The meaning of all words, in all languages, varies with time and place. As such, though everyone believes that they know the meaning of the word “art”, its meaning, however, fluctuates more so than any other word.
On the one hand, art refers to all activities that purport to represent what is real with the aim of transcending it; it seeks to go beyond reason in order to reach the soul and it uses all techniques of an era to reach this purpose. Painting, storytelling, music, dance, poetry, theatre, sculpture, novel, photography, cinema, are subsequent forms of it.
On the other hand, and it may be less obvious, a work of art, in all its forms, always tells a story; it always takes the spectator on a journey. Even a musical work is a story, and not only when it is accompanied by words.
This may have started with images, at least 50,000 years ago, when Neanderthals set out to tell stories on the walls of caves. And at the same time, by music, song and storytelling; though we have no trace of it until the very recent invention of writing.
Subsequently, art used all forms of communication of each era.
Today, the word “art” seems to exclude swaths of what constituted it: when we speak about “contemporary art”, one hardly thinks about music, dance, or literature anymore. The word seems to designate only visual art forms, from painting to cinematography, performing arts and videos.
There is an explanation for this: whereas, in the past, many forms of communication coexisted, today we live in a tyranny of image that imposes a way of telling stories and monopolizes (or almost) the name—art.
So, if we call or consider “art” to be only things that transfigure the dominant mode of communication, then what will we call art tomorrow?
For a much longer time, it will surely be image and all that surrounds it. Then, other art forms will arise, probably linked to new forms of communication directly from one brain to another. All current research on emotional intelligence, and how to stimulate it, associated with neuroscience and the digital world, suggests that one day, sooner than we would like to believe, we will communicate directly from one cortex to another, without the support of language or image.
An entirely different art form will emerge, which will be an exchange of pure emotions. This may be in the form of meditation exercises, concentration or exercises that allows one to overcome and surpass his normal capacity, which many Tibetan techniques help prepare for.
May it please heaven that we will not seek out this new form of art one day; this pure emotion in chemical products, neuroleptics and drugs, which could claim to be new forms of accession to certain immanence of the real; new ways of telling stories. An “artist” would then be one who would have developed a particular cocktail of chemicals designed to arouse particular emotions in order to someone on a journey. Hence, the spectator would then activate the work. In a way, this is not far from what minimalist art is already seeking today. Perhaps the invasion of drugs in our societies today foreshadows this.
If this were to be the case, art would have participated in the annihilation of a civilization. It is not enough to know it in order to prevent it. It must be admitted that such is the natural inclination of History, and we must have the courage to do everything possible to avoid and overcome it, which is obviously within our reach.