Hurray! My brain is like wet cotton wool, but I managed to finish a book.
Robert Shore’s study of contemporary art practice is really thought provoking, but also (for me) somewhat depressing. It is basically saying that since the internet, there can be no originality, or even any creativity, just a process of stealing, curating, selecting, repurposing, copying, remaking…
It made me think of bacteria feasting on a corpse.
It raises the question – Is culture moribund?
If the future of art is cannibalistic, then is it also deteriorating in quality?
Some artists find this situation very exciting and stimulating, but I’m ambivalent. For example, the conceptual poet Kenneth Goldsmith, thinks the internet has been a game changer:
For me the whole world changed when we met the internet […] We thought postmodernism back in the eighties was really something awesome, a break with modernism, when in fact it was the end of modernism. What we couldn’t see was this giant wall that came down that was called the digital, and once that wall came down the whole game changed. […]
You really have to change your idea of what it means to be an artist.
The biggest change is the volume of images that are now available and available instantly.
I remember as an art student in the 1980s, that I would sometimes use other artist’s work for inspiration, but mostly this involved too much effort, so I would draw from life instead – I would observe the real physical world that was around me, I would ask friends to pose for me, I would collect real objects from skips or derelict buildings. Otherwise, I would need to go to the library and look through books to find work I found inspiring, or I would need to physically travel to an art gallery.
Nowadays, I can simply type something into Google and hundreds of images will appear, both photographs of the ‘original’ art work and interpretations of it in other artists’ work. For example, I just typed “Le dejeuner sur l’herbe” into a search engine and, as well as Manet’s famous painting (which incidentally, was inspired by Raphael), it came up with these:
I just wonder this – once we have feasted on our own culture and the artefacts of other cultures and endlessly regurgitated and consumed them, what will be left? Have we actually run out of ideas?