I would like to consider the category of thirdness of which Charles Pierce wrote so much. In any moment we encounter each other, there is I (firstness), you (secondness), and what happens between us in the moment of the encounter (thirdness). It is also the realm of personal interpretation: there is the painting, the viewer, and what becomes when the viewer views the painting. Thirdness is the place that spawns relationship, it is the space of revolution, it is the cradle of chaos and confusion but also the domain of life and realization.
Additionally, postmodern cultural theory brings eventfulness to art. Modernity lead us to fall in love with the spectacular, postmodernity offers us the eventful. In art this is called “nature art” or “action art” (from the work of Andy Goldsworthy for example to the performance of The Blue Man Group). Art is not only something you look at, it is something you do, something you embody, something you perform. It is not necessarily to be framed and preserved. Rather it is the making visible of life: subjecting art to the drudgery of the clock, the horrors of the elements, the curse or blessing of la vida cotidiana- the every-day life. It is the eventfulness of art that requires you to “show up”- anyone can watch a spectacle, but an event needs faces. It was Levinas who emphasized the importance of moving from trace (meaning) to face (image) in hopes of discovering the vocative. The idea of voice in connection to face is a celebration of presence. My presence in the moment is contingent upon the interaction between me and the faces that are also present. I am defined by my relation to others. No longer can we “show up” without “showing up.” My participation in life hinges upon my connectivity to others as well as my willingness to bring myself to any interaction I face- whether it be the thirdness between myself and art, or myself and the environment, or myself and you- it must all be a thirdness of “I and Thou”- to borrow the language of Martin Buber. It is a commitment to hope for, seek after, and hunger towards moments where the heavens open up. Jesus shows up in the realm of thirdness- I hope to encounter him there with you.
-thoughts inspired by Carl Rashke's class "Religion and Culture" at Mars Hill Graduate School, Summer 2005.