PERIODICAL SYSTEM OF ART BY BULAT GALEYEV
Aesthetics has been striving for a long time to find out if there exist any order in the family of Muses, is there any logic in the development of this “family”? Let’s remember in connection with it the classical works by Aristotle, Lessing and, more nearly to our time, by E. Souriau , M. Kagan . The problem has become more complicated now, and some researchers express even an opinion of full disintegration of the arts union – because there are a lot of them now, and connections between arts disappeare (A. Moles). The author has also made his own contribution, proposing kind of “periodic system” of arts, which, of course, is not so strict as that of D. I. Mendeleyev in chemistry, but is sufficiently motivated and rich in content. In this scheme (fig. 1) the arts differentiation is initially defined according to polar oppositions “figurative – expressive” and “visual – audio”. Such presentation of the opposites justifies itself anyway, for it clearly illustrates mutual connection of the opposites which characterizes system in its integrity.
Considering genesis of art, the initial result of “homo sapiens” artistic activity is known as syncretic art (placed in the center of the scheme). In the process of division of labour and specialization of artistic activity, there occurs the objectivation of various essential man’s powers resulting in the form of independent arts: music (1); architecture, ornament (2); painting, sculpture (3);art of word (4). But, although being progressive in its basis, acqusitions of the species indepedence contains in itself deep-laid contradictions. It appears to be dialectically linked with constant aspiration to preserve that complexity of reality reflection which was inherent in syncretic art, when perception was just as integral as being the case of direct contact with the world and aesthetical apprehension of the nature. This aspiration favoured preservation of the bisensory sign in the actor (7) and choreographic (8) artsforms, while the combined “reflection-expression” sign was preserved in song-folklore (5) and applied (6) arts. Moreover, at the existed level of social and material development, the autonomous arts which have assumed independent status may be intentionally combined in various synthetic combinations (3+4 – books illustrating; 2+3 –monumental art; 1+4 – vocal music; 1+2 – “musical graphics”, and everyting taken together – drama and musical theatre).
Thus, even at this stage it can be traced the paradoxical (dialectical) interrelation of the seemingly polar processes: differentiations and synthesis of arts. More precisely it can be defined as “species reproduction” of arts by means of creating of new synthetic forms. Such dialectics become more obvious nowadays.
The technical stores of arts are being constantly renewed. This has become particulary evident in this century. The opportunities offered by new technology have been immediately put to use to satisfy paralelly growing artistic requirements. And so with traditional arts have been preserved, “by side” with them (as shown at the system of arts schemesee fig. 2) new art forms begin to emerge which do not copy the old ones, but coninue to develop their possibilities owing to the potential of a new artificial means of audio-visual communication. Taken as a whole they form the new outer layer of the system of arts, having its own specifics and language.
To set it forth briefly : 9 – sound-recording, electronic music; 10 – kinetic art (luminodynamics, video art, abstract cinema ); 11 – photography, cinematography, holography; 12 – radio-theater; 13 – television; 14 – concert light-music (audio-visual music); 15,16,17,18 – sound and light scenography of the musical and, correspondingly, drama theater ( they may be further divided into such specific synthetic-performance forms as “spatial music” – 15, “labirinth” – 16, “Son et Lumiere” dramatized performances – 17, “Laterna Magica” – 18). Bifunctional applied forms are arranged, respectively, in cells 19,20 –aesthetization of the sound medium, and 22,23 – aesthetization of the light medium. These are primarily exhibition and decorative art, discoteques, light architecture, sound and light performances in open air. Light design and sound design is located, respectively, in panels 21 and 24.
For the expanded system of arts it is also clearly seen that it can preserve its unity only by means of maximum increase of the art-to-art interaction forces. More than that, not being autonoums kinds of art, the majority of artistic activity items singled out in the outer cells become vitable only when they enter in the synthetic formations characterized by the action of the abovementioned intrasystem links (shown as arrows). Let us note that these arrows in the scheme are not always two-directional, sometimes they indicate the preferable direction of particular link. This manifests the specific character of audio communication in human intercourse : if audio arts (radio, electronic music, etc.) may pretend to autonomy, their visual analogues (movies, video art, etc) have to involve sound.
Some kind of “functional asymmetry” is observed also between arts lying on the opposite sides relative to vertical axis. Let us consider first the left side of the scheme, where new figurative arts are. They, as it is known, use reproduction technique (copying, broadcasting), and inside them the functions of artist and engineer are separated. Turning to the right side, i.e. to new expressive arts, one can see that the technique here is used to produce new, unprecedented images and sounds, the creation of new art tools and art work itself being fused in one. Such situation is unusual in art culture, for not only the art work itself is unique, but so is the tool to create this work with. It provides explanation for seemingly paradoxial fact of time lag of the new arts on the scheme right side (light-music, electronic music, etc.) from their left-side neighbours (cinema, radio, etc.), though, for example, the idea of light-music appeared far earlier than that of cinema.
To reform such “undemocratic” situation in the system of arts, computer technology appears to be helpful lately. It belongs to productive technique, for it can create images and sounds on “tabula rasa”, so to say, on the blank screen, starting from zero point. This concerns both concrete and abstract images (sounds). Just as a revolver in America of the last century appeared to be sort of “instrument of democracy”, levelling in rights both strong and weak men, so computers, jokes apart, play now the similar role, compensating the consequences of “functional asymmetry” in the system of arts.
In general, now it is hard to foresee what changes will be brought in our “periodical system” by computerization of artistic culture. As it could happen, we should to add one more outer layer in our scheme of expanding Universe of arts. It expands but from other side shrinks at the same time because of uniting function of computer technique which can synthesize any sound or image. Their complete synthesis is represented in a new genre of the so-called “multi-media”, as if imitating on a new level the initial syncretism, with all its attributes: bifunctionality, bisensority, washing out boundaries between art and reality (“virtual” in this case).
Futurologists like to joke: it is hard to predict, especially the future. The author is confident in the correctness of his expanded system of arts at present conditions, to the extent of how the specifics of its “cells” has been tested in his own experiments. The beginning of computer era in the art should bring new and more unexpected discoveries. But some things are beyond doubt:
– the arising of new arts, including those using modern technical means does not abolish the former ones (just as the birth of Repin or Picasso does not cancel the creative works by Rafaele or Rublev);
– art will reserve its function to reflect the reality, though it is probable that this function will be implemented by means of artificial (synthesized) sound and image. The debatable elements of “computer art” would be used in the play form of man-computer contact (“interactive art”, as it is called in the West now);
– the Universe of arts will not disintegrate into isolated and homeless artistic actions (as it was supposed by A. Moles), because the growing systemic set of them keeps its integrity owing to intensification of arts interaction. This integrity reflects integrity of the man itself and that of the world;
– more than that, it is probable that the only true and conincing indicator of art progress consists in exactly this quantitative growth of the system. For it results in growing number of those who can try himself in creative work, being able now to take part in any accessible arts, both old and new ones – TV, light-music, videoart, computer or laser graphics…
– it cannot be denied that among all revolutions the only one has justified itself completely – scientific and technological revolution. And I would like to join poet A. Voznesensky who wrote: “Long live scientific and technological revolution, developing into spiritual one”!
The above conclusions are not merely spectulative. They are based on practical results have been obtained both in field of art and in field of technology for more than 35 years of activity of the workshop “Prometheus” (now transformed into Institute of experimental aesthetics “Prometheus” associated with Kazan State Technical University ).
B. M. Galeyev
1. Souriau E. “La correspondance des arts” – Paris, 1947.
2. Kagan M. “Morphology of art” – Leningrad: “Iskusstvo”, 1971.
3. Moles A. “Art et Ordinateur” avec la collaboration de Marie-Luce Andre Casterman, 1971