Authentic Art – A Sequel

‘LOOKING at art is not SEEING Art–which when “seen” is from the solar plexus/soul  not in the eyes. Can you tell when a person is [seeing] authentic??? saying their truth????’

(My answer to Eliane’s comment above in this post got a bit long so I am here making a post of it as it technically is another subject). Eliane put the spotlight now on the viewer: can we tell that he or she is seeing authentic? Uhh-oh, we may be here adding an oil slick to that already slippery ground!

From ‘LOOKING’ to ‘Seeing’ I believe is a continuum – from the automatic, unconscious light reception in the retina of the eyes all the way to the thinking brain in our cerebral cortex; and we ‘SEE’ somewhere along the line. Neurobiology now has a pretty good handle on these neural pathways. How these pathways interact is another matter. Since we know that more than 30% of our cerebral cortex is devoted to processing signals from the eyes, it’s a daunting if not impossible task to track everything, live and online.

Now researchers believe it is somewhere along these visual pathways from the eyes to the thinking brain that our consciousness (or awareness) occurs – but where?  And the familiar unconscious-to-conscious transition is clearly not so clear because long term conscious learning in time becomes unconscious.

Another analogy to ‘LOOKING’and ‘SEEING’ may be the question asked by Nicholas Serota (Tate director) in his book, Experience  or  Interpretation? about viewing art, mentioned in my essay: It would be that ‘LOOKING’ may be experiential and ‘SEEING’ is more interpretational, with  the viewer’s  personal memory and learning adding to the understanding, consciously or unconsciously.

So it appears that viewing art also has ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top down’ elements. And ‘authentic’ seeing starts from the bottom (the viewer’s first hand looking experience) and becoming ‘SEEING’ as it wends its way to higher understanding.

For a good illustration  of authenticity (or not), in artist or viewer, see  Los Angeles Times critic Christopher Knight’s alternate  theory for Andy Warhol’s use of the Campbell soup can; and my piece, A Baroque Splendor – In-A-Gada-Da-Vida with Damien Hirst’s confessions about  his concepts of art-making and patrons.

PS Just for laughs, there maybe a shorter (and sweeter) answer: he who does not see what I see is not seeing authentic…

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