Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Post-postmodernism Characteristics

Ever since I began writing on the Web in 2002, first as Isaac Stolzfuts, now as myself, I have often performed art metacriticism. Most recently, the lengthy series about the possible characteristics of the Post-postmodern (Po-pomo) has occupied my happily tapping fingers on this well-worn keyboard. Unfortunately, I find much to disagree with as I read about the Post-postmodern. Thus the IRONIC humor found in several of the most recent entries.

If, as my last entry suggested, one of the mainstays of the Po-pomo is a distrust of Art Criticism, and therefore, by extension metacriticism, I wonder, how do we as individuals discuss Art? * As an artist and a viewer of art, I like to look at Art in general and my own art. I also have the need to discuss that art with others and myself in writing because those conversations help me to know more about the perceptions of others as well as my own perceptions concerning Art and my own artwork. I also know from previous conversations with other artists and non-artists as well that each and everyone of us have different and / or shadings of understanding concerning our perceptions of Art, and individual artworks. Those variations of understanding are necessary to conversations about artists, artwork and Art. I reiterate, if there is to be no more Art Criticism or if Art Criticism is of no import, how do artists and viewers have conversations about Art?

So, why bother with Art at all?

Yes, I’m taking these characteristics of the Pomo and Po-pomo literally. They cannot be platonic abstractions placed in another universe. They are meant to be guideposts concerning our approach to Art. I suppose I am stuck in the Pomo philosophically, where it is assumed that the artist, the viewer, and the culture will have varied perceptions of the same art object over time. That approach does not do away with meaning as some have suggested. Rather, it looks to the possibility that a pluralistic approach to art and art criticism is correct.

On the other hand, I take no umbrage with the idea that faith is a characteristic of the viewer as he / she approaches the artwork. The suspension of disbelief has always been a requirement to view art successfully. The viewer's faith in the artist’s position is necessary to viewing artwork. I may not agree with or even understand that position, but I acquiesce to it in order to approach the artwork. If I refuse the artist’s viewpoint / position, I walk away from the artwork. On the other hand a misunderstood perception of the artist’s intent does not negate my approach to the artwork. Rather, it allows me to establish a connection to the artwork, and it serves as a point around which I can establish connections to other viewers of the artwork in conversation. However, I maintain the faith in the integrity of the originator’s position even as I misunderstand it.

So, I’m not sure that Pomo discussions of the 3 positions necessary to an understanding of artworks; 1) artist / writer, 2) culture, 3) viewer / reader, were an attempt to negate an absolutist approach to the artwork so much as they were an attempt to understand how the three interact and effect one another over time and across cultures. Variability / discrepancy is a part of mathematics. * We consider VARIABLES as a necessary part of algebraic formulae. Variability is a part of the real world whether or not I accept that deviation in the patterns of my diurnal life. Thus, faith and deviation do and must coexist in any actual/real approach to an artwork, and/or to Art itself. Additionally, the artist, the culture and / or the viewer at any given point in time may be certain about a particular position concerning meaning. These multiple positions do not do away with meaning. Instead, they allow variability to coexist with specificity - they allow open communication between viewers, culture, and artist - and they allow that the artist's original intent is important in the scheme of things. I place emphasis on the final part of the last statement, and that may be a variant of actual Pomo notions.

The last series of thoughts leads me to another question - does a reconciliation of faith and variability mark a possible Po-pomo position? Or is it simply my own DIFFERENT – I want my cake and eat it too - meta-critical artist Pomo position?

Reading *

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

Eshelman, Raoul. Performatism, or the End of Postmodernism. Aurora, Colorado: Davies Group, 2008.
--------------“Performatism, or the End of Postmodernism,” Anthropoetics 6, no. 2 (Fall 2000 / Winter 2001), Viewed 1:27 EST, Tuesday, March 9, 2010.

Knapp, Steven & Michaels, Walter Benn, “Against Theory,” in Critical Inquiry (8:4).


KittKatt said...

Very thought provoking. Happy Easter!

Dr. John Bittinger Klomp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr. John Bittinger Klomp said...

Dear KittKatt,

Thank you for the comment. Upon rereading the entry, with your comment in mind, I thought it's Easter Monday, and what happens if I substitute God, spirituality / religion for the words Art / artwork / artist where appropriate?