Art must have meaning?

Art has never been so freeing, as it is today. The definition of art is being changed, stretched and overhauled by the second. And yet one defining identity of art has survived ages – meaning.

But will it survive any longer?

Even in the present era of outside-the-box art, an intended meaning is quintessential to any piece. Every installation and painting has to convey a meaning. And to that effect, a meaning must be intended by the artist. So if I, by pure chance, happen to drop a bottle of ink on a paper – the blot of ink so formed can’t be considered art. Because there is no meaning to it, neither was any intended by its artist.

So it is settled then. Art must have meaning. Or should it?

Unlike other professions, Art is a viewer’s medium. The success of an artwork depends upon the viewer. This makes it entire impossible to create something that is truly meaningless.

Consider this. I fancy myself as an artist. Say, I choose 3 random colours. And then I go on to selecting 3 random shapes. Then, with my eyes blindfolded, I compose these shapes onto the canvas with the predetermined shades. After I open my eyes, the image in front of me wouldn’t make a penny worth of sense. But show the same to a random viewer from anywhere around the world. He might find meaning in the random arrangement, even if the artist did not intend any meaning. This is due to the human tendency to conjure up connections between unconnected objects – much like people discovering the face of Jesus in a cut potato. The human brain finds it difficult to process the concept of coincidence – it has to find meaning in everything.

And if art is a viewer’s medium, then there’s meaning even where an artist doesn’t intend meaning. This means that art can be meaningless and even accidental.

In my personal opinion, a logical path to understanding the concept of art can only lead to a dark forest without a moon. It is best that we leave art to grow and change as it sees fit.

In ceremonious conclusion,what Churchill said about Russia, certainly qualifies for art – “A riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”

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Piano – A Composer’s Choice

Music composers are magicians. They create magic that can’t be seen. It can only be heard. But the instrument behind that magic is a worldwide standard. Unlike magicians who have a variety of contraptions and techniques, music composers rely on a single instrument – The Piano.

In recent days, I’ve been learning to play the flute. And since a flute has only about 6 to 7 holes, you have to produce variations in pitch by making changes in the way you blow into the flute. So effectively, at a time, you have to take care of two variables at a time. So your brain is working hard just to play a tune right. Now try to compose on a flute. You’ll find it mentally exhausting.

Now let’s switch the instrument to a Piano.

The Piano is a much simpler instrument. It has 88 keys in which all the pitched variations of the 7 notes are included. So while you play a piano, you have to worry about just a single variable – the key you press. That’s it. And by varying the combinations of keys pressed, you can produce beautiful compositions. Even richer sounds can be produced by using 2 octaves (pitch variations) at the same time.

So let’s analyse the piano in the least time consuming way possible!

Simple to operate – check

Can produce complex compositions – check

It is obvious now, why composers the world over prefer the piano. It beats all other instruments in simplicity. It breaks the record in classiness and most of all, the piano doesn’t produce music. It makes magic for the ears.

Art is Glamorous. Engineering isn’t.

Let’s talk about the two extremes of creativity – Art & Engineering. What is your opinion of the two? Which of those you think is cool? Going by the general opinion, you might have most probably said art. And I respect your opinion. Everyone has the right to keep one about everything. But as the self proclaimed middle man between art and engineering, I must push you into thinking about why ‘Art seems cool and Engineering doesn’t?’

To continue our discussion, we must head to the Paleolithic Era. Back then, cave paintings were the rage. Every cave shelter had walls embellished with scenes of hunting, gatherings and other facets of paleolithic life. So in such a stone age settlement, two shelters announced that they had a great news! One of the shelters was inaugurating a cave painting. The other was going to introduce something that would make travelling more easier.

You can guess which event gathered the most visitors.

People flocked to see the unveiling of the ‘Wheel’. The cave painting vanished into history and was never found again. Until millennia later, in the modern world. They were appreciated by the whole human population. Because by then, good paintings were a rarity. As was easy travel in the stone age.

Conclusion

The wheel in this story is the engineering. And the cave paintings are the art. Engineering was glamorous back then as it was rare. Cave paintings adorned every wall and hence weren’t considered as glamorous. In the present, Engineering is everywhere. And in a world where ground breaking technologies pop up at the second, good art is rare. And hence the general opinion that ‘Art is glamorous, Engineering isn’t.’

So if you take away anything from this post, please let it be this – What’s glamorous now, will become boring with time. And the cycle will continue its infinite path. And in the face of such fluctuation opinion, we must remain objectively logical.

 

Old Cars tell many tales

It was a dark time in my life. And as usual,  I dealt with the situation by walking it out.  Walking always clears my mind and brings me at peace.

That night,  I saw this run down SUV draped in a plastic sheet. And to be frank,  no great euphemism or metaphor came to mind. The vehicle looked beautiful in that state.  So I captured it with my cellphone camera.

The condition of the car was beyond repair.  Every surface that made the car, was dented.  Its bumper was barely attached to the car.  From what I could see,  it looked like the car had suffered a severe blow to the right side of the Bonnet. The unattached bumper and the relatively unharmed doors on the right side suggest that after the bonnet was hit on the right,  the car swerved to the right and collided into something, may be a divider or another car. 

But since the left side of the car wasn’t visible,  what I’ve said is just an ambitiously speculative deduction. 

Anyway,  what ever the truer tale may be,  I found the case of the shrouded SUV intriguing enough to ink the beauty on paper.