Tuesday, July 17, 2012

ART vs DESIGN (thesis)

Most people of modern popular culture confuse Design with Art.

Both have different origins and purposes.

Design is born out of need to make things better, to improve or make them more comfortable in use (via first craftsmen). It has a local quality.

Art, on the other hand, is born out of need to communicate deeper meaning of existence (via 'accidental' shamans). Its purpose is to transcend the mundane perception of the world and it has a non-local quality.

Here's my thesis: 

The fundamental difference between Art and Design lies in the lack of spiritual mystery of the latter. 

I believe that the first artist was a shaman. Also, visual Art was created out of need to communicate something ‘unusual’ and long before people developed a fully comprehensive speech.
This is how I see it happened.

Imagine a person in the ancient world who accidentally experiences an altered state of consciousness through the use of psychoactive plants (i.e. try and error in discovering new foods). Suddenly he experiences a world that is very different from common reality. The experience is so dramatic that this person now wants to communicate it to other persons in his tribe. 
How can he do that? 
Pointing at the cause of it (the plant) is obviously not enough to communicate the inner experience. And so, this person takes a stick (or whatever) and starts drawing! He draws dots and lines that are similar to entoptic patterns caused by ingestion of psychoactive plants. Thus a new spiritual world has been introduced to the consciousness of early humans. And also it gave birth to Art.

Many people think that some form of Art pre-existed the discovery of psychedelics. In my opinion it is not so. And here’s why:

As we know, the difference between animals and homo sapiens lies in the degree of cognition of the outside world (consciousness). Terence McKenna’s theory of Stoned Ape postulates that the transition from ape man to a more conscious being was kick-started by accidental consumption of a psychedelic plant.
In other words, it provided an alternative (supernatural) reference to their mundane perception of reality.
My point is that without this second reference point Art couldn’t have existed. Of course, before the discovery of the 'supernatural' primitive people had made and used some kind of tools and instruments for survival. Craft predates Art.

I also contest that prior the discovery of alternative state of consciousness and the ‘supernatural’  no religious ideas could have been formed in the mind of a primitive man.  i.e. the perception of thunder and lightening was similar to how animals react to it - power, danger, run for life!
In fact, one needs that second reference point to form even superstition.

So, without early psychedelic experience there couldn't have been Art, a religious view or even an abstract thought.

If you see beauty in everything, you're a designer. A sunrise is beautiful, so are mountains, but it's not yet Art. It's a beautiful design (of nature). People can make beautiful things too, I call them designers. But Art is more than just about 'beautiful'. Art is about a beautiful mystery.

(Children can see a mystery. Most adults just see a beautiful thing.)

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