“There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.”
WoW: Abstracted by 10
One way artists work is to take something very personal and then abstract it to make it assessable by everyone. Comedians are the easiest examples, we know that Phyllis Diller’s husband was not named Fang or Morey Amsterdam’s wife was named Pickles. Most comedy is observational and the key is to take it one step away from the hard truth and make it funny.
Harshly, we don’t care about you. If your heart was broken or the world is against you or you lost a loved one: when you take these very personal events and move them over just a bit; we can all relate to loss or heart-break.
Big on the platform of 2016/17 is the idea of Identity. A person with an opinion on a topic will open with how they Identify to try to add weight to the statement. An example might be, “I identify as a urban black woman and a single-mother” and this statement can be said (and somehow honored) even if the two statements are false.
For me, the longer the list of Identities; the farther and farther you move away from me. The attempt is the opposite of abstraction to make things more centered on the person and, as I said, we probably don’t care about you.
Politicians know this. When cornered they will say, “I am reminded of a voter, a single mother, who told me …” Never will they take a personal approach, “because I believe in …”.
By abstracting a personal truth by even on degree can make the subject universal. And a universal abstraction can be made into something personal.
I often wonder why I play the World of Warcraft. It could be that I identify with my character, who is a very abstracted character; far from my own reality. We, I think, are seeing the abstracted idea being made personal. This makes the game a success. The game is an abstract idea times 10. Still, we all roll and role back to the idea of Hero, over and over.
The lure of using Identity if very powerful. “As a healer…” or “As a Guild Master…”, but making the broader topic into a personal one only makes the case for the individual and the world’s reality will not align that way; leading to increasing frustration because it is a crummy tactic.
Sorry, I’d write more about this but I just watched Inside Out again and I’m crying my eyes out. Riley and her family. I can relate.