Sunday, January 18, 2009


IV : The Invisible Man

As it is with charisma, it's hard to describe that which can't be seen, but I've got a nice fictional analogy. Experiencing a painting, a poem, a piece of music, a stage performance, is like being in a room with Griffin (H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man) - what you are able to discern is but the circumstantially tangible evidence of a presence which can't be seen directly: moving objects, creaking floorboards, breath on the back of your neck, and so on. Thus, the artwork is only the visible manifestation of everything that the artist represents, nearly all of which we can't see yet do nevertheless perceive. The inspirations and influences, the practising and rehearsing, the learning, the hopes, the daydreams, the regrets, the relationships, factors both deliberate and accidental. The allure of a biography is a distorted view through the keyhole into this otherwise unseen world.

Further to this, there's what I've previously described as transparent concession, a concept that has critically significant artistic potential. For example, in between acts of a stage play, why shouldn't an actor take off his sweaty costume and have a fag (or cocaine) break? Or, he could, as Stanislavski would wish, stay in character. The audience can't see what's going on backstage, so what's the big deal? Because, just like Griffin's presence in the room, the audience really does feel that which is invisible, powerfully enough for it to make a big difference.

Time now to return to what our adorable Congo the Chimp has that, as I see it, makes his work objectively superior to that of the vast majority of those that would call themselves artists. And it's also invisible.

continue to part 5

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