QOTD: A Little Outrageousness

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“A little outrageousness on the part of artists and critics alike helps to give the art world its appeal. People like to hear that the art stars are overinflated. That’s part of the titillation. But when you tell an editor that something more is at stake, that the hype around the public art world may actually hurt somebody, that is too much. Nobody wants to believe that the art stars are destroying the visual arts. If that’s the case, things could begin to get depressing. You might even end up feeling guilty for having treated the art world as a playground, as little more than high-end media gossip.” – Jed Perl, “Eyewitness: Reports from an Art World in Crisis”

Disintegration at 25

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10334442_10152359471723818_3034211372756325796_n“Disintegration” is one of those albums that I’ve listened to so many times that I don’t know if there’s anything I can say about it. There was a time in my life when I had it on constant rotation. Now, listening to it is like emotional excavation, where memories and emotions are carved into the songs. As such, I don’t listen to it much anymore. That said, classic. While there’s a lot to love in Robert Smith’s work after this album, no single album would hit these heights.

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Art, Film, and Niche Markets

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I’ve been quietly writing an essay (that will some day be finished) about works of fine art, and artists, within modern film. In it, I compare the not-very-good film Monuments Men (coming soon to DVD/Blu-Ray), to several other recent films (The Artist and the ModelMuseum HoursThe Great Beauty, etc, etc). I’m very critical of how Monuments Men has the art take a (quiet literal) backseat in a film that is theoretically about how important it is to preserve Europe’s artistic legacy. Then, today, I thought, “well of course the film is that way, public arts education has been gutted for decades. What emotional connection do most people actually have with modern art these days?” 

The Artist and the Model.
For a number of reasons, including societal change, political shifts, and the growing dominance of niche-targeted culture markets, it is incredibly easy to go through life exposed only to a very narrow transmission of “things you like.” That’s not necessarily terrible, but we’ve also inherited a growing amnesia about how our current “likes” and trends have manifested. We increasingly praise artists, musicians, film, with no sense of the traditions that formed them (consciously or unconsciously). Like the comic books that dominate our blockbuster features, we are living in a perpetual “now.” A shifting 10-20 year period of things we remember (because we consumed them as children), but no further.

When the comic book films first started, to pick one example, I was delighted. I grew up on comic books. I love comic books and comic art. But now I’m starting to feel like someone who gets to eat their favorite candy at every meal. Slightly queasy, overstuffed, with a growing sense that perhaps I don’t like the sweet treat as much as I once did.

I’m not saying we have to return to some fictional golden age, there’s always been big dumb fun things, but it just seems lately that we’re forcing the big dumb fun things to do far more than what they were designed to do. I fear we’re eating candy because we can no longer understand the recipes for other meals in the cookbooks. I’m not doom-saying, or being all “kids-get-off-my-lawn,” I’m just finding myself unsettled and concerned.

Check out Pop Pagans

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1844656470Check out Pop Pagans: Paganism and Popular Music, which features a chapter on the intersections between Pagan and Goth subcultures by your’s truly.

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“Paganism is rapidly becoming a religious, creative, and political force internationally. It has found one of its most public expressions in popular music, where it is voiced by singers and musicians across rock, folk, techno, goth, metal, Celtic, world, and pop music. With essays ranging across the US, UK, continental Europe, Australia and Asia, Pop Pagans assesses the histories, genres, performances, and communities of pagan popular music.

Over time, paganism became associated with the counter culture, satanic and gothic culture, rave and festival culture, ecological consciousness and spirituality, and new ageism. Paganism has used music to express a powerful and even transgressive force in everyday life. Pop Pagans examines the many artists and movements which have contributed to this growing phenomenon.”

Here’s the publishers page for the book.