Post #226 • March 2, 2004, 11:18 PM • 5 Comments
A disturbing though little publicized movement is afoot in American education to transform the study of art into what is termed Visual Culture Studies. It seeks to broaden the proper sphere of art education--the visual arts--to include every kind of visible artifact. To quote the prospectus of a recently established academic program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:Anything visible is a potential object of study for Visual Culture, and the worthiness of any visual object or practice, as an object of study depends not on its inherent qualities, as in the work of art, but on its place within the context of the whole of culture.In other words, one can henceforth treat the Nike of Samothrace and Michelangelo's David, say, on a par with Mattel Toys' Barbie and Ken dolls.
Much like the now largely discredited developments in literary studies of recent decades--whose bankruptcy it apparently ignores--the Visual Culture movement is primarily social and political in its motivation, aiming quite explicitly at the "reconstruction" of American society. Its influence is not only likely to dull the next generation's esthetic sensibilities, and further debase the general level of culture, but may extend far beyond the arts themselves. ...
From the standpoint of art education, the overriding objection to this movement is its blatant disregard of essential differences between works of visual art and other types of cultural artifacts. By visual art, I mean what is broadly termed "painting" and "sculpture" (traditionally termed fine art): that is, two- and three-dimensional re-creations of reality whose purpose is to concretize ideas and values in an emotionally compelling form. In contrast with the decorative arts, the crafts, or the various fields of design, such works have no physical function, but instead serve a purely psychological or spiritual need. This and other fundamental differences are ignored by the proponents of Visual Culture Studies.
I agree with the gist, but later on she does a huge disservice to photography and the role of chance in art making. I think Artblog.net readers ought to take a stab at this.