“Art ni tak perlu difaham. Art ni untuk dirasa,” said Noorul Aida, a student of Bachelor in Creative Technology.
“I think art is personal. It’s like finding an emotion or sentiment that you yourself couldn’t express. It would be great to understand what it means by understanding the meaning of why it was created but it would mean nothing and still feel empty if the person who understood it didn’t feel anything to connect with it on a personal level,” explained Constance Chi, who’s currently pursuing her teaching course.
“For me, it depends on what form the art is. Sometimes as long as I can feel a brief connection I’ll be happy. Sometimes I desperately seek out for meaning, because most of the times it’s only through art that our true selves can ever be properly represented,” expressed Nur Alia Taufik, a Bachelor of Applied Language Studies student.
Is it mandatory to understand art? We often refer to it as something we need to understand. When we watch live poetry performances or experimental theatre shows, it would always end with ‘Kau faham tak apa dia cuba sampaikan tadi?’
When I was in college, my seniors had frequent poetry discussions. It wasn’t anything big, just an intimate gathering where we discussed and voiced out our opinions on a specific writer or poetry. It was a beautiful night; perfect for poetry and the topic we discussed that night were excerpts from M. Aan Mansyur’s Kepalaku Kantor Paling Sibuk di Dunia (that was before Ada Apa Dengan Cinta 2 came about).
I remember having to interpret one of his poetries and had no clue what it actually meant but enjoyed it anyway. Every bit of word used was profound, how they flow without containing too much effort. They were beautiful and without even having to dig deeper than I already have, it was already relatable. That is the best thing about art anyway; in order to appreciate, it doesn’t seek to be understood.
We can relate to some things for a lot of reasons, one of it is because it feels familiar to us. I don’t believe that we have the power of understanding something so evidently. For example, we can read poetry from a similar perspective with the writer itself but still, we cannot fully understand it. The writer might actually have a deeper outlook on it that he’d prefer keeping to himself. Yet, how is it possible for us to say how much we can relate to it? How do we know if that’s exactly what the writer is trying to convey?
For all we know, everything we’ve seen and believe to have understood were all entirely two different things. We act the same towards paintings. But familiarity changes it all. It’s the words we hear everyday and colours we’ve known all our lives that take us to greater depths. Art is in everything we’ve ever known yet we still seek for it on a daily basis.
According to a study done by Professor Semir Zeki, a British neurobiologist, it is said that the exact part of the brain which finds pleasure when we fall in love is also triggered when we look at magnificent works of art. Or rather, being connected to a painting is somewhat similar to watching a live musical performance. It speaks to you and leaves you forming your own constellations amidst the sky.
The same thing applies for films. Roger Ebert once said ‘It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it.’ We come across films of various languages throughout our lives, some leaving a distinct mark on us. Yet we still feel immensely because like love, language has no boundaries and it triggers emotions, reminding us that at the end of the day, we’re still human and we feel the same.
I began writing at the age of 15, not being much exposed to many writers. At that age, the only thing which inspired me was jiwang comics by Gempak Starz. I read them over and over again and remember how awed I was by the writings. And believe it or not, that was one of the few things that had driven me to constantly write until today.
As I grew up, my exposure widened to a number of other international and local writers. I even got lost numerous times in daily stories I never thought were worth written about. That was when I figured the only way to understand art is to get lost in it first before finding a way back again. It’s a journey and it never ends unless you say so. So the answer is no; never read poetry, watch theatre performances and films or listen to music solely by the principle of understanding it. Art was never meant to be understood, it’s a ceaseless journey.
This is piece from Seni on Sunday, a weekly column where we invite guest writers to share their two sens about art. As an art advocate, we believe the public must be empowered to appreciate and express the arts. This is a safe space for sharing, in hopes that it would encourage and initiate arts discourse within contemporary Malaysia. The views and opinions expressed does not necessarily reflect Daily Seni’s stand on the matter.
This week’s we feature Khaleeja Shuhaimi – a recent recent creative writing graduate from UiTM who is also a poet, freelance writer, proud daughter of Ipoh and member of the Projek Rabak community. She has a self-published zine featuring her poems and photos titled “Little Things” to her name, and is looking to further her studies in Jogjakarta.