Friday, March 5, 2010
Art Without Compromise by Wendy Richmond
Chapter 5: "The Medium Controls the Message"
section 1: "Shaping Content"
When it comes to considering "content" in a work of art, there's no better book written than The Shape of Content by Ben Shahn. We discussed this book on my blog beginning on October 15, 2009, and it was fascinating. So, when I first read the title of this section of Richmond's book, I wondered what she could offer that Shahn had not already written. I found something.
Returning to her teaching experience at Harvard in this section, Wendy writes that "one of our goals in this course was to explore ways to use media and technology to maintain the integrity of content. In other words, it is important to know that before all the filtering begins, there is an intention, a story that someone wants to tell, and specific content to be delivered." In this section she describes a concept that was explored by her class using a number of different technological tools, and then evaluates the outcome. It's interesting and moves a little beyond Shahn's book.
However, I'm reminded of Don's comment yesterday: "every generation of artists has had new tools and technologies to either embrace or reject." If I expand that comment to include the fact that the goal of each artist throughout time has been to tell a story, then it appears that nothing has changed. As Stan wrote: "Art will continue to be created in new and different ways, but its purpose will never deviate regardless of the course of history and or technological advances."
Given the myriad of ways in which an artist can express her/himself through both content and media, it appears to me that the selection process is critically important. It's like being a kid in a candy store: too many types of candy, too enticing, and too hard to make a decision. Richmond's artistic creations explore the digital age in a relevant way. Her latest exhibition is electronic and deals with communication through the cell phone. I admire her work, but find my desire to create art with traditional materials like paint and paper or canvas overwhelms any thoughts about becoming "digital." Am I out of touch? Is my work less relevant? Have I failed to expand my horizons so that my work may speak to future generations rather than my own? These are the questions that run through my mind as I read Richmond's book. My conclusion is that if my work is irrelevant, then it will have to remain so. The reason is this: I've answered Ben Shahn's questions "What kind of person am I?" and "What kind of art coincides with who I am?" and THIS is IT for me. Will IT change for me in the future? I don't know, but am willing to venture through the myriad of pathways that are intricately connected in my pscyhe to find out.
What are your thoughts?