The Live Creature


Exhibition press release by Dijon Dajee

Coming from the first chapter of John Dewey’s book “Art as Experience”, The Live Creature (1934) is an exhibition designed to explore the nature and activity of perception. Dewey’s approach to aesthetics contrasted sharply with the analytic tradition of that time that used Immanuel Kant’s basic principle of ‘disinterestedness’ as the basis of an accurate aesthetic experience. This idea stated that an artwork should not be concerned with peripheral characteristics of the work of aesthetic experience such as the correct use colour or form but should seek to appreciate the object in-and-of-itself.

Although this approach to aesthetics is commendable for its romantic idealism it is woefully inadequate in achieving any cohesive understanding due to its extreme reductionist nature. As Dewey therefore acknowledged that we must recognise the fact that we are experiential human beings as being a fundamental basis of any aesthetic theory. We must learn to accept that ‘the live creature’ is responding to the world, attempting to fulfil basic desires, learning to be fearful of basic dangers and responding to the world (and the art objects of that world) accordingly. Therefore, we must appreciate that the work of art is a semblance of recognisable, understandable forms upon the surface that is a creation of what we as spectators bring to the work of art as well as the bare object that the artist provides. Removing the artwork to Kant’s ideated plane of noemenical existence, merely serves to alienate people from their own understandings and personal interpretations of the work. Instead, we should learn to appreciate and value the direct experience of the work of art, what we bring to the work and use our understanding of that relationship to augment our general world view.

It is my belief that, as the writer/critic Forman Fisher famously remarked “…whatever else an artwork pertains to be, it is and always is, about making this piece of paper, the one you see before you, a thing of utter value.” (The artist as spectre, p.105)

The artworks displayed here, attempt to gain some way of representing the ideas as stated above. Through the rods and cones of the eye, pointillism is the most discrete way in which we experience the world and accordingly use it to inculcate much of the works that I do. The works have also been created bottom-up fashion, in the sense that they have been created as a response to the main themes of the exhibition and are deliberately not tied down by the constraints of a single, unified style. First and foremost, the exhibition has been curated to idiomatically explore ‘the live creature’ and the works are not necessarily representative of the things they pertain to be. Thank you for your time and I hope you enjoy the exhibition.