Audience Participation

Erik ReeL painting
Erik ReeL, opus 1739, Sein und Seit, acrylic on BFK paper, 2013

[this and following Sunday  blogs will continue the exerpting from the interview:]

Q: This internal necessity doesn’t have anything to do with the external world? with material reality? with your experiences?

ReeL: Not necessarily. Of course it can deal with my experiences.

I should point out that experiences do not necessarily concern the material world. Only an extreme materialist would go that far.  I  obviously can have internal experiences.

One of my pet peeves, if you will, and a sure mark of a hyper-materialist mindset, is when people in the exhibition world start talking about having to “engage the audience” by getting them to do something, meaning, invariable, doing something physical, involving their bodies, that we can see.

It’s such an insult to who we are as a human being.   My paintings engage the audience. The people looking at them are very engaged. They are doing a lot, internally, if they are really seeing my paintings.  Of course the viewer is doing something in the very act of viewing. Viewing, seeing, looking are acts. They are verbs.

To think someone has to do something with their body to be engaged with a work of art is one of the most idiotic of Materialist conceits.

I sometimes think that these people, and materialists in general are just asleep. Do they really think the world of things is it? Do they really not have an internal life? Do they really think that people do nothing when they really look at a painting?  No, I don’t think so. I find it hard to believe they think so.  They’re just asleep to what is really going on, hopefully momentarily, in a very specific way; but what they say sounds like a denial of our internal lives,  Ultimately their entire orientation and attitude is a deep insult to the viewer.

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