Multiplicity, meanings and intention

January 01, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I am still intrigued by how a painting, a static image, can have multiple views:
Most painting themes are interpreted in multiple ways by different viewers.
The twi-sight genre allows one to have a hue shift in the visual hierarchy leading to differing views. The painting here, is a multi-part painting.  It's reconfigurable and has at least 6 physical variations.

In an epoch of multiplicity, when portable digital units fulfill multiple roles: telephones, cameras, web access, texting, and more. When multi-usage, transformable objects (ie our separable software/hardware) are the norms of our digital engagements. Should painting wish to remain singular? Should painting remain a static view​?​

The question could be also posed as, does painting gravitate towards its intention (it wants to be singular) or spring forth from its intention (being singular determines its intentions)? In other words, does arts form circumscribe its meaning, or does its meaning(s) dictate its media? Which way does art approach its intention?

McLuhan wrote that art shifted after Poe. “...Poe saw that poetry should be written backwards. One must begin with the effect that is to be achieved and then seek out the means for obtaining that effect and no other effect. Thus the same insight which enabled Poe to be the inventor of symbolist poetry, also made him the inventor of detective fiction. For the sleuth works backwards from the effect of the event to reconstruct the circumstances which produced the particular event or murder. In this way the detective....does not produce a theory or a view of a case. He provides not a view but total communication. In the same way the symbolist poet makes of the poem not a vehicle for views, ideas, feelings, but a situation which involves the reader directly in the poetic process. That is always why he will always say that the poem is not about anything; it is something. It doesn't say anything, it does something.
The medium and the light: Reflections on Religion -1999 pg 156  McLuhan

Should arts intention be its source or its destination? Poe's insight is appealing. Yet isn't that too close to design? While considering our greatest discoveries are often happy accidents, (penicillin, microwave ovens, cheese, wine, bread...) springing forth from ones intention seems destined to miss the mark.   Encouraging Wabi Sabi moments seems more fecund. Gravitating towards ones intention, seeking meaning instead proselytizing ones intention. Discovering meaning during the act of art. Contrary to Poe's reverse of knowing ones destination and returning to it.

Is there a legitimate reason for art to remain singular? Does arts intention come from that singularity or does it' intention move towards that destination? 

Does art seek or reveal, or both?





© GAMcCullough      2013


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