If a parrot perched on Jesus` shoulder were to repeat haphazardly “turn thy other cheek” , would it be a wise bird?
Likewise if we lecture people on what constitutes a painting, a sculpture or a dance performance but not what is Art, will they be able to detect it outside the gallery, the stage or the museum`s walls? Are we nurturing the faculty of independent thought?
Art is the arrangement of symbols, often mundane and prosaic in and of themselves, in order to create beauty, or in technical terms, provide aesthetic experience for the viewer. In addition, as important as that function alone is in beautifying and giving pleasure to the otherwise monotonous rumblings of the cogs of existence, Art also has a function to instruct, to reveal hidden truths. Yet it delivers knowledge not in a logical way like science or philosophy, but much akin to an instantaneous revelation, often bypassing the conscious mind, resembling religious experience.
Thus anything has the potential to become Art but not everything is Art. If this simple lesson could be taught, much of the works present within museums could be thrown out and likewise, more importantly, the entire world could potentially become a museum if only we trained our eyes to see Art as it really is. Perhaps this is what the German artist Joseph Beuys was getting at when he yearned for an utopian future where all could become artists.
This is the affliction of Net Art nowadays. Although many artists are making wonderful artworks in the virtual, dematerialized realm of cyberspace, the population by and large (including here the sworn art lovers) pass it without a sign of recognition. If we taught people the essence of what constitutes Art we wouldn’t need to tell them that a webpage can be so, or a search engine, or an Animated GIF. We wouldn’t need frames, gallery walls, captions, nor velvet knotted ropes as the trained eye and refined spirit would instantaneously recognise the fragrance and the sweet embrace of beauty and the enrichment of aesthetical experience.
Pieter Bruegel`s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus is for me the emblem, a perfect allegory of Net Art in 2015. A thing of beauty, a lesson that could lift mankind higher up the evolutionary spiritual ladder unveils yet goes unnoticed by the ploughman or the fisherman who look the other way. The tragic splash of unseen beauty is a like a beautiful woman`s kiss thrown to the wind in an empty moor.
Only lift thy head, don’t look around but see.
You will find that art is everywhere and mostly absent where it is told to be.