Post #749 • March 9, 2006, 1:46 PM • 40 Comments
I think about what would encourage more people to comment. Anybody who runs one of these things ought to, periodically. Here's how I see the culture here.
First, there's me. I believe that the visual component of visual art is its most important one. I believe this to such an extent that if art doesn't have a working visual component, I feel no inclination to discuss it on other terms. Furthermore, I believe that visual components of art can succeed or fail. That jibes pretty well with modernism, but I was operating on that belief before I had ever heard of "modernism" and long before I read Greenberg. I have a strong sense of myself in that respect.
Then, there's my core group here. They are of a similar kind. That's only natural.
This outlook runs counter to a lot of art being made, bought, and discussed. In fact, if everyone adopted this outlook, the art market would crash. Hard. Much of the market finds its justification in the beliefs loosely collected under postmodernism, although I tend to think that that's an accident as well. I think we're in a neo-Roccoco era characterized by weak figuration, wealth, and bad taste. But regardless, my outlook is an exception with a low opinion of the rule. People who concur with the rule come here to return my low opinion. That's only natural as well. Here's where things get interesting.
I await the appearance of someone, here or elsewhere, who can speak for the rule the way that Oldpro speaks for the exception: with lucidity, certainty, and charm. I occasionally feel inclined to go after OP. I don't find him "too dominant" - that tells me more about the person who characterized him thusly than OP. I find him formidable, a worthy person to have an argument with. But who comes here to go up against us? The problem is not that I have Oldpro, but that opposing viewpoints don't. And so the opposing viewpoints resort to disparagement instead of disagreement, the apotheosis - in terms of art-school-grade empty repetition of contemporary art threats - of which appeared in comment #54 here. This kind of thing is what prompted me to declare that requests for open-mindedness were thinly-veiled demands that we not go after weak arguments. OP is right - get your thoughts together and hit back. Or, if you don't know for sure about something, ask.
Is it a "debate" or a "dialog". OP wants to win the debate, to be "right" To me a dialog is more of an investigation, less concern for being "right" or "wrong" than an inquiry into the topic itself, its strong or weak points, its sources etc.
We're talking about communication styles. I communicate competitively. So does Oldpro. Jack has been on a tear lately and I love it. George wants to explore. I want to win, or lose to somebody who earned it. There is a place for George's approach, but I think the art world has grown corpulent with a buttery exaggeration of cooperative dialogue. You see this kind of talk all the time - such and such explores the issues, raises questions, questions approaches, or blurs boundaries. I'm not interested. I want to decide issues, answer questions, invent approaches, and clarify boundaries. So let's all go reread the guidelines (really, go), sharpen our knives, and get into it. Otherwise, if you just want to lurk, I don't think any less of you. And if it's all not for you, go enjoy the rest of the art world. It will make you very comfortable.