12 August 2006

Complicit My Piehole

I want to respond to Edward Winkleman's question. No, beating them and joining them are not the only two options. There is more to life than media and the popular culture it spawns. There are other questions and persuits. There are also other lenses for looking at and understanding what being alive is all about. Yes, there is real human drama in Brangaelina. But US Weekly, by design, does not give me any tools for probing my consciousness or anyone else's.

Britney Spears is never going to help me understand why I am alive in this perceiving body. Neither is injection molding, thinking of my life as a "lifestyle", or that heinous CAD program all the car manufacturers bought in the 90's that made all the cars look like lozenges.

Johanna Drucker asserts that looking through this gauzy scrim of life made lifestyle is not only not a problem, but that artists can assert some kind of power by rehashing or rearranging all these simplified shapes and shorthands. And this is a silly, silly assertion because it neglects the purpose of popular culture. Popular culture exists because it's not always useful or nice to pick at your existential crisis or the crises of others. Popular culture is like the answer to the question, "How are you?" Popular culture, like everybody else, does not want to know how you are. It is the lingua franca of strangers who want to stay estranged. It is for pleasing everybody on the plane. It is for when you don't want to or should not muck about in the Nietzchean wasteland of why am I here? What is my purpose? Why aren't there any rules?

Popular culture is a set of rules. And like the appropriate answer to the question, "How are you?"

(which, I understand, is "good" or "fine")

it is wafer-thin and often a lie.

I may be hopelessly naive here, but the last I checked, art is not supposed to be polite like this. Last I checked, art is about breaking rules, not complicit participation in one of the most rule-bound cultural outlets going. Last I checked, art was the one place where everybody wanted the long, true answer to the "How are you?" question.


Blogger Candy Minx said...

Hi Deborah!

saw your comment and link over at Edwards...

I don't really have a problem with pop culture. I think it's a bit of a red harerring to even worry about it.

I think art and artists will always do something "wacky' to step outside the commen, I mean thats what has been going on for about 600 years at any rate since the Renaissance.

now it's not like I don't like the Renaissance, I like many paintings form that time sure. but somewhere between the time we started farming and the Byzantine in our culture...of totalitarian agriculture(I mean this to separate us and our economy and relationship to art from aboriginal art and culture of hunters and gatherers okay)

somewhere in that time, the last real community based and inter related art was the Byzantine. made by the people for the people.

almost NO ONE thinks art should be for the people by the peopel any more. Most art work is ridiculously priced, over priced I think. It's an embarrassment to me.

If we want the public to be interested in art...why not let them be able to afford it.

most artists tend to make a few peieces a year with some silly artists statement justifying the impirtance of the work and hope to win the lottery.

the lottery is a mafia style run bullshit operation calledthe art world where curators and artists have bene pumping out "punchline" artwork for at least fouryt years.

I don't mean to say I haven't seen art i love all this time, i have and maybe even some of it has beenb that punchline variety.

But most people now think art is a joke. they can't relate to the topic, the materials or the elitism.

We don't have to make paintigns of Bradgelina or Babie....but what about making SOMETHING that has passion for all of us?

isn't that what great poetry and literature and art has always been? the voice and heart of the people and its always for a million years it was a natural and community enjoyed practice. We can still see evidence of this community enjoyment in other economies within the hunter-gather cultures.

in modern faming cultures like ours, which includes, Asia, North America, Europe and russia we have long lost art for the people and by the peopel.

As long as artists are buying into the eleitism and snobbery and "high concept" "low punchline" world of art world then the people are going to be laughing their asses off at them.

and unfortuantely cancellign school art programs.

Its time for artists to get real.

Much love and I appreciate what you are exploring here

12 August, 2006 11:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always look forward to your posts.
I used to think a la Wittgenstein that art was about revealing truths that science wasn't equipped to handle. I think it's important now to replace "truths", since that's such a loaded word, with "meaning." That's not the realm or purpose of pop culture, nor should it be.
The people who 'get' my paintings, as in wanting to entertain the long answer to How Are You/We Doing? seem to be early or pre-boomers, which may be evidence of the gist of Eric Larsen's gripe in his A Nation Gone Blind.

12 August, 2006 11:50  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

Oh um, Deborah...I added your blog to a link just now okay? and I kind of tidied up parts of my response here and posted it. I think yiou have many valuable concerns and just wanted to huighlight them at my blog too.


12 August, 2006 11:56  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

I'm really not sure about the how are yous.

The more I think of it, the more I think what you mean is that pop is merely exists to entertain and you wish art remains a centre of research, of questioning.

The irony is that contemporary arts being overtly intellectual, it often serve to accuse any affect at sentimenlism that pop culture may provide. Contemporary arts doesn't like it if I cry listening to a Johnny Cash tune, while nothing proves me if Johnny wasn't truly sincere when he asked me how I feel through his songs.

I think what some of contemporary arts are claiming is a right back to explore simple fascinations and the struggles of everyday emotions, but I wonder if there is a point where self-consciousness pose an obstacle to that.

Kind of like not being able to express your emotions because you are always watching yourself expressing them?

I appreciate pop's self-indulgence on these matters.


Cedric Caspesyan

12 August, 2006 13:13  
Blogger Bill Gusky said...

Deborah -- great analysis, cuts right to the bone.

"...art is about breaking rules, not complicit participation in one of the most rule-bound cultural outlets going...the one place where everybody wanted the long, true answer to the "How are you?" question."

I think we agree that art is this place, but when you say 'art,' I think about the thoughts and actions surrounding art making, maybe to some extent art exhibiting particularly where those activities are nearly indistinguishable, and most art criticism. I can't say that the 'art world' is this place, crammed as it is with people informed by the insincerity you cite from the culture at large, and driven as it is by marketing which is all about insincerity.

Sometimes I detest the exalted sort of atmosphere of the fine arts, but when I read your post it really drove home for me the importance of that separation between popular and fine arts. Maybe I just wish that more people could travel in between them.

14 August, 2006 18:04  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

The LA Times had an interesting -- and tangentially related -- article about film critics this week. One of the critics, under attack for dismissing popular movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, retorted, "We're not an applause meter." I love that line.

17 August, 2006 21:12  

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