2005/01/28

Form is the outer expression of the inner content

I personally agree with Kandinsky that "The form is the outer expression of the inner content. Therefore, one should not make a deity of form. "1

The resonance of the artist's inner content with his time is what will generate the form of his art work. In other words the art form is somehow generated automatically when the artist's ideas are in sink with what's going on in his time, thus the necessary precedence of the content of the art work, the content is indeed the essence of the art work.

In this lies the fundamental difference between the modern approach of the visual arts with the realism of Renaissance and post-Renaissance times. In religious times and early modern times form had to bend to the reality2 projected onto all members of society by its "men of power". Form was assumed to project the subject of a work, it was thus a kind of photocopy of the "no-brainer" first degree image reflected upon the observer's retina.

Twentieth century artists rejected this assumption on the ground that science indicated that reality was a lot larger then what the eye was physically able to see and consequentially they tried to define a new approach more in sink with the impact of science and technology on their times.

Alas, in late modern times marketization favored form over content. Free form was indeed less disturbing for the art establishment than free content. But, in finale, the market has to assume the full responsibility for the dismissal of the essence of art works from "market-successful" artistic creations in late modernity.
The total confusion wherein the art world has been plunged is indeed a direct result of this dismissal of the essence of art from the works that the market retained.
I'm not speaking here of this idea of the sacred in art that follows the renaissance, I'm speaking about the universality of art's societal functionality, I mean the creation by artists of visual signs about the worldview of the men of knowledge in their time.

In the past religious times and early modern times the first degree image projecting on the retina was the imposed form to illustrate the imposed content of visual arts. Artists toiled to reproduce first degree images as illustrations of the stories of the men of knowledge of their times, religious stories in religious times and the stories about individualism and private property in early modern times.
The artist was firmly discouraged to let lose his intellect.
Today, it is assumed that each and everyone should make the best use of his intellect, is this not so?

But visual artists struggled to reconcile the use of their intellect with the first degree image on their retina. This fast appeared to be an impossible task for the intellect can't be constrained by such a narrow perception as the first degree image on the retina. The intellect has to be let loose in order for it to flourish.

But then how to let the intellect derive a visual form out of its activity?

Artists struggled with this particular question during all of the twentieth century and the question has still not found an accepted answer.


1. Wassily Kandinsky. "on the problem of form" 1912. In Herschel B. Chipp. Theories of modern art. University of California Press.

2. The reality projected onto all was, until recently, the knowledge of the "men of knowledge" of the day that was imposed on all through the power at the hands of the "men of power" of the same day.

2005/01/27

The subject of visual arts in postmodernism. (1)

If we agree upon this idea of the precedence of content in an art work then we recognize that one content is not equal with another content. Content is indeed relative. The ideas of the artist appear in his feelings and are thus expressed on the canvas. But his ideas are not necessarily the same with another artist's ideas, thus the relativity and when we speak about relativity we speak about judgment. Every individual judges but the judgments of different individuals generally do not coincide. So then whose judgment do we speak about in relation to the content of an art work? Or is there a way out to give all individuals a sort of viewing key that could lead them to judge less subjectively?

First we have to clarify what is being judged and also what are the parameters of the judgment. If history is a good reference then we see that the content of art works that resist the realm of time always makes sense out of the period in which those works were created. In other words, those works expressed the "Zeitgeist" in term of the knowledge of their period, they indicated how the worldview of their societies was shaped in that present and how it was starting to shape the future.

In animist societies, the content that is represented is what preoccupies all the individuals: food, sex, the sky and so on. In the times of the gods, the religious message is central and in initial modern times, the house and the landscape where one lives are giving its centrality to the idea of ownership and individualism.

So what do we find in later modern times and in our present day reality that is really shaping our societies?

Is there one central theme or could there be multiple themes?

I firmly believe that there is one central theme and it is "how does our universe function". Not only the universe far away, the macro view of the universe but also the micro view, the view of the infinitely small.

So the question of our times, at least this is my view, is how does our universe work from the infinitely small to the infinitely large and what is our personal place in all that. I believe that the central question that best characterizes our times for most of the individuals is "how do I fit in all that".

2005/01/26

The subject of visual arts in postmodernism. (2)

Starting with the idea of knowledge, we know for a sure fact that the most advanced scientific undertakings are in the field of the sciences of complexity. How does life start? Is it a godly creation or is it spontaneous emergence under specific conditions?

My views are derived from the conclusions reached by contemporary scientists and also from the study of the civilizational building blocks in Europe and principally in China. As I already stated earlier late contemporary rationality seem to fuse with traditional Chinese wisdom. What is considered central in the principle of reality is change with no start nor end, no good nor bad, only the change from one state/moment to another state/moment.

The "Tao Te Ching" conceives of the sky and the earth as the combination, the ordering of an infinity of elements (ten thousand things) derived out of chaos. Once order is established, the sky and the earth are entering a non ending dance of changes that directly impacts on humans' lives. Let's relate this to astronomical studies and the ten thousand things become the elements of change following the big bang, their combination and ordering taking place along the 13.7 billion following years.

Life itself is then perceived as a gradual process of change starting some 4 billion years ago with the spontaneous emergence of unicellular organisms. The search for more complexity that is inscribed in all cells leads then those unicellular organisms, over the following one billion years, to combine together to give multi-cellular organisms. The next steps of evolution then lead to ever more deeper levels of complexity to reach the human form with its present day characteristics some 100-150,000 years ago.

Religious believers doubt this presentation and ask about what comes before the big bang. Seeing that science is without any hard fact as of today about what came before the big bang, they argue that god must have been the originator of the intelligent design that is found in our universe and so they establish their god as the ultimate final cause from which everything originates.

But this logic is flawed for it is not because science is still without any hard observations or answers today about what came before the big bang that it will not tomorrow succeed to grasp such observations. This mode of questioning the validity of the scientific model of reasoning is basically dishonest. We all know by now that science will never come to the end of its quest for understanding so taking a question that is not resolved scientifically at one particular moment in history as proof of the non validity of the scientific model is indeed fundamentally dishonest.

Suffice here to notice that traditional Chinese wisdom is not without answers. In this vision the universe that preceded ours concluded with all matter imploding into energy and this energy later exploding into the big bang that originated our present universe that is still expanding and will continue to to so till it uses all the energy liberated by the big bang. When our universe will have used up all the energy liberated in the big bang it will start shrinking till all matter implodes into energy that is bound to explode creating a new starting universe and so on. Energy is composed of the Yang principle and matter is composed of the Yin principle. Old Yang mutates into young Yin that becomes old Yin. Old Yin mutates into young Yang that ages into old Yang. Old Yang ... and so on without end.

The traditional Chinese philosophy experiences no need to find causes, it succeeds to explain changing realities from the energetic contact between polarities (chapter 2.2. of Artsense). Change is thus conceived of as being inherent to what is there. Having no intellectual need to recourse to causality the Chinese have also no need to stop the search for earlier causality with an abstractly posited final causality and thus they do not need to invent gods.

Following in the footsteps of this reasoning, we reach the conclusion that our universe follows a circular movement corresponding to the cycles of matter expansion and energy concentration.
The cosmos follows one spiral but the "ten thousand things" within the cosmos follow each a similar spiral and thus what I see now are ten thousand spirals within one huge unit that is the spiral of the universe. Humanity and individuals are both surfing, conscientiously or unconscientiously, on their own temporal spiral.
The conscience of this complex reality brings me to my mission as an artist that I see as the creation of visual signs about our surfing on the spiral waves in our cosmos.

That's the background of my painting of my visual perception of reality. That's also my personal answer to my initial questions "how to let the intellect derive a visual form out of its activity?", "what do we find in later modern times and in our present day reality that is really shaping our societies?".

Knowledge is the universal and unique answer to the quest for sense of the artist. The time of the "men of power" imposing on all the knowledge of the "men of knowledge", this time of propaganda is gone I hope with no possible return.
But this does not mean that knowledge is gone, it remains there as a possibility.

The only serious problem for the artist at the dawn of the 21st century is that knowledge today is not given, it is in the forming, in the shaping, it is indeed not mature yet and as such sharing in its shaping implies accepting to "dirty" one's hands in the intellectual process of creating ideas.

2005/01/25

The subject of visual arts in postmodernism. (3)

Having given the general background, the worldview that I explore in my visual works, let's come back to the visual creation process itself.
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First comes meditation.
In the comments accompanying my acrylic 07, I describe meditation as follows:

" Meditation is accomplished in a context of retreat deep inside yourself, 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."

Those last two elements are central to my approach to painting:

* clarity of thought: I don't need to think about what I'm going to paint, it's there in my spirit and when using a brush it simply comes out on the canvas. I could as well use another medium but for now I feel good with brushes but who knows what medium I'll be using later on.

* babyhood innocence: I do not like voluntarist painting, I feel, it is uniformly stiff having an air of "out of reality" a little bit as if water was climbing the cliffs. What I like is the feel and innocence of water flowing along its natural downslope.
Children paintings often reach that grace and meditation permits to reach the innocence of a baby at whatever age. When using a brush the content simply comes out on the canvas without any sign of having been imposed by will.

For sure meditation does not come out of the blue.
You are scanning yourself. Your ideas are flowing, like a visual show, out of your memories and then rapidly fading in pastel clouds towards the light of absolute tranquility.

Meditation starts with the scanning of our accumulated ideas and experiences that's indeed the raw material upon which meditation is acting. This scanning retains the building blocks of our thoughts that it substantiates in a moving flow, of forms and colors, that transforms and transforms towards absolute nothingness or absolute tranquility.

We should be absolutely conscient at this point that total clarity and babyhood innocence do not infer that the quality of our thoughts and of our actions should have been by any means transformed. No, we remain who we are, we have just been illuminated by our discovery of the sequential logical path followed by our own thoughts that's what is illuminating. In a flash of truth we discover our own limitations in term of our understanding of the whole from which we are a particule. Total clarity about who we are and what are our limitations that's what drives us towards the point where tranquility set's in.

Meditation does not render you, as of by miracle, a genius it only helps you in being quiet and clear minded. Meditation is a technique of self discovery it does not change you into something you are not. It just shines total clarity in your spirit which gives you absolute tranquility.

2005/01/24

The subject of visual arts in postmodernism. (4)

After meditation comes automatism.


"Scientists must have a broad background and education. They should not be too narrowly focused on science. Everything a person knows contributes to constructing rich metaphors, making mental leaps, discovering links between unlikely things, and finding new and creative ways to combine familiar ingredients.
A scientist calling for the use of metaphor? According to Holland, development of theory involves such "nonscientific" things as metaphor, models, and cartoons. The scientist deliberately exaggerates what he or she wants to study and deletes other details in order to get to the essence of the question. Questions lead the way; then the scientist moves into metaphor. "1

What about visual artists do they also construct "rich metaphors", making mental leaps, discovering links between unlikely things, and finding new and creative ways to combine familiar ingredients"?

"It is not to be despised, in my opinion, if, after gazing fixedly at the spot on the wall, the coals on the grate, the clouds, the flowing stream, if one remembers some of their aspects; and if you look at them carefully you will discover some quite admirable inventions. Of these the genius of the painter may take full advantage, to compose battles of animals and of men, of landscapes or monsters, of devils and other fantastic things which bring you honor. In these confused things genius becomes aware of new inventions, but it is necessary to know well (how to draw) all the parts that one ignores, such as the parts of animals and the aspects of landscape, rocks and vegetation." 2

Thanks Leonardo for this clear as water expose on automatism. For those who don't know, this was written around 1510. The surrealists did indeed not invent the water.

Both Leonardo the painter and Holland the scientist insist on the same observation about the necessity of having a strong knowledge. Holland goes further than Leonardo when he says that the scientist's knowledge
"should not be too narrowly focused on science. Everything a person knows contributes to constructing rich metaphors, making mental leaps, discovering links between unlikely things, and finding new and creative ways to combine familiar ingredients."

"With the conviction of a preacher, Holland concluded his talk with three principles for scientists of the future. Science, he said, involves discipline, metaphor, and reduction. Discipline means that just as a tennis player must internalize the elements of the game in order to play without stopping to think about how to hold the racket, students must internalize scientific knowledge in order to use that knowledge easily." 3

In order to avoid being limited by a weak technique the scientist must master technical skills, as the tennis player or the visual artist for that matter.
An artist whose technique is not sure (not mature) has to spend his energy and devote his concentration trying to execute painfully what a good technique would have allowed him to execute very easily and without the need of his conscience being absorbed by that technical act.
A sure technique allows to focus not on the execution of the task but rather on the content that is being expressed through the execution of that very task. In other words, with a sure technique, the hand will follow the spirit where it is attracted and draw the image that emerges somehow spontaneously. Drawing or painting are thus freed from the technical act itself that is executed automatically and are then concentrating exclusively on the content of the painter's thoughts or should I say absorbing the spirit, the thinking, the dreaming of the artist.

"These internalized elements are the source for metaphor. Along with discipline, scientists must break out of the narrow confines of their box and think broadly through transdisciplinary experience and education. The broader their background, the more they are able to use such tools as metaphor in constructing theories. "4

We can only think about what our conscience has been nourished with, in other words, we can't think about something that we don't know a damn thing about. The painter who only knows about painting is unable to derive ideas or visions about anything else than what his eyes let him see, landscapes, portraits and stills. His counterpart who is well informed about biology or astronomy or philosophy or whatever else, will draw from the knowledge he accumulated to derive new forms and coloring schemes. He will use conceptual metaphors that tend to be prelinguistic. And he will "make basic assumptions regarding space, time, moving, counting, controlling, and other core elements of human experience."5

The painter who has a broadband knowledge base thus gains access to a superior level of consciousness that let's him dwell in new visual dimensions.

"His third principle, reduction, has to do with drawing information together. The work of science is the work of manipulating building blocks, such as creating protein from amino acids. There are levels upon levels of building blocks, but researchers always have to be aware that if they are working on one level, they still have to satisfy the rules of the other levels."6

What Holland is referring to here is the ability to connect different elements that we stored as a result of our experiences. So the richer our experiences, the richer will be our possibilities at connecting various elements and creating metaphors. Thus in the end the deeper we will be able to dwell into our visions.

Holland's conclusion about the background of the scientist rejoins my own point about knowledge in painting. The deeper his knowledge or his background and the deeper the spirit, the thinking, the dreaming of the artist will be let to dwell. The deeper his thinking and his dreaming are allowed to dwell, the richer his theories, his visions will appear to be.

Eventually, the depth of an artist's visions and the images generated by the metaphors he succeeds to generate bring him to a point where he goes out of the certainties of his time and jumps into a new understanding, a new way of doing. That point is when the artist establishes a radical change of paradigm in the practice of his art.



1. John Holland "Calls for a Radical Reassessment" THE BULLETIN OF THE SANTA FE INSTITUTE Fall © 2002

2. Leonardo. "Treatise on Painting."

3. John Holland Calls for a Radical Reassessment THE BULLETIN OF THE SANTA FE INSTITUTE Fall © 2002

4. John Holland Calls for a Radical Reassessment THE BULLETIN OF THE SANTA FE INSTITUTE Fall © 2002

5. About "conceptual metaphors" in Wikipedia.

6. John Holland Calls for a Radical Reassessment THE BULLETIN OF THE SANTA FE INSTITUTE Fall © 2002

7. A paradigm shift is an often radical change of paradigm. It is the successful new theory which explains a phenomenon or phenomena that the previous theory fails to. In Wikipedia

2005/01/23

The subject of visual arts in postmodernism. (5)

I find that the act of will in a painting is rigidifying, it lacks what machine work lacks, it lacks the poetry of the spontaneous human intervention, it lacks those small "mistakes"that the act of will is automatically correcting. That's about form for form but there is a more essential aspect of meditation/automatism and it concerns the content. It's what Leonardo calls "admirable inventions" in his treatise on painting. When looking intensely at a surface, one always finds small irregularities in the material and the more one looks at those irregularities the more one finds of them. Those irregularities are Leonardo's "admirable inventions". The artist does not create those irregularities, he only interprets them in his own vocabulary, his own mass of referable (knowledge). If his technique is mature, the artist sizes the patterns of his brain in those irregularities. Each artist has his own tricks. One looks at the material of the color that is deposited on the paper or the canvas to find his brain patterns, another as Miro "in watercolors would roughen the surface of the paper by rubbing it. Painting over this roughened surface produced curious chance shapes..."1

I personally work in the color material and discover there a world that grows by itself. I follow what I discover and I do not impose my will at this stage of the work. In some works, this stage takes 10 minutes, in other works it can take hours and in some other works it can take a few sessions. This is the moment that I express my feelings in the sense employed by Jackson Pollock. I'm not trying to represent something, I just express my feelings in very fast brush gestures. In the meditation/automatism stage I have one session per day for a given work and generally I work simultaneously on a few works. Brushing the colors on the canvas or the paper is a very intensive gestural activity pumping much energy.
The intensity of energy liberated is, I feel, disruptive of my rational judgment and thus it is important at this stage for me to let things cool down fast . After ignoring the piece on which I work for a few days, I see it in a different light and I then am very fast ready for the second stage of my work.

1. Miro. Interview with James Johnson Sweeney. 1947. In Herschel B. Chipp. Theories of modern art. University of California Press.


2005/01/22

The subject of visual arts in postmodernism. (6)

The second stage of my painting.


This is when I try to harmonize what is there on the canvas as a result of the first phase that has been generated out of meditation/automatism. In this first phase I expressed my feelings through colors and forms without any intention to imprint a given content. The second phase is all about the derivation of content out of the meditation/automatic expression.


But here again "will" is absent in the sense of "voluntary, intentional, deliberate, willful, willing". Somehow I reach content unconscientiously that means without thought for reaching meaning. I never spent much time looking at Gongbi style paintings while I was in China, such works never attracted me but for some reason that I can't exactly explain the stylistic result of this second phase is paradoxically very much Gongbi-like.

The paint material and the colors applied in the first phase are there on the canvas into abstract forms. In this second phase I follow those abstract forms with a thin brush trying to generate some sensical meaning while eliminating all that makes no sense all that weakens the emerging meaning. For me this is indeed the stage of rendering absolute sense out of abstract forms and colors. It's what Leonardo calls
"A way of enhancing and arousing the mind to various inventions. ... if you look at any walls soiled with a variety of stains, or stones with variegated patterns, when you have to invent some location, you will therein be able to see a ressemblance to various landscapes, graced with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, great valleys and hills in many combinations."
In those abstract forms left on walls by stain
Leonardo searches for inspiration to realize a subject that he very conscientiously and firmly has imprinted in his spirit before starting his painting. I myself do not plan a subject conscientiously before starting to paint. I just let things unfold. Surely enough when looking at "stains or stones with variegated patterns" or when looking at the colors and lines on the canvas it is my mind that is pulling my eyes into seeing some things and not other things. The mind is always active, if not conscientiously, then unconscientiously and what the eyes retain is basically what the mind gives the eyes to see. In that sense what is important for the artist is what is in his mind. Now we should be conscient that what is in the artist's mind is an input, it was not there originally, it has grown with his life experience. So for an artist, or for whoever for that matter, the quality of the creative output is basically dependant on the quality of his total earlier inputs. In other words knowledge is what gives quality to the creative output of the artist. Sure enough what I'm speaking about here is art in the sense of the creation of visual signs about the worldview that is in the shaping. Without knowledge there is indeed simply no way that the worldview, of the men of knowledge in our society, should be attainable so much less a worldview that is not formed yet that is in the shaping.

This second phase is the moment when my accumulated knowledge is been imprinted on the canvas. My hand follows the existed lines and contours on the canvas following where my spirit is attracted and draws the image that emerges. Drawing or painting are freed from the act itself that is somehow executed automatically and are then absorbing my spirit, my thinking, my dreaming. Now we should be conscient that not everyone can do what I here describe. It's not only a question of the earlier inputs that condition the creative output, it's also a question of technical skills. Someone who has not accumulated sufficient practice in his technical execution will be constrained, will be hindered in the visual representation of his creative output. He will be stuck in the technical rendering of the first idea that passes through his mind and will not be let free to explore further up the unwinding of the thread that this first idea follows in his mind and thus the flow of his creative output will be interrupted. This is when his work becomes fully a work of will that cements in a concrete technical pain.

This Gongbi-like second phase took somewhere between 15 and 40 hours on average for each work of the ARTSENSE series. The work is long, the time is flying and the spirit is floating around the world as if in a real dream. The work is done when the complete canvas has been integrated in the
"sense-making story".

Remains then the last phase, the beautifying of the work.


(1) Chinese traditional painting divides into two very different approaches. One could be seen as the artistic form, or should I say the philosophical form, it is called "SHEYI". The other form is a kind of craft for interior decoration, it is called "QONGBI".

2005/01/21

The subject of visual arts in postmodernism. (7)

3rd phase of my painting.
The harmonization of colors and lines = the embellishment or the beautification of the work.
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The content is firmly established with the second phase as well as the general composition. What remains to be done in this third phase is finding complete coherence in all the lines and colors and this more often than not is about eliminating all the non sensical elements. Beautifying is indeed the phase of making absolute sense.

The finishing touches, of this process of elimination, are about exclusively reserved to the harmonization of colors. The whole canvas sometimes receives a changed color harmonic but there is no law about colors that holds on its own. Last changes are executed simply out of the necessity to reaching color harmony over whole the canvas.

I already wrote a few times that I consider paintings as objects for interior decoration and I feel that an interior should only accommodate on a wall finished objects that are enlightening as well as decorative. I indeed have the weakness to think that what appears on your walls reflects on what is going on in your brains, in your life and in your family and thus I feel that the content of a work is sacred and it's form should absolutely be harmonious.

I don't mean to say that an art work should be beautiful in the sense that it should integrate the fads of the air of the times. Far from that. I consciently use the term beautification in a provocative way hoping to attract the attention of the reader. Fashion and fads have nothing to do with art, they are marketing realities and nothing more. In consequence the artist should remove himself from those artificialities and yearn for something more fundamentally sensical.

What I want to convey with the concept of beautification in art is this old idea of harmony. It's an undeniable fact that we are no more than a particle of dust in our universe and so the thinking goes that we should strive to harmonize within this whole. In other words an artwork should be reflecting our acceptance, of what we are, of our nothingness. Our vanity, greed and desires are indeed destroying in ourselves this idea of nothingness and pulling each of our actions into vain superficial and meaningless manifestations of marginality on the outer limits of the universal. That's where our "will" often makes us do, say, draw or paint unwholesomely.

I do not mean to say that our destiny is fully determined that we have no free will. What I refer to is this idea well known by the surfer that we first and foremost have to acknowledge the fact that we are no more than a grain of dust, in the sea, blown by the winds along the waves. Surfing is all about being one with the elements, one step out of their harmony and it's the fall. That's exactly what happens also in painting. One step out of the universal harmony of lines, forms and colors and the work lands on the outer limits of the universal. In terms of culture the work starts to be embarrassing, offensive or even repulsive. In music this story is more straightforward sounds that land on the outer limits of the universally accepted for the ear are stressful and can sometimes be extremely painful so we reject such sounds. The eye can accomodate about everything it's our minds that revulse and the memory of the experiences of the mind is what generates culture that's how culture in ourselves is reacting towards what is visually on the outer limits of the universal.

The beautification of a visual work is like surfing on the waves of the sea, accepting the wind as it is and playing with it. The recognition of our nothingness in the wholeness of the sea or for that matter of our universe teaches us non-resistance teaches us non action that's the moment in surfing when the wave carries the body that's the moment in painting when the mind follows the brush. Ugliness appears when there is resistance to the waves or action of will to beat the waves and also when the mind wants to beat the brush.

2005/01/14

About Laodan (3)

This table summarizes my personal approach towards painting. It is not given as a ready method for all to use but I hope that its content will help the reader to clarify his own understanding about what I'm speaking about and also will help him have an easier "reading" of my paintings.


A summary of my personal approach towards visual arts

The subject of art ------------------------------>

The form of painting ------------------------------>

Art in society
=

The artist's role is to create sense out of reality for his society. Knowledge being not a given any longer, the artist has to find out, by himself, how our future worldview is shaping in the present.

  • The first stage of creation:

- Xieji like = meditation and then cogitation about the subject of the painting.

- Automatism = the ex-pression of one's feelings about the subject.

    Everyone is enriching his society through his actions. Art should thus make sense of what is life and reality at the attention of the observers, at the attention of the members of society.

    The artist makes sense out of reality from his own level of understanding. He uses technical touches intended to affirm his vision of the subject's meaning and sense.

  • The second stage of creation: making sense out of what has resulted from the automatic expression of feelings = the application of Gongbi style techniques intended to mark the details of the representation.

    The substance (the spirit)of artists' creations belongs to the commons. (society at large) and should thus be absolutely free of usage by all individuals.

    Gaining general knowledge is central in the artist's life. The better his knowledge = the deeper his representation of the subjects of his works.

  • The third stage of creation: the harmonization of colors and lines = the embellishment of the work of art.

    The materiality of the work of art created by an artist is the artist's personal ownership. This is what feeds the artist.



    In the following posts I'll try to give as reasoned a description as possible about my way of painting.

2005/01/11

About Laodan (2)

While in Belgium I followed the modernist movance and experienced the style of most of its schools, in China I earned an eyesight on the deafening technical skills of Chinese academic painters. I have to recognize that initially I had difficulties with traditional Chinese painting: Gongbi and Xieji. You need indeed first to have been exposed to Chinese traditional philosophy to grasp what is going on in those paintings. Its practitioners are indeed literati artists who execute expressionistic and gestural strokes to render their vision of the essence of their subject.

I was interested in philosophy, I devoured the classics and started to be attracted by Xieji painting. Basically, in this approach the artist is a thinker who is up to date about Chinese philosophy. Understanding that reality is a process of change at work in all our universe, the artist makes the Tao, the way of life or the spirit of all things and living beings his subject of painting. His conscience and acceptance of how the process of change affects all things and beings let's him ultimately discover the Tao of the object of his painting. Xieyi painting aims to capture the Xi or energetic body underlying the Tao of the represented object. Gu Kaizhi an artist of the Jin Dynasty (c. 345-406) wrote that Xieji is "making the form show the spirit". It is often presented as the aphorism "painting in poetry and poetry in painting". Xieji is also often translated as "writing one's soul" but my preferred translation is "writing the meaning down".

"Writing the meaning down" reflects indeed perfectly this idea of capturing the energetic body of the Tao of the represented object. Think about a mountain, the meaning of the mountain is to be found in the energetic body of its own Tao or spirit. What does that mean, well it means that the artist has to discover, in the first degree image of the mountain that appears on his retina, the way the mountain was formed, how the energy of Gaia molded its shape and being and where this movement is ultimately leading the mountain. In other words the painter, observing as a philosopher, tries to capture the past changes that shaped his subject in its present form and the present and future changes that are already affecting the present form of his subject.

A Xieyi painting is finished in one setting capturing the spirit or the essence of the subject with masterful brush strokes and a good sense of balance in the composition. One can thus understand that a Xieji painting does not start with the act of painting, it starts with observation and painting can only start when the artist has interiorized the spirit of his subject. Some painters could observe a mountain for years before starting to paint. Wow so much for merchandization.

In Xieji painting:
- ... The artist first observes his subject until he captures the essence of it's being, its spirit, in other words its Tao.
- ... Then the artist produces trial after trial of representations of the spirit of his subject.
- ... He will finally stop painting at the trial he feels gives the exact representation of how he sees the spirit of his subject. Each trial is made of simple and bold strokes and terminated within a few minutes. Only the last trial is kept, it is the art work, all other trials are destroyed.

My personal approach towards painting and more generally towards visual arts is somehow the result of the many influences that I underwent along my life. But more particularly, it is the result of the gigantic shock between:
- ... my understanding and practice of European modernism.
-... my discovery of Chinese philosophy and of Chinese visual arts.

It took me all the years between 1986 and 2000 to digest that cultural shock. It's difficult to lay out in a few words the impact of such a worldchanging event. I had already experienced 2 earlier cultural shocks through immigration and than through education but nothing compares with the immersion of a young European in the daily Chinese realities for a period of over 15 years.

Along that uneven road, I have experienced the need to go back to my received ideas they were indeed not satisfying me any longer.

Two fields absorbed my interest and all my time:
- ... the formation of capitalism because modernity is ultimately nothing more than one stage of cultural development along the history of capitalism.
- ... the build-up of culture and the formation of civilizations and more particularly the history of the Chinese civilization and the content and formation of its value system.

After fifteen years of extensive reading and daily immersion in Chinese waters, my ideas were starting to come together and, I felt the time had come for me to try my hands at painting again. I terminated some 10 gouaches in 2001 and then worked on 26 tapestry/rug designs.

By that time Xiaohong and I decided to experience life in the US. The chaos wrought on China by industrialization and the opening of the country to greed had exacted a toll on China's social landscape and also on our energy. We were tired and needed a change of air. Having lived some 35 years in Europe then in China the next 15 years the US seemed a natural choice.

The prospect to complete a journey experiencing the life conditions and ways of doing and thinking in the 3 most active areas on earth at the dawn of the 21st century was a very exciting one indeed.

The quietude and vast open spaces in Wisconsin, where we sat foot, were definitely reinvigorating. A broadband connection kept us in touch with what was going on in Europe and China and then... I came in contact with blogging. I started to post in march of 2003 and gradually an idea built in my mind, why not use those posts as material to write a book. A book had started to gestate that now is not far from to be born.

I spent all of 2004 writing and painting. The act of writing brings about much thinking and my painting underwent the influence of that thinking. The solitude that is imposed on you by the act of writing plunges you on the margins of society where the noise coming out of the world disintegrates and so you are left open, if you are free inside yourself, to always dig deeper inside your thoughts. That's a short but good summary, I think, of the dynamic I went through these last 15 months: solitude, quietude, thinking, writing and painting.

At the end of this peregrination my vision about painting and the visual arts has morphed into some kind of a composite (1): nor modern in the sense of whatever Western modern school nor Chinese Xieyi or Gongbi. Somehow I guess that I took something out of all those approaches, the elements that I felt would allow me to express the Tao of our days.
________________



(1) "Composite materials are combinations of materials from different classes that have properties different from or better than either of their parents", in History of Science and Technology, edited by Bryan Bunch and Alexander Hellemans. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

2005/01/10

About Laodan (1)

Some of you questionned me about my identity. I guess the time has come to say some words about myself.

My personal experience in painting dates from my childhood.
Being a unique child painting has always been something of a refuge that was compensating in some way for the need of socialization. The result of Flemish immigration in Walloonia was indeed, for a Flemish child, to drastically limit socialization with Walloon kids and it ensued thus that I socialized mostly with trees, dirt and with paint, with the paint material on the canvas instead of with other children.

I had the exceptional chance to have the great WATKINE (1) as master in my teens. He taught me the love of nature and also the freedom to play with colors. By the time I attended university in Brussels, as young provincial, I was attracted by SOMVILLE (2) and attended some of his classes at the Boitsfort Academy of Arts, I did not expect that 12 years later I would befriend one of his colleagues TIMPER.
The decade between SOMVILLE and TIMPER (3), both culturally Latins, has been the most influential in my life. It has been a kind of jumping out or perhaps of dropout of society's conventions, seeing with Castaneda's (4) Don Juan and learning with Krishnamurti (5) to appreciate the higher plane of harmony's perpetual change.

JIPI (6), the Flemish shaman, showed me how to let lines and colors go where they want free of interference from one self's will. It also was a time of group painting with PIERROT, STEURS and others culminating with free expression at the "BRASSERIE" (7) that in the end pitifully fell in Walloon pessimism. This is when I quit the maelstrom and tried to immerse myself in Belgian society's decision making. But this proved to be too much non-sense for me and I left a few years later to land in China in 1986 where I stayed 16 years digesting the philosophical pleasures of insipidity, learning the taste of water and its natural movement down the slopes.

During those years, oh irony, Xiaohong (8) taught me the roots of European classicism and helped me to appreciate technical rigor which I discovered "en masse" at the hands of Chinese painters.
Today I appreciate a work well done technically but I believe that technique and art remain two different things. You need indeed to master the technique in which you express yourself but this technique does not transform automatically what you express into art.
Without technique what you express seems inachieved and without intellectual content it is as if what you express were shallow.
________________________

(1) Watkyne: Jacques Vandewattyne: Walloon folk-art painter, author of the folk-art manifesto and activist advocating a philosophy of "simple living" .

(2) Roger Somville, Belgian contemporary painter, realist activist wanting to counter the influence of abstract art. He intended to put man at the center of his art. He struggled against the growing tendency of modern painting's loss of sense and its dehumanization.

(3) Paul Timper, Walloon contemporary painter and potter.

(4) Castaneda's works contain descriptions of paranormal experiences, several psychological techniques, Toltec magic rituals, shamanism and experiences with psychoactive drugs (e.g. Peyote). Although they started out with the premise of anthropology, his works became a mixture of story, religion, and philosophy.

(5) Krishnamurti is regarded as one of the greatest religious teachers of all time. He did not expound any specific philosophy or religion, but spoke of the everyday matters that concern all human beings. He belonged to no religion, sect or country, nor did he subscribe to any school of political or ideological thought. Instead, he stated that these are the very factors that divide us from one another and bring about personal and social conflict and ultimately war.

(6) Jipi, Jean-Paul Dhaenens, by the end of the sixties he was professor of painting at the Academy of Ghent but he then left everything to live the life of a shaman.

(7) "la Brasserie": a cultural and artistic center founded in Ellezelles/Belgium in 1980 that attracted many of those creatives personages who were living along the language border from France to well over Brussels.

(8) Xiaohong Huo: Piano professor at "China National University of Nationalities" in Beijing till 1989 when we married.

2005/01/09

From Crucial talk to ARTSENSE.

I started the first chapter of ARTSENSE with the question about the artist's need for financial compensation of the time he inputs into his work. Having been a first eye witness, during the seventies and beginning of the eighties, of the extreme misery where an artist can eventually find himself in our merchandization societies I decided not to let myself become the prey of the good will of the market.

My personal approach has then been to make myself financially self-sufficient before to restart painting in 2000. Since my return to painting I guess I spent well over 10,000 hours painting and writing without ever having been subjected to the agonies of having to sell something for covering the expenses of my family. This has assuredly given me peace of mind and total freedom to dwell where and when I wanted as well in painting as in writing.

The market has never been one of my considerations and now that I arrive at the end of this book I can say that nothing has changed. Writing has been a great experience enabling me to clarify my ideas and to discover where those ideas could be leading to.
I'm satisfied that my conclusions are keeping strong and I have the feeling that the long haul historical vision expressed along ARTSENSE has the potential to help anyone in clarifying what visual arts are all about, in any case, it sheds light in my own head and as such the writing experience is positive enough.

I started, in March of 2003, to publish the first draft of my ideas in this blog that now totals some 140 posts. Later I reworked my posts into ARTSENSE. It makes no doubt that I hope to make this book available for all those who could be interested by its content.

I have no clue as to how my PDF version will be received by publishers but somehow I don't care, for, if there is no paper version I'm sure of one thing and that is that this book will always make it in the form of an e-book.
Time will tell this story later.
Now if someone among you who read this post knows how publishing works, I would appreciate to read any advice about how to do with my manuscript in order for it to be published. Thanks in advance.

2005/01/08

Conclusions (4)

The age of CoGaH arises: Cosmos, Gaia, Humanity.


Postmodernism is the process of societal globalization whereby the rationality of the logic of capital is being extended as a common way of thinking to the whole world. This may seem very abstract put like that in words but the process is absolutely worldchanging in terms of the daily ways of live of everybody on earth.

Generally speaking this process takes quite different forms in the different geographic areas. It is indeed a big unification of the life conditions around the world. This is also the master subject of the work of Thomas P.M. Barnett who describes the interactions between the "Core" and the "Gap".

Basically the life conditions of the populations of the world are unifying and rebalancing around "a middle-class way of life" (what Barnett describes as a geographic distribution in the Core):

    • The populations in Western advanced countries are bound to suffer a decrease in their income and of most of their social rights that had been established as privileges of living in the then industrially dominating West.

      Globalization of capital is driving whole sectors of economic activity out of those countries for the simple reason that the cost structure of their wages is no longer competitive. The transfer of the textile industry to countries of the South is a perfect illustration of that mechanism.

      The result in the countries of the West is invariably a stagnation of real incomes that will be followed by a fall in real incomes. The myth that technology would replace lost jobs with new ones that give highly paid wages is indeed only half true. All lost jobs are never fully compensated by new highly paid technology jobs. The fastest growing employment sector is indeed the service sector where wages are minimum wages that are less well paid then the lost jobs and furthermore technology jobs lowly paid in the South will be competiting with highly paid technology jobs in the north.

      This painful trend towards lower income averages is paralleled by a cultural disintegration. In other words "the conflictual change fostering relationship", between the individual and his society that I illustrated in chapter 2.5 of ARTSENSE, is breaking down with the individuals running in all directions as if they had lost their compass.

      The visual artists had been pulled into confusion some decades earlier already and are now on the verge of taking the first step out of confusion towards sense.


    • The populations of East-Asia and South America are registering increases in their incomes that gradually will allow their countries to integrate into the hard core of the "middle-class way of life".

      Investments in work intensive productions of goods go to countries disposing of reasonable political stability, good education systems and most important of all where wages are low. At the dawn of the 21st century the best example of such a country is unmistakenly China which indeed captures the highest input of Foreign Direct Investment.

      This economic growth is followed by an increasing social well-being but this is also accompanied by a very severe social and cultural shock. Traditional culture is being battered under the opening of Pandora's box of greed (1) which allows in the last instance for the flow of commodities. The younger generations are growing up in an "air of the time" that is encouraging individualism and materialism while their parents can't let go the values of their traditional cultures. The cultural shock is furthermore reinforced under the weight of creeping social inequality.

      In such conditions the million dollar question is whether those countries will succeed keeping their societies together. The experience of Europe's industrialization has been a story of political balancing of the interests of the different classes/interests and their representation into the political decision making process in order to avoid social explosions leading to revolutions as the one of October 1917. Even the US did not escape severe social upheavals even if it's society was unburdened by strong traditions.

      In such a fast changing environment the artists are somehow plunged back into the debate that was raging at the dawn of the 20th century in Western Europe about the necessity to abandon their pictorial traditions. But this is not all of their story they are also under the impact of what Western artists have been doing this last century and this starkly influences their experiences. In one decade they leapfrogged 150 years of pictorial research and all styles practiced in the West are today practiced in China without the Chinese artists having had the need to experience the agonies endured by Western artists in the course of the process of research driving to these styles.

      Their absorption of modernity is thus only very superficial which I believe is not a bad thing in itself for it will not deepen so far their difficulties at going back to the traditional societal functionality of art which is basically identical in China and the West. My bet is thus that we will soon see Chinese, Indian, South American and other nations' artists jump into postmodernity roughly at the same time as Western artists.

    • Africa and South-West Asia are experiencing the weakening and often the disintegration of their traditional societal systems and their populations are thus largely living in extreme poverty while having access, at least sometimes, to the window on the rest of the world that is television.

      Such a situation can only lead to a severe shock and simultaneously it also speeds up the flame of the desire to share into the goodies noticed in the window on the world. But those goodies are not coming basically because their societal systems are dysfunctional and unstable.

      Those areas are remnants of Western European colonialism. Their borders have nothing to do with their historical experience they were simply imposed on them by European whitemen who thought they knew better. But it seems that they knew nothing or was it only the desire to divide that motivated their early nation building? The borders set up by whitemen are generally regrouping people who have separate histories, often conflictual histories. Look at Irak for that matter: Shia, Sunni, Kurds and others been lumped together it seems for the only purpose that this assembling would oblige the locals to recourse to British power for assuring order. But order finally reigned in the country only when it was under the dictatorship of an autocrat basing his power on the tribe of his origin, not the best of structures to foster social and political stability and the inflow of Foreign Direct Investment.

      Those artificial nations could eventually be stuck in a permanent impasse not able to assure the necessary consensus between their disparate populations for setting up the conditions that would allow them to start their industrialization. The Gap looks more and more insurmountable indeed.



Sorting out the contradictions of the gap will be a long and messy undertaking but the core of modernity will not stay still and wait it will gradually expand geographically on its margins while simultaneously advancing on the road of postmodernity.

A unifying worldview, in the end, is what will eventually overcome the gap of the South and allow for its transformation into a middle class societal model that will allow for a truly unified world.



It's kind of an intellectual adventure to wish for a description of what comes after a mature postmodern world or in other words what life could be like in CoGaH. The thing is too far down the road and eventually humanity will perhaps succeed, well before reaching that point, to provoke its own evolutionary demise.

But this dream about what comes after postmodernity, if it was at all possible, could nevertheless project some very useful light on humanity's road through postmodernity and as such it would indeed be very enlightening in guiding and orienting our present-day endeavors.


(1) In chapter 2.3. "The opening of the gates" in ARTSENSE.

2005/01/07

Conclusions (3)

Postmodernism is starting to shape in front of our eyes as a global "open society" that will unleash the resuscitation of visual arts and will lead humanity into the age of CoGaH: Cosmos, Gaia, Humanity.



Scientific knowings and their imagings will be confronted with the holistic approach of philosophy. The risks related to our passing the threshold of singularity are simply not acceptable any longer and from all the corners of our earth voices are growing louder asking for accountability. We are accountable to the future generations and indeed obligated to leave them a livable environment.
    • The knowings and imagings of science are concentrated on the understanding of the particular, the specific. Science, left on itself, is thus incapable at understanding the global picture which is indeed what philosophy is all about. Our hope is thus that science and philosophy will confront each other for their eventual combination could indeed result in a jump of understanding that would eventually reduce the gap between humanity and wisdom.

    • From this confrontation real knowledge emerges gradually that imposes itself on all cultures and individuals. This process will be long and chaotic but it is inevitable that the incremental gain in knowledge will somehow bring about the unification of mankind.

    • The reinforcement of knowledge unifies the worldviews which in turn allows for the establishing of a hegemonic world culture based on the comprehension and the respect of the real complexity of the principle of change that, in final instance, is our inescapable reality.


Under the weight of the absolute reign of the rationality imposed by the logic of capital borders have been opened for capital to go invest where it pleases and goods to be sold where there is demand for. The old 19th century theory of free markets and open borders has today gained acceptance around the world and this new reality has been coined globalization. But capital and goods are an affair between humans and when humans come together they socialize and culture starts to form.

    • To work as smoothly as possible globalization will have to integrate the principle of the diversity of cultures which in turn will impose the recognition of the principle of philosophic variety.

    • For reason of its working functionality at the contact of scientific knowings, while other systems flounder under their contradictions with scientific knowings, Chinese traditional philosophy (1) gains wide acceptance worldwide and gradually becomes hegemonic.


Postmodernism shapes a global "open society" model that establishes the recognition by all of some basic rules. The question here is not a question of voluntarist legal decision making but of the emergence of a changing "air of the time" that necessitates changes in the rules of the societal game.
    • From the confrontation and combination of Chinese philosophy with scientific knowings and imaging emerges a universal knowledge. By universal knowledge I mean a knowledge that is scientifically valid and also philosophically consistent.

    • The universal knowledge founds "harmony in change" as the general principle of life and societies take to establish systems functioning in self-sustainability on Gaia.

    • Humanity in its entirety participates in the building of a global systemic societal "machinery". Basically the models of relationship between individuals and societies are converging establishing individual rights for individuals and social obligations by the individuals towards their society. Morality and righteousness are established once again as the code of conduct that each individual strives to attain.


The visual arts will re-established their historical functionality in society and artists will thus rediscover the sense of the act of creation and create sense in their works out the principles of life and reality.

    • Under the impact of the recognition by all of the new and truly global worldview the art market will unmistakably mature and discard greed as the sole principle of artistic recognition. The quality of the visual signs of an artist at representing the shaping worldview of his time will be re-established as the central most important factor in artistic recognition.

    • The artists will focus on the creation of visual signs about the knowledge of the day that is bound tomorrow to reflect the worldview of all.

    • As a tool easing the comprehension by the individuals of what reality is all about, visual art finds universal recognition and praise. In a sense art recuperates its traditional popular nature.


Humanity explores the cosmos and enters an age of great discoveries without precedent. The truly enormous investments required by that task are bringing nations together. NASA, ESA, Russia, China, India, Brazil and other national space agencies are pulling their scientific and financial resources in a common pot in order to undertake the exploration of far space



(1) What I call the traditional Chinese philosophy is the resulting belief system that emerged out of the interaction over time between Yi-Ching + philosophic Taoism + Confucianism + Buddhism + ...

2005/01/06

Conclusions (2)

Modernism is ending with the death of the societal functionality of the visual arts as it had been practiced along 99.8% of the timespan of humanity's cultural history.


  • Under the weight of the absolute reign of the rationality imposed by the logic of capital, by the end of the 20th century, visual arts were completely knocked down in merchandization and as a result a globalizing human culture and the individuals of the world have been thrown into a time of great confusion a time of fragmentation of the traditional worldviews.

  • But with the advent of the demultiplication of scientific knowings and their imagings the idea that an artistic awakening could nevertheless be possible is re-energizing the artistic avant-garde that sees hope a-new through our return to art's historical functionality.

    In other words artists are discovering that there is a vibrant life in the creation of the visual signs of the future worldview that is starting to shape in the present.

    • But where is the knowledge founding our future worldview? Through all the history of visual arts artists had illustrated the knowledge of the "men of knowledge" of their day at the attention of all the members of their societies.

      But who are the men of knowledge today? Are they the ones who devised the nuclear bomb and who presently are perhaps developing a future biologic, genetic or nanotechnologic time bomb that could eventually annihilate the entire human race? We can't blame scientists for the myopia of the scientific approach but we can imagine how that myopia could be corrected through the lenses of the holistic approach of philosophy. We have nevertheless to conclude that this approach is rarely practiced nowadays.

    • In the absence of a recognized and respected group of men of knowledge artists thinkers and scientists have no alternative, if they want to give sense to their works, but to become their own men of knowledge. Specialized knowings have to be put in a holistic context to correct the myopia that they engender.

2005/01/05

Conclusions (1)

Since March 2003, I posted 140 times giving a first draft of what is becoming a book titled ARTSENSE. I plan 2 more series of posts before concluding the artsense serie:
- first my concl
usions about the content of those 140 posts.
- the second serie shall be about my personal way of painting.
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The following is a trial at projecting out of the heavy trends discovered in the present what the future has in store. The conclusions expressed are thus intended to be prospective.

I will not not be playing here the role of a diviner but I believe that future heavy trends can indeed be uncovered from present day heavy trends and, as such, I have the weakness to believe that predictions make sense and can indeed be very useful.
Furthermore, I follow this idea of Illya Prygogyne about the future: "I believe that what we do today depends on our image of the future, rather than the future depending on what we do today. We build our equations by our actions. These equations, and the future they represent, are not written in nature. In other words, time becomes construction. Of course, we have some conditions that determine limits of the future but within these limits are many, many possibilities.

Therefore, since no deterministic prediction is likely to be valid, visions of the future -utopian visions- play a very important role in present
conduct. (1)

In other words our ideas about what the future has in store could look like or be acting as rails along which our present endeavors unfold. What we do today is related to our dreams of what the future should be like. The future is an outcome between multiple possibles and how we dream about it makes us then derive strategies for the present in order to make our dream come true.

What follows is given in this sense of my dream about the future. But don't be mistaken it's not because I'm following a dream vision that my conclusions are unrealistic, they are indeed rooted in present day heavy trends and somehow constitute the last steps along the ladder of this book's presentation of past and present trends.


(1) Beyond Being and Becoming: Interview of Illia prygogine by Marilyn Berlin Snell in the magazine NPQ.

2005/01/04

The exponential rise in scientific imaging. (6) CONCLUSIONS

It makes no doubt at all that the sheer size of the present demultiplication of visual images about things that are so largely unknown by the citizens of the world will have an incalculable impact upon the perception of reality and its understanding by future generations:

- scientific imaging is bound to modify our perception of what reality is all about. Those images will be giving to all a visual understanding of aspects of reality that earlier were only accessible to highly educated and specialized people. Something as an innate basic understanding of the complexity of reality will be made possible from the systemic nature of our cosmos to the systemic nature of the microscopic. This basic innate understanding will extend to the patterns present in the real world from the infinitely small to the infinitely large..

- scientific imaging will enlarge the scope of the visual forms and colors that are accepted by humans. Forms that were unknown earlier will gradually be “normalized” in the psyche of all on earth. This abundance and richness of forms and colors is bound to to have an immense effect on future visual representations in the arts and in design.

- scientific imaging will enhance the sense that some “hard-wiring” must be at work deep inside the “mechanics” of change that, in the end, is resulting in the coating of reality under a surface layer made of patterns that are somehow giving us the rhythm and harmony of the lines forms colors and sounds found in our reality.
We experience physically any disharmony in sound in the form of an unease in our ears that can reach the level of a shrillness that we feel could tear our tympanum but we have no such physical experience at the contact of lines forms and colors. It seems that for physical reasons our ears can only accept a narrow harmonic of sounds while our eyes can accommodate any visual shapes and shades.
Here lies perhaps the reason why music in the modern age could continue to fulfill its societal function without falling into excesses leading to death while, not being constrained by limits, the visual arts fell in such excesses that led them to die.
If visuals can't be troubling physically for our eyes the same can't be said for our brains. Visuals can indeed be very troubling for our tastes for our ideas of what beauty is all about. In other words the acceptability of visuals is not a physical question it is a cultural question.
The reason why the visual arts could be pulled so far into excesses becomes now understandable they were on a path of fashion making by marketeers who succeeded in imposing their excesses as the cultural norm of the day. Only greed no pain no cultural gain but in the end the death of the visual arts plunging everybody in a deep confusion.

Jettisoning visual arts out of sense has thus been the fact of a parasitic group of usurpators of the role traditionally devolved to the men of knowledge: the managers marketeers the bureaucrats curators and the groupthink critics. This state of affairs is societally intolerable.
If culture is really the shaper of what is visually acceptable, as I posit, then we have to conclude that those who detain the scientific knowings and those who detain the knowledge derived from the confrontation of scientific knowings with philosophy have a historic obligation towards all of humanity.

The new men of knowledge have to stand up and reclaim their rightful position in society. They have to re-establish themselves as the rightful guides of the producers of visual arts. I know damn well that money has an overwhelming power over ideas in the short term but one should remain conscientious of what is at play here. Knowledge and visual arts are bound in their societal role of shapers of the worldviews of their societies. Nor the power of money nor the ideological power of traditions can resist this natural rule of societal evolution.

Over time the proliferation of images out of the treasure trove of scientific imaging will have a lasting impact on our perception of reality and thus also on the shaping of the future visual arts. The acceptance of scientific imagings will transform the knowledge behind it into a hegemonic culture and its values will be taken over as the common sense values of all.
Thus a consensus culture will develop in which everybody will come to identify the knowledge of the men of knowledge with his own system of belief. The present-time culture sucker power-art triumvirat will not make his mea-culpa but we can bet on it that it will run to make his the new worldview of the time.

The cultural reassessment of the visual arts, that is starting to be engendered today under the pressure of the exponential rise in scientific imaging, is pulling humanity to awaken at the dawn of what will be seen a few centuries from now as the greatest of renaissances, as the unification of humanity under the banner of "the citizenry of the earth".
In the past tribes have been unified under the banner of Nations and then States now we see the day pointing when Nations and States shall be unified at the level of the earth.
How should we coin this new reality of a conscient citizenry of the world, the cells of Gaia?