Thursday, August 03, 2006

art and entertainent, 2

Ever notice how bent people get when you challenge their taste for meaningless, drivelly kinds of mass-pop culture. I'm not talking about comic books or good rock bands, but that sort of committee-written, J-Lo kind of mass culture. The answers are always that it's just for fun. "It's shallow, but I think enough as it is." In my experience a lot of them get really defensive, too. It is like their weakness for garbage culture is covering up something, some void that they have to protect. I am not writing this to attack garbage culture. I would prefer to think of it as trying to get at the bottom of the right-wing brain (not that there is much besides bottom in that culture-less wasteland.)

We can accept maybe that real culture comes from individuals. The good example I think is the comparison between the Mattress Factory and the New Museum. Mattress Factory is a one woman show, with a fierce director and an endless string of fantastic shows, all of them flavored by what she thinks and wants. New Museum is a committee driven sort of museum store that endlessly promotes irrelevent installations and issues press releases. There are worse examples than the New Museum, but New Museum is of comparable size and scope to what it could be, namely, something like the Mattress Factory.

But if you get in there and start prodding at what the New Museum is supposed to be and what it is you get statements like this:

The Media Lounge is New York City's first museum program dedicated to the exhibition and exploration of digital art, experimental video and sound works. Media Lounge exhibitions and public programs are supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Jerome Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts.

Just that word "lounge" should tell you that this is an appeal to the savvy entertainment driven youth set. It's frankly insulting to anybody who is interested in culture outside of the lounge scene. But I'd be willing to bet that there is a huge crowd who would argue vigorously that this is just the sort of entertainment the modern museum needs to present in order to reach the lazy, spectacle oriented segment of the market that pays the bills. Maybe Rockefeller and Jerome should cough up a little more so that this kind of crap isn't necessary. And that way New York's premier contemporary art museum could concentrate on putting together good exhibitions of real art instead of entertaining doo-dads that spin and whistle like Jennifer Lopez.

I think a big part of the culture-entertainment complex is dedicated to re-inforcing the notion of a stupid public, to building that public and feeding it like school kids with sugary coca-colas. And those kids damn-well want their sodas !! Just watch out when you tell them that water is not only good for them, but it's used to wash people's feet and float baskets and has meaning. There's nothing like coming between someone gorging on distraction and the source of their pain.

1 comment:

  1. "there's nothing like coming between someone gorging on distraction and the source of their pain"
    reminds me of the last dog i had. got her from the pound in east new york [RedFlag] and she was the sweetest thing... except when she got into fights with other dogs. one time i tried to stop a row, and put my hand in between her and her 'distraction'. got a deep puncture wound as a result [the week before my wedding!]
    but i digress.
    the Lounge. yes. part of what digital art has manifested itself as is a big part of what is corrupting the rest of contemporary art. digital art is built on a myth: that new media technology is in fact 'new'. it's not. it is a logical extension of TeeVee: Remote control cable surfing meets the mouse. what is new is what the technology has allowed: we're able to communicate this way. another chink in the digital art lie is that it's mostly really design. add to this your point about entertainment, and what you get is endless variations on video games.
    yeah, i'm a cultural elitist, how the hell else am i supposed to judge anything?