One of my professors brought up an interesting point on the first day of class a few weeks ago. She talked about how we have grown numb to art. Our lives in 2019 America are saturated in images, screens, memes, noise, gifs, music, advertisements… etc, so it is harder to let art affect us in any capacity. I look around my living room and see all the pictures and posters and signs, the constant visual stimulation of the t.v., the endless articles on my computer, and so on. We live in a world where we rush from stimulation to stimulation. From sight to noise. Smell to taste. Rushing through the constant haze of stuff, but never really letting any of it touch us. Never really exposing ourselves to something that could change us or make us feel something out of our control. The parts of us we may not have words to explain.
Art, in the proper sense, fosters this encounter. Art catalyzes a movement of the human spirit. The artist conveys a human experience through their work, and when we perceive this work of art, we are moved. Whether its a Woody Guthrie folk song, a Shakespearean sonnet, or the statue of David, art moves us. IF we let it. Amidst the haze and the noise and the overstimulation, we must try and let true art affect us. We must make ourselves vulnerable before true art, so it may leave an impression.
We should try, again, to look for art. Not to look past it, but to seek it out. Let it take you away to where you want to go, only to thrust you back into where you’re standing.
Art convicts me of the existence of a place that I have never seen. Only felt. Only thought about. Only hoped for. But it lets me know it’s there. And if it’s there, then maybe it could be here too.
One of the best scenes in cinematic history that illustrates the power of art and the role it plays in human life is shown in the movie Shawshank Redemption. This occurs when Andy breaks into the warden’s office to play the opera music on the loud speakers throughout the jail for all prisoners and guards to hear. He risks his life for this. There must be something behind his action. Why would he risk his life to let criminals hear an opera song?
Art enters into the mess of everyday life, into the boredom and conflict. It’s the only way.
“Some sort of pressure must exist; the artist exists because the world is not perfect. Art would be useless if the world were perfect, as man wouldn’t look for harmony but would simply live in it. Art is born out of an ill-designed world.”
― Andrei Tarkovsky