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Art, culture, communication: permanent education  
Maria Filippone Colonna (english translation by Irene Amore)
ISSN 1127-4883    BTA - Bollettino Telematico dell'Arte, Roma, 11 lug. 2000, n. 8 (2th Nov. 1994)
Aesthetic Area

Nowadays our social disconfort is becoming serious, and we are looking for escapes: too many enquiries have been carried out on the condition of our society and on the crisis of Western democracies and culture, but always with scarce results. The main obstacle lays on the fact that while we carry out our investigations on the context in which we are living, we are forced to adopt documents, languages, and tools existing within the same context and determined by mass media. There is a lack of projects with wider perspectives, a lack of new ideas, and new languages.

There is seemigly no way out from this situation. However, history proves that in emergency humanity is able to move beyond its limits and in the shortest possible time realise the major improvement in the quality of life necessary to enter the new row of centuries.

At the threshhold of the Third Millennium, the material and moral degradation all around the world has seriously exceeded its limits. It is up to us to improve. To say so is even too easy, but the real problem for all generations is how to pass from words to facts, from hypothesis to actual changes.

If it is now time to break down fences, trenches, and barbed wires, in order to build bridges and new roads on the ruins of the past, and to erect cathedrals, from what and how can we start ?

From what all builders and workers start: from the first stone. And now, to understand, let's complete the metaphor. We must lay the first stone of an "immaterial town" which already exists in the thought and in the heart of many, a town where a new social pact will be established, based on the priority of the moral issues, that is of solidarity, justice, and peace.

This planetary town can only be established on the two dimensions of NATURE and CULTURE and on the corner stone of COMMUNICATION.

However, in order to be the real corner stone of our new town, communication must imply the complexity of the man as a whole person, and the deep discovery of the religious sense of our life. The lattest is based, in fact, on two key elements: the bond amongst all men (re-ligare = put together), beyond differences of race, language and class, and the value of the spiritual life in each and everyone.

From this viewpoint, a new culture of communication can only begin with a renewed awareness of ourselves, of our being persons endowed with a body and a soul. And by soul I mean feelings, reason, will and aspiration to interior freedom. It is still possible to regenerate forms and languages of our communication, strengthen it through technologies, enrich it with the energies of imagination and creativity, under the only condition that WITHIN EACH PERSON'S INNER BEING A RADICAL CHANGE OF DIRECTION OCCURS: from myself to yourself, towards the spaces and times of the person whom one is communicating with.

And all this in a dynamic circuit which moves from the sender to the addressee and backwards, because COMMUNICATION IS DIALOGUE and not a one-way transmission of messages: there is no real communication without an open dialogue which starts from our depths, and wants to bring together and welcome the others in the mutual aspects of our human relationships.

Within the human ecology which I mentioned, the new communication will also discover journeys not necessarily new, but certainly unusual in the cultural context in which we live and, therefore, it will not be an easy conquest. It will be necessary to expand our thought and widely open our eyes over the world. An example: very few today consider our environment and nature as FORMS OF LANGUAGE (as Galileus did, and stylistic and semantic studies in the 50s and 60s). It would be very useful, instead, to rediscover this simple reality: every object built by men in every time, every natural forms in its reality or in its representation in art, communicates messages of different kinds. And these messages, which enrich the knowledge of ourselves and our world, are to be decodified and understood.

Putting forward art as reading and reinvention of reality and of the natural and immaterial world is, I believe, a very effective tool to achieve a new form of direct communication with the environment where we live, and to rediscover the historical roots of our culture and our organic bonds with our "habitat" and with all beings and social groups living there, as they are today fragmented by politics, or by politics and economics which are not in service for the man. Also here wider horizons seem necessary: now more than ever the concept of art can be and should be broadened to include, together with the artists' works, and their creative elements, all techniques, tools, skills, inventions and ideas which contribute to defend and empower the human ecosystem, which is so materially and morally polluted. In order to face such a situation, a brave and coherent mobilitation of the civil society has to be promoted, together with the conquest of a broader and more flexible vision of reality in all its aspects.

This opinion of mine is born from a serious discomfort of living in an awful, caotic and disarmonic urban environment, where alienation, emptiness, and loss of any meaning in life are continuous threats.

As a consequence: It is necessary that art and artists commit themselves to return the beauty to the world, after having rediscovered the forgotten beauty of our inner beings; it is necessary that each and everyone feels responsible and contribute to this major ARTWORK that is the conquest of an armonious, balanced, fair environment, immersed in a creative peace. This peace cannot generate from treats nor politicians' decisions, nor can it be imposed, but it is the outcome of a different communication amongst all men, of a "communion" that is born from the aknowledgement of what is human, good and beautiful in everyone (non only for some individuals and groups or classes, and to the disadvantage of a silent and suffering majority).

Our lifes' disarmony has to be striken at the heart, not with guns and violence, but with all men's creative and constructive work, because we are all responsible and victims of the massive chaos that threatens to destroy what is left of the original beauty of the world. As Herbert Read says (in "Education through Art"): « equilibrio e simmetria, proporzione e ritmo sono fattori-base dell'esperienza: i soli per mezzo dei quali questa può essere organizzata in schemi durevoli ed essi per propria natura implicano la grazia, l'economia, l'efficacia. Operare in modo giusto significa sentire in modo giusto; e, per l'individuo, il risultato è quell'acuirsi dei sensi che chiamiamo godimento estetico ». And again from Plato's Republic (III): « del ritmo e dell'armonia è ripiena la pittura e ogni altra arte consimile, e la tessitura e l'ornato e l'architettura e la fabbricazione di tutti gli altri utensili, e così del pari la natura del corpo e degli altri organismi, che in tutti questi è insito decoro o bruttezza e la bruttezza e aritmia e disarmonia sono sorelle del cattivo parlare e del carattere, mentre le opposte qualità sono sorelle e imitazioni dell'opposto, del carattere saggio e buono ».

Unfortunately the reality in which we live is far away from beauty and armony, our reason is deeply asleep, and this generates monstrers, and monsters generate fear.  Our fear has stopped our creativity, has pushed us back to the inconscious.

Paradox: at the core of a technological civilisation the irrational explodes and the imagination sleeps. The imagination's sleep can generate monsters, pitiless mechanisms moved by invisible wires. Here comes back the question: what to do ? Shall we move back to Plato ? I think we should aim to a balance between Aristotle and Plato, between science and poetry.

The contemporary man must adopt all his imagination to find out a creative and constructive use of the advanced technologies and defend himself against new monsters which are hidden behind the computer's buttons or even in the "rays of light" (optical fibres), through which information travels.

In this ideal and revolutionary tension of renovation, the telematic rediscovery of our national and international artistic heritage can be one of the most effective tools to win the monsters of passivity and cultural omologation: it is also, practically, an outstanding industry for the present and the future (to regain the past), and through it it will be possible to extend and deepen the level of reception of messages to a larger number of citizens from all ages. And this because the images' language is the most immediate and able to mediate contents and values related to history and culture of a specific area.

According to some, in our future there is the possibility of a virtual reality in which we will evade for lack of actual reality (and creative imagination): instead, we hope that the creative research will scientifically question the arts' language, together with the language of nature, and both nature and arts will reply with substantial images, forms and colours of life, as is in our right and is to be defended, discovered and loved.

Finally, this is my proposal: against the levelling, the omologation, the collective "brainlessness" and the consequent fragmentation of our social life, to the loss of a sociable relationship with the others, to the fear of violence and the violence of fear, to the sleep of reason and imagination, we oppose the strategy of PERMANENT EDUCATION TO ART. Art to communicate with ourselves, with the others and with the world.



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