Formulating an analysis of the poetic image of bronze requires a blend of the science of materials, art and philosophy. The science of materials, because it is right there, in the very nature of the material where all the aesthetic, historical and cultural values associated with this metal are born; art, because they are mainly artistic objects as opposed to everyday objects, those that gather the culture—understood as all human activity—from each era, and transfer that information to new generations; and philosophy, because it takes a reflexive thought, which allows the approach to the metal from a different perspective that interlaces the human and the scientific with its own material nature.
There have been various methods developed over the course of history to understand the material and the phenomena associated with it. However, it could be said that in the current paradigm of knowledge, the physicochemical, metallurgical and mechanical phenomena of metals are studied with the scientific method, which is based upon experimentation, measurement and on the repeatability and refutation of its results. In turn, the aesthetic, symbolic, historical and iconographic properties of metals have been studied with various hermeneutical methods, which are based upon all knowledge being the result of interpretation.
These two methods propose time-based studies that contradict the immediacy and variability of a phenomenon, such as the poetic image, which occurs in the human psyche in a sudden manner and which can also affect other souls, Other hearts, in spite of all the barriers that reason can impose. For this reason, it is necessary to come at this from the phenomenological method, which studies the phenomena as they are presented as well as the way in which they are lived by each person. This method allows us to consider the emergence of the image in an individual consciousness, to be able to restore the subjectivity of the image and to measure its amplitude, strength and sense its transubjectivity.
The analysis of the construction of the poetic image of bronze will start from the phenomenological studies made by Gaston Bachelard (France 1884–1962. Philosopher, critic, epistemologist, scientist and poet), about the image that arises in the consciousness from reading a poem, where the poet provides images never before imagined by the reader, making him marvel at the very moment in an innocent way and, by activating the participation of the creating image, a poetic image emerges .
However, knowing the poetic image of a material requires a method that allows us to take the very moment in which an object constituted of that material suddenly appears before a person, who immediately builds in his psyche an image independent of his own preferences, of the intentions of the artist, of the references to the forms of the object and the history of the material itself.
We will begin by saying that the physicochemical, mechanical and metallurgical properties of bronze made its use expand with the most diverse applications and that the interaction between humans and metals, especially bronze, gave rise to the generation of myths, symbols and metallurgical archetypes, understanding the concept of archetype as proposed by Carl Gustav Jung and that Gaston Bachelard also uses:
“… a series of images that summarize the ancestral experience of man in the face of a typical situation, within circumstances that are not particular to a single individual, but can be imposed on every man” .
However, changes in human interests and in the material constitution of bronze as a result of interaction with the environment, generate new experiences with this metal that activate the human psyche to enrich and renew the bank of images that give shape to that metallurgical archetype, which interweaves its particular features as the scarcity of its raw materials and metallurgical difficulties for its production, with cultural values such as “expensive” and “elitist” and resistance to corrosion, with values such as “perenniality”.
Thus, unlike archetypal images, the poetic image arises when there is an immediate astonishment of the psyche, which has no past, which derives from a direct ontology, which is not caused by archetypes asleep in the unconscious, and as Bachelard says:
“On the contrary: through the brilliance of an image, the distant past resounds with echoes, and it is hard to know at what depth these echoes will reverberate and die away. Because of its novelty and its action, the poetic image has an entity and dynamism of its own;” [3, p. 8].
And Bachelard continues:
“…that is, in reverberation that I think we find the real measure of the being of a poetic image…. In this reverberation, the poetic image will have sonority of being.” [3, p. 8].
However, to explain this unexpected character, suddenly rising out of a new poetic image and the way it affects the one who observes a sculpture, it becomes necessary to pose a phenomenology of the imagination, understanding for this:
…“a study of the phenomenon of the poetic image when it emerges into the consciousness as a direct product of the heart, soul and being of man, apprehended in his actuality”. [3, p. 9].
Thus, this study aims to show the characteristics of bronze that contributed to the construction of its metallurgical archetype, demonstrating with the history of its use mainly in Colombian art, the process of evolution of this archetype.
Of the four characteristics that will be explained later, it is found that the patina that has per se aesthetic values and historical contributors to the formation of the archetypal bronze image related to perenniality, is precisely the quality of the material that presents the blow to the spectator, being constituted in fundamental part of the image that projects the work and therefore of what it communicates.
Thus, as a bronze sculpture is an inanimate object, it is precisely the patina that allows the emergence of new poetic images of the work, allowing the emergence of individual and intimate affectation, independent of previous knowledge in metallurgy and art and much more, of all the intentions of the artist.