In search of meaning
Artists who are in some way the creator of an artistic work, when engaged in concepts, try to free themselves from the limits and material effects in creating a physical and material work and with a free mind secluded from reality, try to find a way to a non-material world to set forth their thoughts to complete their work. Mental subjects in artistic works give the addressee more opportunity to discover supernatural secrets. In these works, artists think beyond reality free from material and natural needs and affect the spirit, feeling and thinking of the addressee. In many of the fine arts in which re-creating is the main principal in producing the work, if not considered carefully and deeply in an integrated technical frame, the work created will show void and prosaic and will deprive the addressee from understanding the meaning and message of the work.
To recognize meaning in artistic works, it is not necessary to think in a complicated way. If we can present the world and concrete objects in a mystic and learned structure in reaching concepts which are perceivable, then we have dealt with meaning.
Sometimes the way of handling artistic objects and forms is so far from reality that they fall beyond material identity and take on a mystical form. They search for inner need and reach detachment and so leave an effect other than matter. These works evoke a feeling in the addressee, respond to his/her mental inquiry and even may recall a memory to his/her mind.
Various branches of art can not have the same influence on perceptual themes, but fine arts, music and literature can bring about a better chance for artists in the field of meaning and detachment.
In the field of Islamic art in which emphasis has been placed on both matter and meaning, the beauty and glory attributes have been stressed upon, and items in form and details lead to the 'whole' , 'meaning' and a 'super' expression. Elements like human, nature and things take on a visible form in beauty and, as they take the meaning they are exalted and glorified and influence the soul of man. In a piece of work presented in such a way, you cannot have a material conclusion, something with a physical volume and weight or that can be measured or compared.
In different branches of art efforts are made to give an expression to the inner hidden secrets as well as reproducing item by item. To give an expression to a subject, material and non-material elements are mixed to enable the addressee, understand the significance of it.
To deal with something spiritual a special language is needed to reveal the meaning. This language has no special absolute definition but is a result of view points, structure, style and detachment.
Most of the subjects in photography are concrete and we can see them with ordinary eyes, but there is no harmony between the elements, structure, combination or view point. The photographer, however, with a deep understanding combined with his mental elements, knowledge and thoughts finds a mental non-material expression for it. As photography creates and reproduces visual facts and not making an exact copy of them, it has a hidden fact which is an inner message and which reveals its meaning. A lot of photographs can have a clear comprehensive meaning due to their visible nature.
'Susan Sontac" a photography commentator, believes:" Photographs as documents which illustrate reality, convey aesthetic elements to the addressee who with the help of his/her conception and mental power can understand and perceive it."
A color photograph based on visual forms and elements attracts the attention of the addressee to colors, shapes and elements set artistically for viewing, but it takes on a meaningful identity in a secondary aesthetical expression which is beyond reality and vision and which takes it out of its material existence. It is not the aesthetical beauty, elements, colors, objects, size of picture frame, its being grey or colored that remains in the viewer's mind, but his/her concept of the elements presented in it revealing the meaning.
Some colors have their own effect of meaning like warm colors and cold colors which can excite or bring peace to the viewer. Dark colors can not create happiness or joy neither can red color make one sad. Proper choosing of colors with regard to their meaning and other effective material elements can bring about harmony between meaning and content combined with other elements and cause the work to be a long lasting one.
' Spiritual teachers of the world ' is a title given to the artists by 'Michael T.H. Sadler'. He favors any endeavor made to bring about a mutual understanding between the artist and society to understand his ideals. Thus, artists who try to flourish and arrange their inner senses instead of dealing with outer realities to present significant works, really challenge the inquiring mind of the addressee to enable them discover the hidden secrets of man's life as they encounter it. Having dealt with human spirit, artists have an obligation to exalt human understanding. They refine human soul through creating spiritual virtues. Showing aesthetic in artistic works results from the artist's inner needs, and self understanding is a necessity for his success. Artists should understand themselves well before trying to convey an ideology to others, because they have to deal with the spirit of man. Contemplation, deliberation, and consideration about self understanding are very important in knowing human better, and considering meaning is essential in reaching a non-material expression primarily for the artist.
Every mental subject first creates a kind of deliberation within the creator of the work and keeps his mind and feelings busy. Artist's mind is always filled with factors inside and outside and tries to activate his mind to make it visible in the form of a piece of art work by canalizing the factors into an eruptive source. He, in search of meaning, tries to add up content to his work and that is how his work will remain alive.
It is evident that form and content are like the two wings of a bird. They are used as 'container' and 'state' for expressing the inmost that is meaning. The container takes different shapes in different branches of art and schools. "Vacily Candinsky', one of the most outstanding commentators in art says:" Relations in art are not necessarily external ones but based on internal mutual understanding of meaning". He believes:" The same way that musicians are free from material world, fine arts artists should also free themselves from it to be able to create a meaningful piece of work".
Viewer's mind, after viewing an image, reading a book or watching a film or any other piece of art work, is entangled for hours and perhaps days. That is not only for material and physical consideration because outward relations do not exist any more. It is the conclusion and meaning that are active in the addressee and so keep his/her mind busy for a long time.