I see you looking! What do you see?

The people who are looking at my work, I want to ask them, “What do you see?”

Just because there is something right in front of you and you’re looking at it, doesn’t mean you’re “seeing” it. That’s just a reflection of something in your eyes. “Seeing” is an act of interaction with the outside world, engaging with the “object” of your gaze and communicating with its spirit. Even if we close our eyes, depriving ourselves of the sense of vision, we can still “see” things. When we sleep, we “see” the images in our dreams. We may be fumbling, but we are still seeing.

“Seeing” is how we discover things for the first time. It is our sense that gives form to the chaos and commotion that is nature. I have encountered things that long lay hidden. “Ah, is that where you were?” I say to myself as I stare. “Seeing” is how people started to learn to “make” things. “Seeing” means entering into nature, just as “manufacturing” means “putting your hand in,” and “turning your back on” nature.

People who create works of art are known as “artists” or “creators.” Creators have been assigned the role of “self-expression.” Those words, though, seem to be just roaming at will through the forests of human thought, conforming to the code-function of the appearance of the kanji with which they are written. Anything any artist creates is, by definition, “self-expression.” It is a kind of monologue, a novel written in the first person, a one-way street from the artist to the world. It is understandable that people interacting with it might just think that is what expression is. In fact, though, “expression” is written with characters that mean “appearing at the surface.” It means “exposed to the outside,” “struck by the wind.” It implies dialog, don’t you think?

One day a viewer came to see my work. They looked at it, and said, “I don’t get it.” Every person who views my work stands free in a big green field. They don’t need anyone’s permission to be there. Just because someone might not be able to read doesn’t mean they have to stare blankly at an author’s explanations, or the title or the explanation of the work. Viewers confront the work, look hard at it, intrude upon it, with violence. No matter how bad it is, or how little they know, they are the ones to find the creator’s niggardliness. They point it out, dispassionately. That is the job of the viewer, not the artist. Viewers go nonchalantly beyond whatever the artist’s intentions were, and see what is there to see. They may be able to find previously undetected undercurrents that even the artist was unaware of.Drawing a picture, making an object, these are not the only forms of creation. To see is to discover. That too is a form of creation. People who see have an awesome power, a power that is inherent in that corner of nature we call “people.”