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.”