• A position statement on the topic "Rethinking Art

A position statement on the topic "Rethinking Art

The editors of AVENUE, Corinna Virchow and Mario Kaiser, are planning a project entitled "Rethinking Art". They are thinking of saying "bye bye" to the "timeless work" and discussing a "different aesthetic".

Art cannot be rethought because art is link in the middle between religion and science. We don't have other fields. These are the areas within which man acts. They cannot be circumvented - they are given by nature. They occur together with the human being in such a way that he/she

- experiences and exercises his/her powers of faith within the religious,

- educates and executes his/her power of form within art, and

- in science follows his/her curiosity to gain knowledge about the world in which he/she lives.

“Through art, humans establish the realm of form in the middle between the realm of the senses and the realm of reason. Thereby, man brings order into chaos." (Martin Rabe, born 1942)

Thus art, or more precisely our artistic power, cannot be renewed. It is a given.

The so-called timelessness of art is a popular expression that does not have any meaning. No artist has ever claimed to create for infinity.

Firstly, this is not possible because of the material. The artist's material is bound to finiteness, as is all life on earth. In this respect, it is limited by being finite.

Secondly, this is an old assertion that is mainly polemical and has its origins in the misunderstanding of an important aesthetic category. This category captures the fact of the "internal infinity of a work of art". So the phenomenon of infinity is within the work of art and not outside of it. This corresponds to the nature of the work of art, which is an open system of signs and receives its statement through the relationship between the work and the recipient. The subjective experience of the respective recipient is unique in each moment and cannot be repeated. It is an infinite experience for an infinite number of people. The source of infinity is the openness of the work over centuries and for all recipients. It is simply infinite. This is the essence of the work of art and does not come from an artist's intention. As a result, it remains open to reinterpretation over the centuries.

A composition, for example, is always the transcription of a musical idea that can be reinterpreted over centuries. Pictures are also the transcription of an artistic idea and therefore, according to the nature of the idea, it is always open to new experience and understanding.

The general misunderstanding of the so-called "genius" concept can also be pointed out here. No artist was convinced that he was a genius. Not even Leonardo.

We might consider, "is it possible to rethink what a work of art is?"

This is also not possible because by definition it is not possible to explain what a work of art is. It relies on the experience of the individual subject in freedom, as explained earlier.

"Great art provides us with eyes for something we could not see before. Small art only changes the shape of what exists" said philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889 -1976).

We can have a debate about the mode of existence and being of art and thereby approach the subject of what a work of art is. What is meant by this is HOW art appears. What makes a work of art a work of art is up to the recipient, and quite subjectively. If people are enthusiastic about a work of art and this over a long period of time, such as for Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa"(painted ca. 1503-06), then we can agree that it is probably great art.

Now to aesthetics:

Aesthetics is about the elementary tension between vividness and conceptuality, between image and reflection (viewer).

We could take the aesthetic categories of Immanuel Kant (1724 -1804) from "Kritik der Urteilskraft" as a basis on which it is possible to conduct the debate. Unfortunately, his categories are rarely taught anymore because they are mistakenly considered outdated.

The new thing in aesthetics would be to prove that one has understood and applied the existing aesthetics of the last approx. 2500 years (about 76 texts). Starting with Plato's "Symposion" (ca. 450 B.C.), the best and ending with the stupidest, here I am referring to Max Bense (1910 -1990), Stuttgart. To name just one of the greatest errors since the 1960s in the field of modern aesthetics: his so-called "information-theoretical aesthetics" (1965) to which a whole generation of students fell prey, even though they understood nothing of what he was teaching. It was therefore only revealed as an aesthetic dead end 20 years later. Nevertheless, his confused ideas are still in the minds of many aestheticians.

It also gained influence among designers and artists, but above all among art teachers. Conspicuous here to this day is the Center for Art and Media Technology Karlsruhe (Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie), and its tendency to evaluate works of art algorithmically on the basis of representations of huge amounts of data (erroneously called "information") and "generational design" with programmes on a computer of complex parameter settings. These are sign processes (semiotics) in which signs are constructed and produced and then circulated and received. However, this approach completely disregards any subjective judgement by a particular observer.

Bense's aesthetics was a short-lived attempt to present a mathematically rigorous objective information-theoretical aesthetics without subjective elements. More like mathematics to algorithmically evaluate works of art. An aesthetics of the unchanging object.

More contemporary would be just the opposite: the idea of "complementarity", used to designate quantities or objects that belong together but are nevertheless mutually exclusive; for example, a magnet.

Understood in this sense, this means that every picture needs a complementary counterpart, which is in this case the recipient, who appears with equal authority as the work of art. This relationship is necessary because art that is not seen does not exist. From this point of view, numbers and algorithms make no sense, and instead of counting, narration would become significant - the pictorial space as a narrative space. The recipient is not a microphone into which the work speaks of itself.

I am concerned with returning to the living process of "aisthesis". "Aisthesis" has nothing whatsoever to do with art. It describes a method developed around 500 BC and captures the relationship between the world and man. From there, the attempt to pursue a "new aesthetics", which directs the consciousness to the "becoming process" of that which wants to take shape. To direct one's attention to that which takes place during the formation of form is the actual task of an aesthetics of the living. Not an aesthetics of "what has become"(dead), but an aesthetics of "becoming" (alive). Not an aesthetics that dictates the laws of art, but an art that determines the aesthetic process. Such an aesthetic has not yet been written. There is a proposal for it by the artist Martin Rabe (born 1942) from the year 2000.

"An aesthetic that assumes that the beautiful is a sensual effect (movement) that appears as if it were the idea does not yet exist. But such an aesthetic must be developed today. That would be a worthwhile task."

For years I have been pointing out in my newsletters that it is difficult to have a debate because there is too much ignorance on the matter. In order to experience art, one must also know about art, because only what is known can relate. Kant: "Art is subjective, but we presuppose a common sense that it is also communicable." For example, the "tomato can" by Andy Warhol (1928 -1987) is one of the canned goods we see every day. It is not an art product, because it remains attached to the everyday functional and is intended for use. Warhol did not turn it into an art object. Giving it the aura of a museum does not make it a work of art. It is the realisation that is important (the HOW). Warhol's work only represents the purpose. But intended purpose does not exist in art. The only purpose in art is its purposelessness.

Every human being has a longing for transposition to the possible, which leads beyond the mundane. Art expands our world and shows new worlds in which free thinking is possible again, this leads beyond the everyday. Art widens the world for us and shows us new freedoms we can find within.

Every week Christoph Brumme, a  59-year-old writer from East Germany, records how he experiences the war in his adopted country, Ukraine. He lives in Poltava, in the middle of the country. NZZ am Sonntag, 3 April 2022

"Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Anticipation. In a few days the gallery "Jump" is to open an exhibition of Poltava artists. Art in war, can this be? Is it okay to enjoy works of art while hundreds of thousands of people live in mortal fear two hours away by car?

But looking at beautiful pictures gives you energy. You start dreaming about what you could do after the war. Instead of shrill sirens, you hear crickets chirping; instead of burning hospitals, you see fleas dancing in the whiskey bar."

Hanno Rauterberg "And that is art?!" p. 281, 3rd edition, November 2015

"Good art, no matter what function it fulfils, lives from the need to appropriate the world and to reinvent it in the appropriation. To encounter oneself in it, but not to leave it at this self-encounter. The need for such art is great: for images that want to share something and that can be shared with others. Kant calls it "a type of imagination that is purposeful for itself, and although without purpose, nevertheless promotes the culture of the powers of the mind for sociable communication."

©Sibylle Laubscher, Arisdorf, 31 March 2022