The Art of the Truth

The term “post-truth” refers to a political and cultural climate in which objective facts and truth are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to personal beliefs and emotions. It’s a phenomenon that has been fueled by the rise of social media and the increasing prevalence of “fake news,” conspiracy theories, and propaganda.

In a post-truth era, facts can be easily manipulated or ignored, and emotional appeals can often be more effective in shaping public opinion than rational arguments or evidence-based claims. We have seen a polarization of opinions, the spread of misinformation, and a breakdown in trust between individuals and institutions.

One could argue that the post-truth era is a symptom of larger societal changes, such as the erosion of traditional institutions and the rise of individualism and populism. Others see it as a product of new communication technologies, which have made it easier for individuals and groups to spread information and influence public opinion.

Regardless of its causes, the post-truth era presents significant challenges. It requires us to be more critical and discerning in our consumption and sharing of information, to rely on trusted sources, and to engage in open and respectful dialogue with those who hold different views.

I am not optimistic.

Representing the truth is an art form that can significantly affect how the truth is perceived. It’s a crucial part of how we understand and make sense of the world around us. Artists, writers, filmmakers, and other creators use various techniques and media to represent their observations and interpretations of reality. Through these representations, they can convey not just the facts but also the emotions, perspectives, and values that shape our understanding of the truth.

Representation can influence how the truth is perceived by different audiences. Depending on the medium and the intended audience, a representation of the truth can be interpreted in different ways, depending on factors such as cultural background, personal experiences, and pre-existing beliefs. This means that even when the facts are presented objectively, the representation of those facts can have a significant impact on how they are understood and accepted.

The presentation of the truth is an art form because it requires creativity, imagination, and communication. Those are all pretty squishy things! Whether it’s in the form of journalism, documentary filmmaking, or perhaps even scientific research, representing the truth involves making choices about what to include, what to leave out, and how to present the information in a compelling and engaging way. Too often, that approach also includes outright, intentional lying.

It’s all really about content which tends not to have much fidelity to either information or the truth.

As a visual artist, I am not presenting information or trying to tell any kind of truth. However, it is something that I think about a lot. It’s not a problem for me as an artist, it’s just a problem for me as semi-sentient being. I just miss the days of truth being told in a more objective and fact-based way. Now everyone seems to be able to choose their own facts. A lot of that is something called ‘confirmation bias.’

Confirmation bias refers to the tendency of individuals to seek out, interpret, and remember information in a way that confirms their pre-existing beliefs. In other words, people have a natural tendency to look for information that supports what they already believe and ignore or discount information that contradicts it.

The effects of confirmation bias can be particularly strong when people are emotionally invested in their beliefs or when the beliefs are deeply ingrained in their identity. It can also be exacerbated by social media and other online platforms, which allow individuals to easily filter their information sources and surround themselves with like-minded individuals. That speaks to our tendencies toward tribalism ­– something else I think about a lot but will rant about in greater detail some other time.

We often prefer the lies over the truth especially when the lies are more comfortable than the facts. I suppose it’s a bit like buying art that matches the couch instead of something that challenges you.

That’s all I’ve got for now – honest.

– L/C


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