The Role of Destruction in Art

Topics: Art, Tilda Swinton, Meaning of life Pages: 9 (3464 words) Published: September 2, 2013
The role of destruction in art

Rhythm is the basis of life, not steady forward progress. The forces of creation, destruction, and preservation have a whirling, dynamic interaction.


In the Kabb.allah school of thought, it is believed that the forces of creation and destruction are the rhythm of life. They are interacting with each other all the time. Creation and destruction are two terms which have always been together. Without destruction, creation does not mean, and without creation destruction would not mean anything. Many religions have stressed the important role of creation and destruction in the universe. Specifically in Hindu religion, it is believed that the universe is created, destroyed and recreated in an eternally repetitive series of cycles. There is a pentagram in the classical Chinese Wu Xing which is used to explain the dynamics of nature in the “creation” and “destruction” of the elements. The five elements (water, wood, fire, earth and metal) are arranged in a circle to show the “creation cycle”. Water creates wood by growing trees. Wood creates fire. Fire creates earth by transforming ash to earth. Earth creates metal, which is why metal is mined from the earth. Metal creates water (condensation of water on metal). Using the same arrangement of the five elements, there is another way to connect them. This is the “destruction cycle”. Water destroys fire. Fire destroys metal by melting it. Metal destroys wood by cutting it. Wood destroys earth by displacing it and absorbing it with its roots. Earth destroys water by absorbing or channeling it. (We can also have another interpretation for the creation and the destruction processes. They are transforming each other, so transformation can be a kind of destruction. We can say, they are not destroyed, they are just transformed. Fire transforms metal by melting it. Metal which is melted can have a new possibility of becoming solid metal.) In modern scientific theories, these classical elements correspond more closely to four states of matters: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. (When solid matter is transformed to liquid, we can say that it has died and that liquid matter has been born, or that liquid is a new phase so the origin has not changed.) The particle physics defines three classes of elementary subatomic particles: quarks and leptons and gauge bosons.

There is no getting a way of the fact that in our daily life we are always witness to creation and destruction, life and death. As Sylvester Houedard has written “Destruction and chemical change happen everywhere at all times and to everything.” In nature, in industry, in factories, destruction is happening every single minute. Natural disasters (e.g., flood, tornado, hurricane, volcanic eruption, earthquake, heatwave, or land slide) destroy many lands, houses, and … every year. Sometimes human beings themselves cause destruction in the world by producing chemical and nuclear weapons. Human brutality even affects nature. According to nature conservation experts, humans have destroyed more than 30% of the natural world since 1970. (BBC News, Thursday, October 1, 1998)

It goes without saying that a work of art is not an exception. But then, what does destruction mean when we are talking about art? Destruction can be natural. A piece of art can be destroyed naturally by the passage of time. That is to say that it may be slowly affected and degraded by natural elements. The Great Sphinx of Giza is slowly eroding. Most experts believe it is a natural process, but some believe acid rain is accelerating the process. (Sphinx Erosion) It can also be destroyed by natural disasters. It is estimated that tens of thousands of works of Japanese art dating as far back as the 13th century were destroyed in the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake. Destruction can also occur as an accident. Sometimes a work of art is destroyed accidentally by human-made devices. (explosion of bombs,…..). “ Pablo Picasso’s...
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