Sunday, July 09, 2017

The New Renaissance

If the history of art tells us anything, if the history of science does, is that discoveries never end, and that new, vast worlds are always unexpected. I would imagine that in 1840, visual artists had considered their art refined to the ultimate degree, yet it was merely the start of what we call Modern Art, due to photography.

Now, as then we stand on the cusp of a new dawn. The Internet marks the start of a new epoch for humanity. What makes people different from animals is that we can learn and teach. Chimpanzees can learn skills, like breaking a nut with tool for example, by watching other chimps, but if that chain is broken, the knowledge is lost and a chimp must become an inventor again to relearn a skill that countless forbears has learned countless times. Humans did this at first, but soon, information stuck. Speech was developed, stories could be passed on, and knowledge through the generations and to other tribes. This was first first epoch of intelligent life. Written language was the next great leap, then printing which led to mass literacy, then electric communication which permitted the instant conveyance of the latest ideas, and now the Internet, allowing collaboration and the instant access of the best knowledge, the latest information instantly.

This new epoch has and will change humanity forever, and will change art too. The peaks of exceptional humans of the past are now sanded smooth by waves of people, vast numbers of great people who can now share ideas instantly. This is the age of the genius, which makes it harder for exceptional people to excel, but being exceptional was never easy.

In visual art, the twentieth century was all about exploring the palette, the genres of art from pure abstraction, to realism. From surrealism to symbolism, from craft to conceptualisation. In music, this was largely done by Bach's time, in that the scales and chords were then known; of course, music changed too in the twentieth century with serialism and other developments, but the basic structures and rules were set centuries ago, as they were in literature and drama millennia ago.

Leonardo da Vinci argued that visual art is superior to the other arts because it communicates with the most sacred of organs, the eye. Holiness aside, humans communicate primarily with vision. Like other primates we learn be seeing other, empathic communication. Other senses are secondary to vision. Television is vastly more popular than radio. Music can touch emotions instantly, but it struggles to communicate intellectual information. Images are how the brain operates. How often have you dreamed a sound? Or a smell? Or a touch? Or a poem? Images are the key to the way our minds work, and art is about mind touching mind.

Thus, visual artists can now at last rejoice! Here we stand upon the crest of a dawn, and one that is yet to be seized. It is ironic that the new soup of information creates apathy, rather than opportunity. From soups, islands must rise. The foam will disperse!

The visual arts are set to begin, at last. There has been no Bach of visual art, no Mozart, no Beethoven. Visual artists have become specialists in their narrow genre, this is the doom of the innovator, but now the time of innovation is ended, and yet few see this. As in any art, especially one so very badly trained as painting, people spend a long time exploring and not building, although to build palaces we must first know all of our materials.

The palette is set, and now it is time to explore it, and use it to lighten up the great darkness that pervades contemporary society. This is at least my goal. Perhaps it is all of our goals now. As machines replace each function, to create a love art will probably be our destiny as a species.

Errors and omissions frankly probable. This is one of several musings on life the universe and everything listed in the Writing and Essays section of www.marksheeky.com

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