Sensation is the manner in which matter impinges on our senses. External reality hits us in some way – and depending on our sensitivities there is some variation in how we receive this pure sensation. For example, I’m a redhead with light skin and light eyes. I am light-sensitive, touch-sensitive and sound-sensitive.
Perception is the manner in which we automatically order the sensations. Infants, children, animals, and you and me all automatically order sensations into perceptions based on prior experience, knowledge and ordering. This is an automatic process and one which leads us to make definitions such as light, sound, chair, table, etc.
Abstraction is a cognitive higher level ordering of perceptions. Abstractions are developed as we develop language, forms of communication such as symbols, writing and talking. If you go back to your basic Aristotelian ordering of the universe into genesis and differentia you realize that the higher orders (genesis) is a level of abstraction.
Art in any form is a very high level of abstraction. The development of the art comes from the mind of the artist. The reaction to the art comes from the mind of the viewer (listener, etc.) Both the expression of art and the reaction to it are very personal and reflective of the values and beliefs of both.
Primitive Art – as language was just being developed, so too were expressions of ideas and activities. Most art of this era is of action – telling a story of the lives of the people.
Classical Art – During this period of time an exact replication of what the artist saw was the most desirable and there are many examples of these in museums.
Impressionistic Art – Mood became more important than exact replication. Emotions were prominent in the exploration of color.
Abstract Art – Photography is not popular and the artist no longer needs to accurately re-create reality; thus, the stretch into form, color, movement, and other ideas. How we react to these is vastly different.
Mona Lisa’s smile – what do you see?
The Last Supper – what elements do you find it? What do you think Leonardo DiVinci had in mind when he created it? How did he deal with the forced need for all art of that time to be religious and his own hedonistic (for that time) views?
Starry Night – Why did Van Gogh have such distortion? Why is the tree more prominent than other land elements? Why the swirls?
Picasso – I still don’t get him, yet my brother-in-law and niece, who are wonderful and intelligent human beings, think his art is the best.
Tampons on Display – Yes, that’s what I said. A while back, the San Jose Museum of Art had as a prominent display a series of used tampons, each in a different state of use. I thought it was gross – and certainly not something that qualified to the level of art. Others (believe it or not) thought it was brilliant because it “made you think.” UGH. What does that tell us about our current society?
If you don’t trust your own judgment, you look to others for their view. Some people will only listen to music, own art, and read books approved by Objectivists. Others have their own taste.
Very religious people only go to movies pre-approved by their priests or ministers.
Many engineers (and others) in
Silicon Valley hire decorators to pick their colors,
furniture, art, music, and even wine.
I take art classes. My style is free and far from “perfect”. Others in my class work slowly and carefully having to reproduce exactly what they are copying from – what does this tell you about each of us.
Psychological testing includes “projective techniques”. These include:
Ø Pictures of people in fairly ambiguous situations
Ø Ink blots for interpretation
Ø Symbols for copying with specific instructions
Having tested several hundred people and taught psychological testing to graduate students for several years, I can attest to the fact that people see things and report them very differently. How they see these elements tells the trained tester much about the people being tested.
Ø People who are depressed tend to relate to dark and dreary colors. I had a friend years ago who lived in a small, poorly furnished apartment with dark and ugly posters as his only art. I had a hard time hangin’ around there. This very bright, interesting and good looking young man had great difficulty forming lasting relationships with women.
Ø People who are angry tend to draw with strong harsh lines and use a lot of blood like red in their drawings.
Ø People who are fearful or very low in self-esteem take up little room on the page when asked to draw a series of symbols.