A Philosophical Spin on Art

I’ve often wondered –       is spin art art ?

–  a creative accomplishment with skilled hand-to-eye coordination and sense of color and space and design – or, is it simply a matter left open to chance?  Is there technique to learn, facility to acquire, skill to master or is our act of painting simply mimicking a method suggested by Spin Art’s own instruction while satisfying our own creative bursts?  Is spin art’s pouring of paint akin to other credible manners in art, (the exacting pointillism of a Seurat, the arm-swing gestural of a Pollock?) or is our work simply a mechanical engagement with neither technique nor boundary to it, readying ourselves for the resulting “spin” – either of fortune or ruin? Can one define well-executed spin art and differentiate it from poorly executed spin art?  Can we qualify our definitions by asking – “Is it good to layer all of the colors made available (including the ‘color’ white [which may blot most of the ‘spinned’ work done previous], returning the image back to its original form [that of a blank (blanc) piece of paperboard] and cover the board entirely?” or, “Is it better to be economical and use only two or three colors and then, only once, leaving a surface tenuous and spare?” 

Of what use are Day-Glo colors which spark our Pop Art sensibilities, or, metallic colors which echo even more Pop Visual and what do they mean?  Do we stick with our three primary colors and allow gravity and movement to create silent secondaries?  Should tonal range be considered in limiting our palette, or is it “the more color the better” our truest path to the ideal spin art experience?

Does spin art require a certain predilection in our DNA make-up, like that of someone we knew, who, as a child, “liked to draw” and thus, ended up in art school? Is there a need of an innate anything? Do we engage decision-making to a significant level in our spinning or does a randomness and chaos ensue?  Is there a mixing of both? Is spin art a meta-discipline, contrary and unique in its own countering of required talent, artistic skill, or paint-pouring proficiency? Do we take delight in our spin art creations?  Are they worthy of critical review?  Can spin art claim creativity over convention?  Intention over folly?  Is spin art fun? Will spin art survive? Will museums and institutions of higher learning realize its breadth? 

Enveloped in a blanket of snow piled high and still falling, I think back to a conversation I had with someone who posited that white, or, no color, (absence of color for it reflects all waves) is really all color based upon the explanation that if one (physically) spins around and around a color wheel, yes, a tangible object of recorded color, pigments on a page, (aka: a glimpse of that falling tree) – the resulting visual is that of a blank surface, all color muted and subdued, caught up and simply ‘lost’ in the motion, but tangibly, still [known to be] all there.

And so, – it occurs,

if spin art just kept spinning, would we ever see the color that we know to have been poured onto and all over its paperboard surface?  Would it then prove, despite our empirical knowledge-gained action of using all sorts of colors in the process of spinning art – that white (the resulting image still-spinning) is indeed all color made absent and therefore, absence of color is truly all color?  Is, as Baudrillard gives us, the absence of something that which empowers, gives meaning? Does the science of refraction help us in our assessment? Do measured lengths of bending waves in prismatic distillation matter at all to the spin artist?  To the viewer? To the whole concept of spin art?

What color then, is snow?  Snow moving, spinning in a great gale?  Snow falling aslant against a haloed streetlight creating its own spinning glow? Muddied snow forming a formidable embankment?  Snow that buries itself beneath other layers of the same, insulating itself from surface shadows and angles, which appear blue, or gray, or, just simply darker in color?

What, then, of snow that falls without daylight to help compose its blinding compass?  What if one were to spin about in the snow dressed in colorful clothing?  Is that person art?  Does that person become any less colorful for expressing what would appear to be emotive joy?  Can spin art pile up as snowflakes over time and then become a source for reflection?  Does a snowflake’s movement give it meaning?  Are colors only to be seen in stillness?  Are moving thoughts colorless?  Is spin art deep?  Is snow art?  Do we, in the end, buried in our colorful imaginations, become necessarily absent upon reflection?  

Jan. 2022

We all love sunsets

How we consider a sun setting in the evening sky to be beautiful, to prompt a running-to-get-our-camera moment relies upon history and context and acculturation alongside our own neurological pathway-building influence of what we think of as beautiful “automatically” – how we have become seemingly auto-responsive to, and, yet, at the same time, have learned through our cumulative viewing experiences to love symmetry, contrasting colors, movement in space, Pythagoras’s triangles, harmonic structures and post and lintel construction.  It is both ingrained and learned. 

We all love sunsets for their colors, their striking visual display regardless of ever having been taught about color or striking visual displays.  But we also love sunsets because we have seen so many sunsets taken out of the flow of the everyday and ordinary to become something stand-alone beautiful, something shown to us over and over as an example of something beautiful to look at, to take in, to mystically observe and urge us to consider this one section of the whole sky at this particular time of the day.  Cameras are summoned to record these visual displays as our culturally-formed reflexes are reinforced. Is it merely the sharp color contrasts that move us, their fleeting duration, or is there something more meaningful in connecting the setting of the sun with the ending of a day which exists no longer, just as the colors diminish before us? Is this the connection we are making (one of the symbolic rather than the mere signifying?) with the sky’s colors and our own lives diminished by one more day?

We have learned to frame things in our minds, adjust our inner palettes to appreciate the sliver from the vastness, for the whole is far too great; the required rules of symmetry and soothing color shifts all help in the creation of the beautiful.  A harsh light stressing our retinal retention capacity is not seen as beautiful; but place the very same light in the sky at a distance, give it some capacity for dispersing itself gently and we somehow find in it, beauty. 

Perspective shifts of common elements aim for the beautiful; the context then, serving to administer the qualities needed to experience it.  One single flower growing out of a cement block in an otherwise gray drab slab of concrete appears to us beautiful despite its contextual reality – its place out-of-place, its natural reality far more harsh and unforgiving (does it live as if well-tethered in rich soil and ample water?) than if set within a field of anonymity and likeness and same.  Is it the contrast, then, the context of this which determines the experiencing of the beautiful?  Is it the “framing of” that again is required for us to even notice?

This all leads to the artist and the art created for us to look at.  The response to something visually beautiful is simply our natural inclination mixed with a continued repetition of having noted such things over and over in order for them to impress upon us some sort of ingrained survival mode which, if beneficial to us, if strong enough to last, will have proven itself valid and necessary simply by the virtue of its lasting; its capitulation due to such repetition —– like the worn-out comfort of an armchair after decades of daily use.  The artist need not be mired in the questioning of what is beautiful, for by the very virtue of the artist’s “framing of” – selecting and setting apart for us to look at – this should all be resolved for the artist in the end — if the art is working.