What is to have an idea in Art?

PT |

Basically to have an idea in Art turns out to be exactly the same thing as having an idea of any other thing. The mental operations for reaching conclusions are the same. However each individual only deliberates about cinema or painting if this is really of his or her interest.

In its substance an idea is the result of a set of abstract mental operations: it’s an expression that implicitly brings a presence of intention, resulting in a material experience. Therefore, when an idea comes, there is an unconscious process triggered, mechanically, but, at the same time, also very naturally and humanly. A logic constructive method is developed depending on knowledge’s singularity, acquired during our life experience. This is mainly the only action obtained unconsciously because when we talk about intention, consciousness is readily brought up.

When in a constructive mental process you may get back, whenever necessary, to the memory of already experienced events or recently acquired knowledge, giving answers to idea’s requirements and to its mathematical simplification.

For Plato, an idea emerges from a thing of the intelligible world, an idea represents the projection of knowledge; when a thing is watched, the eyes transmit rays of light that project that same thing which exists in us as an universal principle – extroversion.

For Aristotle an idea originates from the experience of the sensitive world, from phenomenon and contingent phenomenon, believing that things create copies of themselves through the reflection of light, copies that are absorbed by senses and interpreted by natural knowledge or acquired one – introversion.

The synonyms may vary, depending on the type of situation at a specific moment:

Mental Approach: You’re there! That idea approaches the thing.
Thought Content: Never thought of that!
Form Content: Right at the first notes, the idea for the score arose!
Esteem: With that idea, you’re going to make it!
Intention: The idea was not making dinner tonight!
Innovation: It is, without a doubt, a promising idea!
Opinion: I don’t like that absurd idea!

The ideas come up to a child through a sensitive experience; it’s through its innate knowledge that they just emerge naturally. Usually a child has ideas of things it can do to have fun and to interact with the other, for example. A child is incapable of using its own intelligible world for having ideas about the corporation world, because they have yet not experienced it. Having ideas is therefore common to everybody but the ability to develop them asks for an understanding about the transformation from immaterialism to matter.

Our juridical ability, matured while we grow up, enables us with a clear distinction on what is good or bad – the parameters being established by our society. Not that we’re actually programmed, as, at a first glance, all ideas are good. What tells us if an idea is good or bad? It’s the experience. Without trying what we think it will be difficult to know if, in the real world, our immaterial idea continues to be a good idea or there is the chance of being a complete failure.

In the creative environment we’re confronted with this situation countless times. Everything is less, obviously! It’s more complicated to put the idea outside because it’s like a root, you cannot see it from above. When you pull it, the idea comes with its ramifications and full of soil. The artist’s job will be, therefore and firstly, to clean up the soil and afterwards to find the main root (the main source of his work). This is when the artist may say he’s being objective because he knows what’s the nature of the work. After, comes the materialization that results from this brainstorming, done in parallel with experience. That’s why, sometimes, neither artist or observer understand what is being shown.

I think it’s also important to take care of the idea’s spell, which is also caused by the art work. This state is harmful to action. It leaves us physically puzzled and astonished. It’s frequent to finish up pondering a detail and eternally attracted to it, forgetting how to react. And that’s when many show their “works of art”, in a state of “don’t know what”. It’s the experience that breaks the spell and allows us to continue until the detail is finally reached and, at that time, transformed in a work of art.

Success is never certain. The probabilities of failing seem smaller when the idea arises but, as you experience, frictions start coming up and making the preview more difficult. Expectations decrease and the frustration/despair take its place. However the ability to overrun ends up to be stronger and that idea, that was already seen as a looser, may be revisited in memory and be useful for completing another idea that may arise – helping to know what not to do next time, for example.

Written by Jorge Reis and translated by Ana Vinhas

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