Saturday, January 30, 2010

Art (as) is contemplation

Richey Edwards
Jeff Mangum; to his own extent.
Stephen Fry; briefly.
And now, as of yesterday (and in a far more permanent fashion), J D Salinger.

Although, if the rumours regarding his accumulation of countless manuscripts organised into coloured folders do indeed prove correct, I'm sure we'll be basking in Mr Salinger's lengthy last laugh very shortly. And possibly for several decades to come if he's been productive on the literary front.

Of course, he might’ve had absolutely no need or desire to’ve kept himself busy all these years (certainly no obligation), and he could've quite comfortably spent the rest of his life just running down his alotted time like most ordinary people. Although he could only afford himself this luxury on account of this being precisely what he wasn’t: ordinary.

And I myself had no unholy need for him to be productive in his latter years either, as The Catcher In The Rye had already changed my life; and I'd be surprised if somebody could perform such a deed twice.

Or why they'd even need to ...

Disclaimer: Lengthy digression beyond!

It’s why truly innovative artists rarely live up to the expectations of their followers; if they do, then their previous works have failed to be properly understood.


But Art should change you.

And by this I mean that works of art can do only one of two things: they can either wholly transform the observer, or merely reinforce ideals already stoic in their foundation. There lie no other options. Or rather, there does, but they all inevitably lead to medocrity, and, although any derivatives thereof could perhaps be constitutive of art, they should never be considered associable as Art itself.

All of which is highly subjective because every member of any audience is host only to their own timeline of experience. As in, music (let's take, Queen, for instance) is only as relevant as the day you first hear it. Not just the first time you listen to it, mind, but the first time you truly hear it.

Plenty of people miss the trend but get the message. The vast majority, however, will get the trend but remain apathetic to any wider significance entirely.

Bah, I can sense these words collapsing under their own heft, for in many ways this argument might seem to exclude (from any consideration as art whatsoever) all subsequent pieces of the same branch which one might eventually discover, although this isn’t strictly true, as allowance is still held for anything to be considered art in the eyes of the individual (as perspective is relative only to experience thereof) ...

So perhaps this argument’s focus might be better served in account of art’s perception to each member of audience; why some people view a chair in an empty room as a masterpiece whilst others vehemently oppose the idea as an atrocity of contemporārius.

If one has already been changed by seeing a deceased family member’s house devoid of all but one chair, then this piece of art will not affect them. Similarly, however, another might see the chair and attribute all manner of grand illusions upon it, possibly dictated by the artist in his own explanation, possibly (one might say hopefully) not, thus transforming the scene (for them) into Art.

Most people won’t care. They’ll be more concerned with getting past the entry’s donation box without molestation by a gallery attendant.

So art, by this definition at least, is the act of contemplation. Which, ultimately, is undertaken by the interpreter, and not the creator. Resources are manipulated by artists into being, but the performance of Art itself lies in its appreciation; not the enjoyment factor, but the moral and ethical contribution it ultimately imprints upon those who 'get it'.

Bear in mind, there is nothing to get.

And if a viewer doesn’t care, then what you offer them isn’t Art.

It might, however, be art. Because a lot of people walk through art galleries like ghosts, moping along in unbearable silence (as instructed to do so by the raised fingers of those most vile of creatures, the art appreciatists!) whilst attempting to justify their presence through a decidedly crass 'soaking in' of the entire experience; joyless eyes searching for some measure by which to account their conformist view of perceived culture.

Which is bullshit.

And so was the C- that I received for my seventh form assignment on The Catcher In The Rye.

Although, come to think of it, what I turned in was merely a regurgitated lesson; it was devoid of contemplation almost entirely, and rather full of verbatim.

Which has only taken me nineteen years (and this very blog entry) to figure out ... !

Thank you Miss Ryan. I apologise for the years of slander.