Showing posts with label art and philosophy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art and philosophy. Show all posts

Thursday, October 23, 2014

extraneous work (4): writing about art, art contemplation, teaching art

my other dutch blog is called beeld en wereld (image and world; `beeldenwereld' means `world of images'). it started out as a blog containing notes for the art contemplation course `beeld en wereld' that i taught to art students at the unitacademy nijmegen. now i also use it infrequently as a personal blog for typically dutch art affairs. the course notes `beeld en wereld' cover a very broad range of subjects, and i am planning to translate some of these subjects to put up on this blog. one central theme is the dynamic relation between inner world <--> outer world, which i believe to be especially relevant for artists. the course notes also contain some art history, art philosophy, and guide questions for artists.

schema 1 beeld en wereld
scheme of inner world <--> outer world, interfaced through language, image, story with several feedback loops.

i do not think that many contemporary artists write as much about art as i do, although like i said earlier there are quite a few artists who write or have written more. my art blogs attract a fair number of visitors (over 400,000 visits in the past 6,5 years, not much in web terms but not a dry stream either). but the amount of feedback given is very little. it often feels like i write in some sort of empty place, with an occassional casual visitor. therefore it is quite uplifting to see that my students and some visiting artists are really interested in the course topics and the illustrations that i prepare for `beeld en wereld'.

also, the course has really helped me to gain insight in the myriad constellations that occur when considering the interaction between myself as an artist and the outer world. what role suits me, what roles are possible, viable, sustainable, what roles are in vogue; what reactions can be expected from various sources; different looks at market forces, what are the roles of art in our and other societies, current and past..etc. etc.

to me art contemplation encompasses everything from art itself to art history, art sociology, art psychology, artist's psychology, artist's development (technical, themewise, (non)pictorial, society-related, businesswise...) and what you can come up with.

i have found that such art contemplation is often sorely lacking in curricula or art discussions, whereas especially to the artist her/himself it can be very uplifting and helpful to understand the complex mechanisms that surround the various worlds of art. from the inner world of the artist to the outer world of society in general.

it is also very uplifting to me to see that other artists have worked on these issues as well:

diego vélazquez, las meninas
las meninas by diego vélazquez

in interpretation las meninas has more layers than an onion...many of those touching on inner world <--> outer world. please follow the above link to wikipedia and read about this painting, if you are unfamiliar with it. interestingly it also touches on the relation between vélazquez and his commissioner king philip iv of spain. this relation must have been excellent, just looking at the artistic freedom vélazquez was given for this portrait.

this most famous painting has inspired many other artists, writers, philosophers through the ages. such as picasso who in 1957 painted 58 different versions:

pablo picasso, las meninas 1957
las meninas by pablo picasso

joel-peter witkin, las meninas
las meninas by joel-peter witkin

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Philosophy, finally (`we live through maps', art & imagination from a different perspective)

You may be aware that I also maintain a math & science & philosophy blog... I have to admit that I sometimes regret not having integrated the latter blog into this one, which is my first and most important blog. But an important reason for not doing so was a technical one: Blogger does not support LaTeX, which is the formatting standard for mathematics and the exact sciences in general.

The drawback is the artificial separation between my thoughts on art and my thoughts on philosophy that sometimes results. After all, I consider art to be a profound form of philosophy, not less so for (mostly) being non-verbal. I have long been wanting to write something about the relation between art and philosophy, but in a way I was held back by the fact that I had already written something on that Dutch.

In my last year as a student of mathematics, I had to write a philosophy paper. Philosophy was quite an extensive requirement at the time, to obtain a Master's degree in math. I don't know how things stand nowadays. Now, as a math student I seldom went to math classes, preferring to study for my exams from the literature, since already then I devoted more time to my artistic endeavours. (I had already been to Art College prior to my math studies). But I did attend the philosophy classes faithfully, since philosophy has always interested me greatly.

The writing of a philosophy paper I found almost harder than the writing of my Master's thesis. I still remember the mental stress I felt, since I wanted to really write down how I felt about philosophy and our existence on this planet, but I strongly felt that words are often not my preferred medium. How then to put such a philosophy into words? Agonizing, but I did not want to turn in some rehashing of other people's thoughts, and the philosophy requirement could not be evaded.

The result of a month of mental hard labour was a 7000-words paper, a typewritten manuscript for which I used my preferred sketch paper type, which gave a beautiful `aged' feel. Not standard for documents of course. The teacher graded it an A-...which in my natural modesty I found too low:-). But the contents were even more non-standard I think than the exterior, so perhaps I should have been very happy to pass at all.

Nonetheless, the paper actually surprised me, since it came very close to expressing my feelings on philosophy and on our Western culture. I occasionally reread it, and then each time was struck by how close to home the words struck me. Surprisingly to me at least is that I still feel the same way.

So finally, after 22 years, I decided to translate it into English. As a series of posts on my math & science & philosophy blog, titled `We live through maps'.

The paper should go a long way in explaining my feelings on art in relation to verbal philosophy. It also explains why I think we should actually integrate science with art and philosophy much more than we usually do. Finally, it gives me a basis to refer to when I'm writing on art and philosophy. This is really nice about the internet: we can share thoughts, knowledge, pictures, music much more easily than ever before.