Do Not Disturb?


Abandoned, photograph

“Art is meant to disturb, science reassures.”

– Georges Braque

It may sound contrary, odd and… disturbing to think that art is “meant to disturb”. Not the usual way to talk about our old revered friend. What’s going on here?

All visual art captures and extracts a moment in time from the incessant flow of our lives. It represents a break in the continuity of our experience. It remains frozen in perpetuity and serves as a gentle (or not) speed bump on our everyday road.

Art presents a veneer, a superficial view of the depth of reality. We look at the work of art and our mind and imagination adds the ingredients that supply the dimension to what we see. We provide the context, the story, the meaning, the narrative. The art is the trigger but we (the viewers) do the work.

Science, on the other hand, reassures us because it’s purpose is to explain everything. It tries to make sense of all things so that we do not have to figure out the story ourselves. We can sit back and be told, rather than assume the burden of providing the explanations.

Science seeks to preserve and enhance the continuity of our world, while art can’t help but intervene, stop us short and “disturb” our complacency. In the world of science, we rely on the scientists – we don’t have to go into the lab ourselves. In the world of art, we’re all lab assistants and it can be hard work.

6 responses to “Do Not Disturb?

  1. I really love this photo, Bob, incredibly evocative. It does exactly what you say. The ‘disturbing’ is more of a jolt. Imagine life is a veeeerrrry smooth train journey, you are lulled into a pleasant, almost taking the passing scenery for granted. A great photograph is the equivalent of a friend sat alongside, shaking you on the shoulder, pointing out of the window, and saying ‘Just LOOK at that!” It is a means by which we may pause, explore and wonder, before the world passes us by.

  2. That is an unbelievable shot. Amazing there are still undisturbed little places where wonder can evolve naturally. It must have taken you quite by surprise to come upon such a dream of a place. Beautiful.

  3. Without any refference to the text, this is one of the best photo I,ve ever enjoyed! for me, as a painter, it’s `a feast for the eye`, thus totally corresponding to Delacroix`s definition of a good painting (or photograph I will add). Chapeux! as the french are saying…

    • Thanks, Danu! It’s always appreciated to have a painter like yourself find beauty in a photograph. I like Delacroix’s definition – I feel like I am feasting when I see an image I like.

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