Here is an image that isn’t finished. Not that anyone else looking at it would know. It is what it is but for now let us pretend it is art. It should be okay to do so because it’s aesthetics or artistic qualities are not the point.
The image is made up of numerous photographs. On their own, each photograph is unmemorable. They are correctly exposed photos of things and possess no artistic merit or emotional value whatsoever. What is more, the photos were taken days or even months apart in unrelated locations. The only interesting thing about them is that I took them at all. I am not the kind of person who randomly shoots things. I have little interest in seeing what something looks like as a photograph (unless it’s taken by someone else). For the most part, when I walk around with a camera I capture what I see as an abstraction of a thought or idea that is itself triggered by what was just seen. A kind of closed circuit loop.
The fact that I took these inconsequential photographs is not the only strange thing about them, but also that I kept them at all. But keep them I did and eventually, for reasons I do not know and by a process I do not consciously perceive, these images are viewed collectively, or somehow remembered, and brought together as if linked by a thread of cognition running through them which suddenly becomes visible. A vision starts to form and the photographs are merged as one.
As the final image develops, certain elements come as a surprise. Such as the red tones in the above example. Surprising because the predominant colour in each of the individual photos was blue.
I don’t know how this happens. I don’t know why I take such photographs when I do and I don’t know what prevents me from deleting them when I clean up my drive and I don’t know what makes me link them together into a single picture. I don’t know. Not really.
Art is not a means to an end because the end goal is achieved immediately at each step of the creative process: Art nurtures the spirit.
Art does not deal in facts and figures. It does not seek to prove its worth or fit into preconceived moulds or genres. It is what it is. It does however, require an element of faith; first in myself but ultimately in life itself.
As I see it I can describe my life as having two parts: My inner life and my outer life. The outer life demands the most attention, it’s loud and brazen and beautiful and weird and ugly and scary and promising and so full of things; lots and lots of things. Even art appears in the outer life. My inner life on the other hand is quiet, almost silent. Beauty here is ethereal as are emotions. Truth is felt here at times though it is easily obfuscated by the harsh glare of the outer life the way the sun obfuscates the stars in the day sky. Art also exists here in the inner life. I suspect art (or in my case, the appreciation of art) is born here.
When I live the outer life I feel overwhelmed by information often times passing itself off as knowledge; knowledge about things. Buried under facts and figures I feel obliged or perhaps just tempted to find meaning in that knowledge or even in the things themselves. Sadly, if it is there, it escapes me. Meaning in the outer life seems elusive, fleeting, mere shadows.
Living the inner life however, is far simpler, more fluid and less demanding. There’s clarity and acceptance and the promise of answers even though the questions themselves seem unimportant. Even the question that asks for meaning loses relevance. And yet it is in this inner spiritual life – the source of art – that I feel sure of finding meaning.
And therein lies the trap. With the impression that meaning will be more readily found in the inner life, a disconnect happens between inner and outer, a kind of detachment between the two. The separation of inner and outer makes everything appear separate from everything else. Everything co-existing in a fashion but doing so chaotically without any apparent purpose. However, that sensation of separateness between me and everything else, between inner and outer, does not make sense to me.
Just like each of the separate photos that were taken to make this final picture. Individually, they made no sense. It was only when they came together that their purpose, their meaning, was found. And due to their apparent lack of connection, abstraction was the only way to relate them.
For me, abstraction provides a way of objectifying the outer life in a way that is independent of subjective reality thereby uniting the inner and outer views of reality. What I am trying to say is that while abstraction is often described as a departure from reality or as imaginary, for me, abstraction actually provides a clearer view of reality and a clearer understanding of life’s purpose. Imagination is, after all, what made this image possible; even if I have no idea where imagination comes from in the first place.
I doubt this makes much sense to anyone else. I’m having difficulty finding the right words but if I was to summarise it I would say that for me: Art and life are inseparable.
Yeah, I know… still no clearer. Sorry.
One last try: Imagination points to all the infinites that life has to offer and art is its language.