Towards A Universal Theory of Abstract Art & Abstract Sex


Abstraction is a process by which higher concepts are derived from the usage and classification of literal (“real” or “concrete”) concepts, first principles, or other methods. “An abstraction” is the product of this process – a concept that acts as a super-categorical noun for all subordinate concepts, and connects any related concepts as a group, field, or category.

Abstractions may be formed by reducing the information content of a concept or an observable phenomenon, typically to retain only information that is relevant for a particular purpose. For example, abstracting a leather soccer ball to the more general idea of a ball retains only the information on general ball attributes and behaviour, eliminating the other characteristics of that particular ball.

Thinking in abstractions is considered to be one of the key traits in modern human behaviour, which is believed to have developed between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago, probably before the modern human exodus from Africa. Its development is likely to have been closely connected with the development of human language, which (whether spoken or written) appears to both involve and facilitate abstract thinking.

The oldest known physical representations identified as symbols for abstract concepts are abstract engravings found on two pieces of ochre in Blombos Cave, South Africa, in 2001. These have been dated to about 77,000 years ago, during the Middle Stone Age.

In philosophical terminology, abstraction is the thought process wherein ideas are distanced from objects. Abstraction uses a strategy of simplification, wherein formerly concrete details are left ambiguous, vague, or undefined; thus effective communication about things in the abstract requires an intuitive or common experience between the communicator and the communication recipient. This is true for all verbal/abstract communication.

For example, many different things can be red. Likewise, many things sit on surfaces. The property of redness and the relation sitting-on are therefore abstractions of those objects. The delineation of abstract things from concrete things is somewhat ambiguous; this ambiguity or vagueness is characteristic of abstraction. Thus something as simple as a newspaper might be specified to six levels, as in Douglas Hofstadter’s illustration of that ambiguity, with a progression from abstract to concrete:

(1) a publication.

2) a newspaper.

(3) The San Francisco Chronicle.

(4) the May 18 edition of the The San Francisco Chronicle.

(5) my copy of the May 18 edition of the The San Francisco Chronicle.

(6) my copy of the May 18 edition of the The San Francisco Chronicle as it was when I first picked it up (as contrasted with my copy as it was a few days later: in my fireplace, burning).

An abstraction can thus encapsulate each of these levels of detail with no loss of generality. But perhaps a detective or philosopher/scientist/engineer might seek to learn about something, at progressively deeper levels of detail, to solve a crime or a puzzle.

Moving on, typically abstraction is used in the arts as a synonym for abstract art in general. Strictly speaking, it refers to art unconcerned with the literal depiction of things from the visible world — it can, however, refer to an object or image which has been distilled from the real world, or indeed, another work of art. Artwork that reshapes the natural world for expressive purposes is called abstract; that which derives from, but does not imitate a recognizable subject is called non-objective abstraction. In the 20th century the trend toward abstraction coincided with advances in science, technology, and changes in urban life, eventually reflecting an interest in psychoanalytic theory. Later still, abstraction was manifest in more purely formal terms, such as colour, freedom from objective context, and a reduction of form to basic geometric designs.

With the rising of the curator as star in the 1990s, and the recognition that the curator was more important than the artists, relationships between curators and artists shifted from one of flirtation to bondage and domination. Since neither flirtation nor sado-masochism necessarily involve penetration, it was by these means that we’ve move from artistic abstraction to an art of abstract sex!

5 Responses to Towards A Universal Theory of Abstract Art & Abstract Sex

chushmartinez | August 12, 2012 at 12:23 am    I want to make abstract sex to Jeff Koon’s Puppy!

kperry | August 13, 2012 at 8:07  I want an surrealist sex abstract of the puppy

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chusmartinezproject | August 15, 2012 at 10:16 pm Surely we’re all looking for the ultimate and most abstract version possible of Puppy Love – and I know for sure that Donny Osmond didn’t give it to us!

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