The code in art

1

At the end of a recording of the Bob Dylan’s song, Boots of a Spanish Leather, made by Nancy Griffith you can hear how she asks: “boots?” said by the girl in the poem. As if she’s surprised by the gift requested; and we are surprised because she hasn’t understood the meaning of the song, neither the point of the request. In the song, a couple is bidding farewell: He’s emigrating and she’s staying to wait for him. He asks her if she wants something from where he’s going, and she, as a conceptual spirited love, rejects an unneeded material bond, because that’s the meaning of gifts. However, he insists so strongly on the material he ends up destroying the ideal conception she has on the relationship, and then instead of waiting for him, she decides to leave. Griffith had it easy to understand the meaning of the song, sure she knows about the other song titled These Boots are Made for Walking, which says explicitly that the boots are made to walk away from someone. If you want to bring me something, it won’t be to unite us but will only tear us apart. So, at least care they are Spanish. The ending is an irony.

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© M0thart (Marta Bevacqua), The Deep Dream1
© M0thart (Marta Bevacqua), The Deep Dream1

A lot of people believe or are made to believe, who’s all day in the water, knows how to swim. But the people who have seen these water-lovers know a majority of them don’t go far in the water, just below the knees, and little to no one is a swimmer or a diver.

Knowledge must be treated with care, even more than nitroglycerin. A wrong step and instead of finding the truth, you end up in error and fantasy and when not, consciously, on falsehood. The wise who find truth don’t do it ignorant of the evidence. But every conclusion product of thought only is at risk of being a mere mental construction. The reason is highly seductive because it seems to takes us, with certainty, to an unquestionable conclusion but it only takes a missing piece of information or a misapplied logic principle to be wrong. For its part, Intuition is accepted by the defendants of what it says to us and rejected by its detractors. In conclusion, what we say about what can’t be proved by experience is maintained by ignorant people via consensus and imposition, in that way, the knowledge can become faith.

© karen Jerzyk
© karen Jerzyk

2

The vanguard came up with artistic forms which caused incomprehension of society in regards of the value of those works. The lack of beauty and the figures with altered colors and forms gave the impression that, somewhere along the way, artists were destructing something, and they were not wrong. Thus a part of society, thinking something was wrong, were frightened about the consequences of that mindset, meanwhile others ideologists were looking for a way to profit from it.

The difficulties to define the art of the 20th century led to a substitution of its definition for the evidence. Actually, the wise were having trouble defining all art; so, it mustn’t surprise us now there isn’t one for contemporary and modern art.

© Karen Jerzyk, Last days in earth 84
© Karen Jerzyk, Last days in earth 84

In history, the same division is done and is pretty questionable too; and indicates a misunderstanding of culture. Christoph Cellarius, in 1658, divided history into Ancient (5.000 A.C – 476 D.C.), Medieval (476-1492) and Modern (1492-1789). Prehistory, in the beginning, and Contemporary, in the end, would be added later.

It appears to be a total mistake mixing in an idealist Greek and a materialist Rome, just because everything is in ruins. The same happens when mixing in the Prehistoric, the Paleolithic and the Neolithic periods because everything is buried. In the Middle Age occurs the same, there’s nothing alike between Early and Late Middle Age; although, it was already said that the Middle Ages were a way to fill in between the Ancient and the Modern history.

© Antonella Arismendi, Jackie 10
© Antonella Arismendi, Jackie 10

Even if, sometimes, that division is more political than cultural, in the end, there aren’t many differences in the evolution of one and the other. For example, Hegel maintains the notion of a Classic period, a Greco-Roman period, a Christian period (culminating in the Gothic period) and a last, Romantic period.

Danto, who holds a more modern definition, born from reason, therefore erroneous, has accomplished to enforce his opinion into the followers of Logos, who are chasing it like a beautiful prostitute whose enchants are easy to have, even to the ones that lack the charm of flirting and any kind of material or personal value. Danto says there is a period of art, from 1400 to 1967 and then periods before and after.

© karen Jerzyk, Colors-1, 2
© karen Jerzyk, Colors-1, 2

3

Some people analyze what happened with the vanguards and resort to describe, by mere convenience. And we remark that they aren’t even trying to describe art, they want to describe its effects. There’s no wondering about the nature of things, let the past worry about the essence of things, let’s take art and give it some use because what does art do? Art destroys society, vanguard art is corrosive.

Using the effect of things as its definition, then art must be eternally corrosive. Even today there’s art that believes such effects determine the artistic nature of things. Independently of social transcendence, we must wonder if a corrosive piece is art, in other words, we need to identify when a piece’s corrosiveness is artistic and when it’s just a social critique made by an artist.

© Catálogo de Dollskill
© Catálogo de Dollskill

4

When we analyze the question of art as a language, we conclude that communication is a product of the perception of the receiver which is capable of drawing conclusions on the observation of existence and man, able to deduce, understands he can become a source of signs that receiver sees as a meaningful event. For example, by mimesis something done by a third person is imitated and you can transfer information well about past deeds or future intentions.

Communication uses a code generated by a source and decoded by a receiver. As a result of the human condition, the communication code has two forms; which we will call ‘types’ one objective, like a verbal language, and one subjective, like a painting.

The language codes, verbal and artistic alike, vary in different time and different places. The artistic languages adopt many forms, called styles. Time and place condition the form of the codes, because this Latin has evolved into diverse languages and continues to.

© Scott London, Burning Man, 2014
© Scott London, Burning Man, 2014

In communication, we must identify clearly the difference between the message and the information. The information is the content of the desired communication, while the message is a group of signs, which subjected by a code, it retains the information coded, so when the message is transferred, received and decoded by the receiver, it can be understood.

Usually, when discussing communication there is a misunderstanding between message and information because communication is mistaken with verbal language, in which message and information are the same. In Spanish, when you want to say “te quiero”, you say “the quiero” but if we transfer the information into a different language we’ll see clearly if the information is the same, the message ends up being I love you and the confusion ends there.

© Scott London, Burning Man, 2005
© Scott London, Burning Man, 2005

5

Therefore, in the serious issue of designating a corrosive piece is or is not art we must first state the difference, just as we discussed, between message and information.

Art, as we discussed, is a language. The languages properties are the capacity of transferring information, but not exclusively because they can present questions, orders, but is a condition of language being able to express a plethora of information, not just one.

So, in a particular language, someone can express different kinds of information, some may be corrosive; and if an artistic language was chosen, we would be discussing a corrosive piece of art, but we must realize it’s not an artistic corrosive language, it’s a corrosive piece of art.

© Scott London, Burning Man, 2008
© Scott London, Burning Man, 2008

If we see someone approaching us in the street, talking in a way we can’t understand, we won’t be able to discern, without more information, what he or she is talking about; it may be a language we don’t know or it’s just babbling. In the first case, he or she may be trying to communicate, on the second, just wasting your time.

If that situation happens in an artistic form, we must be able to discern if the artist is expressing in a language that we don’t know the codes of, but they are correct and we are before a work of art; or what’s ‘said’ is just nonsense and lacks any artistic sense.

The recognition of what is artistic belongs to the critics because today technical quality is not enough, even unnecessary sometimes, to make art. The public feels there is a problem when critics don’t explain their thought process when defending a work they qualify as art. The critics lack a legitimate theoretical explanation besides the existence of an art world, apart from the real world, which is not even a logical or even compelling explanation.

Imágenes con derechos reservados, prohibida su reproducción. / Imágen inicial: © Antonella Arismendi.

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