File this under “It had to happen”

We, as a culture, will leave a physical legacy of art, architecture and literature. Or will we?

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

Previous cultures have left behind stone sculptures or pyramids.

Those monuments stand as tributes to long lost or abandoned cultures lost in the mists of millennia.

We, as a culture will, like every culture before us, leave a physical legacy of art, architecture and literature.

Or will we?

In music, previous generations left behind sheet music, or records.

Thanks to streaming, “physical media” is just another passing trend.

Even money has gotten increasingly unreal. From gold or silver coins to paper, to digital currencies to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), money, as a concept has moved further and further from reality.

The art world, as it often does, has taken this to the next obvious and inevitable level – invisible art.

In a way it makes sense – beauty, we have been told, is in the eye of the beholder.

And in market where Elon Musk’s tweets have far more impact on the value of Tesla stock than any “traditional” impact – like production, sales, marketing or even costs, we know that we have entered, and have been inhabiting for quite a long time, a market and economy of unreality.

It took the art world to capture the essence of this dynamic – at an art auction, of course.

For a mere $18, 300, an eager buyer/investor bought a work of art that the artist, Salvatore Garau, described as a “concentrate of thoughts”.

You can see details on the artist and his/her/their construction here:

The intention of this piece is to clarify the point that “tangibility itself doesn’t inherently create meaning”.

It’s a statement that could only be made in this time and place.

Previous eras have given us aphorisms like “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush”.

This, one of the oldest phrases of the English language, emphasizes that one thing, in this case a bird, held in hand, is worth more than two, or ten or twenty beyond reach.

A dollar, it could be noted, in hand, is worth more than two or ten or even a thousand dollars that we might have some day.

But that was then and this is now.

As the artist, Salvatore Garau explained, “When I decide to ‘exhibit’ an immaterial sculpture in a given space, that space will concentrate a certain quantity and density of thoughts in a precise point, creating a sculpture that from my title alone will take the most varied forms. After all, don’t we give shape to a God we have never seen?”

The winner of the auction received a certificate of authenticity, which is a legal statement of “ownership” and confirmation.

As the artist, Salvatore Garau, observed about the auction itself, “The successful outcome of the auction testifies to an irrefutable fact: The void is nothing but a space full of energy, and even if we empty it and nothing remains, according to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle that nothingness has weight. It, therefore, has an energy that condenses and transforms itself into particles, in short, in us!”

He insists that his object is not “nothing” – he has sold a vacuum, a nexus, a locus — in which observers channel their own imagery of the alleged sculpture into one precise location.

An event like this raises all kinds of questions; not only does this exercise “redefine” art, it also “redefines” meaning and money and space.

A previous generation may have raised the question “Is it art?” But only in 2021 would we ask the question “Is it?”

On the positive side, though, the question “will it fit in my car?” is not a factor.

For insurance purposes though, how does one keep track of such an objet d’art?

How would one know, for example, if it had been stolen or knocked over or damaged by an irrepressible pet or child?

A previous legal premise had, for centuries, been “possession is nine-tenths of the law” actually possessing or having custody of something represents a stronger legal claim to it (more so than simply claiming ownership).

On the other hand, a phrase like “It’s the thought that counts” suddenly acquires new multiple layers of meaning.

Art often exists to stretch our understandings and bring our unspoken assumptions to the surface.

Is this a scam or a profound insight? A joke or an assertion of power and meaning?

Is this an example of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s statement from The Little Prince “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye”?

Is it a rebuttal to the more cynical (and more current) “What you see is what you get”?

Is the dedicated space for this “concentrate of thoughts” a blank slate, a wild-card, a forum or free-space for our own creativity and individuality?

If we participate in these events and transactions that we cannot “see”, are we dupes or pioneers? Early adopters or “greater fools”?

Like Stonehenge or the Easter Island rock carvings, our creations will be our lasting legacy to the future.

Is a “concentration of thoughts” the best we can do?