The future is not given.
The future is non-determined.
The future can't possibly result out of a straight line projection from a limited and subjective reading of the present... there are ups and downs, order is followed by chaos and out of chaos emerges a new form of order that we just should not have the pretension to define for the good reason that at the point of bifurcation or at the crosspoint leading out of chaos an infinity of possibilities arise... but only one will materialize into our future. What I mean to point here is that at the bifurcation point out of chaos the possibility that imposes itself as the future reality is not chosen by god playing dice. It is not as if the emerging reality were following a path of randomness. Our input, yes ours of we humans, can eventually (not necessarily) act as the drop of water that forces the balance in this or that direction.
We should be conscient about one fact: our input is the result of our dream about the future (ideals) what I mean is that the way we wish our future to be determines our present ideas and actions... if we don't have any ideal we simply are speechless and actless now.
At this point let's come back to the idea of art.
But first let's define what is art, for, without a commonly agreed upon definition if I speak about apples you could be thinking that I'm talking about pears. My understanding is that as far as we can look down our human history art has always been an instrument for letting the atoms (individuals) that form the corpus (society) share a common understanding about reality, about life, about what we are and about whatever bla bla bla. Societies need cohesion to survive and art acted as an instrument of communication to let the individuals share the wisdom of the men of knowledge. Images and visual signs are indeed understandable by all but we can't unfortunately say the same of the words expressed by the men of knowledge. (shaman under animism, priest under religions, philosophers under early modernity). What I mean to say is that artists were in reality no more than image technicians who were in charge of executing visual signs or illustrations about the wisdom, the worldview of the men of knowledge of their days.
But things changed with a maturing modernity. (approximative dating: 1900-1950) This is when the men of wisdom were indeed left to compete with all kinds of charlatans for the ears of their contemporaries... and artists thus were freed of the obligation to illustrate their wisdom. By the end of the twentieth century this experience had unfortunately landed everyone into the deepest of confusions.... here we are now reading that art is dead or that the only reality is the market.
Our present day predicament is that the freeing of the artists of their past obligation to illustrate the wisdom of the men of knowleldge of their day has plunged them into an unknown territory where the question becomes: what do I now have to represent, what do I now have to illustrate.... animism and religions are worldviews of the past and the visual signs that illustrate them are thus of no help, any longer, in our days. Early modern signs representing individualism, private property and so on, I mean portraits and landscapes have also lost the power to say anything about our times. We are thus left to search for meaning and sense about what we are living through societally and this is something radical, for, visual artists have not been prepared for something like that. Remember the remark of Duchamp who was saying that he was "tired of being called dumb as an artist"... he was targeting what I try to speak about here, I mean the need for the "late moderm" or "early postmodern" artist to accumulate knowledge about what is going on in order for him to have the material to work with in his visual signs.
The problem is that there are so many knowings today, I mean scientific knowings, but where is the knowledge of our times?
Ok, I give it to you... the knowledge of our times is not available yet, it is bound to emerge later out of the confrontation of science and culture. You understand science for sure, but culture? By that word I mean the encounter of all the cultures of this world leading to a whole new cultural paradigm. I believe indeed that our Western culture will have to give way to the wisdoms of the East and of the other people on this earth.
It is my firm belief that the role of the present day artist is to try to give visual signs of that coming worldview.
We artists have to reapropriate the societal functionality of visual arts so as to participate in our limited capacity in helping the presently forming society of the globalizing village to stabilize, to gain cohesion. This is the only way that I know about to help shape into reality my dream of a better tomorrow....
By the way this is also the best way to keep intellectual sanity in our very confused times.
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