Каталог статей из сборников научных конференций и научных журналов- Stage art as a special form of world understanding in symbols

Stage art as a special form of world understanding in symbols

S. N. Shumakova

Candidate of Art History, associate professor,

Kharkov State Academy of Culture

Kharkov, Ukraine



Experience shows that the meaning of new movements in art is as – much in the development of original methods of creativity, as in the illumination and deepening of understanding of the entire past in art. The principles of modern art have crystallized in the symbolic school of recent decades; Nietzsche, Ibsen, Baudelaire, later – Merezhkovsky, Ivanov and Bryusov developed the platforms of an artistic credo. This credo is based on the individual statements of the geniuses of the past about the significance of artistic creativity, in which symbolism summarizes and systematizes these statements: symbolism emphasizes the primacy of creativity over knowledge, the ability to transform images of reality in artistic creativity. In this sense, symbolism emphasizes the significance of the form of works of art, in which the pathos of creativity is already displayed in itself; symbolism therefore emphasizes and recognizes the fundamental importance of cultural meaning in its study. A symbol is an image taken from nature and transformed by creativity; a symbol is an image that combines the experience of the artist and features taken from nature. In this sense, every work of art is essentially symbolic. The modern stage art, if it wants development and deepening, cannot remain closed. It must connect itself with the general problems of culture, the reassessment of the philosophical and ethical values of European culture, the growing interest in cultural problems in a new light, compared with the recent past, putting forward the meaning of beauty, and vice versa – the modern stage artist includes cultural problems in his field of interest, and this inclusion unexpectedly connects the interests of performing arts with philosophical and ethical issues.

The final goal of the stage art is the re-creation of life; the unsaid slogan of this statement is the postulate: the art of the stage is not only art; in art the essence of world understanding is hidden involuntarily. The so-called aestheticism of the stage, carried out with all merciless consistency, passes into its opposite principle – into an ethical principle. The content of beauty, as soon as we try to formalize it, turns out to be connected with an ethical moment, or rather: the content of morality and the content of beauty are subject to the same norm. Therefore, for example, the consistent aestheticism and ideology of Ibsen emphasizes the ethical moment; only the ethical principle, defined from the side of beauty, goes back not to the forms of morality, but to the norm as some kind of transcendent obligation. Therefore, penetrating deeper into the essence of ethical norms, symbolism may seem to violate existing forms of morality. The symbolic art of the last decades, taken from the side of form, does not essentially differ from the methods of eternal art. In one case, in new currents, we meet with a return to the forgotten forms of German romanticism; in another case, the East rises before us; in the third case, we have the visible emergence of new methods. These techniques, on closer examination, turn out to be only a peculiar combination of old techniques or their greater detail. Symbolic art, taken from the side of ideological content, is in most cases not new. Thus, for example, the peculiar ideology of Maeterlinck's dramas, the spirit of the elusive in them, is the result of the study of the old mystics in the peculiar charm of being transferred to a realistic worldview. Where the preaching of new forms of human relations begins in modern theatrics, there are attempts to practically apply ancient wisdom to the current historical period, where the cognitive value lies in the creation of ideas-images, the identification of which forms the most objective reality. Cognitive value is in the creative process of symbolization and the primacy of creativity over cognition is revealed. This is where fertile soil opens up for substantiating symbolism.

The stage designer is a philosopher who asks: “What dazzling horizons shine? How to measure the depth of the abyss that unfolded under your feet? From now on, the artist cannot but realize what a providential secret lies in his work. In creative service, he obeys the dictates of duty; he cannot but know what is the meaning of this creativity in the world of empirical reality?

At the same time, it is revealed that a single symbolic life (the world of value) has not been unraveled at all, appearing to us in all its simplicity, charm and diversity alpha and omega. She is a symbol of some mystery, the approach to this mystery is an ever-increasing, seething creative striving that carries us, like phoenixes rising from the ashes, over the cosmic dust of space and time. All theories break underfoot; the whole reality flies like a dream, and only in creativity remains the reality, value and meaning of life. This value itself is a symbol, realized in activity; the image of which, in turn, is symbolic. We begin to understand that all power is in the combination of knowledge with something; the pyramid of knowledge, the basis of which is the world, turns out to be connected at the top with its symbolic unity. And only in the revelation of this unity do we approach meaning; its disclosure – in the manifestation of value. So we involuntarily come to the study of creative monuments from the side of their form, content and relationships. Stopping at the stage art, we see that everything in it is form and content, isolated from its own sphere, which turns out to be a deep meaning.

Considering the stage art from the point of view of the material that forms it, it turns out that we have before us as a product of an energy process, where creativity is a collision of potential energies the artist, that turn into energies. Considering the stage art from the point of view of the feelings aroused by it, classifying the images of the stage art, we will not find any true principles of classification, except for the elements of spatiality and temporality.

The images that arise in the performing arts, from the point of view of the manifestation of unity in them, will reveal perfect images of the human, will lead to the heights of duty.

At the heights of stage creativity, a certain unity is postulated, the unity of creative forms with the forms of symbolizations, the forms of images and their contents; at the center of this unity is the value and meaning of life.

This unity is a symbol. First of all, symbolic unity is the unity of what we call content and form. Symbolic unity is the unity of form and content. Such a definition of unity is still conditional, just as the very concept of a symbol is conditional.

It is necessary to dwell on the nature of conditional concepts that do not signify what cannot be contained in reality. Conventional concepts of reality are emblematic concepts; the givenness of the world of reality and the world of consciousness equally unites reality and consciousness into an image of immanent being, throwing a bridge into the world of images, when the emblem takes the form of an allegory and interprets the unity of images. Allegory is a link in a consciously chosen and arranged system of images; the allegory is the interpretation of the image, and the emblem is a scheme by which it becomes an allegory.

Allegory arbitrarily combines images of reality into a complex that is not given in reality. This complex is an image of a new reality, which differs from the given one in the same way that value differs from being. And that is why the transformation of the images of reality through theatrical creativity is either a premise of the allegory itself, or its figurative conclusion.

The symbolic unity of stage creativity is the unity of form and content, which brings us closer to the symbol, accepted by the pinnacle of any creative symbolization as something valid in itself and affirmed by this new reality in the world of being, which is valid only for creativity, which and predetermines aesthetic experiences.

Actually, we call aesthetic experiences those, the form of which is taken from images of immanent being, and which are realized in some material. Depending on the material, forms of art as such grow before us. The relationship between the forms of aesthetic creativity is equivalent to the relationship that exists between the constitutive and methodological form of real art, the idea of which is the re-creation of reality, as an effective implementation of a process with the aim of re-creating oneself and the world – a mystery process.

The idea of a real art of vital creation fully corresponds to the semantic organization of the mystery itself. The stage idea of the mystery is interpreted as interpreting the value-essential layers and aspects of being. Mystery is extended drama; at the same time, our individual life, when we try to define it from the point of view of aesthetics, is an expanded mystery. Finally, such a mystery is the whole history of mankind; our life is therefore an object of aesthetic symbolization. It is also an object of religious symbolization; aesthetic symbolization fragments our lives into art forms; religious symbolization reveals the life given to us as the indecomposable content of some form.

Thus, synthesizing the understanding of the symbol [2; 3; 4; 7], it is possible to determine:

the meaning of creativity in the symbol;

reality approaches the symbol in the process of cognitive creative symbolization and the symbol becomes reality in this process;

approaching the knowledge of every meaning, we endow every form and every content with a symbolic being;

the meaning of our existence is revealed in the hierarchy of symbols of creativity;

the symbol is revealed in symbolizations (there he is created and known);

symbolization is the emblematic of pure meaning;

the symbol is the unity of cognition of the contents of experiences, cognition in the forms of experiences, creativity in the forms of experiences, in the creativity of cognitive forms, form and content;

the symbol is known in emblems – figurative symbols.

Finally, we call symbols the images of our experiences; we mean by the image of experience the indecomposable unity of the processes of feeling and thinking. We call this unity a symbolic image, because it is indefinable in terms of feelings, will and thought. The same unity is personified in each moment individually. We call an individual image of experience a symbol. We catch further a single rhythm in the change of our experiences, personifying the change with the change of moments. Images of experiences are located relative to each other in a certain order. This order we call the system of experienced symbols. Continuing the system, we see that it covers our life – life realized in rhythmic images.

In the process of cognition that Lipps calls “feeling”, we involuntarily see a spiritual root, and since “feeling” (Einfiihiung) underlies aesthetic experiences, artistic creativity receives its illumination in the spiritual essence of creativity. Finally, the expression of the image of experiences in various kinds of plastic, rhythmic form leads us to the construction of this or that material of schemes expressing the combination of the image of visibility with the image of experience. Such material schemes are artistic symbols. The artistic symbol is therefore an extremely complex unity. He is unity in the arrangement of artistic material. Studying the means of artistic representation, we distinguish in them, firstly, the material itself, and secondly, the technique, in other words, the arrangement of material, the unity of means is the unity of arrangement, which predetermines the choice. Further: the artistic symbol is the unity of the experience of the moment embodied in the individual image. Finally, the artistic symbol is the unity of these unities (that is, the unity of experience in the methods of work). The artistic symbol given to us in incarnation is the unity of the interaction of form and content. Form and content here are only means – the very embodiment of the image is the goal [7].

Analyzing the stage symbol from the point of view of its form, it can be noted that the form in a rough sense is predetermined in the symbol by the method of work. The reception of the work is predetermined by the conditions of stage space and time. The elements of space and time are predetermined by the form of the scenic creative process. The form of the creative process is predetermined by the form of individual experience. Considering the stage symbol from the side of its form, we get a series of forms escaping into the depths of the unknowable. Apparent content is only order in the division of form. The content of the scenic artistic image is an unknowable unity, that is, a symbolic unity.

And vice versa: starting from the apparent content, we begin to see that it is our vague excitement, but the form of creative vision depends on it, that is, the image that arises in our soul. And further: the very choice of rhythm and means of representation is predetermined. Both rhythm and means of depiction are the dismemberment of the content itself. In essence, we can talk about the features of artistic excitement, predetermined by the very form of creativity.

Starting from apparent content, it is vain to look for forms in the dissemination of content. The form will turn out to be an unknowable unity, that is, a symbolic unity. The stage symbol is, first of all, the excitement given in the means of stage representation. And vice versa: the means of scenic representation are given in excitement.

 “The form is given in the content”, “the content is given in the form” – the main judgment that defines the symbol in art.

Comprehended images of experience that arise in the soul from the interpreted content are “created”. Defining a symbolic image as a unity of experience, given in the means of representation, we will call this unity an artistic symbol. The unity of experience, which takes the form of an image in our soul, we will call the symbolic image of experience. After all, the symbolic image of experience may not be given in the means of representation. He is the image of our soul and, as such, occupies a place in the system of similar images, as a conscious system of symbolic images of experience.

Finally, we call any definition of artistic symbols emblems. The very definition of a symbol is called an emblem. Symbolism as a creative activity is usually confused with symbolism as a well-known system of thought that admits symbols in principle. Symbolism is usually confused with symbolization. It is necessary to characterize the terminological difference of these concepts in a nutshell.

Stage creativity has certain zones that it runs through, remaining unchanged in the internal unity of the aspirations of movement in the chaos of feelings. This unity has for its form the element of the soul, that is, it is expressed in the symbolic image of experiences. The symbolic image of experiences, taken out of the soul and imprinted in the material of stage representation, gives a more complex unity – an artistic symbol, as an attempt to revive this complex unity so that the symbol speaks the language of human actions.

The meaning of the stage symbol is in the artistic interpretation of the image, as in the unity and emotion that the image excites in us, and in the rational interpretation of this image. However, the symbol is indecomposable neither in emotions nor in discursive concepts; he is what he is.

In order to present the stage symbol in the fullness of its properties, it is necessary to expand its “semiotic” understanding through the definitions provided by different areas of humanitarian knowledge. In addition to symbolism, the humanitarian tradition emphasizes such properties of a symbol, as: figurativeness (iconicity), motivation, the complexity of the content of a symbol and the equality of meanings in it, “immanent” polysemy and vagueness of the boundaries of meanings in a symbol, the archetypal nature of a symbol, its universality in a particular culture and cross symbols in the cultures of different times and peoples, the built-in symbol in the structure of different semiotic systems.

S. Averintsev often refers to the concept of a symbol through an image: “A symbol is an image taken in the aspect of its symbolism, it is a sign endowed with all the organic nature of myth and the inexhaustible ambiguity of the image... The objective image and the deep meaning appear in its structure as two poles, one inconceivable without the other (for the meaning loses its appearance outside the image, and the image crumbles into its components), but also divorced from each other and generating tension between themselves, in which the essence of the symbol consists... Turning into a symbol, the image becomes “transparent”, the meaning “shines through” through it, being given precisely as a semantic depth, a semantic perspective that requires a difficult “entry” into oneself” (Averintsev, 1968). The artistic image, according to N. Arutyunova, goes beyond its literal meaning, but does not go beyond expansion and generalization, a qualitatively new content (Arutyunova, 1988). An artistic image becomes a symbol when it begins to express a meaning that is different from its immediate content [1; 5].

From the point of view of the structure of semantic content, stage symbols are not just complex signs with a single complex in terms of content, which is created by adding and combining meanings or concepts of the worldview in its content-logical relation. The formation of new symbolic meanings of the worldview occurs due to the “crystallization” of its essential meanings, which is built on the manifestation of the creative spirit as such.

Thus, the stage symbol synthesizes the entire array of life practice of human existence, thereby acquiring an existential status and serving simultaneously as a reflection of the phenomena of the world and a means of understanding being, not limited to its own subject area, but including the whole complex of meanings and “mysteries of consciousness”, looking at the world through the identification of thought patterns with reality itself.

Summarizing, we emphasize: the theatrical language of symbols, embodied in the transition from the philosophical understanding of individual events of the play to the modeling of universal human phenomena and the laws of the universe, draws configurations and dramatizes eternal truths about the structure of man and the world. The theatrical symbol, unique in that it can be realized both at the visual-acoustic level of form and at the level of representation of the image, up to the level of the archetype, implemented simultaneously at all levels during one performance. Theatrical symbol defines a single area of values projected onto the level of the symbol – image, as a reflection of the basic life processes or universal principles on earth.


1. Averintsev S. S. Artistic symbol // Brief literary encyclopedia. M. 1968.

2. Averintsev S. S. Symbol // Sofia-Logos. Dictionary. Kyiv: Duh i Litera, 2001.

3. Academic notebooks, Independent Academy of Aesthetics and Free Arts, Theater "School of Dramatic Art", M.1995. Issue 1.

4. Annua A. Living art. M.: GITIS, 1993.

5. Arutyunova N. D. From image to sign // Thinking, cognitive sciences, artificial intelligence. M., 1988.

6. Arto A. Theater and its counterpart. M.: MARTIS, 1993.

7. Bauer V., Dyumots I., Golovin S. Encyclopedia of symbols. M.: KRON-PRESS, 1995.

8. Bachelis T. The value of form in the art of Lyubimov // World of Arts (collection of articles). M.: GITIS, 1991.

9. Brook P. Empty space. There are no secrets. M.: Artist. Producer. Theatre, 2003.

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