06 September, 2008

Traditions & Remodernism

20th October 2007

The way traditions are perceived with Remodernism is probably a very important difference from the way Post-Modernism perceives them. While I am relatively unsure of what I am about to say, I’ll let you be judge on the accuracy of my statements. It seems to me that Post-Modernism focused on traditions as something to deconstruct, to undo, to challenge. Remodernism, I believe, sees them as useful structures to build upon.

I have already discussed in length the problem of focusing on the traditions for themselves. You spend more time challenging things that aren’t really interesting in themselves. Indeed, while I believe that traditions are the result of something that worked for a long time and whose efficiency has sustained the test of time, I also believe that they are good only insofar as they are used to make something, and it is that something which truly matters. In other words, the art. No one really cares about traditions per se, unless you’re an analyst and study structures, patterns, and the history or mechanics thereof. As art-appreciators, the traditions are tools to make good art, not entities in their own right that deserve worshipping.

To take a concrete example, let’s think of the portrait; that is the kind of tradition I am talking about. A portrait is the tradition of painting, or else, faces, to put it in the simplest way I can think of. Of itself, it’s not much. It becomes something when applied, not before. Of course it would be interesting to explore the limits of that tradition, to play with its old rules and such, to create art (and that’s the thing that matters) but if the art you create is only here to discuss the tradition of the portrait without further aims, then it’s not all that interesting. That is what I have always disliked about Post-Modernism as I understand it and contemporary art: it focuses on art instead of on life. No wonder the larger audience doesn’t care about art if the only art that’s being produced during their time is art that is like a dog chasing its own tail. Not everyone is an artist, but everyone lives. Never forget that.

Here’s a lousy example of a tradition challenged with measly results. Imagine a canvas folded about the middle, making the painting take a right angle. Well, obviously your painting has crossed the realm of bi-dimensional art into tri-dimensional art such as sculpture. While that may sound great, if you think about it for more than 5 minutes, it becomes rather dull, especially if there’s nothing else to the piece. Transdimensional art sure sounds good but what then? You’re not doing anything that wall-painters haven’t done all their lives.

I guess you see the point: it’s up to anyone to look at a painted building and think about how those walls exist in three dimensions and so does the paint on them. This is more like a thought-experiment, and less like art. I am not suggesting it’s inherently evil, just that this doesn’t make good art for me. I judge it for what it’s worth: it’s not bad, but I can’t say it evokes much emotion in me or makes me stand still and look at life differently.

Some branches of art haven’t been so badly attacked by Post-Modernism as others. Think of music, while you did have people doing strange things like recording a pianist coming on stage, sit down at the piano, wait 5 minutes and leave, that type of things rarely gets the popular seal of approval, and, it shall be said, nor does contemporary art in general (museum art). Music especially proves the usefulness of traditions. Can you think of any song on the radio that doesn’t use a chorus-verse-bridge structure? I can’t quite, but I am also aware that many people explore those structures and make very creative music with them. Please note I said with them, not against them. That, perhaps, is the difference between Post-Modernism and Remodernism; we do not fight against traditions, rather, we get along with them and don’t see them as important enough in themselves to deserve to be fought, undone, torn to nothingness.

(In the precedent paragraph, I did not talk of classical music, as there certainly is a lot more structural discussion that could be done there, but as I am not classical music expert, I chose not to enter the topic.)

I will end this article on something I once again noticed no later than last night. Post-Modernists, and the larger population, have a tendency to hate clichés. I hate certain clichés too, but a difference between hollow clichés and eternal things must be made. Good things are always good to say again, and it doesn’t matter that it’s not new. Traditions are by definition not new, but that is not a reason to dismiss them. So, last night I took a peek at a discussion about the Remodernism manifesto, and when spirituality in art was defined, the clever critique commented “no shit Sherlock”. This absolutely proves my point that Post-Modernists (whether they know they are or not) can’t stand things that aren’t new, no matter how right on they are. You know, Post-Modernists, it is allowed to say things that were true 1000 years ago, are true today, and will be true in 1000 years. We are not all treating life at face-value; most often, the better truths aren’t screaming at you, but softly murmuring to anyone who takes the time to take a look at what has always been there, and isn’t new.

No comments: