1. The Impossibility of the Original
Any work of art is built somewhat with an aim, intention, expression of its master. The artist has certain rules in mind to view and poke a certain feeling on the viewer.
In his writings about photography, Roland Barthes state the differences on the things that concerns everyone, general meanings that are visible to anyone – studium and the things that are subjective, personal, concerning its viewer itself particularly – punctum.
If we generalize Barthes’ theory on photography for other art forms and accept the idea that studium and punctum do exist for every art work, it raises the question of what the work really is : a work intended by the artist or an independent, separate entity from its creator which forms its identity by the viewer.
When punctum plays a role in the viewing of a piece, doesn’t that already reproduce the piece in another shape? Conveys it to a form maybe even the creator did not intend at all? It could be taken into account as an undeniable truth that the viewer himself adds and is a value for the work. So the work itself is already becoming a variation, a version of the intended. It brings the paradox that the viewer never experiences the original as (the meaning of) the work vary according to the viewer.
2. Intention and Interpretation For The Work of Art
In her essay Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag gives a brief history of interpretation. She suggests that it appears with the earliest theory of art of Greek philosophers.
Plato says art is just an imitation of imitation and it is not useful (you cannot sleep on a painting of a bed) or true. Aristotle sort of agrees it being not true but he says it is medicinally useful as it arouses emotions.
Western consciousness upon art remained in the confines of the Greek philosophy of art as mimesis or representation. With this theory, art becomes problematic and in need of defense. This defense of art makes the odd vision where form and content are separated where content is essential and form is accessory.
In the modern times content comes first. It may have changed to a less figurative and less lucidly realistic but it is still assumed that work of art is still is its content which means a work of art should say something.
We cannot possibly know about a time when art doesn’t need to justify itself and we are stuck with defending art and the idea of content which is mainly a hindrance, nuisance and subtle or not subtle philistinism. She suggests that it’s because the idea as to encounter in a certain way with the work is ingrained in most people’s minds. This overemphasis of content calls for interpretation therefore the habit of approaching works of art to interpret them which maintains the fantasy of there is really a content in the work of art.
Here interpretation does not appear in the broadest sense but as a conscious act of the mind which illustrates a certain code , certain “rules” of interpretation. In art, interpretation involves getting certain elements from a work, it is virtually translation.
Interpretation appears first when the creditability of the myth was struck by the “realistic” scientific enlightenment. The ancient texts needed interpretation to meet the modern demands.
Interpretation thus presupposes a discrepancy between the clear meaning of text and the demands of the (later) readers. It seeks to resolve that discrepancy. Interpretation is a radical strategy for conserving an old text, which is thought too precious to repudiate, by revamping it.
The interpreter is actually altering the text without knowing it by trying to make it intelligible by exposing the true meaning.
The true meaning according to the interpreter that is. He can be touching the punctum while looking something more than the studium.
Interpretation in our time is more complex, it is not respectful, tries to excavate and destroys while trying to find a subtext as a true one.
For Marx, social events like revolutions and wars; for Freud, the events of individual lives (like neurotic symptoms and slips of the tongue) as well as texts (like a dream and work of art)- all are treated as occasions for interpretations.
As these events have no meaning without interpretation, understanding becomes interpreting.
Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art, even more, upon the world because it depletes the world to make it a shadow world of “meanings”.
Interpretation can lead to indicating a conscious or unconscious dissatisfaction towards the work with a wish to replace it with something else, add another level of meaning to it.
Interpretation, by the dubious theory of the art being consisted of its items of content, destroys art.
In fact interpretations can create another work in which the initially intended content by the original creator may not even be there. That may make the spectator himself a re-creator of that very same work.
In Laric’s video, it is stated that there is more work in interpreting interpretations than interpreting things and more books about books than any other subject.
In every interpretation a new, parallel world is created in which it’s interpretation is true.
One step further we face the new technologies. Laura Mulvey’s essay The Stillness in the Moving Image states the differences between still and moving images in terms of added value of the time and timelessness. The intention when creating a still image and moving image is therefore not the same. However with the new technologies is it now possible to achieve a still image from a moving image easily by just pushing a button and it creates a shift in spectatorship.