[To start this study I will offer a brief definition of “Art”: Art is the nonpareil that transpires when attempting to express human-emotion. The emotions expressed through artistic methods (in the creative process) cannot be promulgated by other means (other forms of communication), namely through language. Inability to communicate these intricate feelings leads one to engage in artistic endeavours: expression through Art. It is the metaphysical process of true self-expression that constitutes “Art”.]
Art and its critique are pointless. If ones feelings or emotions are so profound, so indescribable that their expression must take the form of Art (be it fine Art or music/performance Art) then any attempt to critique the physical fruits of these endeavours as objects or works-of-art, must necessarily be rendered utterly useless, hollow, and indeed impossible. To hold these physical entities as works-of-art, in the sense that they are themselves Art, is truly missing the point. In reality, it is the physical act (the performance) of creating the piece that is expressive. The modus operandi, both mentally and physically, of painting, drawing or composing is Art. The process is the expression (Art), and not the final “artwork”. The finished outcome or canvas cannot be in and of itself expressive, in the literal sense, as it is an inanimate, unconscious object. Artwork can be said to be expressive in a metaphorical sense i.e. “The brush strokes used are expressive.” However, the object is not itself the expression. It has come into being as a result of expression. The painting or artwork is only the excreta. It is the waste matter of an emotional urge to communicate, or release, a feeling. This, I feel, makes Art’s analysis and critique appear quite fruitless.
To express or convey sentiments concerned with how art (the physical article/object) makes one (the viewer) feel, in words, is also futile, as these emotions can never hope to be sufficiently summed up with inadequate syntactical structures. Furthermore, prior personal experience will change and affect the emotions raised in voyeurs when viewing artwork. Since no two persons can ever have identical personal-experience-states, the emotions raised within one individual will consistently differ from those stirred in any other observer, and so true cognisance of another party’s feelings is, at least, limited if not impossible.
Art has no agenda other than self-expression, and this articulation serves no purpose other than, possibly, a momentary relief or discharge of exuberance for The Artist. Art serves no purpose, yet the feelings one encounters whilst looking at or creating it, can be inspired and profound. This artistic inspiration has no use and does not require one. In fact, it needs to be void of purpose, for it is in pointlessness, that Art’s true beauty lies. For only from the void, in the vacuum of intention, can we ever hope to achieve pure self-expression.
It may be noted that the act of expressing oneself is purging and cleansing but these senses are merely the side effects of expression. Expression itself has no application; it does not need one. This is precisely Art’s point – This is Art’s necessary futility.
(Art is expression; expression is pointless; Art is futile.)
It could be said that expression is the purpose of Art. This would demonstrate a misunderstanding of what Art is. Art is self-expression. And these two abstracts/words should be equivalent and interchangeable. Art cannot be the reason of itself, so therefore the point of Art cannot be expression and vice versa. To expound that Art is the justification of Art, is to concede that it has no function.
Indeed we should not be concerned with what The Artist is, or was, trying to convey (emotionally) but rather with how we interpret the work and what emotions it raises within us. To clarify: these emotions are important only to the one who experiences them. There is no necessity, and it is a priori impossible, to divulge these feelings, or even understand them and their significance. We should enjoy the experience of viewing artwork and be fully aware and mindful of the stirred concoction of emotions induced, as they are deep, penetrating, enigmatic and insightful. Moreover, to reiterate the preceding, no two people can ever experience the same emotional reactions to a given work, and so, will not be able to thoroughly comprehend the feelings of the other. Hence discussion and commentary on Art (in regards to emotional content or impact) is useless.
[In common parlance the word “art” is often used interchangeably with “artwork”. However, I do not feel this is helpful when trying to understand Art and its machinations. We must recognise the distinction between the two concepts and, for the purpose of clarification and adherence to personal ideology, in this text I will always use “artwork” or “art” when referring to the physical objects/articles that are manifest as the result of expression; and “Art” (capitalised) as the action, or process mentally or physically, of expressing oneself emotionally.]
Expression in Art and Design
Expression in relation to Art and expression within design are distinct phenomena. Art is expression of a considerably deeper, personal, profound and (more importantly) absolutely pointless, level of articulation. Whereas with the discipline of graphic design, expressive content or expression of personal ideology is used (and needed) in order to give enhanced meaning and/or significance to a design. These expressive or ideological elements are necessary for preventing or eliminating post-ideological phenomena such as plagiarism. Here (in the case of design) we see that the elucidation of “expression” is more synonymous with “dissemination” as opposed to “emotion” or “feeling” (in the case of Art). In both cases the final text/piece is a by-product of expression and not in and of itself expressive.
It must be noted that the expression of ones personal ideology is not equivalent to the projection of personal ideology (onto the voyeur). In fact, these practices are contrary to each other. The former uses personal concept (ideology) as a metaphysical scaffold or foundation on which the designer can build upon in order to construct an original, effective design concept. Conversely, the latter notion uses design methodology as the chassis. Design techniques become the vehicle, upon which, ideology can be delivered and presented to the viewer i.e. government or party propaganda. The latter should not be practiced or condoned.
So we see the distinction as follows: With Art, expression is Art; with design, expression and ideology are only catalytic to its conception. Art is defined by self-expression. Design is not.
The preceding essay is one taken from a larger work on Art that will be published here soon.