seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees

I was quite confused by the book’s title “seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees”. After reading the chapter about Robert Irwin’s journey as an artist, I kind of got an answer.

Irwin started his artistic journey as a painter. At that time, when he was creating, he was always trying to break a limitation. For instance, when he painted on a canvas, he was intrigued by the question “how can I paint a painting without limited by the edge of the canvas?” He wanted his audience to position themselves in a particular environment when viewing his artwork, which is an experience beyond a pure painting but dissolved in space. And I guess that is why he went from being an experimental painter to an installation artist.

I think Irwin’s artworks are interesting to me in the way that they are not purely products in which Irwin stores or expresses personal feelings, but also “tools” which Irwin utilizes to ask and answer questions. I think the article makes an interesting point that human beings look at things in the world, expecting a meaning or an answer to certain facts. Often science takes a logical approach to serving that goal. However, the artist, “as a reasoning being, deals with the overall complexity of which all the logical subsystems are merely segments, and he deals with them through the intuitive side of his human potential”. An artwork can become a result of such intuition, which can be less logical to interpret.

I guess my only problem is that when art and science both provide certain solutions to “answer” facts in the world, while science provides a more logical answer that might be easier to grasp, art often can provide an answer that is even more obscure than the original question.  How should the artists connect his art with his audience? Or does it even matter? How should we understand the case when the audience fails to understand what the artists original intend to express?

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