Thursday, March 27, 2008

What's the difference?

Been having discussions with various friends about art(shock!). Some thoughts that circulated:

- Why is it common for people to equate art that they do not like with the personality, intelligence, etc... of the artists themselves? Just because you may dislike someone's film, or painting, etc... doesn't seem to give reason to judge the person on a fundamental level. I see/hear this happening often enough that it bugs me I guess. Yet we can overlook Miles Davis being a dick BECAUSE of his music, so the opposite isn't always in effect.

- "I don't like it so it isn't art!" mentality. Another extremely common mentality it would seem amongst appreciators of art. I guess it's obvious how lame that sentiment is, but it seems to be another VERY common attitude. And tragic. Sure it's good to know what you like and don't like, but leave some room to grow. I used to hate tomatoes, now I love them. I didn't force it, but I didn't refuse to try them. I only disliked the raw fruit anyway, so I knew that I was reacting to a specific perspective and therefore allowed for the possibility of eventually liking tomatoes. This is being open to growth.

- The LCD factor. What is this? Mass appeal. Lowest common denominator shit. This is tricky. So what if your art has mass appeal? In other words most everyone enjoys it. What does that mean/translate into? A few different ideas surrounding this have come up. And these are obviously not the only way to view the issue, this is just some of what came up:

1) If a majority enjoys the work it may be a sign that the art is extremely non-threatening or conservative in message or medium. I believe it is quite possible to couch a difficult message in a easy to swallow medium. The inverse is true, but harder to create mass appeal with as the medium itself would be off putting.

2) The cheeseburger effect. Ok, so when you go to a fast food place, no one is fooling anyone. You know and they know that the meal you will eat is not great. It's not fresh, not very sanitary, not very tasty, etc... When one goes to, for example, Taco Hut, one does not expect authentic mexican food. It is a shallow representation of the idea that is also cheaper, faster, and more 'regulated' in terms of taste(won't taste different from one location to the next). So how can one expect depth or variety from fast food art? IE. the shit has been processed and quality controlled, group approved and force fed. There's no democracy on the radio(am/fm) so it is a medium that, at this point, forces people to accept the output as listen-able and 'good'. But of course everything has it's place...

3) Zeitgeist. Right place, right time, right sound. Is this luck? Sometimes, but some artists(the really perceptive ones) seem to be out there at the front lines of experience feeding us the right thing at the right time. Seeing and anticipating.

4) Eventuality. Take the Flaming Lips as an example(there have been others to be sure...). They plugged away at what they wanted to hear for a LONG time. It seems pretty inevitable that anyone that does this with dedication will cover some ground that is enjoyable on a widespread level. The Boredoms are another great example. Compare "Doo Ya Tari" with "Vision Creation Newsun". Definitely NOT speaking of the whole monkeys and typewriters thing here. I am speaking of INTENT, not random chance.

- "It's experimental, I don't have to be responsible for what it means/says to anyone" Ok. But why participate in art then? It would SEEM the major impetus behind art is, at base, communication. Sure, one can communicate the idea of indifference to the audience, but even that becomes a pose. It would seem that an artist then has a RESPONSIBILITY to the art, the audience, and themselves. An artists job ultimately is to output for others to input. But yelling 'fire' in a crowded theatre is not covered under free speech, it's just irresponsible. This idea applies to art then. And most especially to experimental material.

Thoughts. Just thinking. Love to do it.

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