Art and Creation (Part 4): The Uniqueness-Repetition Dialectic and Lastingness

This is part 4 of a blog series where I share some thoughts on “art and creation”. I have prepared various blogs inspired by a range of sources from Kabbalah to Artificial Intelligence. Do not expect to find definitive answers. The aim here is to raise questions and hopefully offer entertaining thoughts.

Photo by by MALENS on Pexels.com

In the previous part of these blog series we sought to understand uniqueness as a quality that makes the creative moment stand out from the repetition of daily life.

In this new blog, we will build on what was said before to explore the dialectic relationship between uniqueness and repetition.

The Uniqueness-Repetition Dialectic

There is a background of repetition in unique moments, as well as fragments of uniqueness hidden in repetitive sequences. Every creation is unique and at the same time depends on older ideas, techniques, or materials.

This is nothing else than the dialectic between art and technique.

Claude Monet, Haystacks, (sunset), 1890–1891, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

There is a great deal of technical skill and repetion going into, let’s say, an impressionist painting such as Monet’s Haystacks above; repetitive brushstrokes, careful use of colour, constant control of light, etc.

One can use repetition in order to create something unique. Repetitive sounds in music can create unique effects if used wisely. Isn’t this what is happening with lo-fi music?

What is more, in poetry the repetition of certain words, phrases, or meanings can have an unexpected emotional impact and lead to a unique experience.

Therefore, the separation between repetition and uniqueness is not absolute. The two are in constant dialogue.

However, when we discuss art and creation, the sought-after quality is uniqueness. This uniqueness can entail a degree of repetition or be a result of it but under no circumstances can uniqueness be enslaved to repetition if the result is to be called artistic.

Lastingness

As we saw in the previous blog (part 3), uniqueness is closely affiliated with the idea of creating something that can last in time. I think that this lastingness is yet another quality of creation.

Creation as a result is not only unique but also has a lasting effect. If not in material form, then at least in spiritual. That happens with every form and kind of art. Even conceptual or so called ephemeral art does not escape this rule. Because even if the material manifestation of the creation disappears, nothing prevent its memory from having a lasting effect.

This is also the case with the Colossus of Rhodes; the gigantic statue of the Sun-God in the island of Rhodes. Even though the statue was destroyed in antiquity, its memory remained alive throughout the centuries.

The Colossus as imagined in a 16th-century engraving by Martin Heemskerck, part of his series of the Seven Wonders of the World

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