What follows are my thoughts about art as communication. That is, communication among and between multiple and differing levels of human awareness within the artist. The residue, or evidence, of these relationships is artwork. Art as communication cannot not communicate.
Art is Communication (Knowledge)
Art communicates, sends a message, anticipates a dialogue, and encourages discussion. The engagement with artwork, both for the originator (production artist), and subsequent viewers (consumer artists), creates automatic trances, simulates induction to thinking and emotional states, and presents opportunities for the integration of varied awarnesses.
Everyone Speaks Art Everyday (Comprehension)
Examples of everyday communication through art is easily found in art museums; confessionals of implicit conversations. In addition, art as communication is also found everywhere else, everyday, by everyone. For example, in 1959 my mother arranged three sofas in the living room, integrating them into her sense of balance, beauty and design. (I thought the space was ridiculously overfilled and detested the mismatch of colors and styles.) Or, when my grandmother, knitting bedroom slippers in a trance-like state conversed and watched TV. Was she caught in a never ending world view of "on one hand and then on the other?" (I recall my satisfying touch of the sculptural texture of perfect, perfect blue rows.) Or another example, my father's chaotically arranged tool shed. It was an assemblage of farming tools communicating the lack of time, or just the right amount of time, or possibly happiness, or despair. (I found the dark shed as upsetting as mom's living room.)
In all, these everyday examples represent an unintentional participation in learning a language, found in the communication of art in my cultural environment. I do not know the internal conversations of my mother, father, or grandmother, as they were never spoken. While these internal conversations remain forever unarticulated, my memory can immediately visit my own interior dialogues as confirmed by sentences found in parenthesis. I was a consumer artist learning language.
Unheard Art (Application)
Art is my narrative, my story, over my life span. I study art as a foriegn language (AFL) and find that it has two separate, yet nearly simultaneous natures; a speaking nature and a listening nature.
As in listening to a couple, a threesome, a family, in regard to an event, each voice must ultimately be heard and understood to result in integration and settlement. In art this mediating process is often lost as the artist reveals little about their personal experience as it interfaces with producing artwork. I, as a consuming artist, distracted by the artwork often fail to hear the personal story or even seek the deeper conversations of the artist. Thoughtlessly, egotistically, I make the artwork about me and habitually keep even that conversation hidden. The result is artwork that is seen and not heard. The fullness of creativity, all that it could teach is lost, as if a language not worthy of practice or use.
When I do listen to the artful conversations within I learn the linguistics of my own language and culture. Within my internal studio I can notice the nearly undetectable accent of where I have come from. Could it be that my artwork is a reflection of cadence, tone, volume, timbre, of a child learning English and Art (AFL) from ancestors speaking German, Bohemian, and Art?
What remains essential is that I continuously practice art daily to perfect the voice, the language, the communication within. In prace this means going about making another collage, or congregating plants in the garden, or putting my accordion under the expression of continuous, interior, discussion. Aristotel probably said, a number of times differently, "The soul never thinks without a mental image." We do not relate to ourselves, or to another without an image. Embedded in this image is language.
Learning Art (Analysis)
I am learning that art is not only the language of the unconscious but also the conscious. That it may be difficult, maybe impossible, to determine the speaking source of as well as the listening source of art. Nonetheless, communication transpires. It may be that the artist that is best able to take us into the language of art is the seasoned, intuitive, artist that for years has become so practiced in these conversations that articulation of the process is quite easy. Opportunities for articulation of experience, punctuation of trauma, grammar of understanding, inflection of colorful desire, shapely need, and density of want, are placed before us. Whether I want to listen to my own vocalizations or not, my art reveals my inner relational universe.
I Know Nothing about the World of Art (Synthesis)
In reviewing art as communication, as a language equivalent to Spanish, Chinese or Hmong, I arrive with some refreshing questions:
- Do I expect too much to know such internal, private artist conversations?
- What is the effect of such articulation on the production of art, or on the artist, or consumers of art?
- How am I to understand children who produce artwork without abilities to articulate their internal conversations?
- Are there gifted adults who can articulate internal conversations accurately by using the artwork where internal dialogues are lost in history?
- Are these adults the best art critics?
- What is the role of art critics when art is a foreign language? How has our culture contributed to the loss of human meaning by economically focusing on artwork rather than art process?
- What gives glibness, fluency, and versatility to the language of art? How and when does art transform its own language?
- How do the vocalizations of art change over the life span?
Art then is a voice, an informant that enriches the day-to-day experience of living. Practiced art invites a sustained understanding of linguistic nuances of my internal, diverse, simple, and complex self.