Not all art necessarily makes an appeal to the visual senses,
but let’s say that most of it does.
So it might seem unnecessary or unnecessarily elementary to say so,
but sometimes it’s worth reminding ourselves that
art is something meant to be seen primarily,
that the appeal that makes to our intellect and emotions, our attention,
is achieved through visual stimuli
and that’s a different animal than other things, than writing or music.
The eyes are capable of incredibly subtle perceptual distinctions
that happen at an unconscious level.
So the act of looking consciously is the really
partly a matter of paying attention to what when we really look at something.
Another way of putting it is to think about drawing,
if you’ve ever taken a drawing class
or you’ve ever even read a book about how drawing is taught,
the first most elementary lesson is
usually a demonstration of the difference between what you see in front of you
and what you think you see.
The first attempts at drawing something from life, from perception,
invariably involve distorting what’s actually in front of you
because the brain intercedes with the eye
and gives false information.
For example, we know that the head has two eyes a nose and a mouth
so we will draw it that way
even if in fact we don’t see both eyes equally or we don’t see –
depending upon our point of view
we’ll see a partial representation of what the brain thinks of as reality.
So this is a long way around of saying that
the way to approach the visual world is to
take in the information and let it work on your cortex,
不用（去深究） 好吧 那是不可能的
without, well it’s impossible to say without
but while trying to stay neutral in terms of what we think we know because
part of the confusion surrounding contemporary art is
we know it’s laden with meaning and
we go to it intent on ferreting out the meaning,
which sometimes happens in advance of doing the actual looking.
When I say that ideally one should approach art with a visually neutral kind of screen
视觉中立 当然 在现代的文化生活中是不可能的
that visual neutrality is, of course, a kind of cultural impossibility.
没有人是中立的 或曾经可以中立 也许我们也不应该中立
None of us are neutral nor could we ever be and probably nor should we be.
When I say one should approach art with a neutral eye
what I mean is to try to log,
in your brain to log what’s there physically in terms of what was made
in advance of reaching for what the thing might or might not mean.
So if you’re looking at a portrait, let’s say what is a portrait?
A portrait is a painting of a face.
Of course the face is the subject
but the way the face is painted,
the way the portrait is presented to us in its specificity
is more important as art than who it’s a portrait of.
It’s probably not possible to view art without the filter
of 17 different kinds of cultural filters.
I don’t think that that would be –
probably that would require the equanimity of a Buddha,
however what I’m suggesting and what I’m advocating in the book
is simply to devote some of one’s attention to the physical fact of what is in front of us,
the physical fact of what was made;
how it was made;
what materials we used;
how was it done kind of question as opposed to what it’s a representation of.
This kind of attention is what used to be called formalism,
which I think is a little bit of a misnomer
and it has been I think unfairly or unusefully demonized as something
either culturally aloof or simply not interesting.
But the first principles of in any field on any art form,
包括音乐 建筑 文学
music, architecture, literature,
the first principles being how is it constructed,
what is it construct of,
those are the kinds of perceptual questions,
任何人都可以自问 都可以感知到 不用任何的文化训练
which anyone can ask themselves and be aware of without any cultural training.
The impulse to make art is a mysterious one.
It still remains mysterious after many millennia.
What is that impulse that compels someone to
make an image of something on a two-dimensional surface or a three-dimensional form for that matter?
I often think that the way to approach art
is to imagine doing it for one’s self,
imagine what are the steps involved to make that thing that you’re looking at.
What would you have to do if you were going to make that, whatever that is?
Even things as banal as getting on the subway to go to the art supply store
what do you have to buy?
What are the materials you have to buy?
What kind of space do you need to be able to make that thing in?
In other words,
one way to think about art is to imagine yourself as the artist;
imagine yourself as the maker;
put yourself in the artist’s shoes so to speak
and imagine the steps that one would have to go through.
Very much like when you read a cookbook
and there’s an illustrated step-by-step recipe that you follow,
first you have to put these ingredients in and then you have to preheat the oven.
Sometimes imagining the banal task like steps involved in the making something
helps us to appreciate what it is that was made
instead of looking at the results in a completely meaning laden kind of way.
I mean not to strain it to the breaking point
but if the cooking analogy has any use at all,
那就是 我们不会问一个派它有什么意义 我们只会问它好吃吗
we don’t ask a pie what does it mean we just ask does it taste good.
And then if you’re interested in how it stacks up next to other pies
then you might ask yourself
what was the recipe and why were there ingredients
and what’s different about those from some other ingredients?
All of this is another way of saying that art is something that someone made and the
human aspect of the making part of it is
I think the place where one can reliably go
to both find a connection to the art and also to get closer to whatever the artist’s
emotional field might be.