06 September, 2008

Why Remodernism?

2007, this was written in the tone of a manifesto.

Because we are not the children of the Second World War. Or of the First. The trauma of this war was a major part of why movements like Dadaism and Surrealism were ever born. Dadaists were basically nihilists and challengers of conventions. In that challenging, I condone the movement and I understand and perceive the worthiness of such an endeavour. Challenging conventions makes sense when there are conventions to challenge. It made sense when Marcel Duchamp exposed a urinal on its back and called it a "fountain". Why did it make sense? Because back then, and mark my words - back then - it was worthwhile to ask oneself what art was, and what wasn't. You can discuss the worth of Duchamp's urinal forever, but the point is that at least he was doing something new, and if for no other reason, that was sufficient to deserve attention. Doing that nowadays, a century after, makes little sense to me. Thanks to the ambient mindset, anything is art, and thus, nothing is art anymore.

If a ready-made object is as much art as a painting, then there is no difference between a work of art and anything at all. While I too believe that everything has the potential to be art, just having this potential is not enough. Meaning: if you find a beautiful leaf, just taking the leaf and putting it in a museum won't make it more art than if you met said leaf in the forest; while if you take a photograph of said leaf, or paint it, or write a poem about it, then you use that potential of the leaf to create art. Never forget that art is intrinsically connected to your consciousness as a human being and that weren't it for this mysterious faculty, there would be no art. Leaves are beautiful to a conscious mind, without that, they just are.

I believe there is a difference between a mere idea and a work of art. Conceptual art, for all I know of it, thinks it's the same thing. Exposing ideas in a gallery isn't what art is about; naturally, I'm not suggesting that art never conveys ideas, far from that, but art isn't only about ideas. I will take the now famed example of the dead shark in a museum. Is this art? I guess you can call it art provided you write "God" as the author of the piece, or "Nature" or anything you want. Otherwise it's just a dead shark. The idea that anyone waited on whoever put that shark in the museum to consider that sharks had some beauty is a very pretentious idea, not to say a silly one. I liked it when Duchamp put his urinal in a museum because back then it hadn't been done, and it raised questions. Given the stuff artists do today, I wouldn't be surprised by anything at all, except maybe to see an art work which actually touched me deep inside and made me think. A dead shark doesn't do that because I have seen live sharks, and I have seen them in their own environment, and it beats a dead shark surrounded by cynical humans masturbating their egos with hollow praise of self-recognition of intelligence.

Why Remodernism today? Nowadays we have the impression that history is over, that all movements are done for and that everything has been done and there's nothing else to create. Because of the mostly scientifical approach we have towards the universe, we tend to think we know a lot more than we actually do, and most of us safely rely on scientists to know the things the average person is not aware of. That is, much like Medieval people who could not read, let alone read Latin, and who could not have access to the Bible, the paradigm maker of that time, people simply trusted the educated ones, those who could read, and read Latin. Nowadays, we cannot all study physics for 7 years and we likewise rely on scientists. Science is the true Church of our day, and its dogma is all the stronger as it is ever hardly perceived as such. No one thinks Science is dogmatic, thus it isn't seen as such. Yet, in a very dogmatic way, scientists unobjectively prefer to fund research on volcanoes rather than on UFO's, on viruses rather than on the existence of a God, on this theory rather than that one, etc. To name but one concrete example, examine how impossible it was, and is, to fund research projects on the origin of the universe that aren't in line with the Big Bang theory. While it is not a direct interdiction, and while no one actually takes the responsibility of it, such a research cannot be made, no more can you genuinely fund research on other alternative theories or subjects that seem "paranormal" or else. But enough on this.

The point of all this is that we are currently living in a cynical age. We think we know when we don't - thus sharing the idiotic and arrogant opinion of every century that the century just past was wrong and that we are right (when every century was always wrong) - and we look down on the universe as something to be merely decoded but that has nothing transcendental or worthy beyond being a riddle or a puzzle. During the 20th century, empires fell, institutions declined, beliefs and dogmas were proved wrong, and we realised we were on shaky grounds, and some of us decided that since this ground was shaky, no ground was safe to trust and that therefore we should never trust again. In other words, World War I put an end to the empires of Europe, World War II and Nazism put an end to our optimism in humanity, Auschwitz became the name of God's death as heralded by Nietzsche, JFK's assassination put an end to the people's trust in their leaders (which trust had only been abused just the same before, but things got public), the Vietnam War further hit on the nail's head, and by the time I was born, we had nothing but big hair bands to undo, which was done away with in the early 90's. Thanks to Nirvana and Kurt Cobain - whom I adore - whose obvious self-bashing and loss of faith in life and the world is typical of the first generation of the aftermaths of the death of all ideals after World War II, i.e. the X Generation, or the children of the hippies, who failed to change the world to a better one.

Now that we have witnessed the crumbling of it all, it is no longer needed to either testify of it, and no longer required to undo anymore. There is nothing left to destroy, deconstruct, or dissect. To do so in our day and age amounts to take a massive piss in the face of us all. This is no time for cynicism. This generation was born among ruins, and we must rebuild. Also, we must not remain faithless to ideals. Just because Nazis happened does not mean humans are worthless. Humans can be pretty bad, we all know this, but that is not a reason to give up on them, or yourself. Organised religions have failed us, do not let their failure taint your faith, and do not let them stop you in your quest for the Greater Good. So why Remodernism? Because when everything lays in ruins, someone must take responsibility to reconstruct, to rebuild. As Remodernists, it is our role and duty to prove to the world that art can be more than a pseudo-intellectual sorry little joke for the elitists to enjoy at the expense of the bulk of us. Therefore stop contemplating the ruins of this past century, and start to envision the monuments we will build together in the next one.

See the official Remodernist Manifesto.

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