A stone that has been lying on the pavement for ages
never grabs attention as a piece of art. But the same stone
when picked and kept in the center of a museum, what makes
the audience interpret it as a piece of an art?
An interactive installation performance held at the
local Telfair Museum in Savannah experienced some interesting
facts. The show title was “The Water’s Way” and it was mainly
about exploring the people and the events that have shaped
and been shaped by the Savannah River for over 400 years.
It was a collaborative performance of international artists
in the fields of video, sound and word, utilizing the high-end
digital technology in the form of real time, sound-driven
animation (Houdini Software), and live video mixing and
The show mainly contained live music with a background
of storytelling. It also contained two huge screens placed
in parallel: one showing the historic events, artistically
blended into a motion graphic piece, and the other showing
the visuals, synchronized to the music, creating an atmosphere
of persuasion. The entire show had the harmony of the title
– “The Water’s Way”. The show was indeed overwhelming and
it created a new art form from the fusion of these various
forms of art. It was a triumph of achievements in this present
day of digital media.
The audience present in the museum was diverse, but
the show was not meant for a general viewing audience. Hence,
very few in the audience enjoyed the show. Some gained interest
in the new venture but some developed a very bad opinion,
due to the technical difficulties. The computers regularly
crashed and one of the projectors broke. This lost the momentum
and the progression of the show. There definitely were some
people (including me) who got over this turmoil and fatigue
and got back into the show.
There were varied perceptions of the various forms of
art. Some felt the music alone was good. Some liked the
motion graphic piece. Some felt the programmed Houdini animation
was an art form. Very few felt the storytelling was a form
of art. I personally felt the collaborative work itself
created a new form of art.
But what makes something an art? Art has never been
lacking a proper definition, but it has never been what
it is today. It has always had a rapidly changing definition.
Today what we may perceive as art might not have been thought
so a few years ago. “Art is constantly regenerated like
the living organisms of social and cultural structures,
which are always subject to modification, as a result either
of internal growth or of external pressures.” In this paper we will look at art and
its audiences, in their different zones of perception.
Currently, culture, tradition and language barriers
between different nations and individuals have narrowed
with the progress in transport and communication. After
the two world wars, there has been an overwhelming technological
breakthrough. The developments in printing, moviemaking
and television are enormous and there are specialized media
and fields for the arts of publicity and entertainment.
All this resulted in greater understanding of art and its
interpretation, and of its many forms. The introduction
of computers and their applications brought a huge development
in technological aspects. From interactivity to installations,
art has further stretched its boundaries and its interpretations.
But what is art all about? What makes art today? How
much communication is important in perceiving an art? How
do audiences generalize about art? How important is communication
in perceiving something as art? As Terence Greider mentions
in his Artist and Audience, art was not the capricious
invention of a few geniuses, but was one of the most basic
and ancient communication media of the human race. He also
states that, just as people remain basically the same while
constantly changing, so art has common threads through time
and yet is always new.
In his meditation on this point, Christopher Witcombe
Arthur Danto, professor of philosophy at Columbia University
..., believes that today "you can't say something's
art or not art anymore. That's all finished." In his
book, After the End of Art, Danto argues that after
Andy Warhol exhibited simulacra of shipping cartons for
Brillo boxes in 1964, anything could be art. Warhol made
it no longer possible to distinguish something that is art
from something that is not.
Others have noted this dilemma, and conclude that a thing is considered
art, depending “on whether someone thinks it is”.
an audience with a higher knowledge background art is experienced
more vividly than for an ordinary viewer. Sometimes some
external factors, like the mood of a particular audience,
their cultural and traditional background, the environment
surrounding the art display, its scale, presentation, medium
etc., all play a vital role in understanding art. According to Conkey and many others, apprehension of
art is something similar to beauty in the eye of the beholder.
But what makes a person understand whether something is
art or not depends upon the communication he comprehends.
is basically a transfer of information and ideas in human
life. There are two types of communications, verbal and
non-verbal. Most of visual art is communicated non-verbally.
It involves two basic ingredients: source and destination.
A successful communication is established when the destination
receives the same information or message the source transmits.
Art plays the same role as communication. The artwork acts
as a source and the audience is the destination. When the
audience understands the same message as the artist, then
they feel the piece of work as art. Both communication and
art have been changing and developing drastically with time
and technology. Their progress has always been very close
questions, how important communication can be in art and
how important art can be in communication, have always been
intriguing. According to Terence Greider, in his book Artist
Reconsidering the relationship between the artist and
the audience, we can see that the audience plays a more
active and important role in art than has been thought.
We expect artists to be highly trained, but we usually forget
that it takes as much education to understand a message
as it does to send it. Artists and their audiences are almost
always closely matched.
One may feel, artwork generally communicates only to those people
who are in the respective field of study or interest, but
every individual person does get some unique communication
while understanding and interpreting an artwork. It generally
communicates differently to professionals in varied fields.
Art need not always communicate in just an aesthetic way.
It can also communicate in economic, social and technical
aspects, as well. As Anthony Robbins states, “To effectively communicate, we must realize
that we are all different in the way we perceive the world
and use this understanding as a guide to our communication
with others.” Different
audiences have different perceptions. Hence, the possibility
of audiences confirming a work as art exists only when they
get a similar communication or feeling for what the artist
The question what makes art has made me choose the topic
of my thesis, Perceiving Eyes. This thesis mainly involves
conceptualizing art according to the perceptions of varied
audiences perceptions and justifying that art is everywhere
and in everything: It all depends upon the one to perceive it.
As the audience
plays an important role in understanding art, the following
are three different types of audience, segregated according
to their behavior towards artwork. They are: 1) Conventional
audience, 2) Value Based audience, and 3) Proficient audience.
Conventional audiences are those, who
understand or practice art that has been accepted from the
past. The conventional audiences are those audiences who
generally belong to the Zone of Digression. These
audiences generally do not have any special interest in
trying to understand or interpret art that is new or experimental.
They basically are uneducated, unimaginative, and follow
the established customs and culture. They are never flexible
and tractable. They have two extreme perceptions, yes or
no, black or white, when they interpret a piece as art or
Value Based audiences are more mature
than the Conventional audience.
They basically fill gradients between black and white.
They lie between the Zone of Digression and Zone
of Perception. They have a basic knowledge and understanding
of what is good or bad art. These audiences basically have
an interest in art and its applications. They basically
gain this interest either by reading books or by the experience
they gain through travel. These audiences have to know the
concept and the title of a work to interpret it as art.
These audiences are comparatively flexible and try to modulate
to various art understandings and their interpretations.
The moment Value Based audiences tune
up to understand art thoroughly they are termed Proficient
audiences. Proficient audiences are very few and are generally
intellectuals. These audiences are mostly trained and experienced
people in the varied fields of art, ranging from students
to professionals. They have the vocabulary for understanding
the formation of work as an art form. They can analyze and
interpret art even though it is not made to perfection and
even when it does not have a title to help them make sense
of it. These audiences are mostly in the Zone of Perception.
As Terence Greider explains in his book, Artist and
The student and professional groups are most interested in
innovation and will tolerate boredom and confusion in the
art if they think something new may turn up. By their presence
at exhibits and by talking about what they have seen, the
student and professional audience, as well as the critics,
pass the word to members of the serious audience that there
is something to see. Eventually the general audience learns
through newspaper and magazine articles and television interviews
that an art style or an artist is becoming interesting or
is often how an art gets publicized. The Value Based and
Proficient audiences are the main source of publicizing
innovative art forms.
Some absolutely can’t interpret a particular piece of
work as art, and there are some who can see any ordinary
thing that we use in life as art. There can also be some
who would try to understand certain art interpretations.
Accordingly to the above-mentioned categories of audiences,
I have created four zones of art interpretation.
The Zone of Introduction is the
region where all possible audiences (as mentioned above)
start with the process of either apprehending or misapprehending
art. The Zone of Digression is the category of only
those audiences who absolutely cannot understand any form
of art. The audiences in this region are mostly the Conventional
ones. The Zone of Perception is another category
for only those audiences who can decipher any form of art.
Proficient audiences are mostly based in this region. There
are also audiences who sometimes do not understand art but,
when made aware of the reason, cause and significance of
the artwork, they try to modulate to the artwork’s interpretation.
The region in which this process takes place is termed the
Zone of Modulation.
are also certain principles in play while understanding
all audiences exposed to a certain form of art are in
the Zone of Introduction.
who are interested in understanding a certain form of
art head toward the Zone of Modulation. The audiences
who head toward the Zone of Modulation are generally
Value Based ones.
who are not interested tend towards the Zone of Digression.
Conventional audiences are mostly in the zone of
understand art, every audience has to pass through the
Zone of Modulation to enter the Zone of Perception.
audience member can understand the piece of work as
art only when he is in the Zone of Perception.
It is only the Proficient audiences who can be in the
Zone of Perception.
can be audiences who would try to understand, but do
not yet agree it is art. That means they could not pass
through the Zone of Modulation. Eventually they
end up staying in the same Zone of Introduction.
audiences can never get into the Zone of Perception.
It is only the Value Based audience and Proficient
audience who can get into the Zone of Perception.
Value Based audiences, the moment they pass through
the Zone of Modulation, change to Proficient
the Value Based ones cannot pass through the Zone
of Modulation, they end up staying in the same Zone
of Introduction. They are the audiences who actually
do not understand the art but like the look and feel
An audience can be Proficient in one field
of art and not Proficient in another field of art.
Anything in this world can be an art for some audiences
but not for others. When I mentioned this to a committee,
one of the gentlemen asked whether the pen I was holding
was a piece of art. It was indeed a very good question.
For if I believe anything can be art, this was the best
example to prove my art conceptualization statement.
The audience who feels the pen I hold is not a piece
of art is in the Zone of Digression and is a Conventional
audience. There can be people who may like the pen’s performance
or just its looks, but who will not be convinced it is a
form of art. But in the same varied audience there can be
a few with a bit of education who can accept the pen as
a form of art. That means they can be modulated to make
them understand. If they pass, they basically have passed
through the Zone of Modulation.
What makes for the Proficient audience? There
are so many things involved in designing a pen: firstly,
the chemical compositions of the body and the ink; secondly,
the product design – how ergonomically it has been designed;
thirdly, the aesthetic look; and finally the way it writes.
The person in chemical technology may look at the same pen
from a different perspective than a product designer does.
He may appreciate the chemical compositions with which it
has been made (whether wood, plastic, fiber or even gold).
The view of an industrial designer, an architect, an artist,
or a layman would differ also. The one among them who gets
the right communication, feels the pen to be a form of art.
People from different cultural backgrounds, accordingly,
have different aesthetics. Who knows how many of them really
love the aesthetic sense of the pen? The people who can
appreciate the pen as art can be termed a Proficient audience.
This thesis is a journey to prove that art is everywhere
and in everything, it all depends upon the one who perceives
Art is an
idea. I started sketching in my childhood, and then did
paintings. Later I got introduced to photography and completed
my undergraduate degree in architecture. I also have done
some digital paintings while getting introduced to some
As I have been developing and diversifying
art in various media since my childhood, I grab the opportunity
in presenting my thesis visuals to the present art refinement
in my career. This art form has an association with both
sound and visuals, visuals made from various forms of art
and interpreted with my own blend of aesthetics. I incorporate
the fourth dimension, “time”, together with the three dimensional
graphic scenario. I contribute this motion graphics artwork
to integrate the abilities attained by study, practice and
visual piece acts as a reference to my thesis topic “Perceiving
Eyes”. To establish this concept in reality, I am adopting
the concept of “Days in a Week” from Hindu Mythology. Each
day in Hindu Mythology has a particular importance. Some
days are benign for certain people and some days are not.
I have visualized and interpreted these individual days
as a motion graphics piece, according to their importance
and behavior. The following literature conveys the in-depth
reference study that I gathered in executing these visuals
in practice. As I conceptualized art from the various types
of audiences, I keep the whole essence of the motion graphics
piece as abstract as possible to elicit wider perceptions
in a Week
Indian Mythology, days in a week are based upon lunar movement
around the earth. The moon grows for fifteen days to full
and diminishes for fifteen days to be new. In mythology,
a month is calculated by the time taken for the moon to
start growing until it is completely gone.
A “thithi” is termed
as a day in Indian Mythology. A “thithi” always starts when
the sun rises and ends only before the next sunrise. In
western culture, day starts after midnight, but in Indian
Mythology, a day starts when the sun’s rays first strike
Vaasaram is termed as a week. Vaasaram in Sanskrit means something that repeats
periodically. Days and planets do repeat as well, but very
sporadically. A week repeats perfectly. It contains seven
days, which represent the seven planets around the earth
(Moon and Sun were considered planets as well).
Indian astrology is very ancient. In practice
since Rig Veda, it discovered nine planets long ago. But,
the last two planets Uranus and Neptune (before Pluto got
discovered) were not considered part of the days in a week,
since they are night planets, and are not seen during the
Though the Moon is closer to Earth, the
Sun casts its rays before the Moon; hence the Sun gives
its name to the first day of the week. After Sun, Moon casts
its rays on the Earth, and is given the second day in the
week. All the other day names have been derived on the same
basis. Thus after sunrise everyday, the planet that exerts
its influence on the earth first, gets the name of the day
of the week accordingly. Thus the series of days evolved
into a week.
The Hindu study of the planets is called
Vedic Astrology. This astrology is based on an elaborate
calculation of the positions of these planets at the time
of one's birth. The planets are also believed to influence
the outcomes of historical events of entire nations and
of the Earth. Each planet faces a different direction and
so its influence varies.
one website informs us, “Different cultures have different
interpretations. But it is interesting to know the majority
have the same number of days in a week and the meaning behind
This thesis uses an understanding of these planets, their behavior
and influences and interprets the respective visuals accordingly.
Surya – the Sun, the planet of Sunday
The Sun in Vedic Astrology is called Ravi
or Surya. It is considered to be mildly bad in
consideration of its heat and natural aridity. The Vedas
adore the Sun as a witness of all actions. The Sun is another
representation of FIRE. It is used to symbolize purity as well as
to characterize emotions such as anger, deep passion, immense
hatred, love and beauty.
The Sun is basically represented
by orange. Its orbit is round in shape. The Sun indicates
the father and power, our ego, honors, status, fame, the
heart, the eyes, general vitality, respect. Its nature,
or temperament is fiery, cruel, and the associated gemstone
is the red ruby. The Sun’s metal is gold, its vehicle is
a Seven Horsed Chariot. The rose flower, wheat grains and
the caltrops tree represent the Sun.
Soma – the Moon, the planet of Monday
Soma in Vedic Astrology is called CHANDRA. In Sanskrit
CHANDRA means “bright and shining.” The bright Moon
is considered a good of the highest order and the dark Moon
is considered bad. The Moon is an indicator of the mother
and females in general, the public, general well-being and
happiness, femininity and beauty, the eyesight, memory and
It is basically represented by milk white. Its nature is soft and
its orbiting seat is square in shape. Its gem is pearl and
its vehicle is a ten-horsed chariot. The white lotus flower
and calcifuges plant represents it. It is also represented
by rice. Its weapon is wooden and its compass point is southeast.
Moon is also represented by mind and its orbit shape is
Mangal – Mars, the planet of Tuesday
Mangal has a bad influence. Mars is often depicted
as a god with a red body exemplifying the natural color
of the astronomical body in the sky. Mars is known as protector
of Dharma, the sacred path and purpose in life that
each of us follows. It is also regarded as a god of martial character,
red in every aspect.
Blood Red represents Mars. Its nature is also cruel and violent,
with strength, arguments and conflict. Its gem is Coral
and its orbiting seat is triangular in shape. Its vehicle
is the goat and is represented by the red lotus flower and
mimosa plant. It is also represented by red gram grain and
the relationship it shares is brotherly. Its weapon is the
club trident and its direction is south. Mars is the indicator
of brother and siblings, assertion, aggressiveness, soldiers
and military endeavors, mechanical ability, engineers and
surgeons, commanders and rulers, accidents, violence and
war, ambition, strength, arguments and conflict, passion
and desire. Its nature too is fiery. Its gem is red coral
and its direction is south.
– Mercury, the planet of Wednesday
Budha represents awakened, discriminating intellect and the part
of us that knows. Mercury influences goodness if associated
with good planets, and influences evil when associated with
bad planets. It is known as grahaspati, or lord of
the planets. Mercury is the intellect that discriminates
between good and evil.
Mercury is represented by green color. Its nature is soft as well
and is represented as the emerald among gems. Its orbital
shape is arrow-like and the vehicle is a lion. It is also
represented by the green gram grain and its weapon is the
sword. Its relationship is mostly business and its direction
is northeast. Mercury is an indicator of intelligence, commerce,
education, communication, writing, books, humor, scholars,
thieves and astrologers.
Brihaspati – Jupiter, the planet of Thursday
Brihaspati is a first rate goodness planet, generally
considered to be the most auspicious of the planets. Where
the Surya is
known as Atman, or the soul, Brihaspati is
known as Jiva, the consciousness of the soul representing
the individuality of self. Jupiter's epithets are sacred
and many: "Lord of Sacred Speech", "Lord
of Power", "Guru of the Gods", "Reader
of Minds" and "Beloved by the Gods.”
Yellow color represents the planet Jupiter. Its nature is soft
and is represented by the topaz gem. Its orbital shape is
rectangular and its vehicle is the swan. It is represented
by the Bengal gram grain and it is linked to the child in
terms of relationships.
Jupiter is an indicator of fortune, wealth,
fame, luck, devotion and faith, spirituality, charity, morality,
meditation, mantra, children, magistrates, ministers,
lawyers and leaders in government and religion. Jupiter
represents sacred scripture, wisdom, benevolence and philosophy.
Its nature is watery. Its gemstone is yellow sapphire or
yellow topaz and its metal is gold. Jupiter's direction
– Venus, the planet of Friday
Sukra means "white" or "bright" in Sanskrit.
Venus is a first rate goodness in predictions. Venus is
an indicator of spouse, love, marriage, comfort, luxury,
beauty, prosperity, happiness, all conveyances, art, dance,
music, acting, passion and sex, healing and the saying of
Venus is represented by crystal color. Its nature is also soft
and the diamond represents it.
It has a pentagon shape in its orbit seat and the
cow is its vehicle. Venus is represented by the Jasmine flower
and by seeds of beans among the grains. Venus’s relationship
is the wife and its direction is east.
Sukra bestows long life, wealth, happiness, children, and property
and good education. Its nature is watery in disposition.
Its gem is diamond and its metals are copper and silver.
– Saturn, the planet of Saturday
In Vedic Astrology the planet Saturn is
called Shani. In Sanskrit Shani comes from
Shanischara, which means, "slow mover.” Saturn
represents a loss of awareness or ignorance. He also represents
the ascetic, rich with inner spirituality, and lost to this
material plane of existence. Saturn’s influence is bad.
Saturn is represented
by blue color. Its nature is very cruel and is represented
by the blue sapphire gem and all black stones. Its orbiting
seat is represented by the bow and its vehicle is the crow. Among the grains, black ginger seeds represent
it and its weapon is the trident. Its relationship is longevity
and its direction is west.
is an indicator of longevity, misery, sorrow, old age and
death, discipline, restriction, responsibility, delays,
ambition, leadership and authority, humility, integrity
and wisdom born of experience. Saturn's nature is also airy.