– looking at art from a darwinistic point of view
- Art is not a set of objects or compositions or paintings
- Art is the behavior that leads to a set of objects or compositions or paintings
- Art is not handed down only to a select few sensitive souls. Art, she says, is “making special,” an act that gives us belonging and meaning. It is passed from mother to child. Its origins lie deep in the human past
- Art makes us human
- I explore the bodily origins and interconnections of the felt rhythms of art and love, tracing them to what may appear to be inconsequential or even unlikely psychobiological beginnings in the earliest months of individual infancy
Just as the survival of the human infant during the long evolution of humans depended on the relationship it inspired in the mother, so the survival of early hunter-foragers depended on the cohesion of the group. It required “not only resourceful, competitive individuals but also strongly bonded social groups that could work together with confidence and loyalty, convinced of the efficacy of their joint actions”.
Dissanayake talks about levels of aesthetic response. The fourth and highest level in her naturalistic aesthetics is what she calls “satisfying fullness,” that rare, transcendent response to art in which one feels as if “something has been accomplished by the work or activity, and a sense of completeness or sufficiency is felt–rightness and even perfection.”
“My first experience was in Pullman, Washington, in Bryan Hall, when I was about seventeen years old, listening to the Boccherini Quintet. They played a slow movement that as it unfolded affected me so strongly. It was a complete surprise. I found myself crying, as if I had entered a transcendent realm. This experience is probably the source of my desire to understand the arts and their power. Since that time I’ve been able to understand a lot, but experiences like this cannot be ‘explained’ or ‘analyzed’ in any way that is commensurate with the transformation that I felt.”
What I would like to do, is to see what happens if we bring Dissanayake’s ideas into the contemporary art scene. While de Botton & co focus on art as therapy, the Dissanayakian way, I believe, would be to look at art as contemporary ritual.
If this is so, if art is a common ritual, how come todays art world seems more preoccupied with excluding than including the public?