Month: June 2015

Art and the the manipulation of the mind

Art artificially manipulates the mind. The artist uses symbols, colors, shapes, timing, angles, sounds, word play and other techniques to play on the audience’s psychology, subconscious, emotions, audio and optical physiology and internal sensory processing systems. One significant point about this is that it shows that the mind can be artificially manipulated.

That humans can be effected by the fake of art, the artificial– sometimes even more so than reality– says something significant about the reliability of human aesthetic perception. Human emotions and psychology being a direct path to, or identifier of, larger objective truths is at best a dubious notion.

The famed University College London neurobiology professor Semir Zeki said that, whether they realize it or not, great artists are neuroscientists, because they experiment with and employ techniques to manipulate and influence the viewer and/or listener’s mind.

“Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theater.”– movie director Roman Polanski

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Picasso and the relevance of beauty in his art

Picasso said he wasn’t always trying to make a work that was beautiful– his focus was sometimes on other qualities and things–, and he considered the expected cliched commentaries about the work’s beauty, or lack thereof, to be missing the point.

Many of his cubist works were trying to depict three dimensions in a two dimensional plane– an aesthetic and philosophical dilemma that, really, exists in all two dimensional artworks. Some of his cubist works tried to depict the passage of time in a still image– another interesting and unsolvable aesthetics problem that exists in all still art, even so-called realistic art.

I don’t like Picasso on the ‘pretty’ level and wouldn’t hang one on my wall, but his works bring up significant philosophic, aesthetic and cognitive science questions. All human perceptions and representations of reality are limited, distorted and filled with paradoxes, and his is just a different representation from a different informational angle. So called ‘realistic’ art is filled with smoke and mirrors, tricks and visual illusions.

If one looks at a Picasso work as a philosophic thing, the question of “Is it beautiful or not?” becomes “Is whether or not it’s beautiful a relevant question?” Many artworks are trying to express something other than beauty. Clearly, Munch’s Scream is trying express something other than beauty– and most would say it does a good job at it.

Further, it begs the question of ‘Is it art?’ a worthwhile question.