An Introduction to the Thought of Sun Myung Moon: Unification Thought and V.O.C. Theory

Chapter 7 - Theory of Art

Contemporary art has shown a tendency to become increasingly vulgar and decadent art results in a decadent culture.

Should the present situation continue as it is, our world culture will face a serious crisis. A new theory of art is necessary to establish a truly artistic society and thus create a new culture.

I. The Principle Foundation for the Theory of Art

The Principle foundation for a theory of art includes the following three notions: the purpose of creation and creativity; joy and the creation in resemblance; and give-and-take action.

First, God's purpose in creating the universe was to create joy through love. Therefore, he created the universe as his object of joy.

Accordingly, God can be regarded as a great artist and the universe as his work of art. Human artistic creativity is derived from God's creation of the universe. The activity of creation starts with the purpose for the whole (i.e., with the intent of pleasing others) and the activity of appreciation starts with the purpose for the individual (i.e., with the desire to obtain joy for oneself). The Theory of the Original Image shows how God's creativity precisely consists of his ability to realize the two-stage structure of creation. This process is manifested as the two-stage structure of creation in human artistic creativity. First, there is the stage of making a plan; next, there is the step of making an artwork by substantiating the plan through the use of various materials.

Second, God created human beings and all things as objects of joy.

Applied to Unification Thought's Theory of Art, this means that the artist creates his work of art in order to feel joy by having it resemble his or her sungsang and hyungsang. Also, it means that the appreciator feels joy by sensing his or her own sungsang and hyungsang through the work of art.

Third, by applying the give-and-take action that occurs within God's Original Image to the Theory of Art, creation takes place through the give-and-take action between a subject (the artist) and an object (the material). Appreciation, as well, occurs when there is give-and-take action between a subject (the appreciator) and an object (the artwork).

II. Art and Beauty

A. Art and Joy

Art is the human activity that corresponds to the creation of beauty and to its appreciation. As for God's purpose of creation, the purpose of art is to feel joy through the creation and appreciation of the work of art (the artist's object). Thus, art can be defined as the creation of beauty and the creation of joy through appreciation.

But what are the circumstances that give rise to joy? Joy arises when the sungsang and the hyungsang of a subject and an object come to resemble each other. Resemblance on the sungsang level means that the heart and thoughts of the artist that are embedded in the artwork (object), and the heart and thoughts of the appreciator (subject), which both represent the sungsang aspect, resemble each other.

Additionally, the hyungsang elements of shape, color, sound, smell, and other attributes of the object (a thing or a work of art) resemble the corresponding hyungsang elements that exist within the body of the subject (the appreciator) on a reduced scale; this is resemblance on the hyungsang level. When the resemblance of these corresponding elements is perceived in one's mind, joy arises through emotional stimulation.

B. Beauty and the Determination of Beauty

Beauty can be defined as an emotional force and stimulation that the subject receives from the object. Like trueness and goodness, beauty is a value. In other words, beauty is the value of the object perceived through emotional stimulation.

However, beauty is not something that "exists" objectively; it is something that "is felt." Some element existing in the object gives the subject an emotional stimulation that is felt as beauty by that subject. The element of beauty that stimulates the subject emotionally is the combination of the purpose for which the object was created and the harmony (in space and in time) of the physical elements within that object. Thus, when physical elements such as lines, shapes, colors, and space in painting, and pitch, duration, etc. of a sound in music are well harmonized centering on the purpose of creation, they give an emotional stimulation to the subject. When this stimulation is perceived as such by the subject, actual beauty is perceived.

In conclusion, beauty appears when there is a give-and-take action between a subject's desire to pursue value and the elements of beauty contained within an object. Beauty is thus determined by the subject's own emotional evaluation of the stimulation coming from the object.

III. Creation and Appreciation

A. Creation and Appreciation Considered from the Perspective of the Dual Purpose

Human beings receive the desire to fulfill their purpose. The desire that pertains to the purpose for the whole is called the desire to realize value, and the desire to fulfill the individual purpose is called the desire to seek value. In art, creation is performed on the basis of the desire to realize value, while appreciation originates in the desire to seek value. Artistic creation is an act whereby an artist, in the position of object, manifests the value of beauty for the sake of the whole (i.e., God and humankind, in the position of subject). Appreciation, on the other hand, is the act whereby an appreciator, in the position of subject, finds the value of beauty in a work of art (the object). The above description is summarized in

Fig. 14: The dual Purpose of Artistic Activity: Creation and Appreciation

B. Requisites for Creation

In creation, there are requisites for the subject (the artist) and requisites for the object (the work of art). Additionally, techniques, materials, and styles of creation are important requisites in the creative process.

1. Requisites for the Subject in Creation

First, the artist as the subject must provide a motif, a theme, and a conception. At the beginning, there must be a motivation for creation, or a motif. Based on that motif, a purpose for creating a specific work is established. Next, the theme, followed by the conception, is determined.

Second, the artist must develop a sense of object consciousness. He or she must take the position of object in front of God and the whole (humankind, the nation, the people) and offer joy to them by manifesting the value of beauty. It is also important for artists to approach the act of creating with an attitude of object consciousness and to strive as much as possible to expand the scope of their work for the sake of the subject (the whole). The attitude of wanting to give joy to God, the highest subject, and to manifest his glory, is the culmination of object consciousness.

Finally, the individuality of the artist in itself is a subject requisite in creation. Each human being is an individual being who was created to resemble each of God's Individual Images. Accordingly, in artistic creation too, the artist's individuality is expressed through the artwork. Artistic creation is an expression of the artist's individuality, which is an Individual Image of divine origin.

2. Requisites for the Object in Creation

The work of art must properly reflect the artist's sungsang conditions, such as the motif or purpose, the theme, and the conception. For that purpose, the artist must use materials that are most appropriate to manifest those sungsang conditions. Moreover, the physical elements (components) used in creating should be arranged in a way that expresses complete harmony. Those are the hyungsang conditions. The harmony of the physical elements refers to the harmonious rhythm of lines, the harmony of shapes, the harmonious use of space, the harmonious contrast of light and dark, the harmony of colors and sounds, the harmonious arrangement of masses in painting, of movement in dancing, and the harmonious proportions of line segments (the golden section).

3. Techniques and Materials

The manifestation of artistic creativity consists of the making of an artwork by using a given material, thus forming an outer four-position foundation based on the inner four-position foundation of the artist's conception. In the process of establishing an outer four-position foundation, the sungsang (conceptualization) and the hyungsang (material) establish a give-and-take action centering on the motive or purpose. At this stage, special techniques or abilities, which we might refer to as the techniques of creation, may be required.

Materials, too, consist of sungsang materials, i.e., the object of expression, such as the content of or the model for a painting (its motif), and hyungsang materials, i.e., the means of expression, such as marble or wood. The former is called the subject matter (content), the latter is called the medium. The way techniques and materials (both subject and medium) relate to each other in the two stage structure of artistic creation is displayed in Fig. 15.

Fig. 15: Techniques and Materials in the Two-Stage Structure of Artistic Creation

4. Styles and Schools of Artistic Creation

Style of creation refers to the method of artistic expression, which is the particular way the two-stage structure of creation is formed.

Of special importance is the manner in which the inner four-position foundation is formed, i.e., the style of conception. Even where the motif (purpose) is the same, if the inner sungsang (intellect, emotion, and will) and the inner hyungsang (the subject matter) differ from one another, the result or conception will also be different.

Thus, if the conception varies according to the mode in which the three constituent elements of the inner four-position foundation are set, the resulting artwork will naturally vary in style.

Historically, there have been many well-known schools of artistic expression such as idealism, classicism, romanticism, realism, naturalism, symbolism, impressionism, expressionism, and cubism. Thus, the conception and style of artistic creation will always vary depending on the rules that are followed. Nevertheless, styles that embrace common elements do occasionally appear. This can take place in various ways. As for the vision of art exposed in the Unification

Theory of Art, it can be referred to simply as Unificationism. This essentially means that idealism and realism are unified centering on God's purpose for creation. For instance, Unificationism would depict the image of a human being filled with hope, seeking to overcome the hardships of this actual, sinful world, while longing for the original, ideal world. Unificationism also seeks to express the ideal love of God and the Heart he has felt throughout the course of history, so it is a Heart-based theory as well and thus includes elements of romanticism.

C. Requisites for Appreciation

1. Requisites for the Subject

Appreciation is also a form of artistic activity and of give-and-take action. Conditions are similarly required of both the appreciator (the subject) and the work of art (the object). In the case of the subject, the sungsang requisites will be that he or she must have the desire to enjoy beauty. The subject, or appreciator, is required to have an attitude of intuition and contemplation when facing the work of art. A certain level of culture, taste, thought, and individual character is obviously needed for the appreciator to satisfy these requisites. The harmonious unity between the subject's spirit mind and physical mind is another important condition.

It is also necessary to have a certain understanding of the artwork's motif, theme and conception and to have an insight into the artist's thought, into the historical and social background in which the work was created, and the like. This way, the minds of the creator and of the appreciator are brought to resemble each other more closely, allowing the process of appreciation to become an added act of creation through the perspective of the appreciator. Also, by contemplating an artwork, one is in the position to synthesize in one's own mind the conception of the artist (sungsang) and the harmonious interplay of the various material elements contained in the work (hyungsang), thus bringing to the fore the deep meaning of the artwork. Finally, and most importantly, the appreciator must have the senses of sight and hearing in good condition, as well as the nerves and brain in a state of good health (bodily or hyungsang-type conditions).

2. Requisites for the Object

In appreciation, the conditions required of the object (the work of art) are that the physical elements constituting its beauty must be harmonized centering on the purpose of creation. The artwork (object) is placed in front of the appreciator (subject) as a completed piece, thus the sungsang and hyungsang conditions that are contained in it cannot be changed at will by the appreciator. However, art can receive new meaning through the additional creative act that consists of the choice of the artwork and the way in which the subject looks at it. In this way, the work's resemblance to the appreciating subject will be enhanced. It is further important to prepare the correct environment, including location background, and lighting, when displaying works of art.

Next, let us consider how judgments of beauty are determined. Beauty does not exist objectively. It is determined when the appreciator's desire to seek beauty is fulfilled by the emotional stimulation coming from the work of art. The elements of beauty existing within the artwork only turn into actual beauty when the subject perceives them through emotional stimulation and judges them to be beautiful. In the case of such a judgment of beauty, the emotional element is more active than the cognitive element. An aesthetic judgment is caused by feeling, due to emotional stimulation, rather than cognition.

IV. Unity in Art

In every artistic activity there are several pairs of correlative elements, but these should be considered from the point of view of their unity. First, there is the unity of creation and appreciation.

Generally, it is considered that creation is performed by the artist and that appreciation is the activity of the general public, the two being separate. However, from the perspective of Unification Thought, the two are simply two moments of the activity of dominion. When artists produce their works of art, they simultaneously appreciate their work. And appreciators who appreciate a work of art at the same time engage in creative activity. As mentioned above, creation in appreciation refers to the additional creative input of subjective action.

Second, there is the unity of content and form. Content and form correspond to the Unification Thought notions of sungsang and hyungsang. Just as sungsang and hyungsang exist as an indivisible unity, content and form should also be united. This means that the artwork's sungsang aspects (purpose, motif, and conception) and hyungsang aspects (material elements) should be harmonized and unified.

Third, universality and individuality should also be united. Artists manifest their individuality in the artwork, but at the same time they also manifest certain common elements based on the school to which they belong, the region from which they come, and the age in which they live. The former is individuality, the latter is universality.

Since the creator unites the elements of universality and individuality within himself or herself, the work of art, too, expresses beauty based on the united aspects of individuality and universality.

Fourth, there is the unity of eternity and temporality. All created entities embody within themselves the unity of immutability and changeability by being the combination of an identity-maintaining four-position foundation and a developmental four-position foundation.

In the exact same way, within a work of art, the eternal element and the temporal element exist side by side in unity. Thus, the beauty of the work of art becomes even more striking when we grasp the "moment in eternity" or "eternity in the moment" as we contemplate that work.

V. Art and Ethics

Art is a form of dominion over creation. Originally, though, human beings were created so as to perfect their character and their ability to love prior to achieving dominion over creation. Since the perfection of one's character is a premise for achieving dominion over creation, it is only proper that ethics would be a prerequisite for artistic activity, which is a form of dominion over creation. Since both creation and appreciation represent a form of dominion over creation, it only makes sense that the artist has to be a moral and ethical person as well.

Love is the emotional force given by the subject to the object and beauty is the emotional stimulation the subject receives from the object. When love is considered from the point of view of the receiver, it is beauty; when beauty is considered from the perspective of the giver, it is love. Thus, love and beauty are in such a relationship with each other that they are two and one at the same time. By the same token, ethics, which deal with love, and art, which deals with beauty, find themselves in an inseparably close relationship with each other. Thus, true beauty can only exist on the basis of true love. However, though artists in our society have often treated the theme of love in their novels, dramas, films, and the like, they have not found it easy to become ethical people themselves.

This means that the love with which they are dealing is mostly not the love of God, but a fallen form of love that can be traced back to our human ancestors' immoral use of love.

VI. Types of Beauty

As stated, love and beauty are inseparably related to each other and one cannot be considered apart from the other. The more parents love their children, the more beautiful the children appear to them; when love increases in quantity, so does beauty. Therefore, the types of beauty correspond to the types of love. God's love is manifested divisionally in the family as parental love, conjugal love, children's love, and brothers' and sisters' love. Hence, the types of beauty will correspond to these forms of love. These types can further be subdivided and described as follows:

Fatherly beauty: solemn, magnanimous, stern, broad, profound, and awe-inspiring.

Motherly beauty: gracious, noble, warm, delicate, peaceful, and affectionate.

Husband's beauty: masculine, i.e., active, trustworthy, tragic, resolute, brave, and prudent.

Wife's beauty: feminine, i.e., passive beauty, supportive, obedient, sorrowful, tender, cheerful, and frugal.

Son's beauty: filial, obedient, reliant, youthful, comical, and cute (in a masculine way).

Daughter's beauty: filial, obedient, reliant, youthful, comical, and cute (in a feminine way). 

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