2004/09/18

Changing wars

I received this message from one of my readers and I think my answer could interest others as well.
MESSAGE SENT THROUGH YOUR WEBSITE


name2 = amnah
replyemail2 =
YOUR_URL2 =
textarea = hi there, i'm very new to your blog.

I'm very interested on for blod dated on 29th july 2004,

The changing wars is an impressively outstanding work of art,

although the explaination for it is quite brief.Can you

explain more on this art? Thank you very much

Sincere thanks, Amnah, for the interest and the comments you express on my work.
I do not know if you read the content of my writings on my blog so I'll rapidly sketch for you my vision of art, its meaning and its function.


A RAPID SKETCH OF MY VISION ON ART, ITS MEANING AND ITS FUNCTION.

Since the beginning of mankind, as far as human history goes, art has been at the service of society. Art and most importantly visual arts served as diffuser of the worldview of society's "men of power and of knowledge" to the members of society at large.

- in animist times, shamans, sorcerers or whatever they are called were the ones who shaped the worldview of the members of the group. Their vision of reality was that the sun was at the heart of life, a male (yang) power of creation to be revered. Animals and plants used in daily life were respected for their human life maintaining power. Art served to illustrate those ideas. We moderns have come to call this form of art "primitive arts".... it flourished for tens of thousands of years.

- in religious times, I mean the historical phase of human development that comes after animism, humans revere gods (in the 3 religions of the word a unique god). The men of knowledge, in those societies governed by religions, are the priest, the monks or howerver they are called. They study the religious creed in their teens to diffuse it to all in their adult life. Art in that period describes the stories of the creed and gives images of the gods and their inner circle, angels,... Religious art flourished for hundreds and in some religions for thousands of years.

- starting with early capitalism in Europe around the 16th century, power in society will shift from the clergy to the new rich merchants and the entrepreneurial aristocrats. Richness in terms of gold and silver possessions are now what procures power, The search for more gold and silver will gradually shape a new worldview made of the ideas of material possessions, private property, individualism and rationality... By the end of the 15th century, art starts to represent landscapes and portraits and by the 16th and 17th century, those subjects represent the majority of all art productions. This will go on and on and is still true today for many people but something fundamentally new happenned in between.

- starting after mid-nineteenth century, I believe under the impact of new techniques of transportation introducing the notion of speed, some artists bring changes in their style of representation of portraits and landscapes. Vangogh, Gauguin are the best known precursors of this stylistic change. The impressionist movance, later the expressionists, the cubists, the futurists and other schools continue to depict portraits and landscapes, or to say this otherwise, they continue to depict reality or at least what is considered as being reality in their days. But sometime after the 1st world war, here and there artists begin to question the wisdom of that reality, they think, they write about the need to reject that vision of reality for something new. (Breton, Duchamp, Ernst, Miro, Masson, Chagall,...) This debate and trials at painting something different will go on from the 1930th without interruption until today. The approaches in creation after the 2nd world war can best be described as a search for individuality. Everyone tries something different, originality takes central stage and very fast "what has not been done before" becomes the sacred graal of artists. BUT in this process total confusion becomes pervasive. Everything has been called art, has it not, from a slashed canvas to a toilet seat.

- starting around the year 2000 (very arbitrary dating) some artists begin to express the need for SENSE in visual arts. Debates are going on but no firm conclusions have been accepted yet.

My personal conclusion is that art works have to return to their traditional function, the making of images that illustrate the worldview of present day "men of knowledge", the scientists and the philosophers if some remain. But we are not in times of art commissionning anymore, when the commissionner fixed the content of the art work. Today the artist has to come up with his own content. So I think that artists need to build up a strong base of knowledge in science and philosophy in order to be able to derive a good understanding of our reality. Their understanding is indeed the only possible valid subject of their art.
The present day worldview is fluctuating, we are on the road of shaping a new worldview but the images are still not very firm, or should I say not very firmly accepted. My painting is to be understood as an essay at rendering my vision of the forming of the coming worldview in post-modern societies. In other words, knowledge (scientific and philosophic) is what drives my image making.

Knowledge acts as a springboard for creativity, it projects a little further into reality and could redefine the artists and other free thinkers of the 21st century as the potential wisemen who first experience a global consciousness as a result of their integration of philosophical inquiries with scientific methodologies and data. But will artists size upon this opportunity? It is not a given fact, it requires indeed much humility, time and perseverance to reflect upon oneself and to study the mysteries of the sky, the earth and the self.
Notwithstanding those uncertainties, let's remember that art is something as the production of an expression or if you prefer an impression of the inner feelings and ideas of the artist. So we understand that an artist's productions are intimately related to his knowledge. The better his knowledge base, the better we can expect his production to be. Not advertisement of an ideology but expression of an idea, of a feeling through the use of a technique. In other words, content, the artist's personalized content will find central stage in artistic creation and beauty or ugliness will more and more relate to the content of a work!

It makes indeed no sense anymore in the twenty-first century to continue to photo-paint landscapes, people or whatever when we can simply use a camera, shoot a perfectly realist image and manipulate its pixels through a photo imaging software. It makes also no sense anymore to continue to illustrate the ideological trappings of religious or political half baked truths as it makes no more sense to plunge ourselves into the different distortions of reality as described by the twentieth century observers of the technological alterings of our visions of reality.

We the artists and free thinkers of the 21st century have to place the bar somewhat higher than that. Let's remember that those of us who are watching the image of the global village in the cosmic mirror are plunged into a whole new world vision that gives us in some way the means to cross the divide between our present day land of folly and the promised land of consciousness that sits across this bridge leading to the future. We artists have to cross this bridge, we have to go in the future but we should permanently remember that the parapets on the bridge are what is protecting us from falling into the absurd and we should remember that those parapets are made of solid knowledge...

About form.
I do not believe one instant that technical skills or mastery in one technique are automatically conferring artistic qualities. Saying that technical mastery confers automatically artistic qualities to a work would be like saying that physical beauty in a person is what makes a person beautiful. We all know that a beautiful person has a lot more to offer than her physical beauty. But let us not fall in the absurd, it is also clear that the absence of technical mastery will never allow a work to become a work of art on the merit of its content alone. We all know that an interesting person does not necessarily render a person beautiful but we all also know that an interesting person that is physically beautiful is undoubtedly a beautiful person. In other words, an artist has to possess some mastery in his technique in order to express himself with ease. How could one without technical mastery be able indeed to express himself unhindered? Mastery I believe has to be understood as the result of practice not necessarily of schooling because schooling without practice will never procure mastery. I furthermore think that mastery is the result of a process combining work, experience and personal internal maturation. From my personal experience, I deduct that content and technique have to be blend into art form. What I mean here is that whatever technique is being used to express whatever content, the resulting work must be harmonious. Harmony is indeed the general state of our universe, of our cosmos and as particles of dust that we are in our universe we can't but make do at the image of the whole that contains us. A work of art should thus reflect this harmony, this is not to say that a work of art must be beautiful, many things in our universe are not beautiful but they are always harmonious.

Here we reach the point of style. How to keep up with the harmony of our universe?
I discovered that "will", I mean this desire from the brain to reach something, is rigidifying. In other words, "will" is a reflection of our greed, of our desires. Greed and desires create disharmony thus reflecting them in our painting implies creating visual disharmony.
The only way I know of to keep harmonious lines, forms and colors is to let go all will, to accept what comes in full humility. Meditation greatly helps.

Here is the text that accompanies my painting "Meditation".
Meditation is accomplished in a context of retreat deep inside oneself, far from the noise of the world. It requires total relaxation of the body and absence of the mind.
The physical relaxation is the easy part. Stopping all thinking and forgetting about all accumulated knowledge and social bonds needs real humility and much patience.
After reaching total absence of the mind you are plunged back in the age of babyhood this is when you reach total innocence.
Total innocence frees the links between yourself and the whole of our universe. You are now in contact with the ONE, you are part of it and everything shines with clarity.

In light of this, coming back to "Changing wars", my motivation goes as follows.
I feel deep anxiety about our contemporary video game wars. Children are growing up with the same video games that are used by soldiers on the battle ground.
This is no joke!

Playing to kill and killing resulting from a keyboard stroke, what a monstruosity!
What frightens me most is the distance that has been introduced between the soldier-player and his victims.
"Changing wars" is about my vision of technologically changing wars: strikes that run through cables or surf on waves while the actor of those strikes sits confortably at his desk...
What I depict is my impression of a very complex system, the one we live in. Our system I feel has reached the tilting point of "singularity", when the complexity is such and the speed of change is such that we just can't even imagine any more what comes next. The danger that I imply is to see future worldwar massacres brought on us by this distance between the act of typing on a keyboard stroke and its consequences.
I hope I succeeded in rendering this complexity, the singularity it leads to and this danger of non-conscience that could lead eventually to the absolutely worst man slaughter in all our history.

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