"Ecological Art & Poetry" Essay by Nohra Corredor CO-GEN Press Release/Visual Culture and Nature/July 2003

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    Creative Processes

    Essay by Nohra Corredor/1997

    What is POETRY?
    "Poetry is the imaginative representation, through the medium of language, of true grounds for the noble emotions"/John Ruskin.("Modern Painters", Vol.III, p.10)

    When we ask ourselves what constitutes the essence of poetry, or what is its definition, we meet a question which for centuries has not been answered with final satisfaction. And yet, the "poetic image" emerges, through the emotional, imaginative, intellectual and expressive language of the poet's consciousness. So, we may ask, what is a poetic image? What is a poetic creation? What is poetic imagination?

    "One must be receptive, receptive to the image at the moment it appears; if there be a philosophy of poetry, it must appear and re-appear through a significant verse, in total adherence to an isolated image; to be exact, in the very ecstasy of the newness of the image. The poetic image is a sudden salience on the surface of the psyche, the lesser psychological causes of which have not sufficiently investigated. The philosophy of poetry must acknowledge that the poetic act has no past, at least no recent past, in which its preparation and appearance could be followed." Gaston Bachelard, "The Poetics of Space", from the Introduction

    John Ruskin and Gaston Bachelard. A Romantic thinker from the 19th. century meets a phenomenologist of the 20th. century because the work of Art-with a capital 'A'-is an expressive form created for our perception through sense,intuition, imagination and thought and what it expresses is human 'feeling' meaning, "everything that can be felt"(Susanne K. Langer).

    In Art,'form', in its most abstract sense, means structure, articulation, a 'whole' resulting from the relation of mutually dependent factors, or more precisely, the way that 'whole' is put together. This abstract sense, which is sometimes called 'logical form', is involved in the notion of expression, the kind of expression that characterizes art. It is not derived from the naive concept, that is material shape. With this in mind, we may ask:


    OIKOS, from the Greeks, is "HOME".
    "Manufacture is the making of anything by hands, directly or indirectly, with or without the help of instruments or machines. ART is the operation of the hand and the intelligence of man together. Then FINE ART is that in which the hand, the heart, and the intellect of man go together" John Ruskin.

    "Ecological Art: ART which first appear c.1968 and which is concerned with natural processes", The Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Art and Artists

    Ecological artworks are imaginative expressive 'forms', through the medium of Nature, of our cosmic space, of a eulogized space we call 'home', subjective images of our 'interaction' with its natural processes. Ecological Art is a meditation on our existence in Nature through Nature, and so, the symbol is Nature itself, or is contained in it. The interested observer will not say: 'this means Nature' but 'Look, this is Nature'. An identification of symbol and meaning underlines this relationship.


    The Poet and the Ecological Artist create appearances of events, emotional reactions, experiences, places, conditions of life, what is called POETIC IMAGES (Cecil Day Lewis). What is created is a composed and shaped apparition of an aesthetic experience. It is not a report or comment, but a constructed form, a virtual event. The revelation of the artists' experience, the appearance of thought and feeling or outward events that they create are "virtual experiences", existing in their imaginary perceptions. Ecological artworks and poems are created appearances, expressive forms, symbolic expressions of vitality, emotion, reality and consciousness.

    In "Water and Dreams" Gaston Bachelard discusses two forms of imagination working in nature as well as in the mind: a formal imagination ('images of free forms') and material imagination ('images of matter'). In nature, the formal imagination creates the beauty it contains, such as flowers; the material imagination, on the contrary, aims at producing that which, in being, is both primitive and eternal. In the mind, the formal imagination is fond of novelty, picturesqueness, variety and unexpected in events while the material imagination is attracted by the elements of permanency present in things.

    Bachelard proposes to consider the imagination as a major power of human nature which should not be compared to memories in any form, because for him, imagination is the faculty of producing IMAGES. "By the swiftness of its actions, the imagination separates us from the past as well as from reality; It faces the future. If we cannot imagine, we cannot foresee. The imagination is ceaselessly imagining and enriching itself with new images. Because of its novelty and its action, the poetic image has an entity and a dynamism of its own. It is referable to a direct ontology."/Excerpt from "The Poetics of Space", Gaston Bachelard

    "The Poetics of Space" marks the last stage of Bachelard's philosophical career. Etienne Gilson, in the Foreword, describes Bachelard's paths, from an established philosopher of science (approx. 13 volumes, among them one title at least should be mentioned, "The Experience of Space in Contemporary Physics") to the moment he resolutely turned from the universe of reason and science to that of imagination and poetry. In France, he is considered as the father of the French new critics and one of Europe's leading phenomenologists.

    The principle of 'creation' is the same in all the arts, because every work of art is wholly a creation. But a far-reaching principle may be considered in order to understand cross-relationships among the arts: Susanne Langer's principle of assimilation: poetry and music united in song, plastic art and music in dance, poetry and painting in a play with scenery, or all the arts creating opera.

    Ecological Art assimilates the 'poetic imagination', incorporates it among its formal elements, and as a result, ecological artworks are impregnated with
  • poetic images of the space/home we inhabit.

    Nohra Corredor works and resides in Greenport, NY where she has her studio. As art participant and editor of AFFINITY Newsletter/online publication she is responsible for the content management for the ecological art portal.
    Selected Bibliography:
    John Ruskin, "Modern Painters" Vol.III as cited in F.M.Connell, "A Study of Poetry" (New York: Allyn and Bacon, 1913), p.9
    Gaston Bachelard, "The Poetics of Space" (Boston: Beacon Press,Inc.,1964), Foreword by Etienne Gilson,p.ix and Introduction
    Susanne K. Langer, "An Essay on Human Feeling" Volume I, Chapter 4 (Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1986
    The Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Art and Artists, Revised, extended and updated edition 1994, Consulting Editor Herbert Read
    Cecil Day Lewis, "The Poetic Image" Cambridge University Lectures 1946(AMS Press; forthcoming reprint edition 2003)
    Published July 2003 in CO-GEN Magazine, Toronto, CANADA
  • Volume 1-Visual Culture and Nature CO-GEN

    Related 2008 Discussion on Ecological Thinking at:
  • Nohra Corredor/Smart Project Space (Excerpt from Discussion on Ecological Thinking/2008



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