Saturday, 24 March 2018

Every form of art...

Yesterday, I was listening  to the radio, I heard this phrase:

"Every form of art is a form of Literature".

On the face of it, it seems like a nice and sensible enough proposition... only problem, it is NOT actually TRUE.

Personally, I think that there are two fundamental ways to perceive reality, influenced by the nature of their main sensorial vectors, which in turn spawn two approaches to analyzing and reproducing it  - and, by extension, creating un-realities - and, thus , two extremely broad classes of arts.

The first one is "sequential" perception - its basic sense is hearing and its main art product is literature.

Its most important non-artistic product is... science. Science is, almost inevitably, a reconstruction of the universe in terms of a collection of narrations - the theories and laws found in schoolbooks, as well as every single article published by any researcher, are all small tokens of narrative literature. 

For the very physical nature of sound, its perception is based on sequences of events, that the mechanics of human auditory system makes it to be discrete in nature - notes in music, letters , pauses and stresses in language.

So, my idea is that  "Every form of sequential art is equivalent to every other form of sequential art". 

The other type of perception is "holistic", the object of which is perceived as a whole without a decomposition of it in a sequence of elements.

 Its sensory vehicle is sight but, as far as I can tell, the human mind as we know it is not really able to handle this type of perception any well.

Nor our sensory system is really designed for it - when we look at something, the cone of focused vision we have is about 30ยบ wide.

If the object of our contemplation occupies a visual space any larger, we are forced to move our gaze along its area, creating a mental sequence of something that has no defined sequence of its own.

The object may thus exist as a static image, but we are finally forced to perceive it as a sequence of partial impressions - this objective difficulty is such that we all but forget that things may simply... be.

Be, without an inherent dynamic of discrete elements susceptible of being aligned in a narrative thread. 

More than forget, we are so inured into narration that, when we cross something that could be perceived in a holistic way, we still analyze it through a decomposition into its formative elements - decomposition that may be completely arbitrary - and an argumentative discourse - i.e. a narration - about them.

I think that arts whose inherent vehicle is sight - paint, graphics, sculpture -  are not really bound to incorporate a definite sequential nature, though they may acquire it if so the artist desires.
Which artists all too often do, lest their public bemoans that the piece "does not say anything".
Language being the glue that keeps together human societies, and the most important tool available to gain and exert power in them, the arts based around its manipulation have always manifested a disproportionate influence - hence the prestige of  literature, that is at their roots, and the desire for practitioners of arts that are not inherently sequential to emulate the control that writers have over their readers through narration.

In the history of figurative arts, in much of the world, such a control has been produced manipulating the elusive quality called "composition", which essentially means exploiting assumptions and empiric observations about the psychology of viewers to guide the path of their eyes as they explore the piece.

But not all figurative arts are obsessed with it - many forms of sculpture live well beyond its reach, especially those related to product design, like much of pottery, some architecture and many car shapes.

Similarly, a good portion of Islamic art is as oblivious to narration as is it is to the reproduction of the human figure - Possibly because no lay narration should contend the primate of the Holy Book.

All these forms of art are not, really, forms of literature.

Yet they still are, most surely, art.

Thursday, 8 March 2018


"constant social surveillance is the norm in 2018."

- Excerpt from the article "" 

The fact that it is so, and that it can be noted simply "en passant" by a journalist trying to sell how nice are new smart cameras with incorporated AI abilities, should be enormously upsetting.

The fact that is not - that we all know and accept that we are under surveillance, usually aimed at selling us crap but still surveillance - really means that we are totally and royally screwed. 

Monday, 5 March 2018

Midsomer Forgeries

I was looking an episode of Midsomer Murders (series 12, episode 3, "The Black Book"), where  a series of quite gruesome deaths

                              Note: from here onward, spoilers on that episode may appear.

are caused by the possession of a book detailing the small "errors" that a forger intentionally added to a series of paintings attributed to a 18th century painter.

At some point, a character destroys one of the forged paintings - and I felt it jarring.

The late Federico Zeri maintained that he was opposed to the destruction of forgeries, even in those cases in which these are recognizable as such - without any possible doubt - simply by stylistic analysis (i.e. the ones that suck).

He thought that they were worthy of conservation as forgeries, too, are part of art history.
In each era, he argued, the choices of the forgers are clues to read the tastes of the public.

As for the forgeries that are so good that they cannot be recognized without "external" documentary proofs - like the ones at the core of that Midsomer's episode - or forensic science, and fool experts for years or decades... well, I think that these are pieces of art, although maybe "minor".

Over the rest of the episode it is discovered that the author of the forgery was a renowned, local artist that had begun the "forging" with a simple study of the style of the old master, made with the honest intent of learning the essence of the work of a revered predecessor, and that his forgeries are remarkably model-free.
Seeing the (rather crass) character of the duped owner destroying the piece, I felt a pang - not "original", maybe, but still a piece of art, that painting ought not have been destroyed.