Copyright © C J Hollins 2013 The rights of C J Hollins to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, stored in a retrieval system or marketed for commercial gain in any form or by any means, without the categorical permission being given in writing by the author.
This is an enquiry into what makes an artist create a work of art. I will look to three considerations: (1) Art is an aesthetic judgement of beauty portrayed through a display of skilled learned techniques that result in works of cultural value; this, to me, seems shallow reasoning and I will class it as a surface level of artistic activity. (2) Art is a social response that connects us in spirit and soul to some kind of ethereal nature of existence; I regard this as a concept that draws us away from the harsh rawness of reality through the creation of mythical images, faith in gods, belief in fairies or aliens, and so on. (3) Art is a biological response that suppresses an older inherent way of sensing the world; this third option is, in my opinion, the most realistic idea of what art is about.
A biological model of art requires a purely physiological view of life to be understood to have arisen without design or purpose. In hardcore evolution there can be no guiding hand, judgement of beauty, or belief in spirit and soul, and I will assert that, at the start of any work, the first response of an artist is to spontaneously and without thinking suppress this raw state of biological animal uncertainty that arises into their mind. The artist performs an unconscious act to remove this uncertainty by transforming raw paint, clay, sound, or movement into a work of art but this buries what little remains of a harsh animal way of sensing that we now keep out of our intelligent reasoned thoughts. It is my assertion that artists are more open to experiencing this animal sensation than we who are not artistically minded, but most respond to remove any hint of this influence from what they do by creating art through their intellect and command of technique. This removes the cause of art as a natural biological impulse, and gives rise to a response full of aesthetic judgement or fantasised imagery.
My thesis is that beneath our intelligent view of the world lies a raw vision of objects and events that we inherit from our distant animal origins, and this sensation, if we could recreate it, would reveal a deeper experience of perception than conscious awareness. This is, I believe, what artists unconsciously sense before they begin a work, but all our minds have evolved to remove, rather than reveal, this experience. Artists have always responded by taking paint, clay, stone, sound, or movement, and creating works that suppress what I call Instinctive Visualisation: which is a way of sensing objects and events without learned intelligent ideas. From this point of view the cause of art is a biological response similar to that which compels us to run from danger, or to defecate, and by making art objects artists relieve themselves of recollection of our old animal way of sensing. This creates a contrast between artists who are unaware their minds work to suppress the remains of animal sensations through the creation of controlled perfected images, and artists who are aware and try to provoke a return of this insight by retaining uncertainty in what they do. I see this as the essential difference between traditional art, which is blind to our biological inheritance of mind, and modernism.
For artists, whoever you are or wherever you are, how skilfully trained you are or how intuitive you are, how rich you are or how poor you are, how extrovert you are or how introvert you are, buried deep within your mind is a primal way of sensing the world
Introduction: Is Art a Product of Cultural Value, or Reaction to a Natural State of Mind?
PART ONE: NATURAL RESPONSE?
1_ The Primal Moment
2_ Redundant Perception
3_ The Aesthetic of the Imagination
PART TWO: CULTURAL VALUE
4_ Myths and Religions.
5_ Pharaohs, Dictators, Kings & Queens.
6_ Collectors, Museums, Mass Marketing.
PART THREE: BIOLOGICAL INHERITANCE
7_ The Scientific Idea of Evolution.
8_ Our Place in Nature.
9_ An Artist’s Recall of Instinctive Visualisation.
Some years ago I published a small illustrated book entitled The Animal Within: Explaining the Bizarre and Ludicrous in Modern Art, and, at the time, I thought it would bring a clear idea of a biological insight into our understanding of art. I imagined, somewhat naively, that it would attract the attention of those who command authority in the art world, but it was ignored and sank into the abyss of obscurity. This was partly my own fault, the book fell embarrassingly short of expectations, but what had motivated me was a passionate belief that a genuine artist is a person who inherits the faint recollection of a natural state of mind that once served our distant ancestors in their ‘animal’ struggle for survival. I was convinced that we will still possess this inheritance, passed down to us in the form of an instinctive power of visualisation, and we would now act to remove it’s influence from day-to-day awareness. My little book declared that artists unconsciously create art objects because they retain stronger recall of an ‘animal’ way of sensing, that begins to emerge into their mind as a ‘feeling’ of disorder, and so they respond by taking paint, clay, sound, and movement, and create more order in the form of a picture, a sculpture, music, or dance. In this way the art object offsets the artist’s disturbance of mind, but this idea seemed to provoke disdain from critics and academia. I strengthen my resolve.
Here you will find a more authoritative outline of my original concept. It has taken time to mature, but now I see more clearly than ever before that artists have, until modern times, always worked to suppress an original natural way of sensing. They have done this by upholding value judgements that assume art is created as an aesthetic experience, and this has enforced the idea that only specific objects create art. The assertion of the aesthetic is that animals do not create art so art must be a unique quality of human achievement, but I have never felt comfortable with this idea. It seems to me that animals don't create art because they ‘feel’ no need to suppress their natural way of sensing. We, on the other hand, create artificial products that are used to decorate our walls, or entertain us, because we respond to transform, rather than reveal, a natural state of mind.
From this point of view, any object could create your old ‘animal’ experience of mind if you could find a way to look without the imposition of your learned ideas, but, of course, all our minds work to stop us sensing in this old instinctive way. We humans now sense the world through cleaver learned thinking, that, from a very early age, buries what little recall we still possess of our old animal experience of mind. Our very way of generating conscious thoughts destroys our old instinctive power of visualisation, and we need to understand that the value judgement of the aesthetic in art arose to enforce this response. To come to the underlying view you have to remove all judgement about what you see, but, as Marcel Duchamp discovered in 1917, it is not easy to look at a toilet urinal and abandon your ‘learned’ ideas about it. People either see a urinal through their idea of it’s usefulness in disposing of body fluids, or they look for aesthetic meaning when it is exhibited as art in an art gallery. In either case they think to remove rather than reveal an attempt to experience an object in natural form. People look for cleaver thinking rather than allow their mind to return to an original way of sensing.
Introduction: is art a product of cultural value, or reaction to a natural state of mind?
For an artist, theories of art are often seen as soul destroying. The artist senses an inner urge, which cannot be easily pictured or explained, and words seem to confound rather than clarify this experience. Of course, there are those who say no explanation is necessary; all one needs to do is to create paintings, sculpture, music, and dance, along with pottery, poems, and pop songs, for no other reason than because this is the way art has always been made. This attitude has been challenged in modern times, and the question has arisen as to whether-or-not the time honoured ways of working are capable of revealing the true nature of art.
A modern suspicion has arisen that considers aesthetic explanations to be an intellectual pursuit that cannot model the base sensation of mind that genuine artists come to know. Indeed, pioneers of modern art came to the conclusion that painting pictures, carving sculpture, composing music, choreographing dance, or any activity of this type, does not create the art experience. They began to see that both aesthetics, and the methodology artists have adopted to give art form, are products of a level of thinking that generates an artificial sense of awareness. There began a shift in art to discover a natural experience of mind that is generated by an older ‘animal’ way of sensing, but it was soon realised the intellect and all it’s workings arose to suppress this inheritance.
A natural way of sensing, that is now buried beneath our ‘higher’ thought processes, would imply the foundation of the art experience is biological rather than aesthetic, and artists would be individuals who are particularly attuned to encountering the remains of this ‘animal’ sensation in their view of the world. This idea has shifted the concept of art away from an ethereal assertion to a physiological enquiry, and this raises a question as to whether-or-not artists create art objects to reveal a natural way of sensing, or do they unconsciously respond to make objects that suppresses the recall of a disturbance within our conscious awareness of the world? No one in the past understood the biological concept of the development of the human mind from animal beginnings, and so no one considered that the ‘high’ ideals of art could have developed to block-out an older ‘lower’ way of experiencing objects and events. It was assumed art was revealed thought the intellect, and that it had been given to us through divine intervention, but this belief has become suspect. Some modern artists now think art is a sensation of the remains of old way of formulating perception that is overpowered by the intellect, and this drove early artists to create art objects to transform their old inherent way of visualising the world into one imagined through mythical, religious, or decorative ideas. These creations encouraged an elation for artistic values that some modern artists have realised removes an encounter with a raw way of knowing the world, and any enquiry into art has to now reflect this biological insight. This requires we look to a base ‘animal’ foundation of mind as an unconscious influence behind our need to create art. Biology would suggest that artists are individuals who genetically inherit a greater influence from what little remains of a way we once sensed the world through what I call Instinctive Visualisation: which would be an animal way of comprehending objects and events void of intellectual thought. I presume that not all of us will generate recall of this sensation to the same degree as the artist, because we are not as sensitive to these impulses inherent from our origins, and so we are not compelled to take paint, clay, sound, or movement and mould these materials into the ‘higher’ order of a work of art. We don't 'feel' an overwhelming need to placate a disturbance in our ordered visual or tactile day-to-day encounters with the way our conscious mind pictures the world. We do not, therefore, feel the urge to want to modify sight, shape, sound or movement as artists do. We are just attracted to the result, but biology tells us artists create these works because they have to remove a suspicion of an underlying sensation of perception hidden behind their conscious view of the world.
Today, it has now become possible to consider that the ‘high’ order created by the traditional ways of making art arose to suppress this underlying sensation, and that disorder therefore holds the power to provoke a return of the old sensation of mind inherent from our past. We have, until modern times, been led by aesthetic considerations to believe that artists somehow reflect a value judgement of grandeur, that is miraculously embedded in pictures, sculpture, music, and dance, but this is unfounded. The aesthetic metaphysical approach to understanding art has now been challenged by our knowledge of biology, and the art experience, just like consciousness, has to be derived from the laws of physics; which rules out concepts such as spirits or a soul at work in the depth of our minds. Biology requires a purely physiological model of mind to be understood as the seat of all perceptual phenomena.
Creating objects to glorify our idea of beauty - through the making of images of landscapes, people, gods, fairies, kings, queens, or whatever - is no way to go about understanding how our minds sense the reality of the objects and events that surround us. Art objects, it seems, are a product of human imagination that craves for fantasy rather than reality, and thus art reveals we are creatures who’s minds have mutated to perform the task of creating symbols and images that remove a direct confrontation with the ‘animal’ nature from which we have emerged. Artists, like all the rest of us, have evolved a behavioural response that works to suppress these old ‘animal’ impulses, and so any recall of this experience will disturb us. It will have become a sensation we don’t know how to visualise through conscious awareness, but will still be at work in our unconscious. Biologically speaking, evolution adapts existing traits to new challenges in the environment, and modern humans did not grow new minds to replace the old ones that our ancestors had struggled to survive with, but emerged from the mutating of these old minds, and, as a result, we now unconsciously seek to find ways to suppress any return of the original impulses. A genuine artist would be an individual who is sensitive to recall of the faint echoes of these impulses, which allowed us to comprehend the world through Instinctive Visualisation, but, until the modern age, artists worked to suppress rather than reveal this influence. The requirement for the aesthetic of art has always led the artist to create attractive objects structured through the intellect, or, in other words, artists display a behavioural response that looks to remove an old inherent way of sensing from our view of the world.
With this understanding we can see that artists have, until modern times, always created art objects to destroy an experience of mind that generates a sense of uncertainty and chaos, and they have done this by taking material - paint, clay, etc. - and modelling an intellectual product of mythical, religious, or decorative value. They have, as Morse Peckham pointed out, created an ordered meaningful object to offset man’s rage for chaos, (Peckham, 1965) and this desire for order in art, as in life, attracts us. We look for things that comfort us rather than disturb us, and we group these things into categorisations of objects that are classed into certain types by their similarity of appearance. (Lakoff, 1987) In the arts, this need for categorisation has always been upheld as a value judgement of aesthetic qualities that it was assumed defined the subject of art as a philosophy of beauty taken from the sum total of all objects made by human hand. (Gombrich, 1950)
Without knowledge of our ‘animal’ past neither artist or aesthetician questioned this belief, and beauty in nature, it was thought, must be the outcome of the hand of God at work behind all things. Artists, like priests, believed Nature displayed evidence of design through purposeful creation, but, today, this belief has been superseded by the concept of evolution. This concept now sees purposeful design in nature as an illusion, with thinking on the subject now directed to the complexities of living organisms as having arisen as a consequence of a continuous struggle between the need to uphold a level of energy – found in the form of food and sunlight – and to avoid being found as food. This creates a continuous pressure upon living things that spurs the evolution of more and more complex forms. In aesthetics the post-modern view of art sees our bias to discern beauty needs to be replaced with a theory that reflects the evolutionary model of nature; which requires understanding that nature, in all her guises, displays no value judgements. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, because nature is not concerned with appearance, but only functionality that can gain an advantage in the struggle for survival through a complex interaction of biological structures. Our attraction to what we call ‘beautiful things’ should not be thought of as an aesthetic consideration, but more like a biological response that drives us to seek perfection of form to remove the uncertainty of a return to the less successful sense of ‘animal’ instinct. We seek out patterns of integrity, stability, and beauty in our lives because they are advantageous, and not, as the ancients thought, because these qualities had been placed in nature through divine guidance for our pleasure. Today, Nature is considered to be an event without value judgement, where complexity emerges from mutation (Nei, 2013) and life is upheld as a balance of energy that works to maintain quantum (Al-Khalili/McFadden, 2015) in a universe that wants to return to dead cold stillness ( Krause, 2012). In this scenario life is forever trying to gain more energy that, in turn, propels growth that tries to consume more of the environment in the form of heat and work, and, here on Earth, where energy from the Sun is trapped by the planets and the atmosphere, this struggle results in a balanced tempo of life (Colinvaux, 1978) where metabolic rate gives creatures an almost linear relationship between body mass and energy use. (Whitfield, 2006)
All this excludes aesthetic consideration, which is purely an intellectual illusion, and from the biological point of view, art is not a statement about purposeful design, but a trait that seeks to find assurance in order. In nature we are surrounded by uncertainty, (Parsons 2008) and the fact that we create art is because we crave for an artificial sensation of mind that removes uncertainty from our lives. We mow our grass, and cultivate our gardens to stop the entangled struggle for existence that would, if left untended, return to disrupt our illusion of order, and we seek to generate energy like no other living things, that, through our machines, allows us to move effortlessly across the planet in a way that removes the reality of our true place in nature from our thoughts. We have evolved into unnatural creatures who seek to find and consume the animals and materials that have accumulated upon this world, and we do so at an ever increasing rate because the advantage in life is to find and consume more and more energy (Mason, 2004). Life wants to consume the environment because the ‘will’ of the universe is to return to dead cold stillness, but nature finds a balanced equilibrium in this scenario. Nature, like the Sun that supplies energy in the form of light and heat, generates a reaction within a closed ecosystems between the material that is available to be consumed and the rate of consumption, (Wills, 2013) but we have yet to learn this lesson. All life arises from this balanced system to consume it, but is checked by other living things that evolve at the same rate, but we have mutated into consumers and so we pursue an underlying ‘will’ of the universe to return to dark cold stillness. Our ability to create art and design is a sign of this imbalance of mind that drives us to impose order over the natural course of events, and art has to understood as not so much a miraculous gift, but more like the result of a behavioural response. Art seems to imply we emerged from prehistory with this distinct mutation of mind beyond natural limits, and we have risen to dominate life on Earth with an unnatural trait that has given us the ability to see far beyond the ‘animal’ way of sensing the world (Wills, 1994).
To formulate a biological model of art requires this understanding of what drives us to suppress the disorder of nature, and replace it with an unnatural desire for an artificial arrangement of order. This is reflected through the artist's need to create an imagined arrangement of paint, clay, stone, sound, and movement in the form of pictures, sculpture, music, and dance. This is a very unnatural thing to do, and we need to realise that our minds are attracted to things we learn how to recognise at a conscious level of ordered thought, but repelled by any unconscious impulses – which would return our powers of perception to a natural way of sensing. This is reflected by the artists desire to transform the unrecognisable disorder of materials into recognisable ordered images, shapes, or patterns (Jung, 1968), and, biologically, this reflects the way our minds work all the time to find order in chaos to increase our control over nature. Outlining the shape of an animal on a cave wall with coloured earth, or moulding it’s form in clay, teaches you to replace your natural unconscious impulses of mind, that generate your powers of perception through instinct, with a conscious response that removes the uncertainty of having to go out into the real world and rely upon intuition to survive.
Children, when they learn to draw and paint, develop a way of thinking that gives them more control over how they conceive the real objects and events that surround them, and just as our distant ancestors did, they suppress the remains of our unconscious ‘animal’ way of sensing the world by replacing this experience with a new advantageous power of image recognition. As we mature from child to adult we begin to think of the world as less of a place we react within through blind response, and more of a place we can consciously modify. Biologically, the desire to take raw material and paint images, carve sculpture, compose music, choreograph dance, or any other number of creative activities, is the outward manifestation of this biological trait that gives us a greater sense of control over how we comprehend the world. What we learn to picture in our imagination are designed patterns that resemble outside objects and events, and this becomes the basis of a controlled way of looking. We begin to become attracted to the illusion of design, and anything that does not display this trait is rejected. In art you therefore find unrecognisable images - runs and dribbles of paint, or jumbled sounds and movements, etc. – are less popular with the general public because they provoke an unconscious return of the remains of our ‘animal’ way of sensing. Most people are unaware they possess this old way of sensing and so they are attracted to art that keeps this sensation buried behind their love of pretty pictures, nice music, attractive dance, etc.
It is my belief that artists, before they begin a work, sense a greater degree of disorder in paint, clay, sound, or movement, and they respond to this provocative sensation by creating a greater degree of order by rearranging these materials into recognisable pictures, sculpture, music, or dance. This has always formed the basis of the aesthetic of art, but we have to realise the artist has always done this to unknowingly remove an old inherent experience of mind. The raw paint, or clay, etc. exposed the sensitive mind of the artist to a glimpse of the remains of the ‘animal’ way of sensing our ancestors lived with, but, like all of us, the artist responds to suppress this disturbance. Up until modern times no artist looked to create a greater sense of disorder in art so that their work could be used to provoke a return of this ‘animal’ insight. This was because of two things; (1) no one had any idea we inherit an older way of sensing objects and events from our ‘animal’ origins, and; (2) skill at producing controlled output suppresses this insight and becomes more desirable than unskilled results. This behaviour has created a world full of objects classed as art by their ability to display a greater sensation of controlled ordered imagery that works to remove the remains of an older way of sensing, and, biologically, this has not occurred because artists seek to reveal an aesthetic of beauty in the world, but because they work to remove the disruption of the opposite effect. This idea bases its premise on the concept of evolution; which implies we possess a foundation of mind that has mutated into higher order consciousness to subdue the remains of an old instinctive power of perception. We are creatures that act to impose our intelligent command of thought over what was once a direct experience of the world, and art is one of many ways in which this response was, until our age, upheld. Art, in the traditional sense of the word, creates an ordered experience of an object that aesthetics identifies through certain intellectual refinements of technique, but this way of thinking has always excluded a disordered sensation being presented through raw vision. The aesthetician sees art as a value judgement, but modern art challenges this assumption by looking to the ‘crude’ object to bring recall of the remains of a ‘lower’ animal experience of mind. Remember, our survival trait is to be attracted to things we recognise – which in art manifests into a search for beautiful things – and to be repelled by things we fail to recognise – which in art would be a crude ugly result. By allowing disorder into the creation of an art object some modern artists contaminate the traditional concept of the aesthetic of beauty with ‘crude’ things, which provokes a return to mind of the older inherent way of sensing. This requires we look at an object or event without the imposition of intellectual ordered thinking, and the artist has to work to create, or find, objects that remove the values that we expect to identify as ‘art’ through our higher order consciousness.
The traditional concept of art – by which I mean the classification of cultural products that arose from the Shang, Minoan, Egyptian, Indian and Sumerian civilisations, and is upheld today through the traditional techniques of canvas painting, ornamental and formal sculpture, music and opera, film, play acting, etc. – has never allowed disorder to be considered an essential component of the art experience. An inartistic object has always been excluded from the classification of type, and, therefore, ‘art’ has been defined by objects created to enforce intellectual ordered thinking rather than as an insight into the remains of our ‘unlearned’ natural powers of observation. The artist has always adhered to an aesthetic created through a controlled interaction with materials - paint, clay, sound, or movement, etc. - using higher order consciousness, however, if art is theorised as a biological behavioural response then the aesthetic has arisen to suppress an older state of mind. This ‘inner’ experience has now become an unconscious sensation behind our day-to-day encounters with objects and events, and when we fail to recognise something this unconscious sensation begins to return and disturbs our conscious levels of awareness.
Anti-Art becomes one way to remove the entrenched command for order in art, and we begin to ‘feel’ the return of our old ‘animal’ power of instinctive awareness when these disruptive objects are placed into the categorisation of art. We reject the in-artistic result without realising this is a behavioural response of the intellect that seeks to remove recall of our old ‘animal’ way of sensing that the anti-art object creates. This would imply traditional methods of workmanship block an experience that can only be touched upon when the aesthetic is missing from what we see; i.e. when the ‘art’ object no longer upholds the classification of type. Confronted by an object that is difficult to recognise as ‘art’ forces our mind to revert to an older inherent way of sensing through instinct, but the controlled way of creating art – making recognisable images, shapes, etc. – has always removed this experience. Filling art full of ideals of skilled creative workmanship and meaningful intellectual content stops the instinctive view emerging, and the expectation of what art should look like has always overpowered an underlying view. Today, some modern artists now look to reveal this underlying view, and, to do this, these artists have to present found or natural objects as art: i.e. objects that exclude high order conscious interaction with material and do not fit into the traditional idea of art. This type of art, by defying categorisation, has to be understood as an attempt to make works that provoke recall of an underlying sensation of mind.
The modern concept of art states that the cultural meaning looked for in the value judgements of aesthetics upholds skill and learning rather than an exploration of inner sensation, and the requirement in art has, until now, always been for an artist to create an object that adheres to tradition to suppresses an older arena of the mind. By removing the criteria of judgement of what is, or is not art, the artist opens up the concept to the wider implications of a need to understand the subject as a biological response. A reaction to an ‘animal’ way of sensing that has now become an unconscious influence behind our powers of observation, and what artists in the past never realised, and what many artists today still fail to grasp, is that art arose to remove any recall of this experience. Artists have, until modern times, acted to banish Instinctive Visualisation from their work by their command of technique, and, therefore, artists have created objects that generate an artificial product that reflects high order thinking to stop recall of a natural biological encounter with sight, shape, sound, or movement.
Today, artists can be divided into two types: we find artists who adhere to a socio/economic high order conscious model of art: these artists work to create a controlled skilled product that is easy to recognise and categorise. The second type of artist looks away from this need for control and skill because they realise these techniques developed to stop any influence from what remains of our old arena of ‘animal’ mind being explored. Today, we therefore find artists who uphold the socio/economic model of art, and artists who seek to disrupt it. The disruptive artist acts by instinct rather than manufacture a cultivated object of intellectual learning, but even in this day and age, with our understanding of evolution and the inheritance of an ‘animal’ foundation of mind, any artist working to provoke Instinctive Visualisation is not seen to be promoting a popular interpretation of what an artist should be doing. Most prefer to define their understanding of art based upon objects that uphold and display educated learned techniques rather than intuitive actions, however, believing learned techniques create art is an a prior assumption. It takes for granted that art is a cultural product attained through making paintings, sculpture, music, dance, films, etc. rather than a natural experience of mind. The cultural concept of art predisposes what art is about, and their is no foundation for asserting that art has anything to do with culture. The alternate biological argument would imply that creating art objects arose in prehistory to help us overpower an old inherent way of perception, and this implies that the cause of art has now become an unconscious experience behind conscious awareness. This makes art an unidentified ‘feeling’ that our ordered view of the world hides, but to look at this ‘feeling’ requires removing the sense of order that has always been associated to the idea of art. Artists suppress an underlying experience of mind provoked by the sensation of disorder, and they do this by taking raw material and modelling it into a controlled ordered pattern of sight, shape, sound, and movement, and this working procedure has always been thought to create art not suppress it.
The socio/economic model of art states that an artist creates the art experience by making a work of conscious intellectual worth, and this belief probably arose because people in prehistory did not know they acted to remove the remains of an older way of sensing through ‘animal’ instinct. There was no concept of evolution in prehistory, nor a psychology of perception, and what became the traditional definition of art – the refined awareness that drives an artist to arrange paint into pictures, stone into sculpture, sound into music, or movement into dance, etc. – became associated with cultural ideas rather than the suppressing of raw response. The earliest ideas in art reflecting a belief in a ‘spiritual’ vision of nature rather than a biological ‘animal’ insight, and, over time, this developed into a requirement for images in temples, churches, mosques, palaces, museums, or homes. The biological ‘animal’ insight of the artist was overshadowed by these socio/economic demands, and art became a product used by the tribe, the church, and the state.
Artists who understand art as a suppressive act of a natural biological urge will work to avoid the socio/economic model, and, in place of this distraction, they will look to provoke a return of raw experience through Instinctive Visualisation. This is a modern point of view, and requires art abandons traditional working method, but even now the prevailing belief is that art is about attaining ‘high’ values, not removing them. Art has always been a tool that encourages us to look away from raw experience; with the art object being used to transport peoples thoughts beyond raw ‘animal’ experience, and today we find television and cinema have now become the preferred socio/economic retreat. Until our age art theory has never looked to a biological causation behind our need for art. It was never imagined that our minds are built out of raw ‘animal’ impulses, nor was it understood that we all, artist or not, still generate these impulses that our distant ancestors have passed down to us in the deepest oldest arena of our minds. Most of us never ‘feel’ the call of these long lost impulses because we bury them beneath our learned intelligent powers of observation, and artists in the past created objects that helped us do this; they worked to portray a controlled vision of the world rather than raw response. Today, some artists are beginning to realise the art experience could be faint recall of an ancient insight into the remains of how our minds once sensed the world in a direct intuitive way, and the challenge, for these individuals, becomes one of creating art that provokes, rather than subdues, this old inherent way of experiencing objects and events.
Art as a behavioural response to recall of Instinctive Visualisation requires thinking beyond the philosophical model that dictates art is intrinsically bound to aesthetics. Monroe Beardsley (1958) moved aesthetics from its object orientated roots to being considered a quality of the viewers mind, which made a start, but to say the sensation artist's experience is the remains of a way of looking that has now become an unconscious inheritance of ‘animal’ impulse requires more commitment. Beardsley advanced upon Emanuel Kant (1790) who considered the key features of a aesthetic object to be the result of ‘judgement of taste’ with the idea of beauty being a conceptual event rather than a ‘quality’ to be found in the outside world. However, I doubt Kant would have imagined this conceptual event was a survival trait generated by the mind to STOP recall of an old way of sensing inherent from our ‘animal’ origins. Philosophy had to wait for Charles Darwin (1859) before theories began to be advanced that considered the nature of raw response to be a biological influence at work behind our aesthetic sensibilities (Peckham. 1965).
Originally, the aesthetic was thought to be an integral part of material things that had somehow been miraculously designed into the universe, however, this creates problems as it requires acceptance of a godhead; which demands a vision of the universe to be built on faith rather than empirical proof of concept. Beardsley offered a nice solution to this paradox by removing the value judgement of the aesthetic from the outside world and placing inside our minds. Art becomes a biological survival trait that arose from a mutation of mind that found it was advantageous to be able to distinguish ordered patterns in the environment rather than to react through blind response, and this creates an illusion of the quality of certain types of object that we are attracted to. We have evolved minds that look for ordered patterns that generates the illusion that there are beautiful things in the universe because they attract us more than disordered things. To counter this bias towards beauty in art modern artists turned to anti-art as a way to provoke a return of a level of mind we once lived with before this desire for pattern recognition emerged to dominate of powers of perception. From the modern point of view art becomes less a matter of how skilful or cleaver you are at creating quality images or composing sounds, and more like how perceptive you are to recall of Instinctive Visualisation. From this point of view there simply is no difference between the Michaelangelo masterpieces in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican in Rome, or Duchamp’s Fountain. The criticism of artistic merit – the judgement of taste - becomes a behavioural response that sees that Michelangelo was working harder than Duchamp to remove a return of ‘animal’ impulses from his mind. Educated thinking, like learned technique and religious belief, fill the mind full of assurances that dictate what pleases us by directing our thoughts towards a refined artificial sense of order in the world. The biological view is that Instinctive Visualisation rather than Learned Knowledge is the key to a true art experience, but we suppress the former sensation and promote the later, or, in other words, we are attracted to order over chaos because it gives us an advantage in the struggle for survival. Biology now tells us art must be a sensation generated at a natural level of mind – which holds no value judgement - that our educated way of thinking works to remove from our day-to-day powers of perception.
The idea of art as suppression of Instinctive Visualisation is a major problem for aesthetics because it requires ANY object to be called art. The criteria shifts from an intellectual quality of design, to a search for a way to recover sensations that our intellect works to remove from our encounters with objects and events. Aesthetics is concerned with judgement of taste, but art as recall of Instinctive Visualisation has to avoid these considerations; it has to look to an individuals sensitivity to an inner arena of mind inherent from their distant ‘animal’ origins. As such, the working method would have to be void of aesthetic or intellectual thinking, and this is why many modern artists throw paint rather than guide it. They work outside traditional technique to push your established learned values to one side – your aesthetic – in order to open your mind to an ‘inner’ experience of recall of what little remains of your natural response. Perhaps learned thinking will always destroy the art experience rather than reveal it, and only the artist knows the inherent sensation of mind that is true to nature in her, or his, genes. As the Jazz musician Louie Armstrong (1901-1971) once remarked when asked what he thought jazz was about, ‘man, if you have to ask what it is you’ll never know’. Try to understand art as recall of an old inherent natural experience of ANY object or event, rather than art as an intellectual achievement reflected through a specific type of object built from higher order thinking.
In Part One we will look to prehistory. Here we find the evolution of our conscious mind was emerging to replace the animal experience our ancestors lived with, and artists, being perceptive individuals, would have sensed this transformation more than others. They would have been disturbed as their original animal way of sensing began to be suppressed by their emerging intelligent mind, and I assert it was this sense of disruption that drove some individuals to paint pictures, carve sculpture, compose music, or choreograph dance. Artists retained the ‘feeling’ of the loss of our original ‘animal’ way of sensing the world, but our intelligent powers of observation did not evolve to preserve this old view. We mutated into creatures with minds that seek to remove the animal view and replace it with an intelligent ‘learned’ way of sensing our surroundings. Because of this we ONLY know now to look at objects and events through our ‘high’ powers of intellect, and we now respond to suppress an old way of looking at the world. What emerges into our conscious level of thought is an experience of mind that destroys the original view, and artists who fail to realise this will be driven to take paint, clay, sound and movement and rearrange these materials into pictures, sculpture, music, or dance, because they will unconsciously respond to suppresses the rawness of their original ‘animal’ experience of mind.
Part Two looks at how this unconscious behavioural response created art objects that were adopted for socio-economic use. Art became a product of learned technique and commercial enterprise rather than provocateur of raw insight, and because no one before modern times had any idea we had evolved from animal origins, no one questioned the modus-operandi. No one challenged the learned ways of working, and, therefore, artists in the past upheld ‘high’ ideals rather than the ‘lower’ vision of what little remains of primal impulse. I will state that artists have, until modern times, always worked to deaden any recall of an older ‘raw’ way of sensing because, presumably, they believed art was a miraculous gift of ‘spiritual’ influence rather than a behavioural response of ‘biological’ origin. Also, presumably, we are attracted to the intellectual ordering of art because this directs us to look away from what little remains of the rawness of our old instinctive ‘animal’ experience of mind, and in supplying us with designed art objects the artist enforces this unconscious need. In this scenario, the artist is creating an object to uphold an artificial way of sensing the world to STOP any remains of a natural view being provoked. The artist might believe they create because they have talent that comes from ethereal influence, and they may learn great skills to make art - or just make art because it can be hyped to make money in the marketplace - but behind this surface activity is an unconscious response that looks to suppress any recall of a redundant power of perception inherent from our animal origins. Useful, or ‘pleasing’ art never provokes a return of primal impulse and gets used for other reasons; adorning churches with biblical images, creating landscape pictures, or ‘pop’ images of tins of soup to decorate the walls of our homes, etc. This creates a demand for art as a ‘useful’ object, and artists also occupy their time painting portraits to exhibit in museums, or musical performances to entertain us in concert halls. All this ‘art’ is full of ‘high’ ideals of perfection and ethereal beliefs that direct our minds to look away from the ‘low’ raw animal experience that underlies our conscious awareness.
By Part Three my plan is to realise that some perceptive artists come to see that art can be a tool for the exploration into what little remains of our animal mind. Individuals who have realised artists have always been driven to impose more order and control into their view of the world to placate primal impulse. Society encouraged artists to act this way because no one had any idea our minds rested upon an inheritance of animal powers of instinct. Artists in the past worked to direct our thoughts to a ‘higher’ vision of mind rather than a ‘lower’ experience, and they did this because, just like all the rest of us, we have all evolved into creatures who purge our minds of any recall of raw inherent sensations. Today, this working procedure has been challenged, and for the first time in the history of art you find some modern artists create disturbing work that provokes from the depth of our minds a return of stray impulses that remain from an innate, but redundant, animal sense of rawness. What distinguishes these moderns from all the rest is that, with greater recall of the underlying sensation, they work to expose us to the truth of our ‘animal’ nature, rather than, as the majority of traditional artists have always done, work to suppress it.
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This book is in progress ......