It never worked, communism, socialism or whatever demon-name America attached to its late-20th century philosophical adversary. It paled in comparison. A month after Houston got punched in the mouf by Ike and two weeks after the financial markets proved to be more hollow than Centerpoint customer service, free-market economics is also free-philosophy economics, willing to violate idealism for competing ideology. Willing to consider the players in the system and work together. It feels like complexity theory, and it is viewable seeping under the door in many disciplines.
GOTV, Get Out The Vote, has become a specific science (and a funny acronym) for all the things that politicians try to do to get people to a certain place on a certain day. Bush and Rove fundamentally changed the aim of GOTV by emphasizing structure over concrete measurements. His remarkable message discipline was nearly branded on his forehead, the way a Nike symbol never seems to change its energetic visage. Obama’s campaign is taking it ever further with marketing principles and technological diversity. Holy shit that, in both cases, word-of-mouth is the warrant, the lynchpin in the whole operation? Complex systems mimic word-of-mouth, and travel through myspace, facebook and flickr as if they were no different than television, radio, print, poster and image.
Can the artworld absorb indefinite surfaces? Not textured paintings dummies, but an artwork that, like a person, is somewhat indescribable? We can fight about Duchamp, but not even he could think of putting one stupid drawing on the street and turning into a global enterprise. Does the image sell itself? Yes. Does the context, story, folktale sell the image? Yes. Even a representational portrait of royalty came with a social context. We’re pets.
The only lesson for the trained artist is that you’re being outflanked. The best case scenario for the outsider is to pound away at the periphery of the market until one is acceptable, through image and context, but be forewarned that smarter, richer people are figuring it out every day. For both sides the context is key. Personal relationships matter above all. Dilute yourself with facts until you kick Trivial Pursuit’s ass, but don’t come home and worry about getting anywhere in this artworld .
With a billion on the internet don’t think there will be a corresponding crash in usage as monies dry up. Andy Rooney should get on the internet. Maybe he wouldn’t bitch as much. Artists find themselves groping for their next context in light of collectors’ tastes extending beyond cocktail hour. Two events this weekend bring that context to light better than the HAA has been doing. The Grassroots Media Truth Tour at Rice Media Center and BandCamp at Caroline Collective address anarchists and musicians respectively, but who can tell the difference anyway. Either is a valuable tool for artists, a plethora of successes and failures gathered to point out that top-down processing is both illogical and unwieldy. Want to learn about the processes that will come into play in your career? Don’t listen to old people trying to ketchup, take it from young people who are not afraid to get it wrong.
Saturday, October 18th 3:30 – 9:45 pm
Sunday, October 19th 12-5 pm
sponsored by Bee
also by Sean Carroll
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- Top Ten Paintings, Drawings and Performances in 2008 - December 26th, 2008