Blog: Words versus Images in Art

Christine Alfery

Posted on June 25 2017

Blog: Words versus Images in Art

Is reality nothing more than a narrative? A visual and or linguistic construction that can be controlled and that controls what we say and how we think?  In reality nothing more than words and images?  If reality is nothing more than a visual or linguistic construction than reality is a figment of what we imagine, what we create and what we produce. Reality is then governed, controlled, by and through words and images and how we think, how we know and how we live would then be governed by words and images.

If this is indeed the case, then those who create and produce are the ones who govern. And the question is no longer what is real but how is what we imagine to be real governed, how are we governed? Historians seem to agree that we are in the process of a change in how things are understood. The historical era of modernism is integrating into the post-modern or neo-modern. Today subjectivity dominates where all things are relative and no one thing has more value than another. The glue that holds this relativism together seems to be socialism or social progress.  So it is no surprise that our subjective words and images, our notion of I, has melted into the social stickiness of how to govern, how to think, how to create change and movement towards a richer life and way of understanding and knowing things.

Art is no stranger to this social relativism, where subjective relativism seems to reign. And if what is happening in art is any hint of what is to become our governing agent it will be the consensus of the subjective.

This way of governing destroys the subjective I.  It has destroyed art. Where uniqueness, independence, originality once was defined as the subjective I, now uniqueness, independence and originality appear to be a rare occurrence in images and in words.

We need to return to a notion of reality that isn't just words, images or anything we can imagine and create and then say it is so is so.   That would make reality filled with only wishful, hopeful, thinking and ways of knowing. Reality needs to be objective and to be objective it needs to have a materiality to it and not just wishful thinking and imagining. Thinking about reality in this manner would change how we think about the subjective I.  We need to see the subjective I as objective and complex, not just hopeful, but also sorrowful, not just sublime but also filled with chaos. There needs to be a struggle for the subjective I to exist and for an image to become works of “art.”

What would objective words and images be in art, society and culture?  It would respect the I as a thing in itself, subjective, but it would not expect the subjective I to govern art, society or culture. Controlling art, society and culture should be based on a reality that is objective, not imagined and created out of wishful thinking.

How does that relate to my work which is filled with the imaginary is something I am struggling with? I do recognize though that there is more value to what I create if my fluid struggle is evident, and if an idea or concept emerges that inspires one to think differently about how things are governed and controlled

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