August 29, 2007

One good sentence on art theory?

Now, gone again [to Ann Arbor] and back again. Preparing for my first art theory class of the semester. Trying to condense into one sentence the reasons for the explosion in art theory, critical theory, visual studies, visual culture, etc., etc. Why have these courses? Why is this important at all? Why does this discipline [essentially super-charged art criticism] always bleed well beyond the confines of art history and art practice? Here's a candidate for the sentence. It's awkward and portentous, I know. So help me out.

As the advocates of real power [centralized, integrated economic and military authority] * become more adept, more agile at the nearly instantaneous appropriation and assimilation of art's techniques, art criticism and theory become indispensable for analyzing and challenging power.

I'd also like the sentence to incorporate the sense of John Berger's idea that [paraphrasing] only ill-informed people think artists/critics welcome the intrusion of politics into art. Politics intrudes, period; it's already there and it's always been there. Also, the sentence should convey to students the ideas that (1) art refers to a vast array of practices; (2) since the cradle, they have been tickled, taught, comforted, persuaded, lied to, assaulted, smothered with art; (3) and

someone, please stop me before...

*Should I just use Ike's 'military/industrial complex?' Sounds too tendentious, right? And, who are the advocates? Corporate media, major political parties, advertising firms, lobbyists, public relations firms, [art museums?], etc. -- just follow the money.


Anonymous said...

Only thing missing here for me, is
some kind of punctuation point between "assimilation" and "art's techniques". Otherwise, works from here.

onkafatso said...

Though the well-trained agent knows his weapon well and continually increases his skill, the agent is most effective when he keeps the weapon out of sight and accomplishes his mission without it.

One If...... said...

So, my inference is that art -- better or course and more subtle than that old "Uncle Sam Wants You" and related propaganda -- is due for another military/business/government go-round; picture & a thousand words and all that. Why not, "we" seem to want to corrupt in general.