Posts tagged opinion

Why I Hate the Avant-Garde, part one

Like an embarrassing family secret, I’ve always found discussions of Art History mum about the unconfortable relationship between the avant-garde and — let’s face it — fascism, the “artist is the superman soaring over the ignorant masses” kind. Which was pretty blatant between the first and second World War, as while the Nazi regime was condemning many artists as ‘degenerate’, quite a lot of their peers in the ‘avantgarde’ (eg. T.S. Eliot, Luigi Pirandello) were themselves tempted by belief in a harsh and highly arbitrary winner/loser divide.

As a nerd with a focus on craft, I’ve always had an instinctive belief in the meme concept — it’s pretty obvious you copy copies of copies. Many artists, though, still feel they are ‘original’ (whatever that is), dangerously close to feeling as if the sun rises from their minds.*

Which is why I thoroughly enjoyed this article full of contrarian wisdom I tend to agree with. And as a bonus, it’s full of great examples of evolving music memes. And despite all the (counterproductive) PR nonsense, I do think Laurie Anderson is cool.

* As an aside, that’s why I find instutionalized Pop Art so morally bankrupt — these guys ‘sampled’ the hell out of everything and then proceeded to carefully guard their ‘original’ work. Once I was forbidden from taking pictures with my cameraphone at a Robert Rauschenberg exhibition, and that says everything about a movement which was just some kind of community version of Mr. Brainwash (and wasn’t Warhol’s Factory just that?).

NY Times - The Death of the Open Web

It’s pretty inevitable some of the possible uses of the Web like blogging, video sharing or social networking would usher in an age of ‘mega-sites’ like Blogger, YouTube and Facebook. After all, it’s a lot better for a user to be where everyone else is, or search where everyone else posts, and alas, distributed-network efforts are still not mature enough (it’ll be interesting to see how Diaspora pans out, but it’s hard to imagine 400 million people quitting Facebook and start using it).

However, the article talks about something else, which I would describe as people giving up their freedom in exchange of gadget design lust. The iPad proves Apple’s enemy is not just Google or just Microsoft: it’s the open Internet. Their Galambosian vision of the future — every byte is pay content — sure got journalists and publishers of all sort excited. Keeping with Steve Jobs’ “Want porn? Buy an Android phone!” stance, it’s worth noting the media’s enthusiastic coverage of Chatroulette, the anedoctal evidence of that Open Web children must be protected at all costs…

Xkcd — Mission to Culture. I can definitely relate to feeling embarrassed while trying to show uncooperative people something new, but I also believe culture is something you consume and doesn’t necessarily make you a better person, so I have a hard time coping with some people’s smugness.