Art's response to change
was not only restricted to technology. In the 1920s & 30s
Sigmund Freud turned the world upside down with his innovative
ideas regarding psychotherapy. Freud's work radically changed
the way man looked at man, reframing his actions and attitudes
in the light of unconscious desires and symbolic meaning.
This initiated a paradigm shift in how we viewed the origins
of human behavior.
It is not surprising that the surrealist movement developed
and gained momentum during this period of psychological
innovation. Surrealism was interested in the unconscious,
in what was beyond the reach of man's outward intentions
and stated motives. It attempted to approach the unconscious
through automatic drawing, emphasis on dream imagery, and
exploration of the disjointed and irrational. Like Freud,
the surrealists wanted to reach beneath the surface, and
get at the core motives and desires that ultimately determine
our behavior. In associating themselves with Freud's work,
the surrealists demonstrated that technology is not the
only impetus for artistic change, but in fact that any sociological
revisions could have an impact on the artistic process.
Additional parallels can be drawn, such as the relationship
between Abstract Expressionism's focus on the individual
in the 1940s, and the socialist and communist movements
of the 1930s. In the thirties we saw ideas of socialism,
communism, and other proposed solutions to our socials ills
gaining in popularity. Images supporting these ideals were
plastered on posters and billboards everywhere, and the
artist was being called upon as the bearer of a better way
of life. Harold Rosenberg commented that " In the thirties,
American art had become active, having greatfully accepted
from politics an assignment in changing the world."
Following the war and the discrediting of the leftist stance,
there was a wide-spread rejection of art as a political
vehicle. This period of painting was called action painting.
Action painting was so named because it emphasized the assertion
of the individual in the creative endeavor. It was unique
in that the artists presence was asserted and affirmed through
the physicality of paint and the accompanying gesture. In
the process, the image which had been so central to the
political message was completely obliterated. The end result
was twenty years of art making which was impacted by political
ideas and change.
There are many more examples of how art has been impacted
by the world around it, as in the early 60s which saw Pop
Art and its appropriated, mass produced image coinciding
with the heyday of Madison Avenue advertising and mass marketing.
I realize that I am compressing 100 years of art history
into a few paragraphs, but my point is that art is a product
of the social and technological times in which it is created,
and will react to what is happening in the world around
it. Having said all of this, I will ask my question again:
How will the art world of the late 20th century respond
to the way that computers have entrenched themselves in
our society? The computer's ability to integrate diverse
media, such as sound, video and animation, and photographic
images is the first thing that is thought of when most people
consider this question. It is important to go beyond the
surface capabilities of the computer, considering other
implications of how the computer generated product can and
will be used. It is in considering these factors that we
will gain a glimpse of how technological advancement could
truly impact the world of art.
Ill pick this thread up
in the next installment....