The art of ownership - WOTW S3 Challenge round

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When we talk of the Arts, we can generally agree that they are comprised of the Visual Arts, Applied Arts, and Performing Arts.

The first category spans a wide variety, of which, the most prominent are Literature, Painting, Sculpture, and Photography. The second category covers Applied Arts which are essentially Visual Arts that have a more practical element, such as Architecture, Fashion, and Jewellery Design, whilst the third embraces the Arts of movement such as Dance, Theatre, Film, and Music. source

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Generically, we can refer to all the aforementioned as emanating from 'artists', as an artist is "a person who creates art (such as painting, sculpture, music, or writing) using conscious skill and creative imagination" or "a person skilled in any of the arts". source

All of these art forms have one key element in common: they all involve an original creator or artist who births an idea; a creative thought incepted from deep within their own imagination, derived of independent thought and emotion, that in itself tells a story either directly or indirectly through the artform, and gives us an insight into the way in which the artist views and experiences the world around them.

Given that an artist's creation may have commercial value, the artist may seek to protect their ownership rights in their art, as the creative arena is fraught with malice. Whenever money is involved, we struggle to temper malicious activity which seeks to undermine the rights of others through the ongoing assault of plagiarism and copycatting, and it becomes a race to the finish line to evidence these rights in copyright, trademark, and design law. And so the artist can choose to control who has rights to his / her material, can choose to protect those rights and the integrity of their original creative piece. What the artist cannot do is to retain control over the lines of interpretation that flow from the art itself. As a creator, you may own your art; but your readers, your audience, will always own its interpretation.

And "(such) is the joy of art; once it has left the hands of its creator it (falls) into the domain of its audience for appreciation." source

The artist may use any combination of language and movement to appeal to and connect with their audience. They endeavour to share something personal of themselves with those who observe, consume, and appreciate their work and therefore try to forge emotional connections at different levels. This can be quite simple and direct or involve layered thoughts and ideas, and even subliminal messaging to drive home their intended meaning. It won't surprise you therefore that the many layers that are often applied in the creation of the artwork often result in just as many, if not more, corresponding layers of interpretation.

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As human consumers, each and every one of us come to the arts with our own complex myriad of life experiences. Our hearts and minds are conditioned by what came before the mindfulness of the present moment. Our synapses and neural pathways have developed bespoke patterns and created a unique metaphorical highway of interconnected exchanges and processes within our brains. As individuals, we are each wired emotionally and intellectually to identify and connect with that which is familiar to us personally and it is, therefore, no wonder that we find such a wide array of interpretative responses to the meanings behind songs, poems, and stories. Quite simply, we all connect the dots slightly differently.

As an audience, we are therefore not hive-minded and there is no reason to coalesce. We may all belong to a tribe, a hive of humanity, but when it comes to art, we are not a superorganism, intent on reaching agreement, in fact, quite the opposite; we are often incapable of seeing things as one. But this is definitely not due to the frailty of the human mind being unable to achieve consensus of opinion. Quite the contrary, because the Arts, as a function of right brain activity, constantly challenges our brains to be open to its seemingly infinite capacity for interpretation and demands that our creative receptors in our own imaginations combine with our emotional experiential history to elicit an interpretation that has meaning for us alone. It remains a matter of personal discernment.

In fact, we take our ownership of the interpretation so seriously that when we ask the author for their intention, we are often left disappointed. We may hear, "oh it was nothing, just some ramblings" and we are disheartened that the deeper meaning we personally elicited or ascribed to the text was never intended in the first place. This has happened to me on occasion, particularly with respect to poetry. In one moment I feel elated to have found great depth in a poem only to be informed in the next by its respective author that they had not intended that meaning at all and that in fact, their poem was about a completely different subject matter altogether, and often a lot less complex than I had previously thought. Of course, I could see what they were referring to once their cards were on the table, but somehow I had gained something quite different from the experience.

When we discover that our interpretation varies vastly from the original intention or that the meanings were layered and complex when we thought the message was simple, or vice versa, what does that mean for the reader's personal enjoyment and appreciation, and does the artist have any right to feel aggrieved that their message was lost in translation?

The truth of the matter is that once the art has left its creator; once it is borne and released into the world, it takes on a life of its own, just like a baby grows distinct from its parent, from the moment the umbilical cord is cut. The art form, therefore, separates from its source of creativity. It takes on its own identity, and floats away, a dandelion, subject to the breezes of creative thought and interpretation, and so there exists vindication for our subjective experiences and we as the recipients should hold onto the emotional gains we have made. It should be enough for the artist that his / her art has been set free for the enjoyment of others.

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There is therefore no need for discord between artist and audience, or between one consumer of the Arts and another. Each artist, through their chosen form, tells a story to their audience, and how that communication is experienced and understood by each recipient, depends on the unique connections made between them and the creation. Our responses as consumers of art are therefore necessarily multifarious.

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Who is to say that one person's interpretation is more accurate or correct than the next? Each and every opinion, interpretation, or discourse on the subject matter at hand has an element of validity to it that is substantiated and backed by our own individual experience of the world around us. If we are critical in our deconstruction of the creative work at hand, it is not out of an attempt to be malicious, rather it is out of an attempt to seek greater understanding and appreciation of what lies before us.

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The work of film brings a special kind of magic and I believe that a discussion on the complexity and depth of film themes is best illustrated by a review of The Matrix Trilogy by the Wachowskis.

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On the face of it, the Matrix is already a fantastic sci-fi adventure, ablaze with stunning special effects, about a hacker who must dig deep inside his own character to uncover the truth about his state of existence, and who later joins the rebellion to lead them in the rise up against the machines and the artificial intelligence that controls mankind.

At a deeper level, there is the analogy of government control, manipulation, and exploitation using AI metaphors, computer technology, programs, and viruses.

Then there are the religious connotations which can be derived from the name of the MC, Neo, being an anagram of "one" as in "The one". He is also referred to as the saviour of humanity, and one who was prophesied to return to save the human race.

Even deeper beneath the surface lies a myriad of transgender references and the oppression of gender rights in society. To this end, the character of 'Switch' was a man in the real world and a woman in the matrix. The Wachowskis themselves have said that transgenderism and the desire for transformation in a closeted world was the key underlying theme of the film, something I am sure many of its widespread audience over the years failed to appreciate. source

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And so we learn something more intrinsic about the author and their own mind and creative process when we dig deeper and ask more questions, but this doesn't invalidate the many existing interpretations of the film's main themes and messages. The multi-layered approach used by the Wachowskis is designed to appeal to a wide audience, and we will all get something different from it, What counts in the end is that we each received what we personally needed from the creative experience, whether we chose the blue pill or the red.

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Musical scores /interludes and the lyrics that accompany them can trigger nostalgia; memories from our distant past which enable us to reminisce in the present and reconnect to a time in our past of intense emotional impact. It provides an invisible bridge back to key meaningful events in our lives heavily laced with emotional connection, enabling us to revive and relive the feelings we had when we first experienced the events in question, and hence a sense of familiarity and comfort is found in revisiting the experience. There is both the experience of our own existing mood being enhanced by exposure to the music/lyrics around us as well as the music and lyrics instilling within us a certain mood. Cause and effect wrapped in one in a never-ending cycle of appreciation. Our connection to both is often not directly related to the artist's original intention and can sit completely separate and outside of the existence of any explanation of the art in question. This is because when we connect with an artist and with their work, what we glean, what we salvage for ourselves comes from a place deep inside of us, just as the original creation came from a place seated deep within the heart and mind of the artist.

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And so ultimately what matters is how this affinity with the Arts, enables us individually to grow, to learn, to find joy, and variously to heal. When we truly immerse ourselves within the covers of a good book, become absorbed in a scene sandwiched between two acts in a play, or find ourselves mesmerised by the rhythmical lilt of an orchestral crescendo, it can feel as if the essence of the art form, and the very heart of its 'story' reaches out through its pages and performance, enveloping us in a virtual hug that brings with it an emotional connection too solid to ignore. Art has a unique ability to connect, to evoke a deep emotional response, to challenge our views about life, and the world and everything in it, and therein lies its true value to humanity.

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Resources:

1 - Why are we moved by music? - PsychologyToday.com

2 - How we evoke emotion with music - The Daily Telegraph

3 - Lead Gif credit: Tenor

4 - Samsmith1971

5 - Different forms of art

6 - Artist - Merriam Webster Dictionary

7 - Photo by Sergey (Merlin L.) Katyshkin from Pexels
Sergey Katyshkin

8 - Photo credit: Geralt on Pixabay

9 - Photo credit Master Tux on Pixabay

10 - Photo credit Geralt on Pixabay

11 - Photo credit Marcel Kessler on Pixabay

12 - Photo credit: Comfreak on Pixabay

13 - Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
Andrea Piacquadio

14 - Photo credit: Xuanduongvan87

15 - Photo credit: Pixel2012 on Pixabay

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