Roughly speaking, I understand “art” to be something created through human interaction with the world. Whether perceptually noticed or purposively constructed, that which we experience in what we might call “aesthetic ranges” are always results of interactivity and, as far as we know, only occur for human organisms.
In light of my previous post attempting to address the function, variability and necessity of language or sign-types for human perception, survival and being-in-the-world, I want to address something fresh for me that arose in that inquiry.
Previously, I lamented the inevitable distance that occurs in living organisms between originary experience in and with an environment and the organism’s perceptual experience of it. No matter how miniscule, there is always a gap between our encountering (for instance, of scent and our recognition of smelling; or of light toward eye and our “seeing” of colors; touching flame and reacting retracting) and our awareness of the encounter. Neurons and nerves pass time in their messaging. By the time we’re aware, our present is past.
But awareness and perception, cognition and sensation are themselves happening presently, occurring in a process continuously and simultaneously to ongoing encountering. In other words, it is always the present, and we are always present, doing many different things. Being presently and what we’re aware of presently are widely variant items, but always both and all, simultaneous with (indeed identical to); the present.
The present is the only reality occurring.
Who and what, where and how are all only ever present concerns. When is always already answered: NOW.
If the human organism has adapted and developed the creation and usage of sign-systems to more efficiently navigate processes of survival, I want to look a little bit into what the purposive involvement in, engagement with, those sign-usage capabilities might accomplish for us.
If our survival process, as I remarked before, is one of perceiving and predicting our individual organism’s likelihood and opportunities for existing in any given environment (context, situation), then our perceptive processes are amazingly collaborative toward quickly organizing and evaluating a chaos of inputs and outputs into maneuverable assessments and survivable actions.
Language is our principle medium of signs, used by humans to select, describe and choose what is going on at any moment both inside of us and around us. Something like water is for jellyfish, perhaps, the medium that both constructs their world and enables them.
But language become, becomes its own experience to become again and again. In other words, the processing of perception, awareness, consciousness, is also experience in itself.
This is where it struck me that sign-mediums are a kind of gifting again and again of present experiences. As we interact with mediums, forming and formulating them into semiotic artifacts (whether spoken phrases, bodily movements, plastic figures or oil-smeared canvases) we are both utilizing those media to organize and process (become aware of and perceive) select elements of our encounter/experience, but also concocting new experiences as well as future presents. Artifacts delineating our presents will be perceived, signed, comprehended again and again newly, each moment various and ever-present.
In other words, inhabiting our mediums purposively, experimentally, exploratorily, reflectively, creatively, we are both organizing, discovering and determining our own present(s) while simultaneously being new presents and gifting present experiences to become (for ourselves and others via artifacts, writings, sounds and movements).
This seems simple to me and I’m sure the wriggly seams of it, the liminal, necessarily RELATIONAL actualities of it have been sussed out much more eloquently and adequately (made present, re-presented) than this cursory blurt of mine, but it has flooded me recently like an a-ha (fresh awareness of the present?) in answering questions about “wrestling with everything inhabiting my medium.”
So thanks to all of you – writers and artists, filmmakers and philosophers – for plumbing the mediums that give you your present(s) again and again, and then offering them onward to us – a community continually re-gifting our present(s) by consciously inhabiting what our media inhabit. The What Where How Who it moves us within and between.