The art of misunderstanding

“I would buy from some aged engineer a universal decoder — to obtain the gift to be always understood in the right way”

These are the words of a russian poetress, coming quite often to my mind. Coming, as I feel almost physically the voids between human beings, impenetrable cosmic spaces.

We use the same language, same symbols, but every sign evokes completely different images in our heads. Any idea can have millions of materializations. Words seem to be handovers left in prison, letters under war censorship, a bottle with a SOS note, launched from an isolated island to the ocean. You can only guess what will come out on the other side.

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Henric Plenge Jacobsen, “Everything is Wrong”, 1996.

Well, may be not always. Everyday communication can be pretty consistent, leaving only small voids, easy to overlook, as if eaten out by moths. And it’s fine, until one day there are too many small holes, and the fabric rips, and misunderstanding leaves an open wound. You can see all the light years between you and people you care about.

I heard a story of two twin sisters, who spoke with each other only — for all their life, until one of them died. People were discussing what mental illness or trauma they could possibly have. For me it seems quite logical — if you knew a person who understands each word exactly the same way that you do, why putting an effort in speaking with others? Would you?

There is no absolute understanding possible in the world, only opinions, guesses, theorems — and it’s quite painful sometimes. And I think that all that contemporary art rhetoric (many different points of view are possible; the viewer is a co-creator, discovering new levels of sense) is nothing more than a way to cope with spaces between human minds. Yes, I can never touch your soul directly, but I can put my work out there, step back and leave it to your judgement. It’s your turn now.

Communication is art, communication is co-creation, communication is space travelling — and you are able to do it. As every valuable thing it comes two-sided, and makes us who we are: fragile and almighty human beings.

But a universal decoder would be nice, anyway.

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