Texts Back

Art and Non-art, 1975

If artistic formalization were the same as reality, it would be possible to use scientific methods in criticising and evaluating it. Artistic activities, actions and even classical objects (works of art) are, however, sometimes different from objects in the real world which have their definite functions. Yet the division between reality and the realm of art is not clear-cut, which, in some cases, permits the use of scientific methods for the study of works of art. There are, however, no such possibilities when we have to do with an art which has gone beyond visual symbolic formulas and has become a complicated sequence of paradigmatic and syntactic operations. For if the model of reality in science has been created by means of the rational and experimentally sustained principle of cause and effect, the intellectual model of art is formed by art itself. Art is an adialectical formalization, or more precisely an extra-dialectical one, as no rightful or reasonable motivation can be set forth outside the formalization itself.

This leads to a paradoxical situation for if we really want to come to know art better, we must define it with art. The tautology of such an approach is confirmed by the work of many artists which in fact consists in exploring the possibilities of art. A good example can be here the Fluxus movement, and recently the intensive and specific work done by women artists with a feminist bias. However, this intuitively perceived necessity of equating life with art has, in my view, (some) essential limitations. After all, the results of such experiences are limited by the finiteness of human existence to quote as an example the extremist experiment conducted by Schwarzkogler.

* * *

I am, however, deeply convinced that there is a possibility of extending the area of art penetration by employing the eidetic, soul-fathoming method of cognition. For this admits of constructing a relatively precise and intrinsically non-controversial model of art which would be composed of elements of self-recognition and self-determination of art. Such a model would be capacious enough to contain all tendencies and kinds of formalization. So l postulate that a formula be worked out that would conclusively separate art from non-art and maybe even allow of evaluating operations.

* * *

The philosophy of philosophy put forward by Husserl has, in my view, revealed the deficiencies of the hitherto existing logical and philosophical systems. In practice, However, both existentialism and phenomenology have brought about a crisis in or even destruction of bourgeois philosophical systems. Yet Husserl’s concepts are acceptable in art, or rather they can be helpful in building up a formalized system reorienting all artistic activity. Of course, unacceptable and untenable is the concept of a work of art as an intentional object (elaborated by R. Ingarden) because in the face of the break-up of the model: artist — work of art — consumer, it has lost its meaning. l postulate that we should assume such an attitude towards art as would permit of defining it with elements of eidetic cognition.

Though dialectics is a basis for examining objective reality, it is too coarse a tool to be used for examining the delicate meaningful structures of art. This l can prove easily by pointing out that in the realm of art one of the basic laws of materialistic dialectics — the law of quantitative changes passing into qualitative ones – is never realized. An artist, or even a group of artist, producing isomorphic pictures of an apple add noting new to art but only contribute new objects to the reality.

So maybe art is q product of that part of our consciousness which is based on extra-logical cognition. Then art would surely be a product and picture of the function of the human brain, its elements would be composed of the same matter as man’s brain but would in fact be non-material for they would be composed of the soul or consciousness of the creator.

The situation of present-day art resembles the state of science before Rene Descartes. It is necessary to undertake basic work on systematizing and separating art from non-art, i.e. from everything that, though resembling art, is in fact parallel to what astrology or metaphysics are in the domain of science.

This systematization can lead to the creation of a new precise formalization of consciousness which will define art and in turn will be defined by art.

Natalia LL
14 – 15 December 1975

Translated by Henryk Holzhausen

PERMAFO, Związek Polskich Artystów Fotografików, Wrocław 1976