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re-view of mosaics

Grace Zhou's picture

 I always regarded the mosaic as fragmented and broken. It is said that“the earliest theory of art… proposed that art was mimesis, imitation of reality.” Thus, whenever I saw the mosaic, I just directly interpret its broken nature as a reflection of our fragmented world, where is collaged by separated people, various emotions and different thoughts. But I forget how magic its connection power is. In other world, I tend to see mosaic as a broken world, but in fact, mosaic itself is a complete art with whole image and expression.

    I think the reason is that I’m distracted by the “form” of art. Mosaic is magic because it challenges the way we used to value the art- “whether we conceive of the work of art on the model of a picture or on the model of a statement, content still comes first.” Mosaic is a kind of special art that attracting people first by its form. Moreover, it is the form of mosaic that still causes the interpretation.

    When I first visited the magic garden, I thought it’s an artwork, which is collaged by separated parts. People tend to value the mosaic as a broken world. When standing in front of the mosaic, most of my classmates and I see the broken glasses, wheels and bottles. I found mosaic interesting because it is “subversive”. Different from the original art such as paintings hanging on the wall of a museum, it breaks the rule. Thus, mosaic is a kind of critical play-which is defined by Flanagan as “to create or occupy play environments and activities that represent one or more questions about aspects of human life.” It challenges the traditional form of art. 

    But is it all- a subversive form of art is what mosaic is special about? In other word, recall the experience in magic garden, what we have seen? The broken brick, the mirror that reflects our own image in the art and the separated letters on the wall is not mosaic. We are interpreting the deep and elusive meaning behind the form of mosaic. So what we have seen is not the art itself, but what it is made of and why the artist wants to create this kind of art. We focus on the background and the stories of the art- “wishing to replace it by something else.” What I interpreted in front of the mosaic is that Isaiah Zagar uses the mirror because he wants to encourage people to involve in this broken world, and to some extent, our own world is collaged by separated pieces. I naturally manage the mosaic by pushing my own idea on the art- after all, I become satisfied with my interpretation, acting like an intimate with mosaic who understands all about it.

    However, “what matters is the pure, untranslatable, sensuous immediacy of some images.” So mosaic is not only a broken world, more importantly, itself is a complete art. We used to value the art through interpretation-“ a conscious act of the mind which illustrate a certain code… plucking the elements from the whole work.” Thus, what we saw is the detail we especially pay attention to analyze. Without any interpretation and just see the image of mosaic, it is a man, a woman, a dog or a smiling face. The first impression people think about mosaic is that it’s separated, but why can’t we say that it’s only a whole art with portrait of people. Just like we are so get used to the idea of critiquing game-how the mosaic critically challenge the traditional art, we forget to believe the mosaic is still a whole thing, still an art.

    Maybe it is the time “to recover our senses. We must to see more, to hear more, to feel more.” So imagine a mosaic is a whole piece of art and do not focus on how it is made, what can we see? It is the sky, the running dog and talking people. Mosaic makes much more sense to us when we see from a full view. In other words, using separated pieces to create art is the method and form Zagar uses but not the mosaic itself. “ In order to understand the esthetic in its ultimate and approved forms, one must begin with it in the raw (Dewey)”. From my point of view, the raw of the mosaic is what really is about and what image is on it. People are so easily obsessed in analyzing and interpreting. Same for the viewer of the paintings in the museum, people tend to analyze the technique artist used when creating and how he expressed a sense of gloom in a portrait when he was not in good health or had no inspiration. But all these transitions are not the pure art itself but the interpretation from viewer.

    The mosaics maximize and substantiate the effect of people’s interpretation when viewing art. The distraction of interpretation even prevents people from appreciating what the pure image of mosaic. In other words, it is undeniable that most of the time, what we are doing when appreciating the mosaic is focusing on the broken aspect of the art. It is quite possible that when we talk about the mosaic we have seen, we don’t even know what is it about and what image is collaged. We are not viewing art but thinking. In order to analyze, people can’t see the art, just like kill the goose laying the golden eggs.

    The loss of pure appreciation and interaction with arts in returns of interpretation is not what Barnes want either. He doesn’t want people just see the interests and novelty of mosaics’ forms. The most important aspect of mosaic is the direct image and how it is related to the environment, to the wall and to other arts as a whole.

    For a real viewer of art, mosaic is complete, not fragmented. It’s a connection, not a separation. Maybe that’s why the mosaic is special- not because of the broken aspects but because it can connect pieces as a whole. Like all arts, mosaic is magic and powerful not because of the separated piece of information, but because of its interaction with and implications to the whole environment in general.