ART MOVEMENTS: OBSOLESCENCE AND REINVENTION THROUGH TECHNOLOGY

“There really is no such thing as art. There are only artists.” – E. H. Gombrich

SHIFTING ART MOVEMENTS FROM TACTILE TO DIGITAL

By Lawrence Hemsworth
Acid Cloud by Sara Ludy.

In the classification and chronology of art movements and styles, critics and art historians have taken on the monumental task of maintaining specific philosophies and parameters for defining and classifying art. As art movements evolve into their post versions, new definitions and qualifiers are added. With that comes the introduction of new media and digital technology. Art has always been an organic and spiritual catharsis from the soul. Today the soul is influenced by the intangibility of cyberspace and visualized through the artificial mind’s eye of preprogrammed intelligence. Ideas are born in the virtual world sometimes never reaching the material world in any physical way. As in Giclée printing; they are infinite and not limited editions. Unless it starts as a physical work of art there is no physical substrate, only a digital file.

As more crossovers are seen with multi-disciplinary collaborations how will the art lexicon expand? As technology interfaces with the fine arts through the post-internet movement, new vocabularies emerge with an expanding culture of social networking and digital technology. Society becomes more homogeneous through digital connectivity influencing pop-culture, art and its purpose. New technology adds to the expansion of art movements. Will they become more difficult to define and categorize? Will economics drive the obsolescence of tangibility as the priorities and demands for raw materials continue to shift artists to the expediency of Photoshop, the iPhone and 3D Printing?

Are contemporary art movements on their way to becoming more homogeneous or more specific and unilateral through technology? Can they be either one in terms of metamodernism? There tends to be less formalized specialization in the fine art curriculum and a higher degree of computer arts studies with the new digital wave. Literally all things art are conveyed through digital or video files and are eventually documented in the metamodern databases of art history for future reference. Every petroglyph and ideogram ever recorded has been codified to HTML. Everything known to Man will have its own avatar in the virtual world.

In the discussions validating the aesthetics of tactile art, crossover has blurred the lines for example between a well-kept lawn and a work of art. A well-manicured lawn or the act of mowing the lawn might display pleasing aesthetics, but not acceptable art aesthetics until various art movements made them so. Postmodernist Jo Hanson developed a performance-based work that involved a daily sweeping of her residential sidewalk on Buchanan Street, San Francisco in 1980. Brazilian street artist Alexandre Orion makes art today by cleaning or removing accumulated dirt, grease and soot off the walls to reveal his graphic images.

Everything is Kung-Fu. The term Kung-Fu is generally associated with the martial arts. The translation literally means “any skill achieved through discipline or hard work”. It’s more about the process than the punch. Hence we apply our skills or Gong-Fu, at work and at home to complete common everyday tasks. The arts have always been about the process more than the result; the skill or result is achieved through hard work. The results and skill will come through the process and the result is what becomes validated or classified by the movement or sub-category. But the process can experience a metamorphosis through many styles or movements before it finds completion with the artist.

In our efforts to compartmentalize art movements or styles we tend to overlook process. A painting is a work of visual art, but is a dancer being painted a painting or is it a performance? After a shower the painting is gone. Was she a living painting once the choreography stops, or is the work, painting, musical collaboration, videography, installation, whatever; all just Art?

The techniques of painting in contemporary realism and romanticism are exquisite. Even with a focused intent on mastering a particular style or application of media, a certain amount of cross-training or an understanding of other processes is needed to excel in any one discipline. For some, art is a never ending process more than it is a search for a specific result manifested through a particular medium. Accidents always happen and inspiration can change direction in a heartbeat. Influences are influenced by other influences and then come full circle, always attempting to kick it up a notch.

Life and art have relevance together. Life becomes more diverse with experience and so does an artist’s work. Many artists work in more than one medium or may be members of different art movements. The artist might paint but is the artist a painter? An artist’s oil paintings may have absolutely no relationship at all to their performance art. The work becomes classified and dated; thereby the artists’ movement reaches a state of obsolescence and passes the torch to newer aesthetics and cultural norms.

Metamodern Art. Art Movements: Obsolete in Terms of Metamodernism.
“Veiled” (Oil on Linen), by Conor Walton

Some art movements evolve with a political or cultural theory as their premise. For example, the Situationists; 1954-1972 (socialist, Marxist philosophies) observed the benefits of capitalism to a degree. It was providing more income, leisure time and technological comforts, but it did not out way the decadence of consumerism; the sustainable environmental destruction or class alienation that society had become so willing to accept. To them the influence was not only permeating the American sensibility but also the economic and cultural values of other societies as well.

Founding member of Situationist International was Asger Oluf Jorn who collaborated with Jean Dubuffet on a variety of musical collaborations. Both were painters from different “similar” movements; Art Brut, an outsider movement which defied the status quo on previously validated art training and aesthetics and the Situationists who were rebelling against the commodifying effects on society manifested by the aesthetics of capitalism.

According to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Definition of Art, 2007: “Skepticism about the possibility and value of a definition of art has been an important part of the discussion in aesthetics since the 1950s on, and though its influence has subsided, uneasiness about the definitional project persists.”

One of the seven arguments presented against the importance of defining art; “The fifth sort of argument concludes that defining art is philosophically unnecessary, on the grounds that the problem of defining art reduces to a pair of easier sorts of problems: the problem of giving an account of each individual art form, and the problem of defining what it is to be an art form.”

This speaks to the debate surrounding the Artist’s Statement, a metamodern development in the gallery world starting around the mid 90’s. The artist makes a statement against the statement. He defies the need to justify or explain the inspiration or the relevance of the work beyond the catharsis of communication between the art and the viewer.

THE MOVEMENT, THE POST-MOVEMENT AND THE POST-POST-MOVEMENT

Some art movements evolve with a political or cultural theory as their premise. For example, the Situationists; 1954-1972 (socialist, Marxist philosophies) observed the benefits of capitalism to a degree. It was providing more income, leisure time and technological comforts, but it did not out way the decadence of consumerism; the sustainable environmental destruction or class alienation that society had become so willing to accept. To them the influence was not only permeating the American sensibility but also the economic and cultural values of other societies as well.

Founding member of Situationist International was Asger Oluf Jorn who collaborated with Jean Dubuffet on a variety of musical collaborations. Both were painters from different “similar” movements; Art Brut, an outsider movement which defied the status quo on previously validated art training and aesthetics and the Situationists who were rebelling against the commodifying effects on society manifested by the aesthetics of capitalism.

Minimalism and Post-minimalism for example: the first generation setting the fundamental parameters for the next. Post-Post-minimalism crosses over with a minimalist perspective on lifestyle and travel. Discarding unnecessary affectations or volume from the minimalist’s form or idea becomes the cultural paradigm for a sub-culture craving less baggage and material clutter.

Art is measured by politics, anthropology and ideas as well as technique and execution. As photography had its influence on painters, and Photoshop with contemporary visual artists, one of the newer movements being analyzed, interpreted, classified and built upon is the Net Art movement. As more artists become involved with the digital genome of cyberspace this technologically based movement is destined to produce its own vocabulary and timeline of divisions and sub-subdivisions.

A digital painting is done with pixels and precise color scales, not through the challenge of color mixing, or the risk of making the wrong stain on a $6.00 piece of Arches 300lb. cold-pressed watercolor paper. In tangible art the process and control of the aqueous media for example is a qualifier for the success of the result. Digital art eliminates any unilateral involvement with the tangible media, requiring an entirely new set of aesthetics for quantifying the intrinsic process or value of the work.

Metamodern Art. Art Movements.
Artie Vierkant’s Image Objects (2011 – ongoing) From Rhizome.org Vierkant’s concepts are conceived digitally on the computer and processed through tactile materials for physical installations.

Metamodernism is defined as being an oscillation between the modern and the postmodern and the various movements or schools of political and artistic theory and practice. It justifies the interplay between disciplines and new technologies as we accept and justify culturally the intermingling between ethnicities and race. Society is less established and more emergent culturally and vastly more interconnected through digital technology and telecommunications. Lines blur across the contemporary arts, and in the scheme of metamodernist thinking, so have they been with geopolitics and cultural anthropology.

Stephen Stearns, a Yale professor of ecology and evolutionary biology holds to his currently disputed theory: That ethnic and racial crossover through proximity and travel will eventually evolve our species into a nice Mulatto shade over the next several hundreds of years. There no doubt will be more interplay between the tactile arts, digital arts and newer technologies (including the integration of bio-mechanics and artificial intelligence). Some of the applied materials and techniques of tactile and unilateral art movements may eventually become obsolete through their progressive convergence with technology and the digital realm.

adminArt Movements: Obsolescence and Reinvention