Michael Divine

Writings :


The Art of Seeing

People forget how to "see" as they get older.

We develop very narrowly focused ways of seeing with lenses of dollar value, costs and exchanges, styles, judgements, things we like or don't like, what matches and doesn't match, and so on. Most of these ways of seeing tend towards a sort of value judgements for us to descipher the parts which are useful to us in this moment or as are possible worthy investment for the future.

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The Mystical Lineage in Contemporary Art

Human beings are essentially social creatures. For the most part, we enjoy hearing music, seeing movies, and looking at art with others as is evident by our copious clubs, theaters, galleries, and museums. The collective participation greatly enhances the experience. Often, we hear musicians speak about their love of the live show and riding the energy of the crowd. It's a symbiotic relationship - this giving and receiving. A positive relationship develops between artist and observer (or in the case of musicians - the listener) when the desire for connection with others and with ourselves is fulfilled. This recognition and mirroring of emotions, desires, joys and fears - sharing a deeper part of our human experience that is beyond words or facts: that is the place where 'art' resides. It seems to me that this is an integral part of the human experience and the conversation we have with each other.

But what happens when the art stops partaking in that conversation? What happens when that connection is lost? We've all been to art exhibitions where we feel like running around screaming 'The Emperor has no clothes!' The art feels vapid and senseless - like a discussion not with the viewer but instead an insular conversation between art critics, curators, collectors, and the artists themselves. Values are conflated to obscene prices for works that seem so obtuse, so far removed from and devoid of human emotion and experience, that we wonder why they exist at all. And then we're told that's the point! And we feel conned all the more.

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