VII. Unity in Art

There are several pairs of correlative aspects (elements) involved in artistic activities, including creation and appreciation, content and form, universality and individuality, and eternity and temporality. Originally, these correlative aspects were not separated, but united. In artistic activities up to the present, however, there has been a tendency to separate these correlative elements, or to emphasize only one element or the other. Thus, the Unification Theory of Art clarifies the nature of the unity of these correlative aspects.

Unity of Creation and Appreciation
Usually it might be thought that creation is an activity primarily undertaken by the artist, whereas appreciation is undertaken separately by the general public. In the view of Unification Thought, however, both are essential modes of the activity of dominion. In order to exercise dominion over something, the correlative aspects of cognition and practice are necessary, and the cognition and practice that take place centering on emotion are precisely the activities of appreciation and creation in the field of art. Cognition and practice form the two reciprocal circuits of give and receive action between the subject (human being) and the object (all things). Thus, there can be no practice without cognition, nor can there be cognition without practice. Therefore, in the relationship between creation and appreciation in art, there can be no appreciation without creation, nor can there be creation without appreciation.

While engaging in creation, artists appreciate their own work; also, while appreciating the artwork of others, appreciators engage in creation. Creation in appreciation refers to the additional way of creation through one’s subjective action, as mentioned above.

Unity of Content and Form
Certain schools of art, such as classicism, attach importance to form, whereas other schools disregard form and attach importance to content. Since content and form in art are in the relationship of Sungsang and Hyungsang, however, they should originally be united. That is to say, the Sungsang content (such as motif, theme, and conception) and the form in which they are expressed with materials (Hyungsang) should be in accord with each other. Tsutomu Ijima, a Japanese aesthetician, appropriately said, “Form is actually the form of content, and content is the content of form.” This means precisely that content and form should be united.

Unity of Universality and Individuality
Just as in all created beings the universal image and the individual image are united, likewise, in art, universality and individuality are united. First, there is the unity of universality and individuality within the artists themselves. Artists have their own unique individualities, and at the same time they belong to a certain school or have a certain method of creation in common with their specific region or period of time. The former is their individuality, the latter, their universality.

Since artists have universality and individuality united within themselves in this way, their works necessarily come to manifest this same unity of universality and individuality. Thus, in an artwork, individual beauty and universal beauty are always manifested in a united manner.

In culture as well, there is unity between universality and individuality. That is to say, while the culture of a certain region has the special characteristics of that region, it also has characteristics common to the culture of the wider region to which it belongs. For example, the statue of Buddha in the Sŏkkuram grotto in Korea is a representative work of Shilla culture. It is also known that this work has the elements of the international fine art of Gandhara, which fused Greek art and Buddhist culture. Hence, in the Buddha statue of the Sŏkkuram grotto, both national elements (Shilla culture) and transnational elements (Gandhara fine art) are united, manifesting the unity of universality and individuality.

Here a question arises concerning national culture and the Unification culture. What will become of the traditional national cultures of each nation when the Unification culture is formed in the future? The Marxist theory of art, which claimed the partisanship of art and the basis-superstructure theory, neglected traditional national cultures. But that will not be the case with Unificationism, which seeks to form a unified culture while preserving national cultures. Unification culture will be formed through a universal spirituality and expression of art on a higher dimension, while at the same time preserving the essences of different national cultures, each with its own individuality.

Unity of Eternity and Temporality
Every created being is a being uniting the identity-maintaining (static) four position foundation and a developmental (dynamic) four position foundation; therefore, each created being exists as a being uniting immutability and mutability-hence, as the unity of eternity and temporality. Likewise, in an artwork, the eternal and temporal elements are united.

For example, the Angelus by Millet pictures a church, a farmer and his wife in prayer, and a countryside landscape, which we can regard as the unity of eternity and temporality. The church and the image of people in prayer transcend the ages and are eternal, but the countryside landscape and the clothes worn by the husband and wife are temporary, unique to that particular period of time.

As another example, we can cite the flowers arranged in a vase. The flowers themselves represent something eternal, which has existed from time immemorial, but the way of arranging the flowers and the vase itself are characteristic of a given period. Accordingly, the unity of eternity and temporality is manifested there. The beauty of artwork will become even more striking if we are able to grasp and appreciate a “moment in eternity,” or “eternity in a moment,” as thus described.