Monday, November 30, 2009

Post Modernismismismism

Considering that, according to our textbook, Postmodernism is very difficult to define in terms of style, I really couldn't say definitively whether I like Postmodernism or not. Separating Postmodernism from Modernism isn't like separating a yolk from the white; the boundaries aren't visually defined. So to most significantly distinguish the two, we have to distinguish the driving force(s) behind them. Concerning the core philosophy of Postmodernism, I find it more humanistic and optomistic compared to Modernism which seemed to be founded more on a spirit of rebellion and cynicism, and less on the spirit of unity and progress than Postmodernism is. In many ways, Modernism became what it had rebelled against. It became somewhat rigid and elitist. Postmodernism, in its philosophy, was the next logical step in reconciling the past with the present and even the future. Of course, Postmodernism isn't all gumdrops and lolly pops, and many artists who identify with this movement use(d) their work explicity as a vehicle to challenge and rebel against an opressor of one sort or another. The difference, however, is that the art is not used as a way to contrast itself to other art, but rather as a way to contrast or compare itself to the viewer and/or other aspects of reality. For this reason, realism and really any "ism" could arguably be categorized as Postmodern, depending on its apparent message and the way in which it is displayed. With Postmodernism, it seems, concept is king.

Getting back to the concrete world, I like some of what is considered Postmodern, especially, the architecture, like The Sydney Opera House and much of Gehry's work. And, in terms of recognizable physical/visual attributes, Postmodernism seems most pronounced as a movement in the architecture associated with it. I have few problems distinguishing modern architecture from Postmodern. The variety that is not only possible but encouraged by Postmodernism is what most appeals to me. There are only so many variations for simple blocky shapes associated with Modernist architecture.

I also love a lot of the conceptual and interactive stuff associated with Postmodernism. The video of the artist we watched in class (I could swear I wrote down his name!) really moved me. His "wind wall" in particular really blew me away (pun intended). It's that kind of thing that makes me sincerely reexamine what art is, and less quick to attempt to define its boundaries (which is something I began doing in defense of Art - to establish it as something truly special and distinguished). The "wind wall" reminds me that art is about sooo much more than who deserves to be the most highly regarded painters or sculptors. I think it's the spirit of Postmodernism, as I understand it, that has really made an impression on me. I really wasn't very familiar with it before, other than a very basic notion.

I suppose my biggest criticism with a lot of what is labeled "Postmodern" is that, because it is very very loose in its boundaries, a lot of very simplistic artwork has been mistaken for genius when its really just very simple minded in a lot of cases. This allows for virtually anyone to fool people into thinking they're making some deep or grand statement when in reality, it really is just a half-assed circle or something painted in about 9 seconds on a canvas. But there are scam artists in every industry. I wouldn't propose that we stop driving cars just because someone sold a lemon, likewise with art.

As for the future of Postmodernism, its ambiguity could render it immortal as it's underlying philosophies, which are quite malleable, are applied and reapplied through new interpretations, in new and changing times. In a very literal sense, "Postmodernism" almost seems to imply it is always one step ahead of today, that it is the perpetual future. I think Postmodernism will survive a very long time, though the art created in its name may not closely resemble what we associate with it today; The underlying philosophy will remain relevant and applicable.

I think the next big thing, in art is a Renaissance of the traditional value on craftsmanship combined with the many principles and values established by modern and postmodern movements. Digital art will play a role but it will not ever become what oil painting once was and is. You cannot hang an original digital painting on the wall or touch it or smell it or pass it on to your kids. What people want and will always want is tangible things that they can possess and collect and show off and pass on. Part of what makes art desirable, is its physical presence as a creation by the hand of a human being. Fine Art literally encapsulates precious hours, days, weeks, months of a human being's one and, as far as I know, only life. I say that to stress how timeless and ever-significant such creation is, aside from all other concerns of relevancy. Of course art isn't just painted pictures. I forget that because right now because drawing/painting is my main focus. But the point is that time and effort are apparent in one's work, and these are aspects which I think became undervalued in the art-world but which will again be valued more highly. So basically, I think that now we've explored about every facet of creativity and have eventually come to the point that all that was left to explore was concept. So I think the future of art over the next 50 years will be one where ALL that we've learned is applied, by the most relevant artists, to creating truly quality work both in craftmanship and in concept in an evergrowing variety of mediums. The "wind wall" by ? (forgot his name) is actually a great example of that, I think. That's something no child could create. It's something I wouldn't have the first clue how to do. It's time consuming. It's challenging. It's rewarding. It's for everybody. The concept is brilliant. And it's absolutely beautiful. I guess that's an example of the future of art, as I envision it.

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