Art for a moment, for a millenium

Growing up with both parents working as teachers definitely had it’s ups and downs. Luckiuly they were college teachers and so not specially atuned to the cycle of report cards per se, but they certainly added a considerable amount of red ink to every page I printed.

Mom, an English major, and Dad, a Fine Arts major, both found their calling teaching communications types of courses at a community college in my hometown. I overheard many heated conversations about the bastardization and complete obliteration of the english language. Especially in the last ten years, the number of times they said they found short-forms and slang better used in text or messenger messages in formal reprots was astounding.

While I concede to my teacher-parents that there is a time and place when certain things aren’t appropriate, I object to the idea that the english language is being bastardized or devolving. As a student of linguistic anthropology I learned that the lexicon is an organic beast — it changes, adapts, grows — language defined by the users needs and usage. Not such a strange thing; Oxford adds new words to the dictionary every year based on careful studies of ‘common’ uses of such new words.

I digress, I’m not blogging about language, but this is a post about communication and perception.

A lot of more traditional folks like to believe that most technologically based things and specifically things internet-based are just flash-in-the-pan stuff. Or two-dimensional. Sure, you can use it but can you manipulate it?? To these luddites I respond with an emphatic YES.

Artists have been appropriating pop culture for use in their works as long as there has been such a thing as ‘pop’. But more recently artists have been turning elements of pop culture into the art itself. I’ll give a few of the myriad of fantastic examples out there.

David Hockney recently unveiled a series of works done on his iPhone. Although this is something Jorge Colombo has also done. But my personal favorite of the week is Stacey Williams-Ng’s exhibition “What Are You Doing Right Now” in which she perused the status of some 247 Facebook friends to pilfer great lines like “Tony R. could’ve died a superhero but instead he lived to become the villain” which became both title and subject of a portrait.

New media like this is flash-in-the-pan. It won’t be around forever. I have no doubt that Facebook, Twitter and the rest of it will enjoy some notoriety and usefulness until they’re subsumed by something else. But these monsters will not be around when my kids are in their 20s. And that’s what makes this kind of art so here and now, so special. It’s what makes contemporary art representative of this exact moment in time. It’s not the 90s or the 60s, it can only be the first decade of this millenium.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Art for a moment, for a millenium

  1. seedlingsofexpression

    I checked out the images of David Hockneys Iphone works, love them, and I also like the little easel he sets his iphone on. I wonder if anybody has ever done any works on windows paint. I also agree with your comment about language, it will always be evolving.

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