b h a g . n e t   visual and conceptual exchange   b h a g . n e t

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October 5, 2003


by John Clay, editor-in-chief

Visual art is one of the foundations on which bhag.net is built. Bhag was made to be beautiful. And bhag was made to be functional. Like a well-crafted vessel, it should hold safe its contents, pour easily, and feel good under the hand and eye of the user.

Beauty itself is functional. To sense beauty is to recognize something about the world, something felt. Sensing beauty is a nonverbal way of knowing (whether we are sensing the beauty of the written word or a visual artwork or performance). And so far as we are deprived of beauty we are ignorant, like chemists without experiments to perform, or mathematicians without numbers.

One of the values of visual art is that it uses nonverbal means to evoke the nonverbal experience of sensing beauty. Words need never intervene. They can. One can talk about or write about anything. But in visual art it is possible to simply see about something and feel about it, thus exercising means of knowledge and experience which, though as surely formative of human consciousness as verbal communication, are often overlooked (!) by our word-oriented society.

Is beauty still the right word to use in an era in which so much art consists of performances or actions anchored in rhetorically argued concepts, scripted in explanatory texts which are printed in programs or posted on gallery walls? Yes.

And explicitly conceptual works, with their accompanying texts, remain but one of many forms of visual art now being practiced. One beauty of bhag is its openness to alternative practices. Every kind of art is an exercise of human consciousness. Submissions of all kinds are welcome.

© 2003 John Clay

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