Preface on Art Writing
Our experience above the quantum level is a world of composites. Art writing seeks to extrapolate form and meaning from living works of art and express these characteristics through language. The resulting linguistic objects exist in addition to the work but do not amend the work.
Sculpture is primarily an act of proximity adjustment to create a syntax referred to as “the work”. Sculpture can also be the alteration of a single characteristic or the introduction of an idea into an area.
When proximity alteration is the method of creating sculpture, the range of materials and methods used to assemble, group or otherwise relate objects are of equal importance. The alteration of a single element can involve changes to object, the object’s environment, the context or location of the object or the way in which the object is displayed or referenced.
The introduction of an idea into a proximity relationship is a conceptual act of sculpture. This may involve the presentation of an object/idea through words, symbols, situations and other media. The object/idea might be waves such as sound or an even more elusive/intangible force.
The work is perceived by the viewer with the sense doors; the mind, the feel of touch, the hearing of sound, the seeing of light, and the fragrance or bouquet of smell or taste. Perhaps future art will access other senses such as our physical sense of balance felt by the inner ear, the acute sensitivity of pheromones or the empathic and intuitive senses.
When we try to describe sculpture beyond its characteristics most viewers enter a kind of interpretive quicksand. They ask “what is its purpose, its meaning, its value, its effect?” The first instinct of the mind is to compare new experiences with old experiences. The eyes do not see without the mind. There is no sight without the thought of seeing.
It is therefore necessary to unlearn a certain series of perceptual habits in order to successfully see not what your mind finds familiar in art, but rather what is actually there in the work you are examining.
Michael Paul Oman-Reagan