On page 104 of Tom Phillips’ A Humument, Phillip suggests that imagination is a beautiful art form allowing one to create an endless number of masterpieces. However, with this ability to create comes insanity. Like “alcohol”, the art of imagination intoxicates the mind causing reality to fade.
In viewing the page, a wide range of colors make up the piece. The colors are formed in a blotchy manner with no particular shape, size, or pattern. In one way it resembles an ink blot, allowing the viewer to conceive it in any way possible like a work of art that is open up for interpretation. In another, the colors represent imagination. There are no limits to the colors like there are no limits to the wonders of imagining. The colors evoke different emotions and it allows the viewer to interpret the different colors according to his or her own imagination.
The colors appear to be separated into a top and a bottom where the top uses darker shades of color as oppose to the bottom where lighter shades are used. The lighter colors suggest a sense of innocence in believing the imaginary. Often times children are the ones who play pretend and it seems innocent in the eyes of a child because it shows that they too can hold ideas, creativity, and “character”. In another view it is an innocent game that humans seek to escape from the brutal world. Imagination opens up opportunity to be “quite a different person (in) quite a different cause”. It’s interesting how the word “person” is camouflaged in manila color against the light orange blots. In the art of imagination, there is no true identity because identity can be changed and altered to anyone and anything. Instead, the true self is hidden and covered, but at the same time it is still there and visible. Being able to imagine gives the mind the ability to fabricate different reasons and causes to why things occur which is why imagination is beautiful and rich.
There are no limits to what one can be if one conceives imagination. It’s even possible to “character a sound”. The color pink circulates the phrase. Pink symbolizes hope and playfulness. It’s joyful and merry like the art of imagination because anything can be possible. Sounds can be characters. Characters can be sounds. The number of ideas is unlimited. It is something “beautiful”, but at the same time when a person makes believe of a person, place, or thing, it becomes “beautiful as well as nonsense” in the eyes of others. The idea of what is real is questioned.
The dark shades of red and purple suggest a negative perspective of the imaginary world. On the top, Phillip introduces the idea of pretending. He writes, “I feel somehow as if we were playing at ‘pretending’ now”. Pretending is a form of imagination where one makes believe or performs fictitious play. However, it seems nonsensical to be playing at pretending when pretending is already a way of playing. The art of pretending seems to have lost its charm on Phillip. His thoughts are graphical and his imagination is filled with “thoughts of the blood like alcohol”. It symbolizes the idea of intoxication where pretending has become an addiction. It’s no longer a fun innocent game, but like “a fresh packet” he seeks it like drugs. The colors red, purple, and blue circle the negative text. They are all very bold and vibrant colors that draw in attention, but together the colors are heavy and burdensome. It’s suffocating to look at when the colors conflict one another. Together the colors mark insanity.
Phillip appears to have lost his sanity as he strives deeper into the imaginary world. He writes “I was picture of him dyed and curly”. The word “dyed” puns for the word “died”. The image of a dead person bothers Phillip. It is the only complete sentence that he has circled and it is the only time in which he addresses himself and his feelings ever since the first line. Around the thought are pen marks that attract attention. The markings are stroked deeply and dark as if he is angry and mad. It is also the only text that is colored by the paint, signifying its significance. The text represents the imagination that he has created. Instead of fantasizing mirthful memories or ideal thoughts, the image of a dead man appears and this haunts him. The black markings signify fear and agony. It can also signify his confusion as he is unable to decide what is real.
Although it is difficult to define what is real and what is considered the imagination, Phillip nevertheless shows the beauty of the art through his splash of colors. However with the power to control in the imaginary world, it questions the idea of reality. Imagination starts to become the truth as reality shifts to a blur. Ultimately, it leads to harming the mind.