When was the last time you found yourself “talking” to an object in front of you? When we are young, we have an innate tendency to want to anthropomorphize objects we find before us. Once we’re grown up, it seems like the power of making stories with our imaginary friends has entirely disappeared! We see things, but what are we looking at? The feelings we get from seeing things in the adult world are easily manipulated by the cultural and political values ingrained in us by society and by the automatic evaluations we make having to do with ideas like beauty and ugliness. For example, online communities in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan recently erupted in debate over ideas on the beauty or ugliness of CCTV’s monkey mascot and the production designs for Taiwan’s lantern festival. Even though we all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, beauty is also a matter of ideology, and elite intellectuals are not the only ones entitled to an opinion.
Nevertheless, how can ordinary people train their eyes to feel a certain way and then think when they see something? Theories on the recognition of art and beauty are nothing to quibble about. Taking more time to observe the world around oneself is a good start. While “visiting” art exhibitions and galleries hardly counts as an artistic endeavor in itself, I believe that one of the most satisfying features of visual and spatial art is its ability to “speak” to people face-to-face. What are our truest feelings when we see things? Of course, not everything that is designed can be considered art or become art. Are pieces of art and other objects intrinsically beautiful or not? Are they ugly or not? Are they relevant or not? Do they adhere to common tastes or not? Do they have a market value? There is absolutely no correlation between the answers to these questions and the greatness of a piece of art. These things may become collectible pieces of art because they made it past the cultural gatekeepers of various eras, but that does not necessarily mean that the best materials, the best techniques, or the most popular styles were used in their creation.
The vague definitions of art that certain people artificially create, however, are exactly what makes the experience of viewing an exhibit such a game of speculations and interpretations. In addition to looking, we also have to think. Only by finding ambiguities can one enhance one’s inner design and creative cognition. In the case of the MOMA Picasso Sculpture Exhibition in New York (ending 2/7), it has been reported that among the more than 140 pieces displayed from six decades of Picasso’s artistic career are some previously unknown works. Picasso used objects that are widely recognizable in daily life for his large installations assembled from small stones, screws, scrap metal, pieces of wood, and plaster. Some of his artworks were toys he created for his son. He showed ingenuity in obtaining the best local raw materials and using them to give anthropomorphic expressions to all kinds of animal shapes. In particular, his creative works reveal innocence within the adult world.
I love to watch the people at the exhibit. While many people like to cruise around, circling the gallery space and only stopping to look at each work for a few seconds, others seem to be more than willing to ponder and puzzle in front of the artwork that interested them. Taking advantage of the exhibition crowd, it was easy for me to get photographs of people’s expressions and amusing perspectives while they were focused on viewing the pieces. Their faces were curious and filled with wonder, inadvertently interacting with the exhibits. It was like they were beckoning us to join the game. It was as if we were “speaking” with those imaginary friends once again…
Background Music: Danzón No. 2, by Arturo Márquez (1950 – )
配樂：特別剪接了 Danzón No. 2， 是墨西哥當代作曲家 Arturo Márquez (1950 – )代表作。