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Welcome to the official homepage of the artist Carsten John
In order to understand the work of a visual artist, you should first of all clarify what understanding of art the artist has, since the concept of art is constantly changing. There is no uniform definition of the concept of art. In general, however, it can be agreed that the work of an artist is the product of a creative process. However, this does not say much about his understanding of art.
In addition, it is beneficial to understand how the artist does his work to gain better access to his understanding of art as a viewer of his work.
Clarification of the understanding of art
In the book "Weltsprache Kunst" the authors Christa Sütterlin and Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt describe the work of a visual artist as an interpretation of meaning of the world as well as in the form of self-reflection as an inter-pretation of meaning of his self. The artist addresses others with his works. He asks questions, gives opinions and then he puts them up for discussion.
The opposite is the idea of Joseph Beuys with his statement that every human being is an artist. With this statement he explains the creative as the artistic to the concept of art.
But which of these two definitions of art is an artist able to follow?
We are currently living in a society where value ethics is the predominant morality. We sign an online petition against the deforestation of the Rainforest and book five minutes later via an online provider a wellness weekend including flight from Berlin to Munich. In value ethics, we use a value only as long as it serves our own well-being.
According to the notion of Joseph Beuys, any value-ethical-minded man who works creatively would be an artist.
But is a value-ethically oriented person capable of an interpretation of meaning and to what extent is an interpretation of meaning necessary?
The philosopher Wolfgang Ullrich notes in his book "Wahre Meisterwerte" that people who live up to their virtue, duty ethics or religious ethics can still make sense of misfortune. A man who has become destitute, however, is no longer able to make sense in a value-ethical society. Nothing catches him anymore.
A penniless value-ethical-minded artist could therefore not be meaningful in his creative work.
Following the logic of value ethics, you quickly realize that, as the example of the online petition and wellness weekend shows, value ethics is inconsistent and thus superficial. Ultimately, ethics can only be profound if it is consistent.
But if the creative as the artistic is the art, the value ethics does not stand in the way of the art, because a statement which quality art must have is not in the foreground with this definition of art. In fact, this concept of art makes no demands on the quality of an artistic work at all.
If, on the other hand, you follow the logic of the interpretation of meaning as the basic idea for an understanding of art, then it must be stated that a sense (and thus the question of what is there for something) with an in-consistent and therefore superficial ethic in art is difficult, if not impossible.
Consequently, a value-ethically oriented artist can easily make art in the sense of a creative act, but in the sense of an interpretation of meaning he will face great problems.
On the other hand, if an artist is not value-ethically oriented, but his ethics are based on virtues, duties or religion, an artistic creation in the sense of interpretation of meaning is possible, since these ethics can be consistent and therefore profound. The question of what there is for something can be filled with life by such an artist. The artist, however, is confronted with a value-ethically oriented society. However, since this only consumes the value of art as long as it serves one's own well-being, an artist who questions the question of what is there for something and thereby questions the social norms has difficulty in being perceived and understood. His works are inevitably difficult to consume and less conducive to well-being. The professional success of such an artist thus seems limited. Whereas for artists who work creatively but not meaningfully, a professional success in today's society seems simpler, their work is easy to consume and serves the short-term sense of well-being. It is alarming, however, that art, by virtue of ethics of value, gradually degenerates into a meaningless work. Art loses its significance and becomes a pure consumer object. The quality of the art is then reduced only to the craftsmanship of the artist. The content of the artwork has become irrelevant.
However, as one can know from the basic idea of the interpretation of meaning by art, art can do much more than simply being a mere object of consumption. Art can inspire, motivate and trigger emotions. It can change the thought pattern, perception and behavior of a person. Art can be useful. Art has to be meaningful. Otherwise, if it serves only for entertainment, it is arbitrary and can be replaced by other entertainment media at any time.
Clarification of something
In order for an artistic work to be meaningful, it is therefore necessary to ask what something is there for. But what is this something?
The question of the self is at this point very obvious and in the form of self-reflection as an interpretation of meaning in a sense already pre-formulated: Why am I here?
In order to answer the question why I am there, you first have to be clear about who you are. Which settings do I have? What skills do I have? Am I more extroverted or introverted? There are many more questions. In sum-mary, the question arises about one's own personality traits.
This is followed by questions about the conditions of development of these properties. How did I achieve these qualities? Are they offered or learned? What factors in my development have made me who I am today?
What does my current behavior look like? What internal processes are going on in me that cause me to do this? What do I perceive and what thought processes and emotions are triggered by it? Which motivations and thought processes control my behavior? What role do situation factors and possibly existing interpersonal relationships play? These are all questions about your own self. It is the questions of experience and behavior.
But as the interpersonal references suggest, we are not alone in this world. There are billions of other people besides us. What are these people for? Who are these people and how do they fit into my world? Can general patterns of behavior and thinking be identified that I can use to orient myself? If there are general patterns of behavior and thought, are they then reserved for humans only or do we find them again in the animal and plant world? What insights can we draw from this? What insights can I draw from this for myself?
So, after psychology and ethology we also go into the field of philosophy. With the help of logic, ethics and metaphysics, we can now also try to explore and interpret the world and the existence of man.
So, if a visual artist defines his work as an interpretation of meaning of the world as well as in the form of self-reflection as an interpretation of meaning of his self and puts the people and his environment at the center of his work, he gives art a meaning. The art becomes meaningful. Psychology, ethology and philosophy serve the artist in his work as cornerstones.
Clarification of how
A photograph captures a certain part of the present moment. For example, by alienating or abstracting the section of the captured exterior, and there-by making it into a photograph, it is possible to show the timeless underlying the section of the captured moment. Due to alienation or abstraction, the photo is no longer bound to the actual reality of the image. A new meaning is added to the photo. By freeing oneself from the corset of existing reality, it can, for example, additionally move to a meta-level, thus giving the viewer an overall view of the abolished reality. The captured moment can thus be made accessible on different levels to the viewer.
It is also possible through the alienation or abstraction of photographs, such as collages, through the existing reality to create a new reality. At the same time, however, it is also possible to show the timelessness that underlies the alienated or abstracted excerpts, since the starting point of such a photograph is still the reality that was captured in the photos at the time of the illumination.
Photography thus always allows a section of reality to be accessed and made accessible to the viewer. This accessibility can be extended by alienation or abstraction. However, a photograph is always based on an actual eye-view, even if it has been artificially created. As a result, photography distinguishes itself from painting, sculpture and other techniques of the visual arts, as their image never really needed to exist in reality.
If an artist uses photography and pursues the interpretation of meaning of the world or self-reflection of his own, he always uses the existing reality to ask his questions, to give opinions and to put them up for discussion. So, he tries to interpret meaning by means of excerpts of existing reality.