Corner (2016) emphasises the need for aesthetic training by discussing aesthetic ‘difficulty’ and the varied ways in which aesthetes encounter and engage with these moments of experiencing works of art. As he insightfully argues, ‘Certain kinds of artistic work require a greater degree of prior orientation and contextualisation in order to be appreciated than others, a fact sometimes neglected by those who believe that, for instance, the qualities of a particular piece of music, writing or painting will “connect” immediately with anyone regardless of their aesthetic biography to date. This is very rarely true’ (Corner, 2016, p. 3). In order to expand artistic research and inquiry, it is essential to describe and expand notions of ‘aesthetic difficulty’ for the observer as well. In particular, cultural notions of creativity open the space for different ways of experiencing the world, diverse notions of being, and corresponding aesthetics. Symbolism, iconography, myth, metaphor, Indian aesthetics, and philosophy draw upon an intrinsic ecological consciousness, where nature is not necessarily an observed botanical reality but the interconnected flow of life. The creative process therefore stems from a notion of perception, where the artist experiences herself in all life, in oneness. Form, too, does not seek botanical realities, but a symbolic truth of being. Are these ways of thinking, being and making true for everyone who may stem from this culture? Obviously not! However, tracing this thread of consciousness through practice allows for a nuanced study of a lineage that goes back over seven-thousand years of human history. These intangible yet powerful links to ancient creative processes remain contemporary, relevant, and essential for ecological justice for all beings.
Philosophies of art, aesthetics, and consciousness are integral to an artist’s creativity and her ability to evolve aesthetic principles. Aesthetic principles often translate into art and consciousness. However, this process is not linear and hierarchical. This recursive loop of art, consciousness, and aesthetics forms the crux of the artist’s meditations on form in text, image or movement. For the artist, the creative process, the vision and its embodiment, is a performance rather than a final work of art. Porosity as a principle of consciousness, as well as one of artistic practice, is informed by principles of engagement that further delineate aesthetic principles and grammar of form. As consciousness expands, philosophy too opens up into creative paradoxes allowing the artist to revel in the creativity of the universe. In this unique relationship, and in light of traditional Indian worldviews, art becomes a celebration and reflective meditation, as well as self-knowledge or transcendence. Form transforms consciousness as consciousness transmutes forms, each constantly influencing the other in a recursive infinite loop. Both form and consciousness play with each other to touch porous states, and then move beyond it into the formless, a place beyond form. This is philosophy, yet strangely it is also art. In the words of Coomaraswamy, ‘Heaven and Earth are united in the analogy (Sādrśya,etc.) of art, which an ordering of sensation to intelligibility and tends towards an ultimate perfection in which the seer perceives all things imaged in himself’ (Coomaraswamy, 2014, p. 57).