Parallels between Art and Language become clearer when we consider the philosophical attempts to answer the question ‘What is Art?” Bell’s Significant Form reminds us of syntax. Wittgenstein’s Family Resemblance has been applied in similar manner to words and art objects. Institutional Theory of Art focuses on the context in which objects can and will be perceived as art. The same phenomenon of context-dependent meaning-shifts holds true, does it not, of words. Collingwood’s Emotional Expression homes in on communication of individuated emotions between the artist (as the speaker?) and the viewer (as the receiver?).
What if, I thought, Art, too, were a language. If so, what Art would be a language of? Then, last January, I saw a program on the BBC – “ Heart vs Brain” – and, dare I say, my heart began to sing! Our hearts have their own little brains!!!!
Apparently, the little heart brain works in tandem with the rational one in our heads via the amygdala that plays a key role in processing emotions. Not all scientists, I hear, have yet endorsed the network of neurons in the heart muscle as a kind of brain in its own right. However, some seem to believe that without it there would be little compassion, love, grief beauty or empathy. In other words, would we still be human?
Let us suppose, for a minute or so, that our artistic outputs are the language of our little heart brain? That might explain why in Visual Arts only highly selected aspects of reality are made most manifest to the human eye, thus altering our interpretation of it. Have a look at these photos of simple clothes pegs I took in the past and see how much art is within them that we are usually blind to. All you need to do to capture it is a slight change in perspective.
If the above conjecture proved to be correct, after all, would we be still surprised that artists engaged in creating pieces of Fine Art intuited, emoted, and acted from their heart or their unconscious. Their cerebral, analytical thought has to be “switched off”. Some need more time than others to reset their minds. I do it myself before I put a brush to canvas after having been engaged in intellectual pursuits, even if it takes a day or two to just sit and stare at that unfinished painting. Hmm, was Leonardo really lazy when he engaged in painting in an erratic sort of way?
Now, let us think about poetry free to break every conceivable rule of spoken or written language so that it can appeal first and foremost to emotion. Is word-based poetry, then, a kind of bridge between the natural language with which our rational brain-mind expresses itself and the art language of our little heart brain-mind???
Will there still be Art or perceived beauty in the world we live in when our hearts are replaced by nothing more than synthetic, mechanical, blood pumps?????? Well, just a thought.
© Barbara Gorayska, 30 September 2014.
Inspirational sources for the thought come from:
Nigel Warburton, 2003. The Art Question. London: Routledge.
Barbara Gorayska, 2009. Pragmatic Acts in Fine Art: A Question. In: Bruce Fraser and Ken Turner, eds., Language in Life, and a Life in Language: Jacob Mey – a Festschrift, 111-121. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.
David Malone, 29 January 2014. Heart vs Brain. Produced and Directed by David Briggs. BBC Scottland. © BBC MMXII