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Chapter 15: Art and Artist

Art I believe deals with our humanity. We need food and shelter to survive, but we need art to evolve and grow. In that regard, I see art as immensely important and not correctly valued in our society.

Why do I need to define art?

For me, it has become imperative to define my opinion of what the words art and artist mean so that I can clarify what I do and why I do it. This is because art is such a broad word.

So what is art to me?

Art lies in the intention of the creator, if one creates something to make a profit or to only be functional then what one has made is a product. Interestingly anything can become art since it is the viewer who decides what they are experiencing. Therefore a product can become art on its own merit. Because of this, I do not think art lies in the object, rather it is in the perception of it, the object itself is only the trigger. If that is the case something perceived as craft a 1000 years ago or even yesterday can be perceived as art and vice versa when one’s perception of it changes. Even a fish who makes beautiful patterns in the sand, an artificial intelligence that creates stunning abstract paintings and a monkey who takes fabulous photographs can have their work considered art, however, I would not consider them an artist because I do not believe it was their intention to create art. It is not my aim to take away people’s right to call themselves an artist and their creation art or for others to call someone or something an artist or their creation art, I believe that the beauty of the words art and artist is that they are open to interpretation. I can respect how people use the words in different ways, but it does not mean I have to agree with there definition. It does not make me wrong and them right, all it means is that we have a different perspective and we must define our beliefs.

It is not less if it is not art and it is not more if it is, it is simply something else.

Regarding beauty and aesthetics, I consider that the doorway to art. In themselves, those words do not define art, so if one admires the beauty of the painting one is experiencing the door and not what lies within. Furthermore, if the artists only intention is on beauty and aesthetics, I believe what they are creating could be considered kitsch, work that is only concerned with the superficial and the immediate.

Regarding entertainment, to me, it is as far removed from art as one can come. Entertainment plays to one’s senses, it lulls one to sleep. Entertainment is a mirage, it halts one’s journey, it pulls one towards an illusion and kills you. The better one is entertained the more it should be questioned. The function of a mirage is that it takes the appearance of one’s imagined desire, it shows what you want, but ultimately it does not fulfil it. In fact, it does the reverse. One’s desires can not and should not be easily achieved, and if they are the more they become devalued, furthermore as one progress with the journey one might find that what drove you to begin the journey was not what you wanted or needed, this is a discovery one can only make if one completes one’s quest without being led astray by the promise of instant gratification. If you find yourself bored, embrace it, let it wash over your body. Let it linger, and then weight until your own brain activates, hold on to that moment and stick to it. Never let anyone else repeatedly alleviate your boredom, if you do, you ultimately let them take control of who you are and what you can become.

Regarding fashion, I see it as an industry with a specific and practical goal, where its success is determined by its ability to earn money. What fashion is lies within the meaning of the word, it deals with trends and popularity, because of that fashion can never be art. Clothing, on the other hand, can be art and since style is irrelevant to fashion it could become an artistic expression. Clothing and style are in an unfortunate position in that the only venue to be displayed have traditionally been within the framework of fashion, because of the context created I believe our view of what clothing can be has been limited. I have seen examples of clothing presented in a way where it has for me taken on the role of art, such as an exhibition of Daniel Lismore’s outfits. I would not use the term fashion about clothes that become art, I would say it has transcended fashion, which it is perfectly capable of doing.

Artistic is an interesting word, I believe an artistic person is someone with the skill to create art, but it can also be used to suggest that a person has potential to be an artist and to create art.

Perfection and failure, perfection can be reproduced, failure can not. If one tries to reproduce failure it becomes intention and when it is your intention it cannot be a failure. Perfection, on the other hand, can be easily replicated when it is precisely defined. What to me is interesting is when one aims for perfection, but there is an element of failure that shines through, it is up to the artist to understand and embrace that failure, not to try and hide it. To me, that shows the willingness of the artist to deviate from there lade out path and explore other results. To me, failure in an art piece is what makes it human and connects to the human. An art piece that achieves the status of perfection is highly problematic to me because that also suggests that it is meeting preconceived ideas, which in my mind removes all elements of exploration in the creation process.  

The question then stands what intention whilst creating art must one have for me to consider a person an artist?

The intention must be to explore, to inspire exploration, to be active and inspire the viewer to be activated. It is not about succeeding in one’s endeavour, but to continue whilst knowing that one will never achieve the goal. One must also accept that if one succeeds within our society as it is one will fail. That to me defines an artist.

How does an object, an idea, a smell, a sound, a person, a moment or a happening become art?

For me it has to be a work that inspires or challenges me to explore, it is not about understanding what I’m seeing but the challenge of trying to understand. In essence, the work should inspire me to be active in the moment. The work is not devalued if it was not the creator’s intention to do what I have described, what matters is how one experiences it. Maybe the biggest point is to understand that even though one did not experience art in what one saw, heard, felt or smelt, that does not mean one should not be able to see that others might experience it as art. I would describe that as empathetic understanding, it is important to note that the work is not less because it was experienced in that manner. We are all different and other people’s experience is not less or more.

Regarding my work, I want to stop your time, encase you in a moment of reflection and thoughtfulness. There is no need for you to know what I’m thinking or to understand what I’m doing – it is better that you don’t because that is when you are exploring the moment/work, trying to solve the puzzle in front of you. The only way you can fail in my eyes is by not trying to understand. All I ask from you as the viewer is to be present in the moment, to reflect on your own thoughts, to explore and by doing so you are active and not passive. I have achieved this for myself when I create photographs, but for the viewer, the image often fails, for me, the failure lies in how images are viewed today, within an instance, without time taken, the picture is seen and gone. Video is not much better. I have found that for me performance art has a greater success in achieving my goal because it gives me direct access to the audience.

Know that all my work has become about us, you, him, her, everyone in between and I, it is about who we are, asking questions about where we are going, how can we become more, how can we evolve positively?

I make work because I believe in humanity and our potential. I make work to explore with you, not for you. I make work to reach out beyond my immediate circle, to reach people’s hearts and minds.

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