Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Art is not without Limits - Freedom of Expression is a Lie, a Delusion and a Mechanism of Social Engineering

Art is not without Limits - Freedom of Expression is a Lie, a Delusion and a Mechanism of Social Engineering
We often hear artists, critics, commentators, academics and libertarians say 'art is without limit' or 'art and expression should be unlimited'. But is this correct in reality? And is it even desirable?

This is yet another of those societal slogans which are followed by many, repeated by many, but thought about by none, or at least very few.

The Nature of Art is Limited
In reality, art is limited. It is just a medium of expression and expression is limited. Our tools of expression are limited, we can't talk forever, we can't paint and draw forever. Our materials of artistic expression are limited, do we have paint brushes that are unlimited? Do we have unlimited supplies of paint, wood, canvas and stone? Of course we don't.

Our Bodies are a Prison
We are limited by all the physical limits that exist for any of our activities. We are limited by our strength, endurance, speed, lifespan and senses. We can only see as we see, hear as we hear, say what our tongue, teeth and lips allow and we can only touch what we can reach.

We are held captive by our own nature
We are limited not only physically, but also by our own human nature. Our instincts and emotions limit our artistic expression just as they limit any other activity. If our body demands something, that often hinders what our dreams call us to. If we are in a state of shock, we may not think clearly and may not be able to do what we would have wanted. If we are depressed we may not be able to work as normal, if we are happy we may lose control and get depressed about the results. If a performance artist wanted to end his life with a televised suicide, his personal doubts and fear may prevent him from doing it or someone else may intervene, or he may even die naturally or by some other external cause before he can fulfil his wishes. Artistic ability is limited, externally and internally, just as our lives are generally.

Our Epoch is a Limit
We are limited by the tools of our time. Could people one hundred years ago, express themselves in digital (computerised) art? They could not, it didn't exist. And these limits applied to all media whether oils, acrylics, watercolours, pencil, charcoal etc. If it hadn't been discovered or invented, then you would have a tough time using it. Indeed we expect new media to be discovered and invented, but that maybe after we have gone. We can't use what we don't know and we can't use what we don't have access to and this seriously  limits us. If I had all the actors I desired and a professional crew, I'm sure I could make excellent movies, but instead I maybe stuck on Youtube talking to myself. What will the writer do if the paper runs out, if the ink runs out? What will the blogger do when the electricity stops? 

It is not just the material limits though. We are limited by the influences in culture and wider society. These influences can motivate or demotivate us. We are limited by how our work is received by the masses or by specific groups. These are partly products of our time and we can't control that, and even if we could, they are certainly limited.

Our Words are Limited
If we express ourselves in words, then again, we are limited by the rules and words of the language in addition to our ability to learn multiple languages and our ability to access and learn vocabulary. I would like to know many languages to express myself in, but time and responsibilities of priority prevent me. Words can only go so far and they can't reach everyone in a way that they are understood anyway. You speak to two people directly at the same time and they can end up with opposite understandings.

Our Internal Limit
We are also limited by the seed that drives all artistic expression, our own mind. Can we express matters that we don't even know about? Mostly not. We can unknowingly express something and then discover a meaning later, as we act as conduits for unseen or unknown forces inside and outside of us. But mostly we act upon a will that is limited by our own experience, knowledge, intellect and psychology. You can't express what you can't think of and we have limited control over our own thoughts. We can even try to think of something and fail or try not to think of something and fail.

Art isn't the only painting in the gallery
Artistic thought is just one type of thought among many. Art has its role and capabilities and spheres of application but so do other types of thought such as political, literary, scientific, rational, spiritual, ideological, philosophical etc. Some types of thought are more fundamental and comprehensive than others. Society suffers when a group of people try to build a society on a type of thought that society can't be built upon. A house made of chocolate isn't very practical, especially in summer.

Political Fences and Chains
Now lets look to restrictions on us from the political order.

We are limited by the laws that are imposed on us. Whether we agree with or recognize those laws or not is another thing, but it is likely at least we will curb our expression and application of artistic skills in order to avoid the hassle of law enforcement. Every nation in the world puts limits on the movements and behaviour of its citizens regardless of the deluded claims of 'freedom' that exist in 'democratic societies.'

Are people free to say what they want and do what they want, just because they categorize it as an artistic expression? Do governments allow artists to unveil State secrets or official secrets as part of an artwork? They don't. Do governments allow artists to pretend to be doctors, police etc without informing them first of these games? They don't.

Just as speech and action is restricted by thousands of laws that exist, so to artistic expression is limited by those same laws. Copyright, patent and a whole range of other monopolizing laws and principles which prevent creativity, expression and more importantly accountability and justice exist all over the place like white on a primed canvas.

Many artists are deluded into thinking they are free to act artistically as they please as they find that they seem to be free in two particular areas, the freedom to insult religion and the freedom to insult politicians and represent sexual imagery. In two of these cases, we have to remember that in most places in the world (if not all when analyzed accurately) we live in secular societies. This means societies where religion is separated from governance. That is, the State has based its authority on an ideology of opposing religion in all but the personal sphere. Therefore when an artist attacks religion and religious law in particular, he is in alignment with the objectives of the secular government. So far from being an act of rebellion, it is in fact an act of compliance and conformity by the artist. As for the issue of expressing sexual imagery in art, then again this is something which religion puts restrictions on based on its defining objectives and roles in human relations and protecting the family according to a religious criteria. So representing sexual imagery is not something which secular government regards as a threat to its authority, rather, politicians calculate that it serves them well that their population is busy with stimulating its own sexual instincts rather than paying attention to the contradictions, inadequacy and exploitation that emanates from government, its laws and policies.

As for the issue of artists targeting politicians for ridicule, then know that again this generally isn't regarded as a threat to the establishment. Journalists and artists can expose and mock politicians and this is unlikely to bring about any change. This is because firstly, change requires an alternative and most journalists and artists have no alternative. Secondly, an attack on an individual is not an attack on a system, even if an individual falters in their political ambitions or falls from 'grace' altogether, they are expendable and will be quickly replaced and the system lives on. If an artist actually engages in an artistic expression which does expose the nature of oppression, corruption and exploitation within a system but more importantly exposes the intrinsic flaws, fallacies and contradictions in the foundations and philosophy of an ideology or system then this is much more dangerous. If such an artist or writer did this along with proposing a viable alternative (especially if connected with a movement or body of people to carry it) then this truly threatens a radical change to the existing political structure. Such an artist may swiftly realise that his freedom of political and artistic expression was a figment of his imagination or rather, his unknowing acceptance of indoctrination.

When it suits a government to talk about freedom of expression they are its champions, such as when they want to invade another nation or target an idea that threatens them. But when it does not suit a government to talk about freedom of expression they talk about responsibility, patriotism, the rule of law and everyone's right to practice this or that imaginary freedom. We have people imprisoned, killed and tortured all over the world for expressing their religious and political beliefs while those doing the persecuting are on other occasions the loudest advocates of the fictitious principle of freedom of expression. People need to look beyond the slogans and spin they have been chanting at the behest of others without awareness.

Do we really want art to be unlimited?
Finally, let us consider this as an ideal. Do we want to freedom of expression absolutely in society? Is it ideal that people can express themselves however they want, with whatever they want, whenever they want?

Do we want doctors giving us the wrong prescriptions and then afterwards telling us they did it for artistic reasons? Do we want people to kill babies and make sculptures out of them to show us how willing they are to shock in the name of art? Do we want people to turn the whole landscape into a blank canvas by chopping down all the trees? Do we want people to make a continuous streaming art video compiled from all the bathrooms and bedrooms of the whole population without their permission? Do we want new genres of art to arise such as 'murder expressionism' or a whole range of other vices and harmful acts to the person, mind and society? I think everyone with sanity, sense and decency will agree that such artistic liberalism is not worth its costs.

Consider a person who follows you everywhere, photographs and films you from all positions and places at all times. He says "You own yourself, but you don't own my vision of you, this is my artistic right." So he continues to film, then merges your photographs with those of scenes of child abuse, animal abuse, hatred and oppression. He does this with such skill that thousands of people are now seeking to kill or harm you. You appeal to him to stop for your own safety, and he replies "We can't abandon our principles out of fear, art is unlimited and I am free, whatever happens then so be it, at least art has not been restricted." So his religion of artistic freedom has become your death warrant.

People say 'Express yourself in any way as long as it doesn't harm or affect others'. But in reality everything we do affects others. As soon as people see us we are affecting others, we affect both by our our actions and inaction, even by what clothing we wear. As soon as we show a picture to someone it affects them, as soon as we communicate with someone it affects them. You may say something and ten thousand people might end up dying because of it. You may say a word to someone and they become depressed for the rest of their lives, or end up an alcoholic, drug addict or gambler. You might make someone happy or sad by what you say or do. You may inspire someone to change their beliefs for the better or for worse. Some people may see a photograph and become physically sick and not be able to get the image out of their mind. They may react with anger and then change all the priorities in their life. You put a seed in society by any expression, creativity or act and you don't know what it will grow into.

In reality no-one or hardly anyone believes in this principle of 'freedom of expression' or 'absolute artistic freedom.' Freedom of expression and freedom of speech are just slogans used to justify an individual's, groups or nation's attacks on other people. But whenever they are tested to be victim of the same principle, they change their mind or the rules which govern it, even if they claim otherwise.

Regardless of anyone's deluded beliefs, art is limited in every aspect, sphere and sense you can think of.

I am an artist, I love art and I love expressing myself artistically and delving into the symbols and meanings of various artistic media, but I don't believe in talking nonsense about it and making claims for it that don't hold up. I don't believe in putting one sphere of thought on a delusory pedestal and clothing it in a false and nonsensical status.

I believe in acting with responsibility and consideration of consequences. I believe society needs organization, law and order and I believe in individual and collective accountability. Society is a mess but that mess has been fostered by the false principles it is built upon and people's blind acceptance of them.

So next time you find someone insisting that the harmful art they have just expressed is justified by the principle of 'freedom of expression' and 'art without limits,' then ask if they are also willing to be a victim of the same philosophy as they are turned into a human paintbrush dipped into a vat of sulfuric acid.

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