OBJECTIVE EXPRESSIONISM --- A Philosophical Theory of Art and Science

I approach abstract art as an expressionist, free association endeavor to explore the world of the mind in its various emotional, intellectual and spiritual modalities.  I consider these modalities elements of consciousness, elements that are available for artistic, introspective inquiry within my own mental experience.   More recently, my art has shifted from an effort to understand consciousness within my own mental reality to an effort to understand consciousness as an integral part of the universe.  I now seek to combine expressionist art with philosophy and physics, hoping the fruits of artistic abstraction can shed light on fundamental questions involving the universe and our place in it.  I believe consciousness is an ineffable element of these questions.  Fundamental questions in physics and philosophy are a matter of consciousness, which in turn, is a subject that is best explored with assistance from artistic abstraction.

I am a skeptic about science as an authoritative theory of truth for all aspects of reality.  I did my undergraduate studies in philosophy at UCLA, in a department that generally frowns upon empiricism as a philosophically relevant thesis.  In fact, some of the most highly regarded analytical philosophers in the world do not much care for empiricism as a theory of truth.   Statements about ethics, epistemology, metaphysics and other core areas of philosophy are analyzed for truth based on intuitively given assumptions about the philosophical subject in question.  Moral statements, for example, are not rendered true or false based on a scientific experiment that confirms a hypothesis; they are rendered true or false depending on whether they conform to assumptions about fairness, distributive justice, utilitarianism, or other theoretical notions regarding right and wrong.  The statements may involve empirical facts about the world and real scenarios involving human behavior.  But these facts are usually not what make moral statements true or false.  The truth or falsehood of moral statements – whether something is right or wrong – is a matter of accepting assumptions and partaking in conceptual analysis that is independent of science.  Other statements in philosophy, such as those regarding personal identity, are also rendered true or false on the same basis.  The thing that makes me the same person over time may well be connected to aspects of my empirical existence, such as my memories or my brain functions.  But whether or not I am the same person over time based on memories, DNA, brain states, or some other aspect about my empirical existence, is ultimately not a matter of science.  It is a matter of intuition and conceptual analysis.

Statements regarding theoretical physics also rely heavily on pure conceptual analysis to justify their truth, largely in the form of mathematics.  The statements certainly address observable or measurable states of affairs in the world.   But the truth of notions regarding such observables (involving for instance, the latest sub-atomic particles in vogue) ultimately finds validity in conceptual analysis that tends to be far removed from observables, relating back to a laboratory or experimental setting only sometimes, often in a very limited manner.  The goal of science is to bridge theory with experiment and confirmation.  Yet the deepest, most ambitious levels of theoretical physics appear to be a matter of pure theoretical gymnastics, and less a matter of experimentation.  String Theory, Quantum Gravity, and other attempts to unify quantum mechanics with relativity, for example, are largely armchair, mathematical endeavors.  I consider these endeavors to be a matter of pure conceptual analysis, guided by intuitive assumptions that function as the pillars for theoretical inquiry.  To a large extent, theoretical physics is an a priori affair; the subject matter that is supposed to be science is really a matter of pure mathematics.

I believe that both theoretical physics and high level analytical philosophy function at a similar level of a priori justification.  Clearly, the aim of physics is to relate back to an experimental setting that will justify the mathematics that is created as part of its theories.    But deep theoretical physics borrows heavily from the type of reasoning that philosophers engage in, which is based on conceptual analysis and the internal consistency of claims within a theory, which in turn is based on the acceptance of mathematical assumptions or axioms.  The physicist may insist there is superiority in his armchair thinking, based on the fact that his claims address or are derived from observable states of affairs that are demonstrable and empirically viable as theoretical claims.  But at some level, the thinking is purely conceptual in nature for both disciplines.

Physics and philosophy utilize intellectual machinery that needs revision.  Only it does not require empirical or purely mathematical revision.   It requires a revision involving artistic representation and expression.  The notion that the truth of a theory is based entirely on its empirical adequacy is not taking us enough from an intellectual standpoint.  It is not enough to engage in pure, a priori thinking to understand science or philosophy.  Scientific theories must be directly influenced by elements of human consciousness that are accessible through artistic abstraction.  Theoretical physics must factor elements of consciousness into its intellectual constructs, beyond consciousness that is manifested through pure mathematical machinery and experimentation.  Deep elements of consciousness can be exported into theoretical constructs through expressionist, abstract art.   

In physics, mathematical principles and statements are used to determine how a theory will arrive at successful observations.   The principles and statements often interact at a purely conceptual theoretical level before finding their way into an experiment. In fact, ridging these principles with a successful experiment, can be a complicated endeavor, often resulting in failure to obtain empirical validation. I believe that art can enhance the way mathematical principles interact with one another to ultimately relate back to observable or measurable states of affairs. Art can directly interact with mathematical concepts, symbols, equations and related schemata -- and provide an additional, interpretative source of intuition on particular bits of theoretical machinery. It can also provide an interpretative framework for visualizing unobservable entities that have a chance of being measured at some level through existing or future experimentation methods. Art can thus be an intuitive source of intellectual energy that can enhance both theoretical and experimental scenarios in physics.

The same can be said in philosophy, where the intellectual machinery of a theory is also dependent upon the assumption of intuitive principles. Philosophy relies on "self-evidence" or other non-reducible, axiomatic features of thinking to develop theories on a variety of subjects, including the interpretation of quantum mechanics, consciousness, ethics  and other complex phenomena. I believe that art can provide a new source of intuitive information to stimulate the production of self-evident truths, which can in turn allow for new way of constructing and synthesizing philosophical theories. An abstract painting is not just something to please the eye and inspire, not merely an autobiographical statement of the expressive energy of the painter. It also obeys a certain sense of intuitive order that cannot be arrived at through mathematical calculations or experimentation. This order is arrived at by the artist via the creative process, through an expression of subjective, conscious states in the form of abstraction. The artist imposes his intellectual and emotional repertoire onto the painting, generating an expression of consciousness that can combine with mathematical statements (as well as symbols and theoretical schemata) to produce new sources of intuition or ways to reconstruct these statements in a manner that is instrumental to a particular theory.

I believe theoretical constructs in physics and philosophy can be accentuated, enhanced, and synthesized when combined with aesthetic information. A wealth of intuitive energy can be generated through the freedom of creating abstract art, which can be combined with mathematical, conceptual, and experimental analysis to arrive at new truths and a deeper understanding of the universe. I believe that a deeper understanding of the universe necessarily involves an understanding of consciousness, and that consciousness can be successfully investigated through an artistic process that integrates the mental repertoire of the artist with the conceptual structure of mathematical and scientific information. I believe that an such an integration can yield new sources of intuition that can be used to address fundamental issues in physics and philosophy. Art is a far richer source of intuition than pure mathematics or a priori thinking. Art must be incorporated into the very fabric of scientific reasoning and mathematical expression.

I refer to Objective Expressionism as an attempt to integrate consciousness with the theoretical constructs of physics and philosophy. Abstract art can export the subjectivity of consciousness onto the objective machinery of theoretical reason, the machinery that is used by physics and philosophy to understand the fabric of the universe. I refer to Aesthetic Information as the bits of consciousness that originate in the mental repertoire of the artist, which are integrated with the theoretical machinery of physics and philosophy. I refer to the latter machinery as Theoretical Information. Objective Expressionism is thereby an artistic endeavor attempting to integrate Aesthetic Information with Theoretical Information, an endeavor to utilize the broad spectrum of subjective conscious experiences to enhance our objective understanding of the universe.
The paintings in this series (Art and Science Series depicted in this website) are my first focused attempt to explore Objective Expressionism and the integration of Aesthetic with Theoretical Information. I believe that such an integration can be accomplished by an artist on an individual basis or through collaboration with members of the scientific community. Some paintings are purely expressionistic, containing only Aesthetic Information pertaining to my conscious states. Other paintings comprise an attempt to integrate my conscious states with theoretical ideas regarding physics and philosophy, as I conceive of such ideas from a philosophical and artistic standpoint. And other paintings attempt to integrate my own conscious states with theoretical ideas and representations of such ideas by expert scientists and theorists. The paintings thus comprise a spectrum of integration between Aesthetic and Theoretical Information, ranging from paintings that only depict the richness of conscious states, to paintings that totally integrate those conscious states with symbols, mathematics and schemata associated with physics and philosophy. The series is the beginning of a long term exploration to work in direct collaboration with members of the academic community to integrate Aesthetic and Theoretical Information. It is the first chapter of Objective Expressionism, a field of inquiry that combines artistic, emotional, and intellectual faculties to understand consciousness and its relation with the fabric of the universe.

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