Experience is round. We can turn ourselves/bodies to see all of what surrounds us. We can tilt our heads back and see the round dome of the sky above us. Our sense of place is hearing sounds near and far, seeing objects and other animals close to us and far away, feeling air move against our skins. It is smelling the earth or pavement that we feel under our feet.
Experience is round, a swirling mixture of the past into the present and back again, all of our perceptions of any given thing at any point in our lives mixed in with every other perception of that thing, taking on more richness and complexity the older we get.
Human beings’ secondary experience of the world is through the window of culture. Our window is straight-sided and flat, or sequential and linear. Straight-sided things divide us from the round world, protect us from weather and extremes of temperature, give us reliable, uniform surfaces to lean against and walk on. The conventions of picture-making are flat, and have corners. The ways in which we transmit images to each other, in photographic, cinematic and electronic media, all present the world in a straight-sided frame. Our primary experience is edited and transformed by this frame. Secondary/edited versions of reality allow for interpretation, the imposition of meanings that can be conveyed to other people, who recognize the symbols of this representation. This is what art is, whether static or time-based – a set of conventions for representing the world, whether literally or as parallel, “abstract” experience.
Experience is round, a swirling mixture of the past into the present and back again, all of our perceptions of any given thing at any point in the life of our society mixed in with every other perception of that thing, taking on more richness and complexity the older it gets.
So, art comments upon and re-interprets art.
In the “Modern” period, western cultures believed that they had finally emerged from the dark ages of human evolution into a new, bright world, made possible by scientific knowledge, feeding the creation of new technologies. The “Postmodern Age” is the shock of cold water, the recognition that the new, bright world of our own creation is still completely dependent on that other, round world of primary experience, and that the new world threatens the very existence of both the old world and ourselves. We are part of the old, round world, even inside our straight-sided shelters, even though we have come to understand the world almost exclusively through secondary, straight-sided interpretations.
All experience is round. History repeats itself. The present time and the past exist simultaneously.