Painting is creative precisely because it differentiates, explores highlights, loses and finds forms represented by a variety of strokes of paint and color. Art renders the artist’s perception, not of what he or she sees with his eyes, but what is projected by the mind and will as notable. This is not strictly a reflection of reality, but a recreation by the directed hand of the artist, who is exploring.

By choosing to perceive the work of art, the viewer in turn participates in the both the exploration of the artist’s handiwork and the outcome he or she came to. The work is notable to the community if it was exhibited, and then perceived by you, the observer, who explore and move on. This is the ecosystem of meaning, where meaning is defined as the perception of notable events. You have to make a selection in order to perceive, and evaluate to accept the notable. This is akin to how evolution happens, when certain notable traits crucial for viability are selected through an exploratory process.

Mother earth tried billions of molecule combinations before arriving at one that enables photosynthesis, for example. Artists create by exploring a domain, one area at a time. The evolutionary principle that gave us photosynthesis also works for aesthetic creation. Pushing paint around with an exploratory mindset is akin to the biological process that gave us critters.

In an afternoon painting session we can imitate what the earth did in a million years. In this sense, we behave like the earth does. Explore through creation, accepting and rejecting what to perceive, and evaluating what to recognize as notable, and as an artist, you are a recursive instance of ‘earth-thinking’, which in turn is an instance of ‘galactic-thinking’, and so on. In other words, through exploratory art you are expressing creation through an accelerated version of the creative process that made you.

Nature does not have a systematic set of experiments that it executes to evolve itself, like a planned research project has. Evolution is not centrally directed, as atoms, molecules, cells and organisms interact with their surroundings according to their own agency. Creatures are not really planning life out. They just move about as best they can. Moreover, the discovery mindset is the antithesis of looking for revelation. You are not discovering when you are looking for an authority to interpret and prescribe life for you.

Evolution advances when things stick together in new ways during the various epochs of life. From the way the elements were formed from a few primal molecules, to the way life evolved from single celled to multi-celled organisms, to the way multiple species of primates, and eventually humans evolved. There is a kind of meandering about with chance meetings triggering new interactions, responses and eventually a stickiness of things that get along well until notable transactions result in a meaningful process.

Have you had meandering thoughts as you walk, without trying to have a specific outcome, you just think about life and things, and then somehow come to some worthy insight or conclusion? If you wander through the galleries and find art, you learn to see in a new way. Wander outside after being saturated with new ways of seeing, and things look different. The experience of perceiving the work of art can change the meaning of something that you had seen in the past. In other words, the present has changed the past because now you have recognized something as notable that previously was undervalued. In this process, you changed the meaning of your own past by more or less choosing which works of art to look at.

Exploration is not linear; we can evolve creations from the past. The early work of an artist is given context and meaning by the late work. How we resolve our remaining existence on this planet will give meaning to all the struggles and achievements that came before us.

This pattern is happening to religions that once brought us meaning and drive. When we realize that the world view is not sustainable, what we elevated to being notable is no longer so. For example, the religions that propped up an extractive industries diminish in value as we find we can no longer drink the water or breathe the air because of them. Thus religions with immutable truths are routinely changed in the mind of the newly ‘no-longer-believers’, and that’s okay. Letting go of the old is the flip side of becoming available for the new. That is the essence of creative evolution.

— Roy Zuniga
Kirkland, WA


Copyright (c) 2016 Roy Zuniga