Finding a common denominator shared by the about thirty visual artists selected for EXPERIMENTUM CRUCIS requires an exercise of intellectual abstraction the more marked the larger the point cloud shaped by their works. Indeed, if the cloud as such is taken as the core for reflection, one has to stay at some distance in order to catch its whole significance by a single look, or concept. But if the look gave back more than one inclusive concept, a problematic alternative could follow: beauty or truth?
To avoid the dilemma, an assumption is in order: taking truth as the primum movens, beauty would come in as a by-product, but not viceversa. Hence, the choice to borrow from the history of scientific research the EXPERIMENTUM CRUCIS, the test designed by Bacon and Newton to evaluate a theory’s ability to explain a cloud of seemingly heterogeneous events, facts, physical things. If the test is passed, the theory is corroborated, is true, otherwise it is discarded as false.Thus, the test stands for an ‘objective’ knowledge criterion, whose subject, Man, would be the detector. The world lies before us, and our duty is to describe it as it is, by unveiling the laws by which it works.
Though, this venerable version needs a major adaptation to fit our EXPERIMENTUM CRUCIS. All the more so since four centuries after the founding fathers, the contemporary epistemology tells us “No entity without identity”, no world without the human subject, and his creative act of conceptual postulation of empirical objects. Much by the same mythical thinking that called into existence the Homeric Gods, planets, solar systems, and the galaxies, “can only be conceived as cultural presuppositions”. (W. van Orman Quine).
EXPERIMENTUM CRUCIS, then, not about the nature itself, which is as such unknowledgeable, but about cultures and the cultural agents, who can only catch the natural object by humanizing it. A perfect fit for the artist, since her/his language and research focus not so much on describing anything, as on self-expression; and the knowledge so transmitted deliberately oversteps mere things, facts, what is usually taken for objective reality.
Shortly said, Art speaks by myths and metaphors, as well as by evoking a world of synesthesic perceptions. A tree beaten by the wind is for Van Gogh “a tragedy”, as well as his green wheat field evokes “something extremely pure and sweet...analogous to the emotion prompted by the expression of a sleeping child”. And then, think of Franz Marc blue horses, or the submerged cathedral suggested by the “liquid” notes of Debussy, or the conceptual essence of the seemingly most descriptive painting.
At odds with deceiving sensorial perceptions, or the rational filtering of reality, what we have here is the resonance of physical world in interiore hominis. Since “no entity without identity”, the artist embodies reality as much as is embodied by the latter, thereby aiming at a virtual identity of the subject and the object.