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The “Beholder’s Share” (The Importance of Reproductions)
So, what is the “Beholder’s Share”? Can "share" mean 'responsibility for', 'contribution toward', 'involvement with', 'of creative completion'? Or, more simply, a 'take it or leave it' situation?
The question is particularly germane regarding Abstract and Non-Objective Art. Especially, since figurative images are usually recognized and viewers’ abstracting capacity is not required for the visual exchange. Even the notion of ‘art appreciation’, an evaluative construct, does not seem to comport with aesthetic experiences, per se. One possible responsibility, creative viewing, then, may be considered what a beholder's share ought to be; and what an enormous share it would be!! Why? Because no actual significance or meaning (save the artist’s thrust) is actively given to a composition, except by the beholder!! Furthermore, the stuff of aesthetic arousal is imbued with emotional content; involvement with a painting or print. Therefore, viewings over time are contributions toward gaining favor with and affording meaning to the beholder. They represent the major share of the visual-affective, and of the creative-completion; by and for the beholder!! However, creative viewing may fade into loss of interest; disconnection. Loss of interest may be a defining measure of a composition's aesthetic potency, or lack thereof. Couching the importance of aesthetic experience in terms of 'arousal' and 'potency' may seem odd at first. However, the experience of being captivated by a piece in a museum or gallery can hardly rate as connection during the short time that is spent with it. Music, on the other hand, is recorded and re-recorded so as to provide the listener the very opportunity of benefiting from every repeated sound nuance: every affect reproduced in a listener, as many times as that person desires - (an 'opportunity to reconnect'). How many times must one go to a museum or gallery to view an imprisoned masterpiece to experience its aesthetic potency, to partake of their share? Few can afford to purchase masterpieces and many times if they do, the purchases are for investment or trading for profit. Are serious beholders, then, being denied their share of the entire, incomprehensible, astronomically priced art world?? Surprisingly, for this author. the answer is NO!; because the quality of affordable reproductions has improved enormously and could repair the chasm between unaffordable abstract compositions and new reproductions of old masters and newly created pieces by highly-skilled creators of Abstract and Non-Objective Art. Figurative Art reproductions would flourish as well, with the advent of very high-quality reproductions. Obviously, affordability would lead to ownership and provide more time to creatively view and lend meaning to any image of your choice. Affordable abstract art and non-objective art does allow the beholder ample opportunity to engage in a very complex conversation that functions on a visceral, intellectual and neurological level by becoming more and more conscious of their own capacity ‘to abstract’. Abstracting is the gerund of the verb ‘to abstract’. Abstracting is synonymous with making-meaning; giving meaning to your favorite pieces of abstract art and virtually everything else you value. Overall, the 'beholder's share' contributes to one's Personal Development!! However development takes time. If only the 'so-called' art-world would relax the stigma associated with affordable reproductions, anyone could own such a reproduction and enjoy their share of aesthetic pleasure, Much like the books in our personal libraries that "are not original manuscripts". A reproduction would need to 'hold-up' to its aesthetic promise, its 'aesthetic arousal' or succumb to its lack of 'aesthetic potency'; its failure to attract.
What follows is an addendum of collected phases and ideas that, hopefully, will make the case for The Importance of Reproductions. Reproductions are less-expensive images that offer interested viewers to take optical risks, allowing artists' vision to emerge, not based on realistic portrayal of anything....interpretive freedom..... with each and every observation. Once a composition reveals its newness and mystery the observer is on a visceral, intellectual & neurological level that may open to sensitivities and reflections from one's fondest memories.
Art is for sharing, it can be charged with ambiguities that take a little time to decode; cognitive representations that are not solely visual but include feelings and empathic power. Looking at reproductions in a completely different way, by holding them to as high a standard as The Beholder's Share implies, the viewing experience is much more critical than had once been acknowledged. Also, the value of reproductions lie in their accessibility, being at least as affordable as mass-manufactured glitter found in box stores. The expressive/experience that manifests as a painting may sizzle with life that is not exactly its own, not exactly yours, but a collaboration which creates a third something, that something is the beholder's share. There is a psychological distance between a created piece and the viewer, of course. That distance (newness as such) can be brought closer by the observer's creative force. Undergoing such a phenomena is not totally understood. Referred to as a crypto-phenomena, it is an-attempt-to-abstract-by-sharing the expressed unconscious material that is completed by the viewer! Abstract and Non-Objective Art dares our nervous system to interpret images that are novel/new/surprising. Humans are particularly adept at reconstructing novelty and actually seeks it. The assimilation of the new is creative-reconstruction that stimulates the learning capacities of one's organism. Learning to integrate, perceive and involves the brain and body.
The ambiguity of Abstract images puts greater demands on our imaginations than familiar, ordinary images. This alone requires more input from the human organism, adding feeling/meaning to a composition. The beholders involvement in these concepts, know as the biology of visual perception is another way to define a beholder's share. Retnal experiences are more than aesthetic gratifications, they distinguish Art from Reality! Also, aesthetic qualities create feeling and Mood. Feeling-states, meaning-making, embodiment-of-thoughts, memories are all coded for subtle feeling-tones that accompany perception and creative involvement. A felt-conceptualized experience awaits the determined observer who frequently abstracts a given composition; who personalizes the image gazed upon.
A final note to illustrate "consciousness of abstracting": an example of a common optical illusion asks; "Do you see a Face or Vase? When one or the other possible images (Face or Vase) becomes the prominent perceptual focus, it is described as the 'FIGURE', and what remains is called the 'GROUND'. You have abstracted and focussed the figure. When you visually experience a felt change, by abstracting the ground to the figure the occurrence is known as becoming conscious of abstracting.
Augmented Reality, a smart-phone technology, allows for trial-views of enlarged or down-sized images to enhance any wall size. Reproductions of one's informed choice, including size, framing, canvas quality, etc. can be arranged to be delivered in just a few days.
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