Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Writing, Gestalt and Current Events

Lately I have been reading a lot and listening to a lot of audiobooks as well. I ran a creative writing contest where I read probably a hundred entries. I have read books because they were by local authors or by popular writers rather than because of my own interests. This is all to say that I have finally read some really bad writing, some really excellent writing and some mediocre writing. I am finally beginning to see HOW something is well written and it's clarifying some thoughts on visual art.

Again I'M NOT A WRITER and my grammar is sure to be horrible but here's an example of the sort of thing I keep coming across.

"He was pale-skinned and wore a gold breastplate with matching baltea under a tattered red cloak. A dirty brown tunic covered his legs to the knees. He made others uncomfortable."

"His breast plate was the color of fetid piss which seemed to run down and turn into the dangling belts at his waist. From his shoulders hung a cape reduced to strips the deep color of a man's innermost blood. His tunic was the color of nightsoil. Among the filthy clothing his flesh stood apart as it reflected light like a pearl, opalescent and shimmering. He was divine and absolutely disgusting."

Style one is factual, utilitarian and efficient. It could be argued that it paints the clearest picture. It instructs you on how to feel about the previous description.

The second one barely even defines actual colors. It tries to force the reader to imagine the colors or imagine the clothing articles as other things. The purpose is to make the viewer participate in the story and create an opinion on those colors. It doesn't say how these colors should make you feel. It reminds me of the idea of Gestalt in visual art. I am sort of trying to take my art from style one and move it more to style two. Trying to use these fantasy narratives to get viewers to think or feel something entirely different. Trying to get viewers to participate more.

With recent events I have thought about creating art that is somehow about our modern world but my ideas always seem like style one. It's too on-the-nose. It's too journalistic.  If I create scenes that aren't from events then it begins to feel manipulative or preachy. If I wanted to have the viewer feel love or loved, I don't think the solution is to necessarily draw two people loving each other. Is the solution to draw something love-able? Draw something that attempts to make the viewer remember what love is like? Do figures make the viewer feel disconnected or does it help unify? Should a concept like "love" be the middle man to a bigger objective? Of course all of this can't be too direct or purely from the imagination or I believe it will feel manipulative and cheesy. At the other end is seems pointless to pull directly from an event that's probably already been photographed or it will seem journalistic or like propaganda.

I feel like I have to draw something indirectly related to the topic and hope the viewer connects the two things. It seems the goal has to be using the Gestalt effect to create an image near where you want viewers to arrive emotionally or logically. If it's too far from the destination then it falls apart and fails with nobody making the connection. It's tricky and like learning an entirely different style of thinking or writing. These are the things I have been thinking about as I worked on my personal pieces of the past year which have been some of my most popular work yet. I'm currently on hiatus from that work as I want to think about it more and see if I can develop something better. 

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