I read the book Asian Field recently, which is about Antony Gormley’s sculpture–Asian Field. There are two big insights I want to share here.

1. Physical Reality VS Space of Our Minds

The following paragraph states well about how Antony defines art:

…the idea that “art” is not simple an object of intrinsic value, but that it is a process, and involves exchange and trasformation. Art exists in two distinct places, in physical reality (in this case in the 10,000 square meters of un underground car par in Guangzhou) but also in the space of our  minds.

When I read this and think about the discussions we have recently, what Antony is saying makes a big sense to me. And then I tried to apply his definition of arts to “aesthetics” according to these two big parts: what is in the physical reality and what is in our minds, it’s also insightful.

The physical reality is what exists, is what we can see, hear, touch and feel. The space in our minds is our interpretation of the physical reality and different people have different mind spaces.  For example, a painting is there hanging on the wall, with its form the painter created, that is the physical reality. When we start to look at it, interpretate it, try to understand it and appreciate it or hate it, a different space is generated within the viewers.

So here is my question: when we talk about rational critiques, do we need to pay more attention to the physical reality? Since it seems hard for us to talk about the inner space in a “rational” way, like:”I feel rationally sad when I see this painting.”

2. The Aesthetic Experience is Generated within the Inner Space, but it Relies on the Physical Reality

The sculpture Asian Field is part of Antony’s project Field, you can find it here: http://www.antonygormley.com/sculpture/item-view/id/245#p1

I really like this project and I have to admit I obtain some aesthetic experiences when I read the book, view the sculpture and try to understanding his intentions behind this huge project. I like it not because of the countless clay figures, but what Antony is trying to present. I am not going to analyze his sculpture here but I want to say I come up with around 4~5 different approches to understand this project: with my intuition, with my knowledge about China (because the social/cultural context of Asian Field is in China),with my knowledge about Antony’s style, with my knowledge about Antony’s philosophy behind his works. And the more I try to think deeper and broader the more possibilities I will have to understand this project. With the expanding of my inner space about this project, I become more and more attracted by it.

For sure different people will have different approches to critique his sculpture, and certainly the aesthetic experiences we will have are also varied. But they all rely on the clay figures and how Antony arranged them.

One screen shot of this project is as below, you can take a look at it and see what kind of aesthetic experience you will get from it. Or maybe you won’t get any.Image

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