October 29, 2003
A Theory of Relativity
Ever see that confusing abstract painting or sculpture which makes you tilt your head to the side and question the sanity of the museum curator? Ever hear that song which makes you fall in love with the band so much that you pay three hundred dollars to go to a concert? Ever read such classic essays that you just are in awe of such creative genius? If you have had an encounter of the previous, then congratulations you have experienced art in its highest form, and the highest form could even be in a sculpture made out of toasters and other piles of junk. "A pile of junk stacked up is not art!" Au contraire; the fact that it brings forth emotion is what makes a pile of junk worth something even more then yard sale price. The simple fact that you felt confusion, enlightenment, happiness, sadness, depression, wonder, or even anger, makes art really art. In short, it is all relative.
Art is always open to interpretation. What is art to someone might be something else to another. I stared at a fabric-type tapestry made out of plastic in an exhibit, with all these plaid neon colors arranged so that it was blinding and colorfully bright. My first thought upon seeing such tackiness besides "My eyes!! My eyes!!" was "Oh! 1970's Retro; Cool." It reminded me of something I saw on the Game Show Network on "Let's Make a Deal," as well as wallpaper at the last beach house rental I stayed at in Ocean City, Maryland. I saw peers pass by looking perplexed and disgusted at the colors and the "thing" I was looking at for a good five minutes. I saw art. I did not see a "thing." I saw a brilliant idea. Someone had dragged out of the past a cross between a Scottish kilt and a house with shag carpeting, and hung it on a museum wall. I walked on wondering about the significance of such a marvelous creation. That eyesore to others was a contemplation subject to me.
Candidates for art can be more then visual; they could be auditory. Selecting a musical nominee for art is purely on individual preferences. What is substance in music to you could just be loud noise to someone else. Everyone has their own type of music they listen to, whether it is Classical or Rap, to that person, it is the greatest music on the planet, or maybe even the universe. I thought the world of the Backstreet Boys when they were popular, and I felt as if their music was the best that I have ever heard, and was full of art and emotion, and it made me fight for them to the metaphoric death. I defended my teenage idols against the attacks of our rivals, the N'Sync fans, and their blasphemy. I liked them because I liked their "music" and they were not bad to look at. Now, its not even "music", it is a money making machine. Still to some who still like them, they have the best songs ever in their opinion. It spurs such debate and emotions in the fans, deliberating the best songs, to the best people or the worst songs to the worst people.
Not just the disputes qualify music as an art, the raw emotion that pours forth does most importantly. The drum beats pacing back and forth like impatient businesspeople at the DMV, that wailing of guitar which explains why New Wave Rock has its own radio station, and that clichéd violin which screams the heartaches and sorrows of a long lost love are all these examples. Captured inside the melody are the lyrics of vocals feeling loneliness, anger, distrust, love, hate, everything, and nothing all combined. This is how I view music, as a deep expression for the inside, and the listener takes part in it by finding the type which makes them feel. What is there to feel? The passion, the glory, the rhythm, and the expression of the soul. Once you are inside the artist, then you can see the world from their eyes, and be inspired by it in your center.
If music is inspiration for the soul, then writing is inspiration for the mind. Different types of timeless authors and poets dispense such pure emotion in their work, one cannot help but feel what they feel, think what they think, and see what they see. Poe, Donne, Dickinson, Matthew Arnold, Emerson, Richard Lovelace, and Keats, all express the deepest thoughts and reflections, the tears of the heart and pain of the soul through their writing. It definitely invokes feelings in me. I cry when they do, I am enraged when they are; I feel sorrow and sympathy, hurt and healing. Whether you get so worked up over poetry or stories, or whether you feel apathy while reading such, it makes it an art, for every word its own masterpiece.
Whether art is art really is on an individual basis. From the retro wallpaper that makes one think, to the writer which touches one deep inside, it all depends on the opinion of the seeker. What one thinks as art, is not what I think is art, or your Aunt Margaret things is art, or what the president thinks is art. Art is whatever you perceive it to be, music, to writing, to dance, to actual pictures and sculptures, if it invokes any type of emotion. Art is a theory of relativity, if one believes that there is a deeper meaning in the line in the center of white space, there is art. If one sees the music in pots and pans, or the value of the written word. Maybe that museum curator is not so insane after all.