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On Interpretation & Interaction

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People who look for symbolic meanings fail to grasp the inherent poetry and mystery of the image. — Magritte

Magritte’s thesis represents one possible position in the perception of art; there are others. Magritte clove to this nearly his whole artistic life. But other artists have chosen to enter into, to interact with, the universe of discourse and interpretation proceeding from the minds of their viewers. For many of these artists, connection with their viewers is central to art-making, and they interest themselves passionately in what those viewers think and feel about the art they observe.

Hamlet’s Mill (2010) Digital Collage Artwork & description created & copyright  by Eric Edelman. All rights reserved.

Each of us makes a kind of unconscious contract with an artist whose works we perceive. This contract is founded upon the principle that every act of perception is an act of creation: the consciousness of the observer takes all sense impressions (perceptions) of any external object and fashions them into an experience of the object. But such experience must necessarily be filtered through the life experience, emotions, and intellect of each observer — a grand collage of influences. Whether put into words or not, this experience is a creation in itself. Both viewer and artist participate in the creation of an artwork. And viewer interpretations or explanations of art need not strip away its mystery.

In his 1921 poem “Tea at the Palaz of Hoon,” Wallace Stevens describes this experience:

Not less because in purple I descended
The western day through what you called
The loneliest air, not less was I myself.
What was the ointment sprinkled on my beard?
What were the hymns that buzzed beside my ears?
What was the sea whose tide swept through me there?
Out of my mind the golden ointment rained,
And my ears made the blowing hymns they heard.
I was myself the compass of that sea:
I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw
Or heard or felt came not but from myself;
And there I found myself more truly and more strange.

We are the world in which we walk; we make this world. Moreover, since we participate in the creation of the art we see, we will continue to associate with this art those symbols and symbolism that are important to us, in an effort to grasp what is true and strange — even in worlds we ourselves create.

 

(All artwork, descriptions, & other text created & copyright © by Eric Edelman. All rights reserved.)

15 Comments… add one

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15 comments… add one
Laurie Harrison February 23, 2011, 7:10 am

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Eric Edelman February 23, 2011, 4:14 pm

Thanks for visiting. Will do

April February 23, 2011, 1:41 pm

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Eric Edelman February 23, 2011, 4:15 pm

Will do

Tomas February 24, 2011, 5:58 am

It is the feedbacks that feed the artists and enable them to continue to smell the wondrous colors of the light. It is your comments that talk in the pictures we all rejoice at. I feel myself the blessed with an opportunity to follow you/to become the participant of the fiesta that starts at a moment we share our heart with other. I linked as my Art by Tomas as all other 7 blogs to you. Hope my pictures will become ours-will be refreshed by our recognition of ourselves in each other. Best wishes from http://artbytomas.blogspot.com/ congratulations from http://arthiker.wordpress.com/ Welcome to http://artmirror.blogspot.com/ and all other Tomas Karkalas’ locations on a web

Tomas Karkalas February 24, 2011, 8:46 am

We are happy to link- we are grateful for such wonderful help to break through the silence. Tomas Karkalas is proud of welcoming you to Modus Vivendi. Just click on http://trustlight.blogspot.com/
Best wishes from http://artbytomas.blogspot.com/

Eric Edelman February 25, 2011, 1:17 am

Thanks for your kind comments, Tomas, and for linking to our site. We will be linking to your site as well, in a few days. I continue to enjoy experiencing your pictures and look forward to seeing your future work.

Con Artist Trickster February 24, 2011, 9:57 pm

I guess that’s what makes art as one of the most complex, exciting, and unexplainable (or at least hard to explain) things in the world.

Eric Edelman February 25, 2011, 1:30 am

Yes, art is one of those things. And no amount of explanation will ever decrease its mystery, which persists in spite of understanding.

Francis Hunt February 25, 2011, 10:29 am

It’s always about communication, isn’t it. The work of art is the point of meeting between the artist and the observer – even when the artist has usually moved on. Dialogue between two imaginations …

Eric Edelman February 27, 2011, 2:57 am

Yes, it is always about communication. For many years, I’ve felt strongly that every observer’s opinions, and impressions about an artwork carried information of inestimable value, material I could learn much from if I stayed receptive to it. Even non-verbal reactions (witnessed by standing at some distance to my artwork on display) gave me valuable feedback. This doesn’t mean that I took all remarks observers made about my work as gospel truth, but that there was value in hearing and sifting through them. My personal opinion (in terms of communication) is that artists who are entirely uninterested in what observers of their work say or feel about it are like people who make telephone calls to deliver information, but hang up the instant the parties on the other end of the line start to talk. How many potentially imaginative, inspirational opportunities such artists miss thereby! Thanks for posting.

Grandma Betty February 26, 2011, 3:15 pm

Thanks for stopping by Eric! Love seeing your work, leave a linkie anytime!

Eric Edelman February 27, 2011, 2:59 am

Thanks for your visit and the nice comment! Will do.

Free Radio FM February 27, 2011, 12:14 pm

I really do not understand this post but I am glad to read it

Eric Edelman February 27, 2011, 9:14 pm

Thanks for your comment. Basically this blog post was about the communication between an artist and his audience, and the different ways artists treat that communication. Some artists regard it as being of little value, some find it an important source of inspiration. I was putting forward my opinion that the viewer of an artwork helps “create” that artwork by the act of viewing it, just as someone hearing music helps create that music. There is a “contract” or agreement between an artist and a viewer, and somewhere between art-making and art-viewing, the artwork is born. Never mind that one or both of them are unconscious of this agreement; it exists anyway.

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