What is an art?Art in my view is an expression of inner feelings which we show throughout our medium from which we are exposing it,such as painting,singing,dancing,writing and many more.
At first man thought he held his powers from gods and art was sacred, then little by little man acquired more and more power over nature. Later, thanks to printing he was able to spread his knowledge almost everywhere and man became the centre of the universe. At the same time he became art’s main subject. Then came a period when many people thought science could explain everything, so religions and religious arts were no longer of much use. Instead, we saw great ideologies appear, each of them with a ravenous appetite for power. That led to two world wars, massive destruction and the whole planet was damaged.
Artists, like the planet, felt lost and hopeless!But while war brings destruction and death, it also brings new technologies that can prove to be very useful and make man’s life better. Actually, nobody can stay indifferent, neither can artists.
Today, two important developments can be registered in a modified communication context:
- the move of artists towards science and new technologies,
- the move of scientists towards art and spirituality.
Thanks to ease of communication, art can be, and in fact is diffused and exchanged everywhere in the world. The best example of it is music. It is the same with science, yet its position today is not very easy, relativity and quantum theories have shown that truth once reached can be proved untrue in a different context. Secondly, everything is connected and thus we cannot separate the observed object from the observer, neither can we separate the different elements of nature and man is one of those. Imagination, which has always been considered as the key of creativity by artists can also open large avenues to new scientific research. To reach the source of this imagination we have to turn inside in order to discover what we keep in our deeper self that we have ignored.
Nevertheless we must not forget possible dangers that could arise from all the communication facilities: the unlimited nature of information, in content and quantity might create a new Tower of Babel; moreover, couldn’t this apparent complete liberty be more or less manipulated by an anonymous trade system which excludes an important part of the population? Favouring virtual communication rather than actual one can lead people to lose entirely the sense of reality and ignore or despise all those living around them.
The communication era has started; will we be able to survive such a difficult period?Artists are lighthouses in the middle of the rough sea. Their beams should be observed with the greatest care and echoes can be felt in the depth of our hearts. Like that, they might show us the way towards a more harmonious and more peaceful area.
What is art today? Is it important? Is it mostly reserved to rich people? Can we live without art? What is the modern trend? I do not think anyone will be able to give very accurate answers to these questions since it has always been difficult to give precise definitions concerning art and today it is even more difficult. What we can say is that if art does not play such an important part as it used to do formerly, the reason is probably that we have become very materialist people and we consider that science and new technologies are serious matters whereas art is more like an entertainment.
Most people think that scientists are people worthy of respect, their discoveries rapidly lead to new technologies which are applied in many different fields, so they allow people to become more efficient every day. Since time is money, scientists are very important people. For many, artists are special. As long as they do not disturb the good society order too much, one can bear them. Nevertheless they admit that a few among them can become very famous, earn a tremendous amount of money, and then are worth being considered.
From this starting point, many questions arise:
Have things always been like that? If not, why have they changed? It is usually said that those who study science only use logic and their brains, whereas those who practise art, are just dreamers who express their inner drive, their feelings and emotions. We may wonder whether things are as simple as that?
Now, with the new computer age, while all the data are changing, what will be the consequences for the generations to come, in matters of art, science and more generally speaking in matters of life?
In the general history of man, we may say that for many, many centuries, art and science were not separated; together they used to express man’s veneration and fear in face of the splendour and the dreadful powers of Nature. Unable to understand most of the phenomena, man attributed those tremendous powers to gods and used his science to please those gods through beautiful works of art. So, art was a sacred science.
But it is in man’s temperament to try to understand and master everything that he has to deal with, and little by little, man acquired more and more power over nature. He discovered the roundness of the earth, was able to cross oceans, and thanks to printing, could spread out his new theories and discoveries; then, art started to represent scenes of ordinary life with no links whatsoever with gods or religion.
At the end of the 19th century, people thought science would be able to explain everything, so they did not need religions to help them understand the world, they created instead new ideologies, called: socialism, communism, liberalism... each one of course being superior to the other. This led to a disastrous competition that exploded into something unknown up to that time: two world wars and the possibility of destroying the planet with nuclear weapons.
Art, the abandoned brother, felt lost; without any landmark, creed or value, it started experimenting everything and experiencing the deepest despair.
Among the painters, I am going to quote PICASSO. In 1937, after the complete destruction by the Nazis of a small village in the north of Spain, he painted “Guernica”. Guernica became the symbol of man’s barbarity. If, as in the corrida, we find in it three main actors, that is to say: the bull, the horse and the man, what makes the corrida an exciting, beautiful coloured show does not exist here.
On the contrary, in this painting, there are no colours, everything is black and white, in the middle we can see an eye- like electrical lamp which is supposed to be the sun, the man, who is a soldier, is killed, trampled down by the horse, the horse is dying, so are the women and children, the bull looks infinitely sad, everybody is a victim... Under the sun lamp, there is a flame held by a running man, showing the consequences of hatred. The whole world has become a lethal corrida, the whole world has become mad...
At that time, most of the artists partake Picasso’s vision; in literature, many plays reveal the absurdity of life, as with Samuel BECKETT, Harold PINTER and many others...
Years later, Bernard BUFFET still paints landscapes looking like prisons, where trees are stiff and leafless, where electric posts look like miradors and roads are leading to nowhere. Artists do not meditate about death as they used to do, for example, observing a skull on a table, they become death itself. This is quite obvious if you look at Picasso’s last self-portrait.
But, do not think that we have reached the pitch of horror; we shall get it with Francis BACON, the painter. Bacon’s main subject is man, but what man experiences is not only intellectual suffering, his whole body, like a naked new-born animal, becomes the prey of a non-defined cold green world. Each of his paintings is more horrible than the next. For Bacon all this was “exhilarating despair”. Did he have real fun while painting? I do not know. Little by little he drank himself to death and died in 1992. For me, these paintings are so ugly that I can hardly look at them, but some people buy them although they are extremely expensive (they are even more expensive than Picasso’s). Fortunately, all the painters are not like Bacon. If the 20th century brought wars, distress and despair, it also brought a new approach to science and opened the way to incredible technological possibilities.
Some artists have taken great interest in science. Salvador DALI for example, was deeply interested in physics and optics; he was fascinated by time and its relativity, that is why we find so many soft watches in his paintings. But the painter whose art cannot be separated from scientific research is VASARELY. He used to say that in the past, the artist created from what he knew of Nature through his senses, but now that science has revealed to us the infinite of Nature, we are no longer static observers but dynamic participants. Vasarely marvelled at the possibilities opened by physics in which one could consider matter and energy as a distortion of space. For him, philosophy, mathematics, poetry, music and plastic arts will explore this huge field that has now been opened. He invented a plastic art combination by using algorithms. First he created “black-white binaries” with asymmetries, the same work could become two, one positive, one negative. Then he introduced colours, and by changing the presentation, he could obtain 16 – 32 – 64 solutions from one creation. Moreover, the same picture could appear to the observer once like a hollow surface and then like a convex one. Besides, in his paintings there is a perpetual inhaling and exhaling breathing movement between the observer and the observed object. By constantly working on this abstract game of possibilities where intuition could be called the leader of the game, he achieved real, beautiful works. Some of them look very much like Tibetan Mandalas. Composition and colours are quite similar. Vasarely, like the composer of the Mandala starts from vacuity, but while the first one gives abstract shapes to his drawing, the lama imagines deities who live in the background of his consciousness. It all works as if behind the apparent reality, there were another reality that can suddenly appear out of meditation; that reality emerges from vibrations which can be felt by every human being, no matter whether he is a scientist, an artist or a spiritual man. As I said before, intuition is the leader of the game, but afterwards everything needs to be organized and then comes reason. Concerning science, an Indian philosopher, Inayat Khan wrote: “Science is born of the seed of intuition, conceived in reason”.
Let us consider music, where the same sort of phenomenon can be observed. For Edgar VARESE, music is “organized sound”; that means it is at the same time art and science. This opinion is shared by many other musicians, such as: SCHONBERG, STOCKHAUSEN, LIGETI, BOULEZ... Today, there are electro-acoustic composers who only work with electronic sounds and who say that their music not only can be, but really is sensitive and sensual.
So, wherever we go, whatever art we consider, we can see that thanks to research systems and cybernetics, new fields of expression are opened and an enlarged horizon is now offered to mankind. In theory, research is not limited to one or to a small group of people, and thanks to the World Wide Web, anyone can immediately be connected with the person he is looking for. This web, working like a super brain, is much more than the sum of its parts.
In front of so many possibilities, we may feel a sort of euphoria and believe that we have made all the possibilities possible.
In fact, what do we notice
We do have new possibilities, new openings, but let us consider music again. We can hear electronic music everywhere; unfortunately it is the same sort of music that we hear in New-York, in London, in Tokyo, or in any town of the world. So, it appears that there is a very serious danger of uniformisation.
What has happened ?
In my opinion, there have been two main problems.
- First, those that we call “ the creators ” are so enthusiastic with their research and work that they mostly communicate with people having the same interests as them, and little by little, they get cut off from the majority of the other people.
- Second, and more dangerous, many big companies which are already rich and powerful have understood that with those new possibilities, they can at the same time get more money and acquire more power. The more money you have, the more power you get.
That is how, if we want to listen to music, and if we use the mass media or the web, most of the time, we will hear the music that has been prepared for us by the show-biz industry. Instead of having a beautiful new interesting production, our horizon is simply limited to what is supposed to please everybody.
Thus, research also can be the victim of this thirst for power and money. Isn’t there a risk of exclusion for many people?
Therefore, what can be done ?
Once again, let us follow an artist, and this time it will be Alberto GIACOMETTI. One of his very beautiful sculptures is “the walking man”, a man ever so tall, ever so thin. Tahar Ben JELLOUN, a Moroccan writer imagined this man in a street of Fez medina called: “the street for one only”. That street is so narrow that only one man at a time can walk along it, but for this walking man there will be no difficulty; besides, being so tall, his head will be above the roofs of the houses and his horizon will be much wider than what ordinary people can see. It is as if he had pierced the outer surface of the web surrounding us and could see the infinite. Yet, at the same time, this man keeps on walking, his feet treading the soil of the street. We feel how difficult his walk is, but we know that he will not fall, that he will keep on going.
This walking man could be considered as a guide for the inhabitants of the street, showing them what they can hardly see; this could also apply to the scientists and those who are more conscious of the difficulties of the world we are living in. To be able not to cut the link between people working at different levels is a first necessary step, but I think it is not enough.
Another artist, a painter this time, makes us a wonderful gift. It is Salvador DALI, with his painting: “Saint John of the Cross Christ”. Here Christ is not crucified on top of the Golgotha but soaring over the planet earth and bending towards all the beings living there. He reminds us of his suffering, of his compassion; he has taken upon himself all the suffering of the world, and by doing so, he has redeemed us of all our wrongdoings and freed us from our feelings of guilt. What is extraordinary in this painting is that Dali does not show the attributes of crucifixion, but shows the metaphysical beauty of God-Christ. At the bottom of the painting, a fisherman of Port Ligat standing by his boat is about to start his crossing, the sea behind him is calm, the sky is pure, Christ’s compassion has lifted up the veil of sorrow and fear. So can compassion do likewise with every human being.
At a contrary,Art in todays world is depending on your own view.It is very vast and beyond the sky.