional bias, hectic schedule, value base or cynicism that we have developed as adults. The have fresh views and open minds with unlimited access to new interpretations. For the adult, this fresh perspective can be very enlightening as it consciously shifts their view and interpretation of the art in front of them. The adult will then look at the art differently from that point.
As humans, we are also governed strongly by our feelings. Emotions significantly impact our views of the world and situations that surround us. Emotions play a vital role in memory retention, how we react to situations, our ability to think either rationally or irrationally and our judgment or perception of what is happening around us. Emotions shape our personalities and who we are as human beings. They also play a vital role in how we view works of art.
One person might get deeply upset seeing a painting with a tear on the face of the person in the portrait while another person might be more curious about why the person in the painting is crying and a third person might not even notice the tear at all. Is the person in the portrait happy or sad? Are they angry or full of regret? Each person that passes that portrait will notice something different and interpret the meaning of the image differently based on their own state of emotions and past experiences that have shaped their emotions. One might notice the expression in the eyes while another might see a tilt or angle in the shape of the mouth while yet another will notice something in the images hands. Experiences from our past will play a role in what we look for and where we look.
If we were to discuss our interpretation of the portrait with another person, our perception of the picture would change upon hearing their interpretation. Things that we were not aware of in the picture would suddenly be visible to us and questions that we did not think to ask would now be racing through our minds. This is why peer based learning and education is being continually developed within educational environments – and it is something that has existed throughout the ages.
Whilst the history of book clubs isn’t necessarily a hot topic, Pamela Burger, comments on the rise of ‘culture’ clubs in her article ‘Women’s Groups and the Rise of the Book Club’. Indeed, she purports the idea that book clubs started out as a form of women’s education, where the members were comprised of ‘middle’ and ‘upper-class’ white women to discuss literature, history, and the fine arts. These forms of clubs paved the way for feminism, women rights, and the liberation movements, and served as an exercise in the beginnings of peer based learning. The group would share individual opinions, discuss these opinions openly, and ultimately learn, and grow from these discussed opinions. This form of learning happens in classrooms, and is a direct result of people’s abilities to see things differently which in turn allows others to see things in a new light and form new opinions resulting in an essentially never ending cascade of new thoughts, and new ways of thinking. Indeed, the person beside you, upon hearing your interpretation would also be illuminated to a different view or interpretation of the meaning. For both parties, just by looking at the artwork differently their conscious and subconscious is enlightened.
Time provides many experiences that change us as humans. For example, have you ever played a song and loved it only to play it again a few months or years later and think it sounds like background noise? Why did your perception of the song change? After all, it’s not the song that changed, it’s your view or interest in the song that has been altered. Or, as Dewey suggests it is your contextual understanding of it which has changed. A song that you liked when going through a break-up, which spoke to you at the time of the hardship, may seem meaningless and petty once you have outgrown the heartache and moved on from the event which was distressing you. Similarly, our ‘new’ enlightenment has changed us which now reflects on how we view this musical art. Our perceptions of the world have changed, as they are constantly changing. As you have grown or aged, we have learned more, seen more, experienced different situations and have matured as a person.
The world around us has also changed. Events have happened, society has evolved, trends have changed and the music world has moved into different styles and genres that have illuminated our brain. The complexity of the changes within us and around us have changed how we now view the song. You can easily pick up a history book, or google the phrase ‘Moments which changed the world’ and you will discover quickly defining moments within our history that have fundamentally changed the world. Either in the ways in which we look at the world, the ways with which we view our surroundings, and the ways that we interact with the world. These things can also be remarkably simple things as well – with the rise of technology, and our adaptation to technology – a recent report has stated that Australians now spend half an hour less cleaning their houses than they did 10 years ago. Half an hour may not seem like a long time, however it reflects the changing interactions that we now have with our immediate world. Where is that half hour now? What do we now interact with instead, and how does that change our thinking and interaction. No longer do we have to haul through an entire collection of encyclopedia Britannica’s to get the latest information, with the click of a button we can now have virtually all our questions answered. This in turn has ‘sped up life’, turn humanity into a quest for seemingly instant gratification. This would ultimately, and fundamentally, change the way we not only interact with, but also consume, artistic pieces.
Whilst we have just suggested that our changing and growing contextual understanding of the world can influence you into not liking a particular piece of art – the same can also be said in reverse. Perhaps when you first heard a song, you hated it. There was no emotional connection; you did not care for the beat and the singer’s voice sounded grating and irritating. Now, months or years later, you might hear that same song but because of experiences you have gone through and lessons you have learned, there is something in the words that you are now hearing and can relate to. Now, you find the beat to be enjoyable and the grating voice is muted by the meaning that the song holds for you. The song and singer didn’t change, you did. Life experiences have changed your perceptions from when you first heard the song and this enlightenment or shift has now changed your views not only of the song but of the words and the world around you as you listen to the song. There is an emotional connection now that wasn’t there before. Your perception of the words has changed as you have become more enlightened. Your brain has been illuminated to a different way of hearing the song that was not before.
Art plays a paramount role in our lives and evolution as humans. It has been a significant feature in society since the evolution of man. It has been used to tell a story, share a moment, bring out emotions and act as therapist for the artist. It is a medium, and expression, that transcends the boundaries of communication, languages and cultures. It has come not just from the artists thoughts but from their heart and soul as well. They have poured their emotional state into their work and are opening it to the world. It has empowered and explored different regions, issues, emotions and facets of people and society throughout the centuries. Art is all around us and easily shapes how we see the world. But how we see the world also shapes how we view art. Art stimulates our conscious and unconscious thinking and can open the door to thoughts, feelings and perceptions that we were not aware of, or that we had previously ignored.
Art is a very complex tool when it comes to the opening the mind. Just by the fact there are so many different forms of art plays a major role in how it can illuminate our brain. But art is also very subjective and open to interpretation. For example, if you were to give a group a blank canvas and ask each person to draw the same object or scene, each person would create a differently and completely unique drawing. Their personalities and experiences would be portrayed in their artwork. Going around the room, each artist would become enlightened by the drawings because their interpretation of the scene has been changed by others’ interpretations. Something that did not exist in the scene is now very obvious to our ever changing mind. This can be exemplified through cooking as well, which has often been seen in contemporary thinking as an art form. Take any cooking show, ask twenty people to cook you a specific dish, and you will inevitably end up with twenty different versions of the same dish but in markedly different presentations, and interpretations of the original request.
Tattoos are also a great example of this. Tattoos are very popular today because they offer a sense of self expression on a very personal and empowering canvas; our bodies. Sit in a tattoo parlor for a day and you will quickly notice that everyone who walks in wanting a tattoo will request something completely different than the last person and might even place it in a different place on their body. Each design, each drawing, each symbol and colour of a person’s tattoo has been chosen for very personal reasons. Their uniqueness as a person, the meaning that they want to convey and their own personality and personal tastes play key roles in what they choose to have put on their body and why. One person might get a rose tattooed on their arm because they love roses while another person might get a daisy on their back to symbolize and honor a love they have for someone. To a stranger looking at the tattoo, it might just be a flower. The meaning or value that the outsider places on the tattoo will be much different than the person who got the tattoo.
If you were to ask the person about their tattoo, your thoughts surrounding the image would change as they illuminate your brain to the meaning and reasoning of the image. It might even change your perception of that type of flower forever because you have now been exposed to a different understanding or perception of the flower.
Likewise, the tattoo artist has put their own personal tastes, distinct style and personality into the artwork. The person who has received the tattoo will only see what they want to see until the artist explains what they have done and why. Maybe they have added little details that went unnoticed or they shaped and shaded the flower because it reminded them of a bouquet they once received, or it is in memory of a particular person, or event. Their interpretation of the tattoo will be very different than the person who has requested the tattoo and this will create a moment of enlightenment for both artist and recipient of the tattoo as well as anyone else in the area that is listening to the exchange and looking at the tattoo.
Tattoos are a way for people to express themselves privately and to the world. They represent an emotion or experience that is very personal to the person who is getting the tattoo. But as we evolve and grow, our feelings towards the tattoo or the emotions attached to the artwork can also change. Many people who have had a tattoo, try to remove it or pay to have someone put another one over top to cover the original because the meaning and significance of the first tattoo has now changed. Others will keep it as a symbol of that moment in their lives, add to it, change it in some way, or accept that it is a significant part of them. What was an important moment in the person’s life or desired taste and interest has now changed as their thoughts have been altered. The self art that was a work of great pride when they first got the tattoo can now hold a bitter memory to a time in their lives that they would like to forget. It could also symbolize something that is now considered insignificant and unimportant to their evolving and changing life.
Art is very dynamic and complex in its own right. It can take on many forms and be displayed by many different mediums. Art is very subjective to the artist and to the audience. Sculptures are a perfect example. They can be made out of any material and made into any shaped. From stone figures of angels or people, to wooden totem poles, displays made out of recycled materials or objects made of paper mach. Every medium, every design, every thought or story behind the artwork and every interpretation of the sculptures are different. Viewing the sculpture by yourself will showcase different attributes of the art as soon as you see it. You may see symbols or styles in the artist’s statute that you have never seen before. They might combine materials, colors or shapes differently than you would ever think, opening your mind to new ideas and potential.
But viewing the artwork with someone else will further enlighten your mind because suddenly, someone else will have a new interpretation of the sculpture. They will see it from a different angle or point of view and, through comments or discussion, you will find that your original interpretation of the piece has now changed.
Artwork also gives viewers a glimpse of the person who has made the product or who is performing the art. Patrons looking at the artwork have a glimpse into the artists mind from their art pieces – there lies a problem within this concept though. That problem is the potential inability to connect with each other on some level – rendering the art seemingly useless. They will, potentially, have an opportunity to see how the world has influenced the artist. A life that the patron never experienced before will now be exposed to them through the artists work. And through the art, the viewer might see something that they can relate to or a vision, note or word from an escritoire com Luz might touch something deep within that they did not know existed before. The artist’s emotions and values can illuminate different areas of our brain that we might not have even known that existed before, or cause us to see the world through new perspectives, values and understandings.
Art stimulates our brain because the brain is always moving and learning. It is not stagnant or stationary. A person’s values, personality and experiences play a key role in creating and interpreting art work – and it is these discourses which are continually being changed throughout life. Our ancestry, values, upbringing, education and knowledge as well as religious beliefs, superstitions, fears and desires come through in the work that is produced as well as how our brain is illuminated by various artworks, and styles of artworks.
Art comes in many forms and mediums: dance, drawings, paintings, sculptures, music, poetry, novels, literature and photography are only a few of the countless forms of art. With the rise of conceptual art, and modern art, the definition of ‘art’ is continually being challenged and changed. Each type of artwork can be further broken down into a multiples of styles and genres which can then be broken down into an artists interpretations and symbolism’s or meanings. What the artist wants to create, why and message they want to convey in their work will all be interpreted by the viewers. Both viewer and artist will become enlightened through the art as it is displayed.
Art stimulates different parts of the brain which triggers different learning and cognitive reasoning or thoughts. Add the complex and dynamic emotions, thoughts and experiences that each person has and artwork has the power to illuminate the brain in ways that no other medium is capable of doing. Art continuously stimulates our conscious and unconscious brain, enlightening us to a new level of learning and understanding and it has the potential in helping us understand the present, future and the past by just looking at various pieces of art.