Personal Impressions of Art and Nature

by Philip Fallacaro

First and foremost, Nature is the master artist. Anyone can easily recognize the infinite variety of striking, eye-catching patterns that Nature continually creates.  In the domain of both the living and non living, awe inspiring natural scenes and events are commonly observed. Our earth and its living forms offer the greatest variety of esthetic renderings. Nevertheless, we may associate the term, “art,” more with visual “human art,” since it is so widely and intentionally expressed in numerous mediums. However, aside from it’s progressive and prolific output, we should regard human art as an extension of Nature’s art, keeping in mind that the origin of humankind evolved out of the biologic, genetic patterns created into being by Nature. In that sense, Nature retains and still exercises its creative dynamics through the resourcefulness of humanity.

In general, Art is revealed in the diversity and organization of design: through avenues of sounds, actions, words and ideas; through pictorial and audio-visual medium; even through the deliberate, artful stimulation of touch. Art is the “magical influence” woven into a multitude of creative events that incite and inspire sublime sensations. In appreciating art, in whatever medium of expression, there is no prerequisite for sophisticated knowledge and understanding.  Since Art originates from Nature, our innate, natural sensitivity, perspicacity and open mindedness are all that is required to respond to art. However, human responses to a given subject of art may vary widely.  The degree of art appreciation and affect may depend somewhat upon the capacities and experiences of the observer, relative to the artwork.

Consider the subject of “natural art.” Both the living and nonliving parts of our planet’s biosphere provide very appealing examples. The infinite variety of subjects is in every corner our planet and extends into space. Media artists continue to capture this art and put in on display for the observing world to appreciate and enjoy.  Individuals can directly explore the art of Nature and become inspired to express their personal artistic observations through photography, literature, music and more.

Before going any further, someone is sure to ask, “How does one recognize something –manmade or natural — as a work of art?” Is it an extraordinary outcome of an intelligent design, derived from a human need to create, expressing feelings or ideas?  Or, perhaps one may conceive of Art more universally, as an inherent aspect of Nature, a manifest  essence of reality.  Can Art temporarily impart to us a higher order of awareness, giving us a glimpse of a coexisting dimension, one that lies within the realm of reality but is not readily apparent?  If it is, in fact, Art that we are truly experiencing, our esthetic sensitivity must be affected in some way, either through our emotions, mind or spirit.  But the manner in which Art may affect us, seems to be more of a mystery than something amenable to analysis.

A Few Views On Natural and Human Art

Through time, Nature has revealed itself in many dimensions of energy and material form. The infinite patterns of physical-biologic designs, and the dynamics of their processes, display an intricacy of form and intelligence likened to an artistic drama — Nature’s evolution.  Humans are an exceptional manifestation of Nature’s art.  All human endeavors, as well as esthetic expressions, owe their origins to Nature.

There are no limits to artistic revelations, either through humankind or through “natural process.”   Human Art attempts to capture, reflect, emphasize, or imitate some aspect of life and nature, allowing clearer insights into its mysterious design. The products and workings of natural art are an unfolding, continual progression of creative events. Overall, Art always features some element of existential expression which ultimately issues from the creative, eternal reservoir of Nature — “art” without end.

Art is so universally apparent, that even the activities of a human life can be viewed as an example of Art. Our unique and diverse patterns of living are no less works of art than other forms. No brush or paint is needed, no musical instrument, no special words of fact or fiction, just plain living: doing what we do that comes natural to our unique identity.  The art is in “how” we do what we do. No matter how foolish an act may appear, or how it plays out, art in life is a continuous drama by mysterious design. The events flow out of nested patterns of beginnings to a middle, and endings, a point where an event cycle transitions over to the beginning of a new drama. With or without intent, we humans express art in our living and doing.  Our lives are “works of art” because they impose a significant and meaningful effect on those who are close enough to witness and respond to us.  For better or worse, we play out our lives as a story-tale. When the whole of an individual’s life is carefully “read,” one can see the unfolding plot and artful design of Nature’s drama.  The Art is in the singularity of every human story.

The concept of Art may be a human phenomenon, but the products of art are derived from nature. Humanity, itself, is just one of an infinite number of nature’s artful creations that have come into being over time. We nevertheless associate the idea of art in human terms.  Notwithstanding the obvious connection of art to human endeavor and creativeness, all art has its truest origins out of Nature.  From historical perspective, the advent of life and humanity, was Nature’s evolutionary breakthrough, elevating the complexity and diversity of natural, physical patterns of existence to a phenomenal level of living novelty and numbers.  The human design, in body and mind, is set apart from all other living forms. Individually and collectively, humans have become the most prolific vehicle for nature’s creativity.

Physical and organic Nature — and the possibility of an incorporate dimension of “Natural influence”– makes up the wholeness of our world. How we personally perceive and sense nature, and how we may wish to express it, is the aesthetic rendering of whom we are.  We are all unique creations born out of the infinite womb of nature.  Nature so impresses us by its dynamics, mystery and astounding beauty, that humans often feel inspired and compelled to “copy” or “interpret” some appealing aspect of it.  Our human expressions, in whatever medium we choose, may convey some true aspects of nature, but will also contain elements of our personal identity. Nonetheless, human “works of art of the highest order” will reflect both the individuality and intent of the artist, but also, the primal, intrinsic qualities of Nature. Notwithstanding the apparent abundance and greatness of human artistic expression, the ultimate “source” and “inspiration,” underlying all creative works, is Nature.

Human design and artistic manipulation of the most extreme manmade artifacts may appear outside the realm of nature. Although the possibility exists that visual and tonal patterns may be intrinsic to our human nervous system, it is an illusion to believe that human artistic creations are exclusively human.  The origin of humanly created products from any number of art art mediums can be traced to influences from natural, physical and organic phenomena.  For example, musical expression, with all its grand history of instrumental and tonal invention, is derived from a multitude of human, animal and physical sounds. The sounds coming from human vocal cords, tinted with emotions; the heartbeat and the cadence of walking and running footsteps are natural sounds and have much to do with the development of musical tones, melody, tempo and mood. The sounds produced from other natural sources, like running waters, whistling winds, birds and animals, all contributed eventually to musical patterns.  The same can be said for other forms of art and human ingenuity. Infinite varieties of visual patterns exist in nature, some of which artists inevitably incorporate into their work. Engineering and architectural designs are often borrowed and developed variations of physical and organic structures.  Such physical designs are works of art as well as practical solutions to human needs.  We can see that human art is actually an extension  and diversification of natural art, elevated to a “higher level” by creative, human imagination and intelligent application.

Natural art, as introduced above, is seen as those creative products found throughout nature and expressive in all manner and mode of existential events, both living and non living. Human art is usually viewed apart from Nature, as an exclusive product of  the human mind and hand. Thus, human art may easily be construed as transcendent to “ordinary nature” because it is expressed from a human personality, with an apparent, subjective intent.  Aside from representing religious, spiritual personalities or a God, human art is not normally associated with a Universal Nature. Yet, from a realistic, common sense reflection, can there really be a separation and distinction between humans and Nature as a whole?  Despite infinite variations of created patterns and their apparent, independent, separate, self-existence, one can also view all the parts within the universe to exist and animate as one cosmic whole. Within that broader perception of the cosmos (Nature), humankind and Nature may be viewed as One within the same being, or One in the Same. If so,  All that IS must lie within the context of Nature.  Art and all else is an outcome of Nature.

Thus far, no one has convincingly demonstrated a “purpose” or an “intention” for existence and life. Much like trying to understand and explain the effects of Art, Manifest Nature will forever be an unfathomable mystery.

The art and beauty of natural, pre-human and post human creations, however apprehended or interpreted by modern human perceptions, seems most objectively, to have issued and evolved out of a dispassionate course of material and biological necessity. Casually distinguishing human art from natural art appears to elevate human art to a “higher level,” where intelligence and human imagination combine with the artist’s deliberate intention, as a cause for its being. On the other hand, from a different, holistic perspective, there is little or no distinction.  How often are an artist’s original intentions derailed by the surprise of an alternative design? Out of nowhere, an “inspiration” may present itself and dramatically modify an intended plan, and completely, but brilliantly change the prospective outcome of the work.  The artist is no less surprised of an “enlightened vision” that was mysteriously bestowed into his or her efforts. Perhaps great art is less an expression and manipulation of an educated talent, but more of a “tuning into” the mysterious, creative energies of Nature. In that sense, humanity may be the most efficient conduit to the realization of nature’s creative capacities. Materially, artistically and ideologically, the advent of intelligent beings ushered forth an avalanche of creative diversity with limitless potentiality; and seemingly, all transpiring in the service of Nature.

Appreciation of Art and Beauty

Appreciation of human Art and Natural beauty requires our human capacity to connect with the world through our senses and to process this information very critically.  A keen awareness and perception to what our senses bring into our mind will determine how well and in what manner we respond to this information. One must have a belief or openness to “feel something” that surpasses our bodily senses and normal understanding.  We must allow ourselves to be taken beyond the physical elements of reality and into a deeper realm of knowing, which is nevertheless real.  If we are prepared in mind and spirit to encounter great art, it has the potential to move and fill us with wondrous and enlightened sensations.  One cannot estimate the range of pleasure and delight that may be experienced when art is observed.  Whatever creative medium one chooses to observe and experience, auditory or visual– naturally existing or humanly fashioned– surprising responses are inevitable. Whether experiencing art as an active, creative composer or as a passive observer, one is aroused by a mysterious dimension of feeling and cognitive delight, not readily yielding to verbal description.

Appreciating something of beauty, in whatever varied form it may take that stimulates our mind and senses, is a living activity of continual awareness and observation. There seems to be mysterious association that transpires between the object of beauty and the observer.  But first and foremost, there is never a true experience of beauty without a deliberate effort to tune in to it, with a ready receptiveness to its possible affects.  Outside of the deliberate expressions of human art, there is ample beauty all around us in nature in human form and activity.  Our daily experiences are usually taken for granted as common and uneventful. We are so preoccupied with the “common and mundane” activities of “normal” living, we usually don’t allow ourselves to pause for a moment in time to really become aware of our surroundings and all that we are sensing — the things that we can be seeing, and hearing, touching and tasting — and the “higher” thoughts that we could be thinking. How many times in the day do we stop to wonder about the things and people that are around us?  When we become more aware of our power and capacity to “really experience” the world that surrounds us, and open to the stimulation of beautiful opportunities that continually come within our sensual, cognitive reach, then we can begin to enjoy, at will, the experience and stimulation of beauty from so many sources. The “natural” and “human” menu of artistic expressions — which to me are one in the same — is enormous, perhaps infinite, and is alive and growing with each tick of time.  With a slight pause and an open mind, with all senses and mind ready to receive, something beautiful is bound to appear and get our attention.

Art and the Sensation of Beauty

Witnessing or experiencing any form of art, may very often–but not always–impress us with a sublime sense of beauty.  Beauty is often associated with the feelings of Love. Both experiences have profound affects upon our nervous system and psyche.  As a sensation or experience, beauty might be described as a very special state of emotion, wherein the mind, body and spirit merge in such an indescribable way to make one feel heavenly, exalted  and in touch with something quite beyond the  “normal” range of our senses or perception.  It can awaken spontaneously from stimuli coming from many forms, such as sight, sound, tactile and taste — and even from an idea or a cognitive state of “insight” or “inspiration.”  However, it is the mystifying power of wonder and awe that is so enlivening, a “super-sensation and appreciation” of sorts, brought through by any number of avenues, having the generating capacity to transport us to this special place of enchantment, one of which we know when we are there, when so effortlessly and spontaneously the word, “beautiful,” slips from of our lips as we behold the event, arousing our deepest sense of esthetic admiration.