on the Aesthetic Experience and On Creativity
most important techniques are those devised by the individual for
dealing with self consciousness, dominant intentionality, insidious
predisposition toward the familiar and the nameable, fear of failure,
dependence on achieving acceptable results, all of which undermine and
debilitate the process.
consists in authenticity; is work which originates from inside the
maker, an insistent prompting to express through or interplay with
material. The widespread and
spurious demand that art should be above all innovative tends to
cerebration and galvanises the ego of the intending innovator.
But are mind and ego the prime sources of creativity?
the nature of the activity itself, (e.g. sculpture) - an important part
of the work process - can lose force where there is a multiplicity of
materials in play. Inquiry is possibly more rigorous and productive
within the constraints of a single material.
The work is a reflection, shared with the viewer, of this process
of inquiry - an act of faith and instinct rather than of specific
intention; creating openings and advancing boldly into them free of the
dominance of intellect or habit.
so-called aesthetic experience
at its best acts as nourishment - the challenging reclamation and
re-stimulation of our dormant faculties, the catalyst of surprise and
discovery. It strengthens
our sense of possibility and broadens our horizons.
Warmth is its vital quality because it is involving.
Without involvement there can be no affect and without affect the
aesthetic experience is pallid and incomplete.
The immediacy of our involuntary sensuous response provides an
opening for all that follows; this must precede and overpower, indeed
obliterate for the moment our shallower cerebral faculties of
recognition, categorisation, analysis and self-congratulation.
the present stage of the evolution of human consciousness neither
illustration nor literal description or juxtaposing arrangement can
provide us with what precisely is meant by 'content' in a work of art.
These modes leave the observer a mere onlooker.
They do not galvanise us to a fully alerted presence;
they sell us short, leave us indifferent or disappointed.
Content is that phenomenon of communication in which the
awareness of the observer senses and picks up signals of presence and
action issuing from another consciousness,
that have been embedded without self-regard in a chosen material.
This is what we need from art. Where content thus described is absent
there can be little or no communication at a deep level, no profound
effect. As it becomes
habitual the resulting disappointment tends to dehumanise us, lowering
our expectation and reducing our openness to experience.
is in this subtle way that 'content' in a work of art can promote
cohesion and sensitivity amongst humans, prompting a shared openness to
possibilities of communication, wonder and insight.
This is the sense in which art can be affirming.
It requires a work process that takes us beyond ego and leads to
the discovery and supports the presence of undifferentiated formal
elements. Often through
their very ambiguity, these elements can key us into the circuitry of
our Collective Unconscious. Receiving
the twinge we pass on perplexed maybe, but somehow nourished at the
but what is it?"
very question presumes the fallacy that sculpture has to be
preconceived, that it necessarily embodies purpose and subject matter
from the outset. This
disregard, indeed denial of the improvisatory and exploratory spirit,
has as its counterpart the tyrannous indeed fatuous emphasis on
'innovation' -- the excesses of which are now seen by many to be sterile
and played out. The view that by a
tradition long preceding the Renaissance, sculpture is an activity which
concerns itself primarily with Mass, with its ordering in space as Form
so that it communicates with the viewer in its own terms, is valid,
honourable and worth sustaining. This
formal ordering can become a comprehensive and singular Presence rather
than a descriptive retailing of subject matter.
It is by its mysteriously engaging formal quality that sculpture
at its best can arrest us, alert our awareness and make a significant,
possibly enduring contribution at a profound level to our experience.
Alan Thornhill, Stroud 2008
© Copyright Alan Thornhill 2012. All rights reserved