Seems like neo-indie rockers, experimental noise artists, and Osama Bin Laden are the only people still releasing cassette tapes. From what I’ve heard, Bin Laden’s new one is supposed to be super harsh — and super limited edition!
I’m all for putting this to bed and getting back to mp3s and funny pictures, but for the record: sorry about the bold type, that was a little much. You are indeed not “completely wrong” and my response was knee-jerky. Your remark that you only appreciate social or political art was kind of stunning, though — it seems to rule out a lot of stuff. I suppose you meant that even something like a formalist abstract painting can be productively thought about in terms of politics and things that matter to people, which I completely agree with. But maybe you just don’t like abstract art.
As for subjectivity, I don’t think there is much to prevent anything and everything from being art, other than somebody believing that it is. Whether it’s good or not and how you decide what the criteria are (and who it matters to) is a completely different question, and then you’re talking and thinking again. What I was driving at, though, is that a great deal of our most profound experiences occur at the level of the unsayable, and I think that level is sort of where “art” comes from, and we’re left to talk and think about it after the moment/event/encounter has passed.
Art, if anything, is a human and categorical thing. And a big part of what makes it interesting are challenges – not all of which are equally persuasive, compelling, informed, valid or whatever – to its current condition, criteria and boundaries. In that sense, even purely formal and abstract work is – and I think unavoidably – somewhat deliberative (and maybe also always discursive, too), and not simply sensation-based. Profundity is a self-aware mode of appraisal, as well, if often retrospective in form, and not a pre-linguistic experience. So maybe the experience of profundity is exactly an effect of the struggle to say the unsayable? In any case, thinking is something we also do with our bodies, and it is even sometimes fun to do, too.
I hate to reblog such a long discussion (this is why I wish tumbr had built-in commenting), but…
Luke is completely wrong and apparently has failed the grasp the whole dimension of “aesthetic experience”. You can throw paint at a canvas for very good reasons have nothing to do with politics or even neccesarily other people. Talking and writing about things are (for the most part) discursive and analytical modes that certainly can overlap with a purely aesthetic mode, but they’re different spheres. Most of the best artists I know have difficult explaining their work because they experience things in a more aesthetic than analytic way.
However, getting your work as an artist noticed, promoted, and taken seriously usually requires someone (not neccesarily you) who can make arguments about it and schmooze and talk the talk. Contemporary art (i.e. all art after conceptual art) is especially enamoured of analytical and discursive thinking and thus the most successful artists today are merely the best talkers and the most intimidating thinkers, and often far from the best artists.
What I mean is that art (for me) has to have meaning and purpose. Throwing paint at a canvas isn’t art unless there’s a thesis behind why you’re doing it. Maybe I sound like too much of a communications major, but I’ve never really understood or appreciated art that wasn’t… political or social, I guess.