Unboundedness: The Expansion from Visual Space to Cognitive Space
Source:Artintern.net Author:Wang Dongdong Date: 2013-12-04 Size:
Art, from the moment it was born is not merely a simple visual issue. it is more an issue of epistemology. Visual presentation relies on the specific physical space.

Art, from the moment it was born is not merely a simple visual issue. it is more an issue of epistemology. Visual presentation relies on the specific physical space. The space itself is of empiricism and our obtainment of visual information varies from one individual to the other and it is alterable. The visual information can be arranged and controlled in normal observation. In order to impact the visual observation, lots of artists do everything possible to explore the artistic languages and approaches. Artistic languages are the fundamental constituent of visual information of art works. We call it the ‘internal space’ of art. Artistic approaches are external conditions which affect the visual reading of art pieces. We call it the ‘external space’ of art. Cognition, owing to its comprehensive ability towards changeable emotional experience, can be beyond control and can be a complete process linking thoughts, behavior and observation together. We name this multidimensional space as a ‘cognitive space’, in another word it is an ‘element space’ or a space of a space. It does not fall into the category of daily experiences and its integrality is invisible. But it does exist in the process of observation. It means the external and internal spaces that we see belong to one of the observation itself (cognitive space). Cognition is responsible only for the cognition itself. It has not universal and certain purpose and does not bend to any truth that superior to human beings. Its only purpose in form is to bring superstitions to light. The most common superstition in art is the faith in visual space (external space and internal space) that people hold. Almost all of the art issues originate from it.

Art works may become too superficial and artists may lose individual reality if attention is only focused on the expression of visual space during art works’ creation processes. Since modernism art was born, creation forms of color, point, line, surface, media and etc. have being playing more and more obvious role in the art work creating. Even these forms have the tendency to be independent, but certain linguistic forms are still dependent on it strong culture backgrounds to establish their own symbolic meaning. But this independent tendency gains symbolic meanings only in certain abstract forms. Actually, any linguistic form demonstrates its meanings only under the cognition space where any visual elements are free, and this freedom being the externalization of human beings is offered by the human beings itself.

However, the fascination with the language demonstrates of people’s anxiety for control, therefore amusing play with art is a kind of self-control. On the other hand, works are overly independent upon external space and are located by stereotype display mechanism, which is just like cutting off the complete process of art creation artificially and thus the vitality of the art concept is turned into a stationary and ossified visual symbol. The value of art is, therefore divorced from the work itself and became under the control of intervenes of art. It is unavoidable that the art becomes a social weapon of potentates, an investment of businessmen and a visual wonder of ordinary people. Bu art is not a real weapon. It has not relatively stable price system compared with commodity. It is just a spectacle --- myth. This behavior will gradually move toward the invisible ideology principle of control, and make art becomes a shackle of human beings.

Art should revert to its awareness. The confirmation of the awareness is the value of contemporary art, which ensures the constant process of questioning contemporary art itself, and possesses the penetrability of the reality. The real world has its limitation defined by various rules and dogmas. This defined boundary is in fact the isolation. Directly objects of this isolation are people’s feelings, experiences, knowledge, faiths and so on. However, the subject of cognition is a universal organism; it cannot be differentiated by a single boundary both physically and mentally. The contradiction between ‘differentiation’ and ‘completeness’ will directly motivate each individual thinking toward the origin of the world, but in the empirical world individuals will never get to the origin of the world. Therefore thinking becomes a lasting and undying movement, I called this movement without answers as’ Unboundedness’ --- it lies in the unlimited expansion of the logic. It is an absolute unobstructed --- a universal freedom.  It does not lie in a physical world but in a conceptual world. It determines that art cannot become an object of bondage and it shows the value of art to human beings. Because the whole domain of contemporary art includes the development from visual spaces to cognition space, we can disperse thoughts from certain linguistic form and display circumstance corresponding to the boundlessness of the cognitive space. Thereby  this universal freedom is gained from the process. But we are not aware of it and ignore its existence even in the contest among concrete rules in reality. Even in spite of this, we still pass it consciously and unconsciously.

Under the context of art, freedom is not just a concept, it has connections with the reality. Facing the reality we need to break through the boundary by cognition and do practical conversion by using boundless concept. But this practice must be done by individuals separately. We cannot skip the premise of individuality and  with the name of collective only to preserve freedom by establishing moralities and institutions. In this circumstance, only equality in form can be set up. And the contrary, the gap in people’s understandings might be widen, then the mutual destroy of freedom between peoples might be expanded. Only the ability of practical changing toward conception is generally realized by individuals can the universal connection to be formed, and then to realize the social freedom (at this time, social basic units have been cancelled). This request highlights the social value of contemporary art.

The cognition towards world of contemporary art determines that the contemporary art is part of the intellectual history, therefore the creation of contemporary art works should be done from the point of view in ideology, and affects the reality in the form of methodology. But contemporary art differs from philosophy and science. In one hand, contemporary art faces the most direct reality, but issues that philosophy and science concerts are in a higher level beyond reality; on the other hand, philosophers and scientists’ works lie in relatively certain language and logical systems, the purpose of their exploration is of more trend to a certain answer. But owing to the relatively uncertain of language and logical, the work process of artists is more close to ‘boundlessness’. So contemporary art is to touch specific reality through specific language, and presents a freedom experience during questioning process. That means the freedom itself lies in reality, but only appears in the process of chasing truth ---It usually appears in the microcosmic condition of individual reaction, which requests artists to keep alert over specific, phenomenal and grand content.

Art does not exist for a certain social effects. The existence of art is just because that people have thoughts and experiences. Contemporary art corresponds to the truth of individual life and concerts each individual survival condition. The biggest problem of contemporary art is individual crisis. Extreme rationalism embeds people’s emotion and behavior in the precision program. Under the decoration of noble and beautiful moral coat, the ecological environment has been deteriorated, living space has been squeezed, institution has become rigid and control has been visible and human life is entering a new and unprecedented age. Additionally the Chinese special social and historical circumstances, feudal relic, imperfections of modernity and unpolished contemporary have impacts on each individual’s survival condition. At least we are unavoidably facing with the re-recognition of tradition, self-examination of reality, inspection in institutions, improvement of technology and renovation of methods etc. Life is full of problems every moment, but the appearance of life is still beautiful all the time. If contemporary art stops being an umbrella of false morals, then it cannot be enchanted in the interests  of linguistic forms any more leaving alone becoming a production process to pander to various social mechanism. So at least, it should have an animated individual reaction.

Faced with the complex of reality, it is natural that contemporary art shows its heavy characteristics, although sometimes it is also relaxing and humorous. But it always has its thinking nature, it will not present a false appearance of peace and prosperity for adulation, and will not become negative and depression because of hard life. It just truly reflects individual’s unyieldingness vitality when he faces reality. This vitality is the revolt against the inhumanity of reality. But it will not make a directly reaction against reality because there is not a certain object to hit back in physical space. It just retains the cognition of revolt, and then makes this rebel vitality to boundless cognitive space, when audiences approach to artistic specific linguistic form and display environment, this rebel vitality will be reflected back into audiences’ vision in linguistic form and display environment so then to arouses audiences’ reaction to reality in cognition --- it might be heavy, uncomfortable and rebel but it is the universal freedom that we can feel. From respect of this aspect, contemporary art is a common cultural tool and a survival philosophy rather than a simple art form.

There is not a particular concept of art until recent decades, but we don’t need to question who invented this concept, because contemporary art is a way of thinking which is aroused by human thinking logic in a particular time. There was neither a perfect era nor an absolute worse era in human history. People always have corresponding survival principles. When contemporary art is a survival philosophy, it makes us no longer believe in our visual nerves only, no longer solidify the answer of the visual into knowledge and no longer have faith in it. People make blood vessel of optic nerves link the whole body through interaction of visual images and abstract knowledge, as well as remain infinite vitality to contact with all of the unknown. Only in this sense can we truly understand the world, understand ourselves as well as others, reality as well as dreams, and survival as well as death.

Strictly speaking, contemporary art does no longer in the category of art history. It does not work out with interests and emotional display only. Contemporary artists should position themselves as ideologists, but different from ideologists. Artists do not have faith and at best believe in ‘boundlessness’ formally. The fate of contemporary artists is to approach to unknowns during the process of defeating themselves continuously. They only allow themselves to take a nap in microcosmic visual scene. At this interval, contemporary art can remain its aesthetic. Besides contemporary art must be heavy, and this heaviness is corresponding to the irregular change of humanity between unrests and calm sleeps during the historical process. Contemporary art has changed from art to philosophy to practice and then to reality. The fact is that most of people have no talent of philosophers and are not as crazy as the scientists, but most of them have the same curiosity as the artists have. We can begin with color, point, line, surface, material, technique, allowing them to have a nap, but do not believe in these visual fragments. Instead, maintaining the cognitive attitude to treat our reality and these fragments will lead us to find that the possibility of contemporary art is boundless.  

[Editor] 纪晓棠