Why Art?

In my desperate need to support a family and lift myself and those around me out of poverty I concluded a long time ago that art was of little practical use. I started to have a high regard for Engineering or any of the other professions that could earn me a decent salary. Art by itself had no value. Art was leisure. I wanted to learn Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry to clear tough exams that will guarantee me an admission in a college and upon graduation a high paying job.

This was my plan for life when I was 16.

Driven by this practical need I was obsessed more about "science", science is in quotes because my understanding of science is still very vague. Science to me is the truth about nature reasoned using logic.

Science to me explained everything in the world and the universe. The rigor of the proofs for some of the basic foundations of physics captivated me. Classical mechanics and the laws of motion were beautiful. A simple understanding of the equations and applications of the formulae to compute trajectories of projectiles and coordinates of falling objects inflated my young ego. I have an understanding of the motion of objects and the ability to control their path, I convinced myself. Trigonometry and the ability to tell the height of an object by the length of its shadow and the time of the day made me feel superior and competent. As to Chemistry I do not recall anything useful that I learned except that the color of potassium permanganate solution is pink. Understanding things already discovered by 19th and 20th century physicists, mathematicians and chemists became my pursuit because it was my passport to a better life.

I later found work as a software engineer. It's the one thing that I have continued to do for a sufficiently long time to gain any deeper understanding and at times to reach beyond the understanding to actually being able to suggest something original.

I am now in that transition from an "understander of things" to "maker of new things" phase. This naturally lead me to the question how does one make new things. How does one create new things? Someone built a bridge to get people and cargo across from one side of the river to the other side. Some of these bridges transformed from thier original intended purpose of connecting the two banks of a river, into a landmark, an icon representing a certain land. In a sense this is art, the bridge was built for structural soundness and not to please the visual senses yet the bridge became an iconic symbol.

How is that possible?

Here is a possible explanation, The bridge was built by an engineer whose job was to construct a structure that withstood the elements and time. Thus an engineer must have a good understanding of the effects of wind, water, earth, heat and cold on the bridge.

The resultant structure is something that withstands the environment and its purpose is purely functional. In other words, form follows function.

An artist (in the sense of someone who draws pictures) goes through a similar process to accurately depict nature. To draw a simple object like a rose the artist has to go beyond drawing the lines and tracing the contours of the rose. Depicting nature accurately requires an understanding of nature, for the artist is recreating nature as closely as possible in his mind and onto to his pencil and to the paper[1].

An artist has the ability to cross the river that divides the real world which is bounded by laws. He can cross over into a world of his imagination leaving the bridge builder behind on the other shore. The artist already holds a visual in his mind, down to the smallest observable detail and the unobservable laws that govern how these objects relate and interact. The artist's mind is now pregnant with ideas on how this mental image can be morphed at his/her will to create new ideas.

Ideas that are not limited by the physics or the laws of our universe. This kind of art is supreme as it has the power to release the creative forces within an individual. This kind of art brings to life an artist's vision in infinite variety. This kind of art elevates humans to a new state and stimulates imagination.