Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Death of Postmodernism!

Whatever follows the Postmodern will include new technologies (NT) and processes, some that we cannot yet imagine, just as the Postmodern includes and makes use of NT.

I linked my New Year’s Day title, “Now that it’s 2010, What’s Next in Art” to Fred Wilson’s evaluation of Alan Kirby’s The Death of Postmodernism and Beyond.*1 Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view the prediction of the death of Postmodernism is premature, much less looking beyond. Our electronic participatory technology is not a step beyond the Postmodern. Rather, it is part of it because the Postmodern has witnessed the increasing participation of the reader / viewer in the process of making things, whether in the actual or the virtual worlds. In the Art World for instance, it is the viewer who is seen as the most important part of the creative process, not the creator, nor the artwork itself.*2 It is the viewer’s understanding of his/her reading/viewing/listening that matters, not the artist’s intent. At the same time, the culture intervenes in the reader/viewer’s understanding of the artwork. It is the culture that determines how the reader knows what he/she reads/views. My own artwork has made use of what I have playfully named the “cyber-void.”*3 Alan Kirby sees production in the age of new technology as trivial and uninspired compared with production in the old technological culture. “Much text messaging and emailing is vapid in comparison with what people of all educational levels used to put into letters. Triteness, shallowness dominates all. The pseudo-modern era, at least so far, is a cultural desert.” The banality of so much of the participatory process in the cyber-world and television, cell-phone / texting, gamming electronics is generated by design and by the nature of us ordinary folk participating at the level of our diurnal existence. In order to find the “rich meat” of the participatory process, one must be willing to search, and search hard. And, that makes the late Postmodern no different than the Modern, Romantic, or any other era before. The ordinary has, is, and always will be everywhere and easily accessible. Instead, the extraordinary must be sought out. Whatever follows the Postmodern will include the new technologies, but they will not determine it. Rather, it will use them as part of the creative process to make new ideas, new possibilities and new ways of understanding the world, both actual and virtual.


*1 Wilson, Fred, “What Comes After Post Modernism,” in A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC, Viewed 11:03 AM EST, Sunday, January 3, 2010.

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

*3 Google Isaac Stolzfuts and see where that leads you.

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