Interpretation, the act of putting together the information observed from a work and extrapolating more information out of it. An unchecked and uncontrolled event. The creator and the interpreter are both part of the process and need to collaborate indirectly to create what amounts to a basic form of communication. A form of communication that works somewhat like a the game of telephone. No control, true, but there is guidance, there is misdirection.
Even when there is no information deliberately hidden and implied by the creator, the audience will always be able to form new information, new theories. All media can be interpreted and the audience will come up with a cornucopia of new information derived from the same work. To experience a piece of media, the act of interpretation is a required process to understand what is going on, even when the author intends to make the experience as cinematic as possible, to require as little interpretation as possible, to appeal to every single human on the face of the earth by requiring as little thinking as possible. On that extreme side of the spectrum, interpretation is still not only possible, but a given. We search for stories, for correlation, for new information that is trying to be communicated, especially when there seems to be none on the surface. No work can be devoid of meaning because the creator says so, the audience is in control.
Without an audience, there is no meaning, there is no communication and there is no purpose.
Deliberately obscuring information for the audience to extrapolate can be a powerful tool of engagement but also an invitation to be insulted. What the hell does THAT mean? Another member of the audience forever lost to the impenetrable material. “Pretentious”, a word used with amazing frequency when a work is intended for interpretation. To be pretentious, to try to sound more intelligent than one truly is. To try to sell vacuous crap as deeply meaningful art. The line between obscure with a purpose and obscure as a masquerade seems impossible to define. Case by case, sure, the line may be clear, but one cannot generalize. Yelling “Pretentious!” without even digging, without trying to understand what’s being said is a sign of laziness. Stereotypical response to a seemingly stereotypical material. But still, a work is not defined by its author, but by the audience. They are the ones that can decide whether a work is pretentious or not. Consensus is a rare state to end up in and time has told us that it doesn’t last long.
All is well and good, but why the hell am I writing in this weird semi-pretentious quasi stream of consciousness style? The answer is quite simple actually, but I’d rather leave that to interpretation.