The Theory of Everything by Gary Kohime

The Theory of Nothing
I had the pleasure of touring Gary Kohime's installation "The Theory of Everything" last evening. When I got there Gary happened to be around and offered to give me a guided tour, which I willingly accepted. I loved Gary's work and his explanation of the images, symbolism and inspiration was compelling. Go visit for yourself while the installation is still up. Gary will be taking it down soon as the tier on the space is costly. Drop him a few lindens if you are so inclined.

Here are some words from a notecard Gary shared about his work.
My build ....... addresses the power of speaking. Steven Hawking does not have the last word. Truth, is not what we are told, but whats in each one of our individual hearts. No one.. can truly say what is, or even why it is.

The full blue part of my creation is the Nothing, the one with the apple in it. The other side, or main entrance to my build is Everything. I re-named the part that's up at 1000 meters. Its called the Beginning and End. At ground level its called the Future, and was a dream I had when I was very young; I've never forgotten it. I have dreams that come true, this is why dreams stick with me, I guess? lol :) I also set the sim to land at what I consider the start point, which is Everything.

You could say the eclipse of Venus, is an eclipse of love, since Venus is a symbol of love. Love comes and it goes, parts of it can be hurtful/dark, others its light and bright. Water is emotion, the flags are the basis of life as we can see it; Red, Green & Blue. Flowers to me.. is Truth, as the only real truth is beauty and thats whats in all our hearts. :)
After I left the installation I got to thinking generally about the interaction between artist and audience. I have not studied art so this is probably a very elementary thought and I am not likely to express it as well as people who are actually educated on the subject so bear with me for a second.

Here is my question. Is it important for an audience to know the symbolism and meaning behind an artists work? Is it critical that we experience the work the way an artist intends us to see it? Or is it perfectly ok for the audience to be blissfully ignorant of back story, symbolism or the artists intent and instead draw their own conclusions as to the meaning of the work. Does art even necessarily have meaning?

The truth be told, I tend to wander around art exhibits alone. I like to move at my own pace and be left alone to think and feel whatever it is the work evokes. I admire the work, fully immerse in the installation and feel the art viscerally. Because this is my preferred way of experiencing things, especially in Second Life, and because I do not have a strong background in art I am sure I miss the artist's intent more often than not.

Virtual art is one of the great joys of my Second Life. I find I can completely enjoy art without fully understanding an artist's intent. Having said that, I do think understanding the broader meaning and context certainly enhances my enjoyment and appreciation of the work.

Hmmm....I guess there really is no question in there. But I do wonder what others think about this subject.


Lizzie Lexington said...

In my opinion the audience does not need to know the intent or back story of the work. Part of the beauty of art is the idea of creating your own narrative in regards to the emotions and thoughts the piece brings out in you. For me, every piece of work has meaning because if there was no meaning there would have been nothing to inspire the artist to create.

Corcosman said...

Art is a form of communication so I think it always has meaning. Sometimes the meaning can be expressed in words, often words only express a portion of the meaning. Since communication is a two way interaction, the meanings for the viewer and artist may be similar but with their own unique variations.

I often think SL is all a medium and people are allowing me a small glimpse into their inner selves, whether they intend that or not. Every prim tells a piece of someone's story.

Botgirl Questi said...

Probably should just paste our Plurk conversation here. :)

My personal view is that there are no hard and fast rules since art is, well, an "art" rather than a science.

I think of art as an attempt by the artist to externalize an inner experience. There may be context needed to get across that doesn't fit into the work itself. Titles are often used to help contextualize works. Notecards seem to ban another alternative.

As for the viewer, it's again a question of intention to some degree. I can view someone's work and try to see through their eyes, or I can just take it in for what I personally experience.

Interesting to think about both as artist and viewer.

Dale Innis said...

It's an elementary question in some sense, but one that no one's ever finally answered, and that has no final answer, and that's well worth asking frequently. :)

Experiencing art knowing the artist's intent (to the extent that that's possible; that the artist is actually aware of their intent, and somehow communicates it accurately) is a different experience than experiencing the same ("same") art without knowing that.

Is either "correct"? Nah. Is one better or realer or truer or something? Maybe? Sometimes? I liked "Mulholland Drive" better before I knew the (putative) creator's intent.

Is there art where the artist has nothing to say about their intent besides the art itself? Definitely. (Although even knowing that, about a particular work, is knowing something.) Is there are where the artist *has no* intent besides the art itself? I think so.

But then I think there is art with no artist. :)

Lizzie Lexington said...

@Dale - ooh I loved Mulholland Drive. What was the creator's intent, just curious.

Dale Innis said...

Haha, well; I don't want to be responsible for ruining the enigma for anyone else, but if you read what has become the sort of "standard interpretation" (see for instance wikipedia on it), and then watch the film again, there are discouragingly many little things in it that hint that that is, in fact, what Lynch had in mind.

And I liked it better when it was a mystery to me. :)

Gary Kohime said...

First, I would like to thank Chestnut for the very wonderful post about my creation. If I was to try and justify why I shared my intent on some of the aspects of my creation it would be for these reasons:

My work, being full sim in scope, is riddled with symbolism. Its gone a full week now, without the explanation being generally available. During that week, many have come up to me asking this or that. So, I could, as an artist, react in a couple of ways. One would be like, maybe my work isn't clear enough? Secondly, since the initial inspiration came from the scientific theory of Everything, as purported by Stephen Hawking. I've felt more compelled to elaborate on this creation. As the comparison of science and spirituality is always controversial and intriguing, to many.

Before SL, my art is/was poetry. SL, or virtual worlds, have opened up an opportunity to express my poetry in art. Since, I am not a RL artist in the painting/sculpting sense. The paradox then, is when to say and when not? I'm sitting here thinking about other works in SL, and I cant think of many that explain their work. I sort of viewed my conversation with Chestnut, which, btw, was a very cool conversation, as an interview. I happened to know of her blog here and her relationship to NWN. So, I was more forthcoming with her.

As of last evening, I posted some notecard about my creation at the various themed areas. At the present moment, I am re-considering this. Frankly, Im not sure what to think. I've read all the responses here and I'm still in a dilemma about it. If anyone is inclined and wants to come take a look. I would be very interested in your views. So, I would ask, that you come and 'experience' the creation without reading the notecards. Then, read them, and comment to me as you see fit. If, I'm there when you come its perfectly ok to approach me, or if you prefer, drop me a notecard, or even come back to this blog and post your thoughts.

Again, Chestnut, thank you for the wonderful post and thanks to everyone for their comments.

Gary Kohime

chestnut rau said...

Gary, just to be clear -- I got so much out of your build because I had the wonderful opportunity to walk through it with you. I most certainly would not have understood it nearly as well had I not had the good fortune to meet you. That is what got me thinking about this subject.