At one time, artists and critics spoke of the end of art. This never would have been the case if the French artist Marcel Duchamp had not come along. Duchamp gave up on painting. In turn he developed an art in despise of the “retinal.” His art was about ideas.
The sound of such an artist rings with devastation to the business entrepreneur, or for that matter any other professional, whose pursuit is to “envision” a desired outcome. Observation and visualization are common techniques utilized especially by business executives. Without a vision, a business will die. Its life is sustained by the growth it spawns.
A curious and even disturbing work by Duchamp is his 1959 relief sculpture made of plaster, pencil and paper mounted on wood, called With My Tongue in My Cheek. I’m sure Duchamp knew it would always be reproduced in black and white, which gives the sculpture an eerie and deathly appearance, something like a death mask.
The art critic Rosalind Krauss describes this mode of expression a “trauma of signification,” no less a breach of language, reducing the man to deformity with his tongue in his cheek. In business, language is essential. Of course, trainers and coaches say much about communication. Think too of the power of driven speech on the phone, to articulate, persuade, and excite.
There is another point for us Duchamp makes essential to the perception skills necessary for business executives. Knowledge formation requires visualizing something that transcends a path eternal and enduring. A business model or cognitive schema of a problem set must outlast change. In With My Tongue in My Cheek, the sculpture signifies a reduction to a granular surface, and his eyes are closed.
In semiotics this type of signifying system is called a message without a code. The type of trace elements signified by relief plaster, pencil on a graphic surface indicate this baseline element. This compares to a photograph, which the semiologist Roland Barthes described as an indexical sign, a trace, or tail of intentions. Lacking the immanent path of exploration of an eternal idea, this tail like a meteor leaving its path will burn out.
The business executive always looks forward and hangs onto no “tail of retentions.” The future is about prospects. Unfortunately, the past holds some sorrows, though not all, but the intention is to look upon the future as a realm of possibilities. One must keep their eyes open.
In a way, the visualizing potential in the world of business outperforms any other kind of signifying order – words, image, and numbers. Most everything you read in semiotics and literary criticism has precisely to do with this retentive character of signifying orders. Such theorists define signification in terms that are existential, emotional, emptied, arbitrary, and mnemonic, even morbid. Rather than vested with immanence and potentiality, speech is loss; it is a vanishing act.
This is to say that place where the visualizing destiny of businesses leads us is a haven of opportunity, shed of emotional conflict, replete, intentional and intensional, and fresh on the mind. This place is actually invisible but something we picture in our minds subjectively and through deductive logic. We see it in its fullness and multiplicity and work through it from above on the “learning tree” to down below to a singular point invested with its replete potential.
Of course, while any visual medium of art is visible, art also pretends this place of immanence. It is invisible. We access it through the way we experience affect. In an image, the eye receives tenderly and moves us. Like metaphorical language a picture is filled with plentitude, deviation, and resemblances. By such means, we picture our associations and get to its underlying meaning.
Like many Millennials, my brilliant nephew, Sören Wrenn, gained nothing from college but went off to make great discoveries on his year abroad in Sweden. When he traveled, he discovered this Wanderlust which possesses so many adventuresome people. The experience actualized his potential as an entrepreneur.
He developed at App called Hytchr. You can imagine and experience any place in the world by seeing pictures. Those beautiful pictures offer that pathway into the imaginable, seeing beneath the visible into a place you feel you know. This is the desire of the Millennials. Discovery is about imagining a destination. They intuitively know the art of mental mapping.