By: Z. A. Counts
The act of “being” intuitively creates an understanding of the sensibility we construct by being together in a perceptively close space to other intuitively creative beings. These are feelings and sentiments we all collectively create during a period of time together as separate beings. This creates generational patterns of thought which gives us an opportunity to examine ourselves through the medium of the whole. We grasp at this overarching collective feeling by way of the arts and are destined to fail to completely describe how we feel. It’s impossible to ever fully grasp the culture because it’s a constantly moving amalgamation of our perspective self and how we imagine those around us being. This gap between the most accurate materialistic measurements and perceived sentimentality is where all art lives but where masterpieces delicately expose what is and isn’t real within a culture. During his time Shakespeare’s plays were considered to be sub par, but turned out to be truly commenting on the hole in the heart of the culture. It makes sense that those of the time wouldn’t be able to see it. Retrospectively his work aged well because they best communicate a mixture of the Elizabethan sentimentality and our ever moving current perception of what most authentically represents the reality of that time. It shows us truths from then in ways we are able to understand now.
Unfortunately examining ourselves exclusively through these Grand cultural narratives runs the risk of overgeneralizing which detaches oneself from the problem. People often refer to “people nowadays” or talk in generalities about “society” because of the flood of information coming at us, but that separation of self from the whole subconsciously removes personal participation and responsibility for the contribution of the subject of their own examination. There’s a big difference between “people nowadays just don’t have common sense” and “nowadays we just don’t have common sense”. The second statement reflects the attempted ontological acknowledgement to include yourself in what you perceive. The post-structuralist separation of a self insulated metaphysical narrative from the realities of a grand metaphysical narrative is hazardous to the Individuation process of the participants and the culture as a whole. I think this lack of distinction is most apparent in the arts because of its divine potential for exaggeration.
If Van Gogh was alive today he might’ve chosen not to spend the early days of his life preaching to the poor in the Borinage mining region in Belgium. Perhaps he would have received treatment for the disease that wreaked havoc on his mental health causing lapses in his manifestation of his perception of God. There’s an endless amount of rabbit holes our minds could burrow down together thinking about how the compassionate soul that was Vincent would communicate that same beauty today, but it’s important to remember that the specific ideas of the past are eternally imprisoned by the time they were created and by our perception of them from the retrospective future. Although we owe infinite respect to the giants whose shoulders our current works are firmly planted, it’s important not to over fetishize or let it dictate our current meta of communication. Although the “precious juice” of Dali is stuck in the past I feel the media born of this culture’s sentimentality offers us particularly authentic ways of crafting it’s ideas into existence. The medium to be resurrected from the past is the one within the mind of young Dali who’s spiritual playfulness to respect the formalism of the past masters while not being bound by the institutional mediums he created within is one we should wield meaningfully and without hesitation continuously throughout time. As a culture I feel like we fail to recognize our godly power as individuals of young Dali’s who constantly reshape the world we live in through their creativity of our actions, and perceptions. The accumulation of these creative actions even within the widest or tightest parameters create a feedback loop of manifestation whose power is unbound to the parameters it functions within. Paradoxically the potential energy is only limited by the potency and frequency of the collective’s creative actions within the system and it’s awareness that the system will adapt to its creativity.
With all great paradoxes: the captivating Penrose stairs, the vastly over cited Double-slit experiment, the still frustrating blue and gold dress from the mid-2010’s internet culture, or as natural as a zebra, eventually you have to come to a conclusion. If I ask you what color a zebra is, it either becomes a black horse with white stripes, a white horse with black stripes, or uncertainty. Uncertainty is still an answer once a question has been asked. In every act of choice there is a battle of ethics and morality. Beauty is participatory, so it is important to know what we’re participating in. This proclamation stating some necessary realignment of our collective consciousness towards beauty could be seen as romanticizing or sincere but in a time calling for development of tools for collective action, I believe any realignment of senses back towards the medium across the senses as a whole system will have drastic potential for creative energy. Being more intune to our sense of a collective background as a self aware medium will allow us more efficient ways to create and optimize for our sense of beauty as a whole. The goal is a system that produces architectural thinking.
Architects know they have a responsibility to the space they build in, and that we all affect our environment, so we all have that equal role of responsibility in creating that environment. An architect knows to plan how every detail should go in the building process, but also knows to plan for if everything goes wrong. Extraordinarily they also attempt to plan for what they do not know they do not know. This means most importantly they know that nothing will go as planned, even the unplanned. Within the process of creation architects know to go with the flow of time and the medium itself, both which are ever illusive goals. They know we all have a diluted dash of overreaching Godly power for creation within each of us, so it is important to move accordingly. This becomes an increasing greater dash as we move further into the digital age. If the printing press gave us the possession of the book, the digital age will give us possession of everything else quantifiable.
To be quantifiable does it not already need to come from within the culture itself? The current culture tells us to jump to the extremes. Be hysterical. Be noticeable. Be exceptional. These are mostly empty grasps at beauty wrapped in the repackaged spectrum of what they already deemed acceptable within the extremes; thus making it not hysterical, not noticeable, not exceptional and most importantly not beautiful. Just average in a world of extremes.
With these weightless plateaus set as the roof, we inherently set a limit on ourselves of what we can create. We’re told it’s what other people think is extreme, but we all have a sinking feeling we’re not sure what extreme really is. We think of ourselves as just “me”. That is to say, we think of ourselves as the center of the spectrum of acceptability by nature of measurement from the perspective of self. Which leaves us never being able to actually move to an extreme only in the direction of the perceived object’s direction. This instantly becomes motivated by the medium of the extreme itself.
Everything the human touches with intention casts the receiving object into an eternal state that is altered based on the autonomous movement. Including both consciously and unconsciously. Consciousness gives humanity the power to define itself as it exists individually and as the collective by way of constantly influencing and redefining the space around it. If everything around us is for sale, the best we can do is know the deal we’re making. This rings most true with our relationship with the environment itself. Even between perceptively tight constraints there is still an infinite amount of freedom, but this hinges on having accurate knowledge of constraints and the right perspective to view the freedom. If you view it from too far away you won’t be able to see it, and if you stand to close it will be too overwhelmingly immersive like standing an inch away from a Robert Rauschenberg painting. We should position ourselves between the two, and knowingly participate in an aesthetical evaluation. As the aforementioned painter taught us through his actions, we should also instruct future viewers on how to best view our vision of beauty. In every dysfunction there lies potential for a system of new functionality and new ways of working. There is an art that lies in putting that metaphysical gap realistically in perspective of the physical reality and seeing what tools adequately fit that size workplace. This pattern of thought that I previously described as thinking architecturally will allow humanity to come closer into contact with the medium we exist within. Those mediums being that of consciousness, the environment, and dimensions we’re within.
Because of the public’s never settling perception of beauty, the greatest achievement a work of art can ascertain is the justice within accurately relaying the sincere thoughts and feelings of a time in a manner so it can accurately be seen with retrospective justice. There’s a responsibility within the message of artwork now to be unfeigned in protest against the oversaturation of irony and cynicism of the former generation. This shift as a whole should be looked at like every large paradigm shift that’s happened before, and every shift in the future should be looked at with patterns of the past in mind. It was Mark Twain, I think, who said “ History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes”. It is upon the artists of each generation to create the differences that compose this rhythm.