Tuesday, November 22, 2011

[ 1 1 ] r e l a t i o n a l a e s t h e t i c s

Nicolas Bourriaud, author of the recent Radicant (and one of my personal favorite readings), comes across with Relational Aesthetics : this sense of the visual frame or zeitgeist which is shared by near all of humanity in effort to not only share a strong sense of community and coexistence with another but reject the idea of being formatted by a sense of capital game or even social construct. It can be quite a sprinting around in circles, as it is arguable that art has shaped society itself and that ultimately all art is relational. But this discussion is not about art as a whole, but with art as an aesthetic device dealing with (in a way) the collaborative efforts of society at large and having them DIY so the art they search for delivers unto them the most personalized meaning they could possibly attain.

Having a discussion in public on the matter, several artists were come across, and notably Jeff Koons was on the list. Controversial as it seems, Jeff Koons is a poster child for the idea of relational aesthetics (and in the same instance the most ironic at that). He is using a factory set-up of workers and young students/young random people alike to create convoluted work that either references some ridiculously out-of-place aesthetic or self-serving homage to Koons himself, even though he barely placed a finger on the work itself.

This immediately makes me draw allusions to that of a more commodified or 'mainstream' mode of working, not unlike that seen of such locales as a Disney studio or a film set. Its a single director calling the shots while, to a less romantic but true degree, his minions are doing all the technical specialties for him. Is there any evidence Jeff Koons can do any of this himself? It ultimately boils down to 'does it matter?' Well, if I want to like or not like him, yes I think it does matter considerably. In film its easy. We know the director went through digging in the dirt to learn his wares, from the telephoto lens to the 80-foot-high crane shot. He or she would either know these techniques or perish while trying to make a coherent craft. Contemporary art is different. Since it imitates life to dearly around the turn of the 70s, it takes less than a strong imagination combined with technical prowess to accomplish goals but rather a more aware mind of the world outside of themselves. This begs even further the question of if Jeff Koons is capable or not of being 'an artist'.

The contemporary art equivalent of Tommy Wiseau.

All this talk defend Koons (I'll stay on him for a bit) praises him for being able to 'game the system'. Okay. So who outside the art world cares? This is one of those instances where the adolescent cry of "I don't get it" has validity, whether its age 10, 20, or the outsider in their 40s. Art should be designed to alter reality and give beautiful (or just the opposite, with similar poignant effect) perspectives on the world lived in, whether it be modernist or post-modernist (both classifications achieve this in one way or another). It can be considered a masturbatory affair where the worst of both pre-mentioned classifications are taken out and placed into a category : Koonianwerk. You have the self-indulged craft for craft's sake of modernism and the gross meta-art indulgence post-modernism brings. I can understand gaming the system exists in all races of labor in life. The white-collar that cons his company for thousands and gets away with it isn't sung any praises (I should hope so, for his/her sake). And I praise the person who cons the art game... for the BETTER. Rebellion and question of power should come at advance guard to something more productive, and not be fist pumping for fist pumping sake (re: craft for craft's sake). If its only asking questions and while not instigating change, especially while only deconstructing a system, it has no place being a detriment to those who depend on the culture. Change is good, only for the better.

Can you imagine this guy shouting
"war is bad!" but issuing more troops. Well..
for the most part, we don't have to imagine..

To quote the book itself, "If, for a long period of time, the artwork has manage to come across as a luxury, lordly item in this urban setting... the development of the function of the artworks and the way they are shown attest to a growing urbanization of the artistic experiment." All this is saying as we are becoming a participatory spectacle where the idea of D-I-Y has become not just a dream but accessibility. People besides the artist his or her self can experiment whether the artist likes it or not. The weaver of media just needs to in this manner to adapt rather than fall behind in a lightwave of time, becoming the legacy and not the present. The present is in fact 'legacy' and nostalgia for the past is ill advised, since the present is just a simulation of the successes the past gave us. There certainly is a market in relishing in the romantic past and reselling it to the present, but I deem that all too precarious. Even from an interactive viewpoint (re: video games and intellectual properties). The idea of selling 'retro' to the present in all its shifting desires seems like skating on a bridge of ice over the heart of the Arctic. It, strangely enough, would seem even a safer bet to ride not just (or not at all) the wave of the present, but look to the future from the present using experimental tests based on what knowledge we know. Success by bringing the past to the present ignoring relational aesthetics? Miniscule and momentary. Success by bringing the present to the future taking into account a more global viewpoint? You 'are' the bookmark in history, not matter how big or small. You were a part of it, not unlike an historic election or turning on the TV to discover cars are electric.

Only by 2-6 souls will actually step foot on this.
But to be a part of the stream witnessing it and
amplifying it with aesthetic tribute is a positive rush.

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