Drizzling pine around the basinous forest lake, around stones and dead trunks I walked. There was a dirt mound on the far side bank. What could that be? A mermaid came from underwater when I approached. “This is my nest,” she said. I was surprised but we had a talk, she was a freshwater mermaid. “We mermaids are very susceptible to eagle attacks. They carry us into the sky!” she said. Really? Eagles? “It’s true,” she said. Her hair fell over her breasts however she moved, like magic.
When I came back later the nest was smashed up and she was gone. Could it have been an eagle? I looked down at the nest awhile, hands in my pockets.
Still Eating Oranges
byeloboghorns said: How does one put your theory of experiential art into practice?
Thanks for your interest. (For the uninitiated: the subject is our article “Toward an experiential art" from 2013.) First, it is important to explain what experiential art is not. It is neither realist art nor a form of self-expression, and it is most certainly not conceptual art. Against realist art, it seeks truth through exaggeration rather than reduction; against self-expression, it focuses on the audience’s experience; and, against conceptual art, it eschews subtext in favor of surface.
Like most art before modernity, and some since, experiential art is entertainment—although not in the vapid, lurid sense common today. It entertains in that it is aesthetically pleasing. Its primary goal is to produce in its audience a sense of wonder: the spiritual awe one experiences before a Cézanne or a Rothko, or before a great performance of Shakespeare. Along the way it causes many other responses: terror, sadness, thrill and so on. The audience becomes immersed in a work’s “superficial” elements—such as its color, gesture, events or tone—and reacts intuitively.
There is no single way to put this theory into practice. However, the method chosen must somehow unsettle what Donald Kuspit calls “secular everydayness”, the feeling that life is arid and obvious. Experiential art provides spiritual refreshment quite similar to that of Aristotle’s original definition of catharsis: the clarification and rebalancing of one’s psyche through aesthetic pleasure. Its exaggeration puts the world into a new focus and shatters everydayness, which reveals life as fantastical, ridiculous and beautiful. No matter how intense, a work of experiential art leaves one feeling energized and alive—not beaten down—afterwards.
We at Still Eating Oranges have made this our mission from the beginning. Our success, ultimately, is for others to judge. A work like our artist’s recent “Coffee and cigarettes" attempts to draw in the viewer with humor, style and "arresting strangeness", to use Tolkien’s phrase. If the viewer is amused, bemused or even a bit awed by the work and comes away refreshed, then its job is done. All of our members try to put themselves in the audience’s shoes, and to create, often by feel, experiences that are enjoyable. If our work brings life to a viewer’s day, then it has succeeded.
We hope this was helpful.