What Is Art?
An Essay On 21st Century Art
by Silvia Hartmann
What Is Art?
Professor Whitcombe writes:
Today, the question What is Art? is not easily answered.
According to William Rubin, director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, "there is no single definition of art."
The art historian Robert Rosenblum believes that "the idea of defining art is so remote [today]" that he doesn't think "anyone would dare to do it."
Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, states that there is "no consensus about anything today," and the art historian Thomas McEvilley agrees that today "more or less anything can be designated as art."
Arthur Danto, professor of philosophy at Columbia University and art critic of The Nation, believes that today "you can't say something's art or not art anymore. That's all finished." In his book, After the End of Art Danto argues that after Andy Warhol exhibited simulacra of shipping cartons for Brillo boxes in 1964, anything could be art. Warhol made it no longer possible to distinguish something that is art from something that is not.
What has finished, however, is not artistic production, but a certain way of talking about art. Artists, whoever they are, continue to produce, but we, non-artists, are no longer able to say whether it is art or not. But at the same time, we are no longer comfortable with dismissing it as art because it fails to fit what we think art should be (whatever that is).
We struggle with this because we have been taught that art is important and we're unwilling to face up to the recently revealed insight that art in fact has no "essence."
When all is said and done, "art" remains significant to human beings and the idea that now anything can be art, and that no form of art is truer than any other, strikes us as unacceptable.
Professor Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe
In the question of, "What is art?" the key is in this sentence:
Warhol made it no longer possible to distinguish something that is art from something that is not.
I would like to start there, and state my definition of art, which I believe to be a simple, workable definition that will make it possible to answer the question, what is art, quite easily and conclusively, and to help make it possible to distinguish real art from fake art, at least for the majority of the population.
In order to do this, we have to go back to the very basics of my research and personal experience of life as a human being, to the "Enchanted World" of the Hard PLUS the many energy dimensions which our eyes might not be able to see, but which we can certainly feel, and which manifests itself quite practically in so many ways, in every day of our lives.
Energy is the big X-Factor without which human calculations do not resolve, can not resolve, because you are trying to compute reality with more than half the information absent you would need to establish cause and effect.
So let us start right here, with ...
Art & Energy
Human beings have a physical body, and an energy body. The energy body provides feedback on the energy worlds that we live in and which are a part of overall real reality, as opposed to the reality reduced form of reality that believes only that which can be measured actually exists, and which we call the Hard.
As a part of this energy body, human beings also happen to have an energy mind - you can think of it as the brain of the energy body. This was previously known as the unconscious or subconscious mind. It is an operating system that all humans possess, and which is designed to work with the physical brain and the conscious mind, but has been sidelined to "unconsciousness" in most people because it isn't used properly.
It is the energy mind that provides the ideas, visions, inspirations for true works of art; and a true artist is a person who makes an object that is "reality aligned" - meaning that it exists both in the Hard, as well as having an energetic reality to it.
This is what makes an object "real" and also, what makes an object into art.
The basic idea that true art must be a co-operation between the conscious mind, and the energy mind is already there in the many notions of human "creativity".
Simply put, the conscious mind alone can't "create" anything at all, never mind anything new or powerful or interesting or world-changing.
The conscious mind alone can only re-arrange already existing things, and that's all.
It has by itself no "ideas", no "creativity", no "imagination", no "artistic spark" (that would be energy!).
I use the term "Frankenstein's Monster" to denote anything that purports to be art of any variety, but was put together from dead pieces that already existed by a conscious mind that did not have the computational power, nor the access to the information about the energy worlds and how they relate to hard objects, to make a real work of art.
A person who attempts to make art with the conscious mind alone can only produce Frankenstein's Monsters, which have no life, no spark, no creativity and which are plagiarized as they must be from an original piece of real art, or many of them - just as Dr Frankenstein collected pieces from dead bodies which once were real living human beings, created by God, and sticks them together, re-arranges them, adds a touch a science and hey presto - we have ...
NOTHING AT ALL.
A piece of non-art.
Or fake art, if you will.
The problem is that the producers of fake art, be that writing, painting, dancing, sculpting, architecture, fashion or cookery are usually very adept at trying to hide the lack of ENERGY or true existence in their Frankenstein's Monsters in various ways from the general public, and even manage to confuse fellow artists and art critics.
One of these tactics is to get very good at the mechanics of art and try to blind the audience with craftsmanship. Craftsmanship is a fine thing and admirable in its own right; an any object that took a hundred days to make it, and considerable hand/eye co-ordination and in depth knowledge of materials and a myriad of specialist tools to achieve, does bring about a level of admiration.
That doesn't make it art however; and such things don't stand the art "test of time" of which I will take more later.
Another tactic to confuse the unweary and unwitting is to make something so insane, obscure and bizarre, that the conscious minds of the others just simply don't understand it any longer, and as members of today's societies are still entrained to rather believe that it is THEY who are lacking, that it is THEY who are too stupid to understand this thing instead of saying, "Hey! That guy's got no clothes on!" fake artists have gotten away with it for a long time.
The third major way in which something that isn't real art gets to be declared as real art and confuses folk is to get a few clever people together who declare that something *is* art, and everyone else follows like a herd of lemmings off a cliff.
There is often great collusion between business people of their day and what fake art they can sell to those who rely on their opinions, for as high a price as possible; and then we have investors who have no contact with the work of fake art at all just buying it as a money making exercise or a tax dodge, and because they pay so much, the fake art is made to look like real art, and no-one wants to rock the boat on the topic of art, lest they should lose millions.
Now these are the ways of the fake artists and those who are in collusion with them; these, let us remember, are Dr Frankensteins, who do not have any original ideas, no sparks of creativity, and no purpose for their art beyond convincing others that they are indeed, artists (!). These are the people who make art with the conscious mind alone.
As a real artist and someone who produces true works of art, you need more than just the conscious mind to lift you out of the realms of fake art, and into the realms of real art, which is magic incarnate in the true sense of the word.
In order to do that, you need to be in contact with your energy mind.
Art & The Energy Mind
The artist's energy mind is where creativity, imagination, ideas come from.
These ideas are a data stream of information of high density, and come in full modalities, meaning that they have the same qualities as a lucid dream - complete with visions, hearing, knowing, and most of all, WITH FEELING.
In our modern definition, feelings or emotions (feelings that do not have a physical cause) are feedback devices from the energy body.
When something has an energetic existence, the energy body can feel it and reacts by changing state which we consciously interpret as emotions.
This is what happens when someone looks at a piece of art and feels laughter bubbling up inside of them, or someone listens to a piece of music and the tears rush up from "nowhere".
This is why artists across the ages have said that they want their audience to FEEL SOMETHING - the feelings are the proof that there is something there beyond the paint or the clay, something that "touches" the person invisibly, something that causes them to have feelings and emotions in response to encountering the work of art.
Some artists sadly noticed that to produce disgust, revulsion and horror *seems* to be much easier to trigger in an audience than would be laughter, tears, or silent devotion as a person has an enlightenment experience on the spot, and made it their business to push that to the limit. It's unfortunate because in the absence of counterbalancing experiences, a person who was traumatised energetically and emotionally by a work of art might go away and think that art is disgusting, or that something has to be disgusting in order to be art!
That's not just unfortunate, that's even hideous.
But what is important to note here that if you don't feel it, it ain't art, quite simply put.
Strong broadcasters of energy WILL produce a reaction in human beings, and in fact will produce a universal reaction that is global to the human race, and transcends culture, societies, local populations and their various preferences.
True art is globally human, and that is another way in which we can "test" whether something is art or not, and even know in advance if a piece of art will "stand the test of time" and remain valid as fashions and cultures change from this, to that.
So how do you create true art?
You take information supplied by the energy mind and use this information (idea, vision, inspiration etc) TO MAKE SOMETHING.
When you have this thing made BASED ON THE INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY THE ENERGY MIND, you have a work of art - and it's regardless of whether the something is the General Theory of Relativity, Wuthering Heights, The Mona Lisa, a modern dance routine, a song, a building, a garden, a cordon bleu dish, or a haute coutuer fashion design.
So very simple.
Then how and why has it gone so hideously wrong?
Break On Through ...
The answer lies in the fact that the human being is a new design coming out of evolution.
Before us, as far as we know, there were no "consciously aware" creatures, and we haven't got to grips properly with how our hardware works yet, and using the wrong operating systems.
This has led to a real and practical split between the conscious mind and the energy mind (previously known as the unconscious or subconscious mind, and even those words give us a big clue on what happened here!) and a lack of communication and understanding between them.
The methods used to try and get information out of the energy mind, which has always been known to be SUPERIOR INFORMATION, more information dense, innovative, problem solving, numinous even, were and still are completely archaic.
The shamans of old hung themselves from trees by their nipples to knock the conscious mind out of the way with pain so they could finally "break through" into the realms of the energy mind.
All manner of poisonous substances, from peyote to absinth, from alcohol to opium, and from LSD to amphetamines, have been used for the same purpose by artists looking for inspiration across the ages.
Of course, each substance leaves their own slant on such attempts to "get the vision, get the idea, get the next inspiration".
Amphetamine visions are always classic Bauhaus, crystalline, square, cold and grand and so is the resulting art; LSD based art is always melting, morphing and very colourful; peyote and magic mushrooms always produce visions of organic systems that are all interconnected and evolving; opium based art is nightmarish and convoluted.
Artists across the ages have used emotional pain to "break that barrier between the two minds" and have deliberately self mutilated themselves emotionally (the energy body version of hanging from a tree by your nipples until you finally find enlightenment!), repeatedly accessing peak states of despair, unhappiness, loss of faith and so forth deliberately to produce visions that would produce the idea for the work of art.
All of that is just silly.
Every person has an energy body, and every person has an energy mind. We get born with them, we can't get rid of them, so we might as well use this extraordinary extra operating system that produces these amazing things that EVOLVE THE INDIVIDUAL, AND THUS EVOLVE ALL OF HUMAN CIVILISATION.
I have made it my life's work to find NATURAL ways to improve the conscious/unconscious communication, because that is the Alpha and Omega not just of art, but of both personal evolution, as well as societal and racial evolution for all human beings. I've been surprisingly successful; it is actually really easy to start a process whereby a person gets their own energy mind online, and starts to be able to receive data streams from the energy mind which produce the all important ideas, visions and inspirations that are the genesis point for ANY WORK OF ANY KIND OF ART.*
* This is documented in Project Sanctuary and its simplified version, The Genius Symbols.
To be able to receive these data streams from the energy AT WILL and at any time one might want to do so (as opposed to random flashes during times of extreme emotional or physical stress!) was the first step, and we played with this for a long time, simply because it is so surprising, so delightful, and changes life for an individual on so many different levels.
The same ability that allows an individual to "download" information from the energy mind also and at the same enables a person to "see so much more" - which is a short cut to saying, see much more, hear much more, feel much more and UNDERSTAND SO MUCH MORE.
A person who is in some kind of contact with their energy body and their energy mind knows instantly if something is real art or just a clever impostor, you can "see it". You can also hear it, in the case of music; feel it under your fingertips in the case of a sculpture, and feel it in your body in general and for all art forms that exist so far.
And so the day came when we began to specifically QUERY THE ENERGY MIND to provide a SPECIFIC vision, designed to solve a problem, create an evolution, answer a question - and Art Solutions was born.
Now, we have objects of art that are based on a vision, idea, inspiration directly from the energy mind - but we can steer what we want by the questions we ask.
This is a level of communicating with the energy mind that is way beyond just sitting and waiting and hoping for some "random inspiration" to strike like from some God above who throws lightning bolts down to Earth when they're bored.
Here now, we ask a question directly to the energy mind and receive the relevant vision in return.
"Give me something that if I painted it and hung it on the wall in my house, my wife and son would stop fighting."
A vision arises of a winter rose bush with a single bud that heralds spring.
The artist paints an abstraction of the original vision, hangs it up - and it does the trick. Without another word having been said on the topic, and nothing having changed but the painting having being painted and hung, the fighting ceases and a new harmony has entered the family home.
Further, visitors often comment on the painting. They come into the room, and their gaze is captivated by the painting of white, black and red, and they say, "That's amazing, I love that ... there is something about it ... Where did you get this?"
Is this art?
In my definition, it is. This ticks all the boxes.
The art object, the painting, was based on a clear cut energy mind vision (rather than looking through an old book on art therapy and trying to find the section on "Harmony in the Home & Metaphors That We Use"!).
The vision was "translated down" by the artist into a modality they were comfortable with and could execute, thus resulting in an abstract painting.
The painting is entirely original, entirely new, and nothing like it has ever been seen before.
The art object causes A REACTION in the viewers, fascinates them, draws them in, causes them to experience emotion.
The object caused an EVOLUTION - in the artist, and in the entire household.
The art object caused THE WORLD TO CHANGE.
And that is my definition of art.
That is what art objects are for, that's why we should make them, actually EVERY ONE OF US.
We NEED to DO ART to evolve.
There is nothing at all like it that could get a human being there or evolve a human being like that.
From the very attempt to contact one's OWN energy mind to receive ideas, inspirations, visions that are NEW, totally ORIGINAL to this one artist, never, ever been seen before by anyone until the artist got to have the vision, to the very attempt at translating the vision into a modality that has an existence in the Hard, so that other people can come and look at it, listen to it, EXPERIENCE AND FEEL this work of art, there is no other more truly human endeavour that has the seed of personal and racial evolution in it.
You can repeat what others have said and done for all eternity, and you will never find "enlightenment".
Enlightenment by any other name is something that happens when the human totality has become evolved enough to be able to think that way, to feel that way, to know that way, to see so much more than can be seen with the eyes alone.
Krishnamurti said that The Truth is a pathless land, and that you can't get there by following or copying anyone else, no matter how great THEY may have been.
True art is personal to the artist; it is a documentation of THEIR PERSONAL EVOLUTION as each true work of art has within it the sign posts to the NEXT work of art, the next step on that one artist's path of evolution in the pathless land.
Art Is Important
Is it going too far to say that without art, there is no evolution?
There can be no evolution?
I have thought about this and I am going to provisionally say that I believe it's true.
Art - NEW ideas, visions, inspirations - is surely the only thing that can bring about societal evolution.
It is the only thing, as far as I know, that ever has.
If you want to argue the point and say, "No, it's not art, it's religion, or philosophy that brings about societal evolution!" I would take you back to the beginning and my definition of art, which is a new idea, an inspiration, a vision.
Someone, somewhere had one of those.
Only instead of making it into a pleasing pot, or a necklace, or a building to be the tomb of their dead wife, they made a religion out of it, or a philosophy; both may be termed works of art under my definition.
If art is the only thing that can bring about societal evolution, then it also the only thing that can bring about personal evolution.
Art is important.
You need art for problem solving. You need art for genesis of new projects that have never existed before. You need art for personal evolution which may involve some form of self healing or self discovery, improving one's understanding of the Universe, becoming more intelligent, becoming more human.
If anyone has any better ideas about how to evolve individuals or societies other than by engaging in the processes of art - asking questions, receiving visions, implementing these visions in some form so they become interpersonal forms of communication - I'd love to hear them.
Art & Evolution
I would finally say that to leave the processes of art in the hands of a chosen few is the greatest misconception and catastrophe of humanity.
Art and the processes of art are exactly what we need to evolve out of the various crazy states and systems we have created in our unknowingness, and that holds true for an individual who is seeking the meaning of life, the purpose of their existence, or the answer to the wave/particle duality problem, for that matter, as well as it does for human societies at large.
We don't need therapy. We don't need endless looking back at the mistakes of the past "in order to learn from them". If we want to evolve - that's just another word for getting better at stuff, having more fun, fitting in better, surviving more easily, thriving more spectacularly! - we need the new things in the future that haven't been discovered yet.
And that's what art does.
It frees us from the past and opens up the future in ways that we can't conceive of yet.
To know art, to understand art and most of all, TO DO ART is the solution to humanity's problems.
And that answers the question of, "What is art?"
"What Is Art?" © Silvia Hartmann February 2010. All Rights Reserved In All Media.
"What Is Art?" References:
Project Sanctuary: Awakening The Energy Mind
The Genius Symbols - A simple "Rosetta Stone" alphabet for communicating with the Energy Mind
Art Solutions: EMO Vol. 3 - Energy Magic
First published February 2010 @ http://silviahartmann.com