“The members were Willie Carey, a twenty-eight-year-old former political consultant from Chapel Hill, who wore an oatmeal-colored knit beanie, and Justin Strekal, a twenty-two-year-old college student from Cleaveland, who wore a green knit beanie.”
“Next came two young men from the Arts and Culture Working Group, both in plaid shirts.”
“James Surowiecki, in his commentary on student-loan debt, does not identify an important source of the growth in college costs”
“Surowiecki’s article could have stated more clearly the distinction between … and …”
“Surowiecki’s otherwise informative piece might have noted that … “
“I enjoyed John Seabrook’s piece about the origins of the SweeTango apple, but it is important to note that …”
“Jane Kramer, in her article about foraging … does not mention that … urbanization … ”
“After reading Judith Thurman’s pinenut confessional, I feel compelled to caution her about feeding the cheaper and stubbier variety to her unsuspecting dinner guests.”
I know it is tl;dr but, If anyone is interested, I’m posting what I’ve been working on for my senior thesis. Obviously it is still at its preliminary stage, so If you have any suggestions, criticisms, advices, pointers, and etc. I would love to hear them! [Update]: I just found out that tumblr has a character limit on replies so here is my email address firstname.lastname@example.org
Learning as Art –
Conditions of Production and Nonconformity to The Aesthetic Attitude
This paper examines the conditions of contemporary artistic production, specifically for the artists working within the capitalistic economic system whether their engagement is direct or indirect. One of the conditions that will be discussed at length is the role of the market and public in today’s artistic production. As Boris Groys puts it in his essay Introduction: Poetics vs. Aesthetics if, in the past, the religious and political authorities determined the content of work through the patronage system, today, artists, have gained a sense of autonomy from these authorities, but are as much as obliged to address the interests of the public. Artists no longer have to depict the scenes from the Bible anymore, but much artistic production today takes place with the understanding (and the projection) of its own marketability in the art market and desirability from the public as preliminary conditions. This is especially true for career artists, whose artistic production equals their livelihood and preferred source of income (as opposed to taking a ‘day job’). For them, the question of how to acquire marketability and desirability of their artistic products becomes a serious existential consideration. However, even if capitalism is not the artists’ immediate economic system, since capitalism is the de facto economic system of the global economy—and necessarily, the global art market—even artistic production in non-capitalistic systems eventually becomes measured in capitalistic principles. This forces us to reevaluate why we make things that we make, when the success of artistic products does not exclusively stem from the work within, but becomes quantifiable in terms of its market success and institutional acceptance. In such cases, the artistic products lose its ability to assert values of its own to itself but rather become a recipient of it. In other words, conditions of contemporary artistic production encourage subordination of the artist’s autonomy to his or her audience. Though it seems like artists are free to make whatever they wish, the scope of the their freedom is not themselves but, rather, the aesthetic sensibility of the viewers who assigns value to the artistic products.
One of the points this paper will argue is how overproduction and oversaturation of certain aesthetics (e.g. resurgence of the analog aesthetic evident from the success of Tim Barber’s web-based curatorial project Tiny Vices, Neo-Minimalist tendencies captured in the stream of blog posts on VVORK, or the so-called Internet or New Media aesthetic that dominates Tumblr) is symptomatic of this predicament. In this period of hyper-connectivity where most human knowledge is within in arms’ reach, these aesthetic tendencies—or, movements—need to be examined skeptically, as the development of such tendencies might not be as organic and sincere as in the pre-Internet era. For example, for many artists who are ‘influenced’ by Ryan McGinley’s aesthetic—that is, for lack of a better term, 35mm analog photography with youthful subjects who are often naked and behaving nonchalantly (and there are number of those students in this very school that I’m currently writing a thesis paper for), aesthetic attractiveness (or unattractiveness) might not be the only factor influencing them to produce work in a similar or derivative nature; McGinley’s work’s proven market success and institutional acceptance—which are both as accessible as his works on the pages of Google search—becomes attractive on its own. The development of aesthetic tendencies of this kind is problematic, particularly because in the pursuit of similar market success or institutional acceptance of their own (which must be done in timely manner before such aesthetic becomes unfashionable or undesirable by the market and the public) the concept (or lack thereof) of the index case is reduced to an easily replicable and over-saturating set of rules or visual tropes and springs up everywhere ad nauseum. This problem is echoed by artists who purportedly make so-called ‘environment portraits’ with alleged ‘concepts’ that differentiate their work from others from others; this motivation, however, remains secondary to the visual style that they are trying to achieve in the hopes of being associated with certain successful and desirable aesthetic tendencies. However, it is not this paper’s aim to antagonize and call out on those artists—rather it is to antagonize the institution and larger economic and political system since the current predicament is simply inescapable without a paradigmatic challenge to the condition of the artistic production and its reception, which subjugates art in the domain of aesthetics.
This paper, in conjunction with the visual thesis, calls for relocating artistic production in the domain of philosophy to free it from the tyranny of the market and the public that unjustly demands aesthetic experience from it. In other words, art needs to constitute itself as a discipline rather than a cultural commodity, in order for the artist to gain the full autonomy from various external factors that bestows boundaries. Naturally, the question then becomes: what does it mean to make art in the domain of philosophy? If the purpose of pursuing art in the domain of philosophy is to not conform within the tradition of the aesthetic attitude, art needs to be capable of assigning values, and of defining within itself how relative that might be. That is to say art needs to not justify itself within some universal context; rather, it should justify itself within the context of itself without the help of external authorities such as market or the public. This essentially nudges art into a discipline of defining itself as an art, rather than the production of things that submits to aesthetic attitudes, thus necessitating artistic production into more of a metaphilosophical pursuit, which does not contemplate the physicality of its production, but the production itself.
“At the time the artist was obliged to present the “contents’—the subjects, motives, narratives, and so forth—that were dictated by religious faith or the interests of the political power. Today, the artist is required to deal with the topics of public interest of political power. Today’s democratic public wants to find in art the representations of the issues, topics, political controversies, and social aspiration that move this public in its everyday life.”
“The aesthetic attitudes is the spectators attitudes… [A]esthtics relates to art and reflects on art from the perspective of the spectator, of the consumer of art—who demands from art the so-called aesthetic experience… However, in order to experience aesthetic enjoyment of any kind, the spectator must be aesthetically educated, and this education necessarily reflects the social and cultural milieus into which the spectator was born and in which he or she lives. In other words, the aesthetic attitude presupposes the subordination of art production to art consumption—and thus the subordination of art theory to sociology”
I hope your oral presentation went well.
I’m thinking of making a zine with memorable quotes from your thesis oral panel, you can add a little annotation along with the quote if you’d like, too. I can already see that there are a lot springing up just by going through Facebook status updates. This is, of course, going to be anonymous and won’t be made publicly available or shown to any of the faculty members prior to the thesis exhibition.
If you want to be part of it please email me at email@example.com
Dallow, Spicer, Pinkie, Cubitt