Blog: How We Have Come to Know Reality

Christine Alfery

Posted on August 01 2017

Playful Landscape by Christine Alfery

Featured image: Playful Landscape

How have we come to know reality? Is it caused by the past, history, that forms what we create in the present?

Or have we come to know reality as something we create that is soul-y related to our perceptions, senses, and ideologies?

If we create reality via our senses and perceptions the values associated with life and reality are susceptible to power struggles, perceptions and values are subjective and are linked only to the present. If we create reality based on the past build from what we have experienced in the past and how it worked then the power and the way of knowing reality rests in fact.

How we have come to know the reality of art has a foundation in aesthetics. The notion of aesthetics has shifted throughout history up until about the 1960’s. In the 1960’s there were two ways to know art. One, aesthetically, through your senses, perceptions and feelings. The other through many artists attempts to establish and recognize that they wanted to create a different message about art, that they did not want the concept of art to be strangled by rules as to what could be understood as art and what could not be understood as art. This struggle of the artists during the 60’s shifted how art was known and understood. It shifted the epistemology of art.
Today this shift has settled and how many know and understand art is through the senses and perceptions through their own personal subjectivity. This settling has put art in nowhere land other than one massive subjectivity and is strangling art today. Today, like in the 60’s, there are several artists who are asking to change how art can be understood, by breaking the rules. Their choice of media the use to create their work has changed, some choose no media at all and others are enmeshed in digital work, and there are still those who continue to break the rules in how traditional media can be thought of and used. Artists who recognize that this change is happening recognize that anticipating change and mindfully critiquing it empowers them and those who appreciate their work.

If we briefly review the philosophical history surrounding the art object we recognize that art has always been about life and what we value in life. Art has/does represent values which are worth contemplating in life, good and bad, beautiful and ugly. Art is not just about the senses and perceptions, and there is a shift happening in how art can be understood and known, it started with the postmodern discussions and is still moving, changing, I find it very interesting. It is my hope that those of us who appreciate the aesthetics in art but also recognize what it has done to how we know and understand art also find following this change interesting and empowering.

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