Is it just me or has any one else noticed that we seem to have rather oddly arrived at moment in our information dense and digitally democratic western culture that we are collectively more interested in decoding our selves than coding ourselves, than we ever have been. Does this sort of thing happen with ever major change in information distribution channels?
Either way, we see how some things which are designed may not be received as their designer/s intended. Some things are simply created for the pleasure of the designer, or for the amusement of audiences. And some things which are not designed appear as though they are. And you and I looking at the same thing might not see the same thing at all, or agree to its meaning, even if we did.
DECODING THE NOW
Cultural movements throughout history, and all the way up to the 20th Century, were usually driven by artists and their patrons. But we now live in the age of the mash up, and this form of expression is a curatorial art form. Nobody really wants to be an artist anymore; more often than not, most people are finding great satisfaction mining, deconstructing and re-contextualizing prior art into comparative expressions. One might argue that this is the basis of all genre, but convention has never before been mistaken with wholesale sampling on such a wide scale.
This begs another question: Can natural objects formed by purely physical processes of natural phenomena ever be considered art? It's easy to think so when we use an Amethyst Geode for a centerpiece. But I think 'Art' is a human construct, and therefore such things as rocks and natural tree formations are not in an of themselves art, until they are framed as such.
That is, natural objects only become art once we frame them within a construct. So, the tree which no one hears when it falls in the forest is neither heard nor is it art, but its recorded sound is, and certainly, if we take that tree and preserve it in a specific identifiable space, as we might do in designing a landscape, it is.
CONVENTION IS CULTURE
I also sometimes think of ART as that which is created for the pleasure of the designer, and which by happenstance may win a larger audience. And I sometimes think of ENTERTAINMENT as that which is created for the pleasure of an audience, and which by happenstance might eventually inure pride from its creator.
So, some observe the world, for instance, and see intentional design; others observe and see it as the product of random choices. But whether we are living on a planet with purpose or a Rube Goldberg machine of vast scale, 'the world' and the objects in it convey only that meaning which is read into it, and that which is read into is always the result of a common cultural agreement, whether by pilgrims or physicists, each party agreeing to a different set of commonly accepted conventions.
Which is to say, the mind attempts to make sense out of things, even when there is no connection. And it is this capacity that insures when no connection exists, we will always make one.
And since their are billions of us, each with his or her own opinion, a variety of meanings will necessarily overlap, and the parties to those meanings will occasionally rise to conflict in order to defend an idea or an ideal.
This might create a bitter divide between Evolutionists and Evangelicals, but as it happens, it also makes for inspired Art.