Tag Archives: nonsense

What is ‘altermodernism’?

Tagging: Maldives Style
Image by nattu via Flickr

The inmates have escaped again and flooded the world with another wind egg.  Called ‘altermodernism’, a term as ugly as its definition, we are now to be persuaded that a new improved artistic sentimentality has burst upon the scene.  Some people really do have far too much free time.

Coined by Nicolas Bourriaud, who is occupying space at the Tate in London, we should not be surprised, given his past association with Flash Art.  Perhaps the term will take a clue from the magazine and be merely a flash in the pan; but oh dear, perhaps that itself will be evidence of altermodernism?  Such self-referential nonsense is hardly helpful and perhaps premature.  But Bourriaud seems to be in the business of naming, having brought us relationism, too, but someone’s got to do it. (Relational art is perhaps just the art ones finds juxtaposed in, wait for it, art galleries, where people and artists relate, but perhaps not….).

My view is that the term describes the breathless arguments put forward by those advocating globalisation, better defined through economics than culture.  Despite this, we will continue to live in small worlds, and with the recession we are now enjoying thanks in part to globalisation, enjoy a new localism, live more compactly, more locally.  In that respect, his argument for creolisation is misguided; the counterargument from NB would be that I am simply trapped in my own binary world, but I’ve worked in too many cultures to fall for that.

But we must recognise that some global context is emerging as people connect to each other through the simplifying technologies of YouTube, and Facebook; these may lead more to superficiality, than depth and in the end be less emotionally satisfying.

Perhaps the faddism that seems to characterise Bourriaud’s thinking reflects a surface grasp of the world, seen from a helicopter, rather than lived in its earthy reality? Certainly the works assembled to illustrate altermodernism were superficial and vacuous, art for the Twitter generation?

NB has said: “It is an idea that was actually the core of Relational Aesthetics already, the Marxist idea that there is no stable “essence” of humankind, which is nothing but the transitory result of what human beings do at a certain moment of history. I think this might be the cornerstone of all my writings, in a way.”

That does seem to be his point.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Do artists think?

Pencil

Drawing Machine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When an artists ‘does art’, what are they thinking?  Are they merely in the moment or are they constructing some sort of story (narrative for the remaining post-modernists out there)?  I continue to have a problem with art that is mute, because it makes me wonder if the artist was also mute, perhaps without thought even.  The challenge for artists is convincing dispassionate viewers of their work that they have engaged cognitive faculties within the artistic process.

 

What would it be like for there to be art without mind behind it?  Easy.  Attach your computer printer to a computer running a programme that produces various images, pictures, etc. in an automated mode.  Digital art, without the evidence of intelligence behind it.  A bit like the room full of monkeys at typewriters (remember those?) inadvertently producing Shakespearean prose.

 

The problem art critics have is that they must assume that there was intelligent life in the studio when art was being produced.  The evidence that this is not always the case is the never ending efforts by critics and art historians to find the artistic merit in often quite mediocre works.  Indeed, to ascribe high artistic values to work of technical quality, perhaps (I’ll grant them that), but of quite mindless content.  Academics can slag off mediocre writing by calling it journalistic; other writers can be accused of writing pulp.  Bad visual art is, what?

 

So the evidence for me that some artists do not think is that in other fields of human endeavour we have ways of making sense of this, but in art, it seems anything goes.

 

Do you recall the film, The Moderns, where the actor John Lone as Bertram Stone says: “I don’t give a damn for your silly opinions on the value of art. There is no value except what I choose to put on it.  This is art because I paid hard cash for it.  Don’t you understand?  Your precious painters mean nothing to me.  I could have Natalie’s mutt shit on a canvas and if I pay five thousand dollars for it, you critics would call it a masterpiece.”  The joke, if you know the film, is on them.

 

Maybe Bruno Frey is right.

 

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]