What I mean by Artistic Phenomena

Artistic phenomena is the term I use to refer to the eccentric subtleties of artistic works as well as the occurrence of artistic merit in things that are naturally or mechanically made and not the result of intentional human effort.

To fully explain what I mean by artistic phenomena I need to add that I think of art as a subjective thing. Art is what the viewer perceives or the interpretation of what they perceive. As a result art does not require an artist to be art, it only requires the experience of art in the mind of the viewer. Perhaps this sounds unusual but I think it describes quite well that special thing which the whole world over refers to as “art”. This is what we are really talking about when we use the word, “art” even if we aren’t fully aware of it.

George Maciunas, the founder of the Fluxus art movement, was talking of this when he said that it was no longer necessary to make art objects, the only thing necessary for the existence of art was that we, the viewers, take an art-attitude. Artistic phenomena is the direct result of taking this “art-attitude”, both to formal artworks as well as to the informal, everyday visual experiences that we naturally have.

This doesn’t mean that everything you see is art, it just means that everything you see could be art. After all, isn’t it the taking of an art-attitude by artists that leads to the creation of formal artworks? I think van Gogh first took an art-attitude to stars at night before he painted, Starry Night. I also think that in the realm of photography that a well-developed art-attitude towards everything around you is what the artistry of photography is entirely about. Photographers pick art off the things growing wild around us because they’ve learned to recognize it and look for it.

In the same way, art can be unintentional and “growing wild” –uncultivated and accidental– in existing artworks because our own minds read things into them that are a result of our own imagination. We can have associations that the artist was incapable of because they’re not like us and don’t share our experiences and personal “mis-interpretations”. I sometimes think of a new title for artworks when some visual element in them suddenly takes on a pivotal role that to me redefines the entire work because, to me at least, it is the most salient and interesting thing about it. As you can see, art appears to have a great deal of subjectivity to it when one reflects on their experiences like this.

Art can never have one simple and straightforward interpretation for everyone if these things are common amongst viewers and not just a personal quirk of mine. In fact, I think it is the nature of all visual phenomena, the entire visual medium, to be ambiguous, vague and suggestive of many things. Combine such a fluid medium of expression and experience with the ever-inventive human mind and it’s never-at-rest capacity to make sense of even the most formless smudges and ambiguous abstractions and art becomes a matter of probabilities and psychoanalysis: art becomes a Rorschact test.

This blog is simply intended to be an exploration; a casual presentation of personal discoveries and speculations that keeps moving in the same direction. My main interest is in mechanical rather than human creativity and the sort of accidental occurrences of art that it creates because there’s something fresh and exotic about such alien and “extraterrestrial” artistic phenomena. If art is anything, it’s at least about things that are new and novel.