Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Internet Art: A Possible Solution For Artists who Love Controversy

Much has been said of CCP's controversial "Kulo" exhibit, and other than to say I think CCP's capitulation sets a dangerous precedent, I won't intentionally add any more fuel to the fire. What struck me about it was that it proved an important point: actual, physical art installations and art works can be easily destroyed, mangled, or suppressed by a sufficiently determined group of people.

But what of artworks that are installed not on an actual physical space, but in cyberspace? Suddenly, the odds of complete annihilation and suppression of the art are significantly lowered. It also makes it hard to pinpoint specific individuals to repress. And this is an important point, because the inherent problem of art is that the value judgments over art change every generation. Today's obscene is tomorrow's high art. One need not look further than the Vatican's extensive collection of nude sculptures which have been sadly vandalized by short-sighted clergymen over the centuries. Those statues were lucky--there were too many to outright destroy I guess, so they had to make do with cutting off the genitalia. Going to the controversial CCP exhibit, even I will admit I find it blasphemous, but the generations who come after me might not.

Now, the new, contemporary artists have a problem since they are at the mercy of the militant masses and cannot, as contemporary experience shows, exhibit anything even vaguely controversial. Of course the internet cannot properly depict the scale of the art, among other things. Also, there is still no adequate substitute for seeing the actual artwork in person, and as anyone who has seen the Spolarium can attest to, the real thing is far more awe-inspiring than any photograph. But no solution can ever be said to be perfect. Between artistic repression and a less-stellar "exhibit" on line, I would humbly suggest that the latter is preferable. At least that way, the art is never truly suppressed.

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