Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Art in the age of Discontent

As an artist my main focus is on art, duh. However the social chaos that is slowly and not fast enough in my personal opinion being unleashed makes the act of making art, at least for me a bit of an anachronism. I'll get over it. In fact I personally don't like overt political art because it tells you what to think and acts more as propaganda for a particular viewpoint and my take or interest in art is one that is propositional and asks questions versus one that is telling you the answer.

I have been thinking a lot about media of late and how it shapes our view of the world. Not just the MSM but the entire gamut of human production. Watching the original Saturday Night Live of late from the very beginning of the show has been illuminating. Here were a cast of unknowns, save for those people in Chicago and Toronto who frequented Second City that became stars and some Super Stars. What I find of interest though besides some of the good comic skits is the sociological aspects of the show. After the nightly news, Saturday's late night fare usually was some tired old and usually bad B horror movie, suddenly this irreverent, satirical show appeared. Our giant celebrity machine was beginning to really go into swing with magazines like People, etc and cable was just around the corner. When you look at all these things about that time and they are evident in the show it becomes more than just a show but a sociological document that embodies the culture up to that time.

I think art, better art at least operates that way. It doesn't try necessarily to be a sociological document but when it works it can't help but bring into its focus all the details both relevant and irrelevant. I think of Manet in this regard, of course there are others too.

When I think though of most art production that is accepted by the industrial arts complex though, it seems to be product and branding for the artists identity as marketable item. This is not new by any stretch, it predates Modernism and comes out of Salon in Paris when traditional forms of patronage were lost, not that I am bemoaning the patronage of the church mind you.

Branding and product: terrible avenues of expression when it comes to a propositional art for it requires delivering an answer and a close ended system for that is what answers are. End of question.

What is it like to make art? What is this activity and the nature of images? How do we respond to them? How do they form our opinion and conception of the world? Is it the locus of what has been and what could be?

I don't know but then that is what I like about it, its the question and journey that is invigorating and life fulfilling despite its too often lack of economic gain.

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