Sunday, July 24, 2011

CAN ART CHANGE THE WORLD?

Years ago, I read a blog post on MySpace written by an aspiring comedian.  Regretfully, I cannot recollect his name.  (If you—MySpace comedian—are reading this, please let me know, and I'll credit the idea and title directly to you.) The gist of his idea went something like this:

Too many contemporary Artists skip the hard discipline of their craft—deeming representational Art as banal or anything but innovative—and thus jump to abstraction...i.e., "straight to Picasso". The reality being, of course, that Picasso fully embraced the training and traditions which culminated in his depArture from those practices and ideas. Conversely, more often than not, skipping over or disdaining an idea that has never been fully understood or mastered more than likely just makes you a crappy artist.

If you are a so-called "legit" and serious artist—either self-taught or formally trained—and you have no intention of merely unfairly or foolishly leaping "straight to Picasso", and yet you don't want to simply regurgitate the past, then perhaps, you have only two options: 1) to be fortunate enough to stumble upon something truly new, or 2) do the hard work of walking in the footsteps of the tradition which preceded you, and then, instead of kicking off its tortuously uncomfortable shoes: run with them.

Composer Daniel Catán said, "I have inherited a very rich operatic tradition. In my work, I am proud to say, one can detect the enormous debt I owe to composers from Monteverdi to Alban Berg. But perhaps the greatest of my debts is having learnt that the originality of an opera need not involve the rejection of our tradition—which would be like blindly embracing the condition of an orphan—but rather the profound assimilation of it, so as to achieve the closest union between a text and its music." There's an authenticity to that thinking and Catán's output which transcends any notion of the banal, and elevates the intent—and the manifest reality—of the work as something more forward-looking and important, even if the net result is just as handily accessible to audiences as are the works from generations past. It's interesting to note: the man who wrote that statement also studied with the man who wrote: "Who Cares If You Listen".

There's nothing wrong with the creator of Art making every effort to ensure the easy comprehension of her or his work. Nor, of course, is there anything wrong with a creative act requiring some degree of explanation, nor anything wrong with the meaning or intent of it simply being intractable to anybody but a limited few who might "get it". For me, however, as an Artist, presenter, and business owner, my interests gravitate toward—as so succinctly coined by cyberneticist Gregory Bateson—"the difference that makes a difference"...that is: I'm less interested in how an Artist's ideas are communicated than whether or not those ideas are communicated at all, and/or communicated effectively. It helps, too, of course, if the idea itself, irregardless of how it's asserted by the Artist, has legs of its own. That's a more difficult thing to assess, however. In my professional circle of colleagues, for the sake of kindness or political correctness, I sometimes try to keep my thoughts on that subjective matter—i.e., the notion of quality ideas—to myself. I should mention, in some cases, "the medium is the message", and that's enough. For example: The Google Art project is, arguably a work of Art in and of itself, but most certainly, it's also medium of presentation which serves as is its own message. Is the idea communicated by Google the Curator worthwhile? (I think, yes, it is.)

I believe—whether or not you create or enjoy works which by their very nature can only be known via an emphemeral, chance, or "right now, right here" experience, or if you gravitate to the celebrated traditions of the past...whether or not your work is intended for an audience of one or all of the nearly seven billion people on the planet—Art is an act of love. I define love, insomuch as it can be defined, as the willful extension of oneself for the benefit of oneself or another. If you love Art, if you believe Art is somehow integral to your own transformation, you know it quite likely has the power to be radicaly important in transforming the world...or, at the very least, as the photograffeur JR suggests, Art can help us get the conversation stArted. And that, my friends, is why Bravoflix is here.

So...? Can Art change the world?

I don't know, but it's a great question. Art sure changed and changes me, and maybe that's all that matters. Hence: my gut tells me unequivocally and without doubt: yes...Art can change the world. But, hey, let's talk about it...

1 comment:

  1. Hmmmm... perhaps Art can't change the world, but, it can, indeed, change one's perception of it, one's experience of it, and, best of all, one's enjoyment of it... Sharing Art definitely makes the world a better place... Because, making Art, feels good... And, receiving it, feels good... And, giving back, feels good... It's an awesome privilege to have the incredible opportunity to open eyes and ears, to awaken taste buds and possibilities, while stretching the imagination and challenging boundaries or old ideas, to be there at that moment, to actually witness, for a moment, a life transforming....Ahhhhhh, there is a connection, a profound exchange of animated glances and wide-open smiles, or perhaps "Wow", is mouthed over and over again... And, if it is remembered, it can be repeated, though not duplicated... It is a rebellion that can be very loud, or very bright, or very garish, or very quiet... One brushstroke at a time...

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