Monday, April 25, 2011

Why Art is Like Sex (Or Should Be)

I don't accept the oft held notion that making art is just expressing an idea or making stuff (except within a pedagogical context). I think making Art is like having Sex (or should be). But in this I mean, "the process of combining and mixing genetic traits".

And if that's the case, then what's the implication of a society where the term is more commonly thought of as a solitary practice one does in the loving company of one's computer? Or executed as a fleeting hook up, whereby we are not so much hoping to 'combine and mix our respective genetic traits', but instead simply enjoy a momentary mash of external body parts?

Obviously, there are those who are using new media tools and concepts to create new and interesting artworks. But it is also interesting to note that the trend (or movement) which has currently captured the widest public attention is the one that parallels contemporary notions of coupling. Of course, I'm talking about the Mashup, and the more I look and listen, the more I notice how this activity resonates in every aspect of our culture.

By now, most people have heard of Moore's Law, which states the number of transistors that an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. And if we have thought at all about that statement, we might have realized that as chips are getting faster, all this power will have (is having) an increasing effect on our collective ability to process information.

Some say we are evolving. Others say we are losing our ability to concentrate. Neither statement is completely false nor true.

Regardless, I cannot help but wonder how the onslaught of a self-prescribed sugar drip of disruptive information is impacting art, artists and audiences. And it should be obvious by now what the future holds:

Modular all-you-can-eat works that present a buffet of images within a single frame remixing everything the artist has ever googled in a lifetime for audiences who select and simultaneously consume multiple works layered one upon the other, synced to a playlist, compressed to a thumbnail, and arranged in such a way that the entire experience can be enjoyed as a secondary or tertiary activity, like while running on a treadmill, for instance, or like while talking or texting while running on a treadmill. This technology has existed since the 1920's (it's called 'Television'), but it will seem absolutely revolutionary streaming out of our smartphones, because additional plugins allow us to connect with the real world which we are otherwise intent on ignoring. Not to mention that it won't be the only screen in the room competing for our attention. And not to say that it won't be enjoyable. We won't be able to take our eyes off of it.

Or will we indeed walk into a real gallery or museum only to be faced with rooms full of blank canvases whose content can only be seen once you hold your iPhone up to them? Even if each canvas represents the work of a single artist, isn't our perception of them through the lens of an electronic device, itself also a manifestation of the mashup mindset?

At which point we might then very well lament the good ol' slow days, but who would want to return, really, when you can now carry the entire Louvre around in an app?

Here's the Mona Lisa for you –Enjoy!:


The Image of the saluting woman was sourced from, and was used as a promotional image for the Paste-Modernism 2 charity auction for Queensland flood victims.

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