This is the blog for, the art site of Ryan Callis. Here is where I post about influences, and the stories behind my art. To see the art that this blog refers to, visit

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Meaning Vacum

So in making visual things and looking and thinking about others' visual things, I have become more curious about what I concieve as a meaning vacum. That is, that when one looks at specific and explicit visual things, i.e. a Gap ad or whatever, no matter how codified it is you get the punchline quickly so it takes much less mental filtration and experience on your part. The lady in the jeans need no mental connecting of the dots, because you see the Gap logo. Done.
But when you look at a more ambiguous image there, in your visual frame is the visual info, and then depending on how ambiguous, you are left to fill in the rest of the space right? So depending on how compelling the que's, you then go through your years of mental data and begin to ascribe meanings where they are otherwise left out. Like when our gov. topples another gov. and there is a gov. vacum as people scramble for power and order, thus goes our minds when looking at ambiguous (abstract) visuals. With my own work I have always been astonished at the shit people come up with as far as what they think the meaning is because OF COURSE, every move must pragmatically mean something.
I like this idea and I am becoming more curious and aware of it as I make and look at things. Maybe you all always got that, but this dustilled version just snapped in my pea brain as of late.


  1. My question is: does every element in art need to have "meaning"?? This gets into the very foundations of epistemology, but there's still lots of truth in what someone else has said-- art needs no justification. And I would add, just as people existing need no 'justification'. At least not justifying from our puny, not-God perspectives.

  2. No way Jose, art needs not have meaning. What I am saying is that we add our own, say, suran wrap of meaning regardless. If I look at say, a Karl Benjamin, it is a system of colored squares that I know is in a sense, exactly what it is, colored squares. But then, because of all of the things that I have read, experienced, seen, etc., I begin to project, my own meaning system onto it, regardless of whether or not it needs to mean anything. It is innate in us. I trip out on that.

  3. But that being said I know what you are saying and appreciate your angle.
    I am touching on the tip of a huge existential ice burg.