READER SCULPTURESTEPH AND THE ETHICS OF ART:
‘The mind is a great thing. Expressing ones ideas, concepts in physical material culture (architecture, art, craftsmanship, etc…) is an even greater thing and this ability is what makes us unique in the animal kingdom.
If you ever read an instruction of, for example, how to model a 3-D image in clay and make a cast from it in plaster you might understand the technical processes and their purpose, it may sound very straight forward.
If you then try to translate and apply your interpretation of this in practice you will all of a sudden encounter all those technical details that are crucial in the success of expressing your idea, concept in a physical manifestation.
Only when you engage physically (ie. making or doing) will you truly discover all the detail, and you’ll have to constantly make decisions and solve problems in order to proceed with your physical work.
The temperature of the room you work the clay in, storage of it when not working on it, quantities, availability of space, time and the right tools are all decisive elements and these are aspects you only discover and learn through the experience of the process of doing.
You encounter limitations of the material that will allow you to do certain things but maybe not the one thing you understand you would want to achieve, so you start looking into other materials that might be better. They might not be available, too pricey or even very difficult to work.
You will not be able to speed things up, cheat or cut corners, as materials and their working techniques with their intrinsic physical and chemical properties always follow laws of physics and nature (not the high tech sciences). Ignore these restrictions at your peril.
Today,we have been told we are more advanced than that. We no longer need to physically do all this. We have machines, computers, robots, and software that do it all for us. But by outsourcing the process of learning through doing to systems and machines we also outsource our unique trait of what makes us human and deny ourselves vital learning and understanding of the world we live in.
If you view the ability of humankind to express and communicate (live) in the physical world as special and ask why this is or what purpose or advantage in evolutionary terms this would give us- you very quickly enter the realm of mystery, spirituality and belief.
It is no coincidence that the artes liberales, the seven liberal arts, the Trivium: grammar, logic and rethoric and the Quadrivium: geometry, music, numbers and arithmetic, are a Christian concept that defined these as the tools to master the seven liberal arts to become free. This means that by mastering the Quadrivium you understand shape, form, distance, relation (the physical world around you) and by mastering the Trivium you are able to communicate and express these without being corrupted and manipulated by others…so you are free.
None of these seven liberal arts today require to be carried out by a human; we have our technology and indeed artificial intelligence to do it for us, making it a mechanical and statistical (measurable or controllable) system.
We now have outsourced our communication skills (hearing, speaking, sensing, touch, and smell) to the singular media that is language, the word, instantly transmitted to everyone who bothers to read or hear it. We no longer converse but all talk at the same time, leaving too many statements unchallenged and explored in their authenticity and applicability.
For most today secularism is the current fashion, sold to us as liberalism that ‘sets us free from all those elitist, traditional, restrictive concepts’. It has also seen the disappearance of quality through quantity and has devolved many processes, rituals and traditions to mediocre happenings or marketable events.
The ever growing lack of actually doing things, creating in physical material culture leaves us clueless to finding real solutions to the physical and often cruel reality that is nature, the world and especially the human condition we are all physically part of and interlinked with.
Meanwhile we trust the people who shout the loudest of their grand ideas, talent and concepts communicated in modern media- allowing to be distracted and become apathetic about the corruption and manipulation we are part of through our consumerism of culture.
This is reflected by and through the contemporary art, just like art reflected and commented on value and belief systems in ancient Greece, Egypt, the Medieval times, the Renaissance, etc… No matter how amazing an AV installation may be today, it most certainly will not survive (especially if it hasn’t been collected by a museum that has the mechanisms to preserve and update it accordingly) 50 years.
So what of our conceptual and ephemeral art and digital media information/ archives will survive and available? And will that be a true and comprehensive reflection of our times? Or will the carcasses of today’s consumerism, irresponsible energy consumption, industries and pollution be the only tangible survivor left for future generations to interpret? What will they make of this? Will they see cultures that aspired to better themselves because they had a strong believe and appreciation for their world- or a society that was consumed by worshiping the ‘golden calf’; consumerism, chasing ideas and concepts only in an intangible, a virtual reality forgetting all about the tangible the physical or Real World around them.
The absence of spirituality as one possible motivation for creating art is a mere reflection of the absence of spirituality as a moral an ethical guide or direction in our lives in general.
Art will only express spirituality when the society it is part of values it.’
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