Wednesday, 19 October 2022

Tuesday, 18 October 2022

You don't see what you see

 Interesting piece of evidence about an entirely wrong approach of art and science, and how art is forced within a quasi-objective context, 'explaining' what we 'really' see. Wrong descriptions of the work of art, and wrong description of the process of vision, with inevitably wrong conclusions.

By breaking-down the process of seeing into separate details, the context of seeing is being undermined: a painting is not a process but a summarizing image ‘outside time’, it is a holistic object. The process of seeing – the workings of eye and brain interpretation – takes place outside the painting, it is not part of the work of art. A painting invites the viewer to enter the imaginary reality of what is depicted with his own faculties of interpretation, in order to make a holistic connection between the way the artist has looked at reality and how the viewer looks at it; the work of art invites us, for a moment, to look at reality through the eyes of the artist, thereby potentially extending our ways of understanding reality. The process of interpretation is thereby entirely located on the side of the viewer. If Cézanne really tried to express the ‘temporary process of seeing’ within his painting, he would have left the context of the art of painting, which shows that he did not quite understand what painting, as an art form, really is. The work of art is an entity different from the process of seeing and interpretation, in the same way that writing a text is different from reading and interpreting it. Such blurring of contexts breaks down the communication between the work of art and the viewer and places parts of the process of interpretation within the work of art itself, which intrudes into the activity of interpretation. This intrusion undermines the freedom of interpretation.

Also it is nonsensical to consider ‘the seeing’ as something that ‘in truth’ consists of various separate parts; the essential aspect of seeing, the way as carried-out by the brain (the mind), is the summarizing, holistic process, in order to connect us as closely as possible to our environment. This process is the body’s ‘machine’ which makes it possible to experience what we see as an image, as truly reflecting the reality around us: it is a process that connects us to reality, to make us experience being  part of that reality. This does not at all exclude our subjective imagination as part of the interpretation process; but this imagining is also part of the holistic experience, which forms a continuum between objective and subjective: between what is there, and what lives in our own mind. In viewing a painting, our consciousness freely moves inwards and outwards through this continuum of the seeing process, and attempts to break it down in separate parts is trying to undermine our interpretative faculties.

This need to undermine the organic, the connecting aspects of a natural process and to think that the ‘objective’, the ‘true’ nature of reality consists of the outcome of what the ‘machine’ of the bodily interpretation does, is dehumanizing. It is like saying that a person is ‘in fact’ an accumulation of cells, bones and flesh, and that your impression of ‘a person’ is mere illusion. All of this is a philosophical problem of reality, where science is misused as is art, and demonstrating the restricted nature of the materialist, scientific world view which claims that matter is all that exists. Such vision is now widely accepted in mainstream media in the West, adding to the alienation of people presented with an idea of reality which undermines their sense of Self and connection with the world.

Of course, all of this does not exclude the possibility to enjoy Cézanne's paintings for what they really are: colourful arrangements (of fragments) of reality, sketchily painted, and put on a flat surface which becomes more important than a mere basis for an imagined reality. Compared with the much more holistic approach of an artist like Monet, it can be argued that Cézanne was a painter of lesser talents.