Building Dwelling Thinking September 2011
The Inherent Interdisciplinarity of
Visual and Verbal Language November 2010
Thinking about Energy October 2010
Artist's statement 2009
As a mode of expression, the arts have an inherent interdisciplinary potential; I even think that it is rare that any art does not to some extent engage other disciplines.
In the fine arts, the artist develops a visual vocabulary to explore and express something. Just as with verbal language, this visual language has a vocabulary and rules, only that for the artist the visual language is an individual mode of expression to be explored and interpreted by viewers, where as a verbal language is shared by a large group of people who all know the common vocabulary and rules. Not surprisingly, there are many parallels between artistic and verbal modes of expression. Both verbal and artistic modes of expression have evolved through a series of transitions before existing in their current state. Although each artist develops his or her own visual mode of expression, this artistic vocabulary, like the tenets of a verbal language, exists within the context of a larger cultural system. For the arts, the individual mode of expression exists in the context of art history and contemporary art as a whole, while a verbal language similarly functions within the context of the cultures it serves.
There are certainly differences between artistic and verbal modes of communication. Verbal communication is based on an extensive shared vocabulary and infrastructure, and can therefore succinctly explore and articulate an expansive range of topics... expansive but not exhaustive. Artistic modes of expression developed to express some aspects of what verbal language could not. Each individual artistic mode of expression is specifically tailored to express what the artist wishes to express, and could not sufficiently express with verbal modes of communication, not because the artist doesn't have adequate command of the verbal language, but because the message is not one that the existing vocabulary of the verbal language can express. A new language needed to be developed and the artist took on this task.
Despite these differences, the fundamental desire to express something is shared by verbal and artistic modes of communication. Therefore just as a verbal language explores a certain topic, so does the artistic mode of communication. While there are texts that recursively explore the tenets of language itself, and similarly art that is about it's own vocabulary, fortunately most content diverges from this type of recursive exploration. Just as texts routinely communicate information regarding a variety of disciplines, so do the visual arts. Just as a well written text skillfully delivers the reader information as well as an engaging experience with the language itself, so the visual arts strive to communicate a message while presenting an engaging visual display. This inherent existence of a message ensures the interdisciplinary element in the arts.