Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Death of Postmodernism #2

An entry in which the artist continues his rumination concerning the development of a new paradigm and his critique of Alan Kirby’s notion that Postmodernism is dead..

The “ISMS” in Art are part of a larger cultural pattern that includes the Arts, Humanities and Sciences. These cultural patterns surround and permeate the lives of the people that live in any culture. Most of us make use of those patterns through our diurnal participation in their maintenance without realizing that we do so. It has been my contention that there are those artists, scientists, and other creative persons who are able to do a bit more than perform the paradigms of their culture. These men and women actually predict, demonstrate and/or make change possible. However, at the same time paradigm shifts in a culture’s self perception and performance occur when several things happen at once, and I maintain that all of these are essential to such a shift. In other words, genius stimulates change during those times when the following conditions are met.

First, several subcultures within the larger culture must be in competition / conflict for dominance, as the Eastern, Mid-eastern and Western cultures are in competition for primacy today. Second, drastic changes in the distribution of wealth must be taking place such as the industrial explosion we are witnessing in China and India. Third, Sweeping technological change must be taking place as with the ongoing development of interactive technologies taking place now. If all three of these conditions exist, it is possible for a new ISM to arise generated by production of specific persons of genius within the culture. In other words, a paradigm shift is not something that is independent of individual human expression and experience. And that is a departure from the Postmodern in which the individual was so often lost in the prerogative of cultural omnipotence.

So, a new ISM may be developing at the end of the first decade in the 21st Century, though it is, I maintain, to soon to announce the death of Postmodernism. Instead, we are more likely in a period of transition between the Postmodern and whatever the next ISM will be named. Typically such naming takes place more or less by accident, and many years after such a transitional process has begun. It is only through hindsight that a movement is identified. For instance, Monet, Manet, Degas, Cassatt and the others didn’t wake up one morning, form a group and announce to the world that they would create Impressionism. Instead, each individual created new kinds of paintings because of the need and ability he/she had to see the world in a new and different way. It was only after Claude Monet exhibited “Impression Sunrise,” in a group show that critic Louis Leroy sarcastically coined the term by writing an article he titled “The Exhibition of the Impressionists” in the newspaper Le Charivari. The term stuck, and began to be applied to all those individuals that aimed to create the feeling of light and atmospheric color in their work rather than convey a sense of space and depth, as had most artists since the Renaissance. Thus, the paradigm shift was identified accidentally only after a number of artists had begun to work differently from most of their contemporaries.

to be continued


Derrida, Jacques. The Truth in Painting. Trans. Geoff Bennington and Ian McLeod. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
---. Writing and Difference. Trans./Intro. Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978.

Holly, Michael Ann. Past Looking: Historical Imagination and the Rhetoric of the Image. New York and London: Cornell University Press, 1996.

Lyotard, Jean-Francois. “What is Postmodernism.” reprinted as an
appendix to the English edition of Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition, 71-82. Harrison and Wood, 1008-1017.

Norris, Christopher. “Jacques Derrida In Discussion with Christopher Norris,” 71. In Papadakis, Andreas; Cooke, Catherine; and Benjamin, Andrew (eds.). Deconstruction. New York: Rizzoli, 1989.

Kirby, Alan, Digimodernism: How New Technologies Dismantle the Postmodern and Reconfigure our Culture. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. (2009).
---------------- “The Death of Postmodernism and Beyond,” Philosophy Now, No. 58, 2006. Viewed on line 9:-- AM EST, Wednesday, January 6, 2010.

Wilson, Fred, “What Comes After Post Modernism?” in his blog A VC. Posted June 16, 2008. Viewed 8:58 AM EST, Friday, January 1, 2010.

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