Can Liberals Reform the Democratic Party?

If the voters had been allowed to have their way, a Democratic politician wouldn’t have even made it onto the final ballot as Bernie Sanders is technically an Independent.

After an unexpected drubbing in the election and the loss of many of their senior leaders, the Democratic Party is experiencing an existential crisis. Some blamed the FBI, some blamed bigotry, and Clinton’s senior strategist blamed the “Bernie Bros.” The latter suggestion rankled Sanders’ supporters, and I think the rigging of the Democratic Primary, and the rejection of Sanders by the Establishment, has the potential of driving a wedge between the moderate liberals who actually vote for the party and the Democratic Establishment who leads them. If the voters had been allowed to have their way, a Democratic politician wouldn’t have even made it onto the final ballot as Bernie Sanders is technically an Independent.

For years, there’s been a section of the left who have recognized that the policies of neoliberals like the Clintons, Joe Manchin, Chuck Schumer, and John Kerry were not all that different from neoconservatives like the Bush dynasty, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. They are all friends of Wall Street and the banks, they all like to ship American jobs overseas, and they always vote in favor of the next war. The only real difference between these two groups are their social programs, an obsession for those practicing identity politics.

So maybe after this rout, you would think the Democrats would pick fresh new leadership? Wrong. Chuck Schumer has taken over the Senate from outgoing Harry Reid and Keith Ellison is experiencing resistance from the Obama White House in his run to take over the DNC. But the leadership of the House minority is in contention, with Ohio Representative Tim Ryan challenging incumbent Nancy Pelosi. There is a very clear anti-establishment trend developing in the response of the Democratic party, so what does that mean for policy?

Will Democrats continue to allow their corporate side to run the party? Will they continue to tolerate bailouts for too big to fail banks and corporate firms? Will bankers and CEO’s continue to be too big to jail? Are corporate lawyers going to write America’s trade deals like TPP and NAFTA? How will the Democrats judge the Keynesian response to the great recession? Did quantitative easing work? And will the Democrats accept the austerity model of the EU for their future economic policies? Is long-term debt an economic ball and chain?

Will the Left finally stand up to the war hawks in their party? Or will they be silenced by “matters of national security?” The media will no longer report the truth, so America needs an antiwar party.

If Liberals continue fighting for civil rights, can they grasp the conflation of equality under the law with freedom from societal ills and economic woes? Will they realize that fraternity and fidelity create harmony, not social rules and honor brigades? Can they understand the difference between the rule of law and social justice? Can they continue to accept the war on drugs? And continue to support sending non-violent drug offenders to for-profit prisons to work as slave labor?

Will Democrats accept the management of a nation’s borders as a normal part of culture and governance? Or will race be a component of every argument and motivation? Will the Left recognize and reward the plight of illegal immigrants over the dedication and cooperation of the people going through the naturalization process? Does implicit bias preclude shared societal values? Is that why the Progressive fringe feels entitled to create new social rules like microaggressions, gender-neutral pronouns, and safe spaces?

And what will happen to the boondoggle of American Socialism? With Obamacare anything but a success, will the Left finally abandon Corporate Socialism with legislation written by and for campaign donors? Can they return to the New Deal policies that FDR created and Bernie Sanders is offering? Can they stop the draining of Social Security and Medicare funds?

The Left has a long road ahead of them, but a good start would be to drain the swamp in their own party first. The media is still focused on bigotry and the social injustice of a Trump Administration because it is a reaffirmation of the Left’s social view, but the party will have to deal with the core issues eventually. The attention on Trump also distracts from the Democrats as they fall into dissension and disarray. But the leadership’s problems will only grow if Trump drains the swamp. A higher turnover rate for Congressional leadership requires a larger pool of leaders to draw from, and the Democrats are at a distinct advantage here because of their lack of leadership and party unity and the advanced age of their current leaders.

Kanye’s Art Fail, and Other, More General Art Fails

There was no art, no talent, no beauty, and no work, and instead we got a peak behind the curtain at a creepy nexus between art, advertising and capitalism.

For an artist who makes a living expressing his opinions, the worst thing Kanye West could do is make a bizarre, incoherent, and ultimately boring statement. Unfortunately for him, that’s exactly what happened at his last fashion show in New York.

Kanye’s NYC fashion show gets blistering reviews

Kanye West had a ‘meltdown’ and ‘fired over 30 people’ after disastrous Yeezy fashion show

Those who attended the show waited hours in the heat before it started, and when it began there were models wobbling and rolling their ankles on the catwalk while one fainted from the heat. In a nutshell, it was an embarrassing failure. So what happened? And how hard is it to put on a fashion show?

Although I would love to lay all of this at Kanye’s feet, he had actually hired another “arteest” named Vanessa Beecroft to design and organize the show. Curious about how her artistic style would be defined, I looked up her profile on Wikipedia and was ultimately not surprised.

Her performance art is often large scale and often involves live female models, often nude.

Putting aside the wisdom of hiring an artist that uses mostly nude models to organize a fashion show, one must admit that the nudity involved is the only thing differentiating this performance art with any regular fashion show you’d see on TV. This is an important point that will resurface later.

The performances are existential encounters between models and audience, their shame and their expectations.

An existential encounter- in other words, people existing in the same area. They don’t do anything but walk and stand, there’s no actual performance, just existence. What Beecroft would claim to be art is the act of being nude in public and the defiance of social norms, but what crucial role does Beecroft serve in the process? Anybody can tell a person to get naked and stand in a field, it doesn’t actually require any talent. Mother nature did all of heavy lifting creating an elegant female form, the model made the sacrifice of privacy by being nude in public (Beecroft has never performed nude) and society is doing the rest of the work by reacting. The artist has yet to create anything, or even occupy a crucial role in the creative process. Even the manner in which she arranged the models was a square, the most boring, mundane shape anybody could imagine.

Each performance is made for a specific location and often references the political, historical, or social associations of the place where it is held.

Ok, now we are getting artistic. The artist is finally forced to do some work and make a decision, displaying their thought process and conferring a style to the work. Kanye’s event took place at the Four Freedoms Park at Roosevelt Island, created in honor of Franklin D. Roosevelt and named after the four freedoms he outlined in a speech in 1941. These were freedom of speech and worship, and freedom from want and fear.

Although I have issues with FDR’s conflation of equality under the law with freedom from economic and political issues, a classic Globalist philosophical leap, the speech is a nice thing to reference. Being an arteest, Beecroft undoubtedly relies on freedom of speech for her job, but the performance art didn’t look like it was celebrating freedoms at all. Women standing in a rigid square formation and languishing in the sun while jack-booted models march in a path around them? This looks like a military parade in Red Square. These oppressive, militant displays lack humanity and people are literally treated like motionless objects to be arranged and displayed. There was no beauty at Four Freedoms Park.

Looking at what happened at Kanye’s show and Beecroft’s profile, I think it’s pretty clear we have two hack frauds exploiting young people and society to try to make a buck. Beecroft’s conveniently simplistic style allows her to inject nude women and “edge” into any corporate venture, turning a simple fashion show into “high-concept” performance art. Because Beecroft’s style is very minimalist and doesn’t require any actual work or planning, it’s cheap and adds value to Kanye’s brand. That’s art, cheap and easy. Kanye is reportedly $53 million in debt and has already been accused of exploiting people for not paying his models. This has nothing to do with art, it’s about money. Even though Beecroft touts her work as feminist, she does nothing but exploit women in art for her own personal gain.

top-gear-set-visit0115

There are many examples of great performance art that aren’t recognized as such. The Stig, for example, is the official, anonymous test driver and a character on the British TV show Top Gear. He’s often seen racing the hosts, setting lap times and records for celebrity guests to beat, and testing every car that is reviewed, pushing them to their limits and beyond sometimes. His performance on the track is awe-inspiring, fueling rumors about his identity as many professional race drivers are unable to beat his lap times. Taking advantage of the mystery of the his anonymity, the writers and the hosts fill in the blanks of the Stig’s personality, painting him as part maniac, part petulant teenager, and part genius. This is an actual performance, and the artist doesn’t do it for recognition or fame as the white helmet, which has itself become a symbol in the UK, never comes off in public. But art doesn’t have to be a cultural icon to be recognized, it just has to look like the product of work and skill. Aerial dancers like those at Cirque du Soleil have to be in fantastic shape and practiced, and they still might fall and die in front of a crowd of people.

The reason why Kanye’s “performance art” was boring was just that, nothing was happening. There was no art, no talent, no beauty, and no work, and instead we got a peak behind the curtain at a creepy nexus between art, advertising and capitalism. We saw how fraudulent, untalented celebrities go through the motions and check the boxes to peddle there wares under the guise of high fashion. But they got too sloppy this time, and the truth became plain to all who were at Roosevelt Island that these people, Kanye West and Vanessa Beecroft, are nothing more than sad, desperate, and pathetic individuals.

Nietzsche, Relativism, and the Death of Truth

When the individual is incapable of holding an objective thought, only the result of a collaborative effort between many is deemed to be based in reality and truth.

After dealing with the concept of Nietzsche’s Ubermensch in the first blog on this topic, we are now left to examine his concept of Perspectivism, and the wider umbrella term of Relativism under which it falls. Many have come to view our “postmodern” society as an opaque dystopia. Politics are heavily polarized and scandalous, the people are growing more divided along race and gender lines, popular culture is marginalizing the individual thinker into the lunatic fringe, and the impression left on us by the mainstream media is that we live in a mean, mean world along with our fellow psychotics. This is all the result of the divorce of society from the concept of universal truth, and the rejection of the notion that the individual has the ability to hold an objective thought. By doing away with the truth, the search for truth is done away with as well. So what happened? Where did it all go wrong? A more appropriate question to ask is “How did it all go wrong again?” as humanity has already observed and dealt with this issue in the past. It was Nietzsche who sent us back into the Bronze Age.

Before Nietzsche, there were the Sophists. These were ancient Greek teachers who peddled their lessons to the progeny of wealthy clients, claiming to be able to pass on their own virtues and wisdom to their lucky students. Rather than teaching actual knowledge (this was a time before modern science) they taught their own experiences and philosophy, and their teachings were often at odds with each other. Socrates noticed all of this, and saw how focusing on truth would often be compromised by touting popular belief to garner more students and collect more fees. Rather than collaborating to discover reality, the Sophists were competing against each other and the knowledge, and their students, suffered for it. Through his protege, Plato, the two would go on to condemn the Sophists and point out the first recorded instance of their expounding of Relativism. This is the concept that individual viewpoints are devoid of any type of objective, absolute truth, and the only value said viewpoints have is relative to the thought process and perspective of the individual. As the Sophists needed a means to defend their corrupted industry, they used Relativism to obscure the issue. Rather than having to answer the dichotomy of true and false, teaching knowledge or being a fraud, the entire search for truth was sidestepped, and their businesses could continue as “it’s all relative” and all viewpoints had value. Plato and Socrates were completely opposed to this thinking, and Plato would later use math and geometry to develop Platonic Realism and the concept of universal forms. By offering logic, reasoning, and math rather than pure rhetoric, Plato and Socrates would form the foundations of Western philosophy while the Sophists were later relegated to teaching speech craft in the Roman Empire.

Nietzsche was well-read and well aware of Plato’s criticisms of the Sophists, yet he considered Plato to be “boring” and claimed that the championing of reason would kill the passion needed for creativity and art. Nietzsche saw the decline of religious faith and the”death of God” as the primary factor for a coming fracture of society. Without one biblical narrative for all to believe in, he was convinced that the Western world would descend into nihilism and chaos. Nietzsche’s proposed remedy for this was his Perspectivism, which is essentially the same as Relativism but excludes the notion that all other viewpoints (and Sophists) are valued equally. By making this very small tweak to Relativism, Nietzsche gave himself sufficient leeway to suggest that scientists and science, intellectuals, and the political class be the new source for society’s values in his Ubermensch concept. God was on His way out, scientists and politicians were in. With one fell swoop, science and its thrall, pop culture, supplanted God and stood in opposition to the religious worldview.

So by Perspectivism and Relativism, we are cursed with the abandonment of the search for truth, the rejection of the ability to hold an objective thought, the leveling of value for all perspectives, and the modern science vs. religion culture war. Rather than encouraging the individual to discover the truth, we are now expected to listen to “experts,” refer to an authority, and seek a consensus among our peers to validate what is merely a perspective. We live in an age of “popular truth.”

The hideous fruit borne from the twisted tree that Nietzsche and the Sophists planted and nurtured is plain to see for all. The postmodern world has its own contemporary form of the Sophists in the form of the mass media, talking heads, and pundits. Instead of investigating and reporting the truth, yellow journalism, gossip, and two-party kool aid is pushed for ratings and the mantra of “if it bleeds, it leads.” Just like their ancient Greek counterparts, these sophists have corrupted themselves and their product for the sake of greed and short term gain. The audience on the receiving end of this dribble becomes polarized and begins to pick and choose their own reality in the absence of the possibility of truth. Identity politics is intensified, rhetoric becomes more divisive and blunt, and the echo chambers and circle jerks of the internet are filled with those who have given into group think and group values.

Society and culture itself is the primary victim of this Bronze age charlatanism. When the individual is incapable of holding an objective thought, only the result of a collaborative effort between many is deemed to be based in reality and truth. Queue the rise of rule by committee, political correctness, and so-called microaggressions, where everybody’s sensibilities must be catered to. The devaluing of the individual gives pop culture and popular belief more gravitas, allowing it to lord over the individual. The leveling of value for all perspectives is the groundwork for multiculturalism, and the delusional apologists for Islam. Group-thinkers like Ben Affleck ignore the scholarship from actual Muslims and researchers who have, for centuries, denounced certain precepts such as the outlawing of criticism and free speech and an aversion for innovation. Criticizing those apologists is met with accusations of racism, and further shaming for disagreeing. When an edict is passed down from our Ubermensch, the troops snap to and await their marching orders. The Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX, and the stress on gender equality, was the societal value that was given to the people. The result is a militant movement of Social Justice Warriors and the third wave Feminist Supremacists who, eerily similar to the Maoist Red Guards, began to vociferously and viciously attack, silence, and demand the exile of teachers and fellow students who question or fail to toe the Title IX line. Even false accusations and staged events are not below these unfortunately brainwashed people.

The only benefactor in this postmodern misery seems to be our dear leaders, the Ubermensch. As they establish our values and are above morality, who are we to question their political scandals and criminal conduct? With the deep divisions in the two party system, one only needs to discredit and dismiss their opponents as lacking virtue and playing political games in order to free themselves of accountability. This process repeated on both sides has degraded the legitimacy of the democratic system as a whole. Endless warmongering is enabled by the ambiguous, broadly-defined term of “terrorist.” The Ubermensch will decide who is a terrorist and who is a “moderate Syrian rebel” or freedom fighter, and the American people are not excluded from being classified a boogeyman enemy of the state. When Western leaders need to make their case, they have the option of doctoring up a study or some statistics and presenting a junk science argument to the public. Even science, when it is divorced from natural philosophy, cause and correlation, will be politicized and spun to build a consensus from supporters or intellectually bully an opposing perspective with academic pettifogging and appeals to their own qualifications. Nothing has been left untouched.

This is the current, sad state of affairs in our society. Group-thinking, polarization, and the disenfranchisement and devaluing of individual thought and creativity have reverted us back into the Bronze age with all of its mob mentality barbarism and sophism. I suppose 2,500 years ago, one could excuse the Sophists since Socrates, Plato, logic and science were still embryonic. But today, the kaleidoscopic refraction of reality, culture, and societal values must be recognized and shown as a wholly unnecessary evil that serves only to divide and weaken. The shaming, accusations of racism, and puppeteering of science and popular culture has made a mockery of Western civilization, and has condemned its citizens to a vile, discordant purgatory.

But that’s just my perspective.

When Art Became Cheap ‘N’ Easy

How does an art movement go from confounding and avant garde to inspiring lifestyle choices and philosophy?

If you’ve been following my blogs about art, how technology has outpaced it, and the modern emphasis on expression and controversy, you might be wondering exactly how and when everything really got out of hand. I think it started, in earnest, with minimalism:

The Oppressive Gospel of ‘Minimalism’

How does an art movement go from confounding and avant garde to inspiring lifestyle choices and philosophy? If you were to ask a professional art snob, he would probably say something edgy but completely vapid like,

“Minimalism in the 1960s was very much along the lines of taking LSD,” says Miguel de Baca, an associate professor of art history at Lake Forest College.

The reality is much less provocative and a little more historical. From the 1700’s to the early 20th century, the industrial revolution drastically reshaped every aspect of human society from fashion to war. Newly mechanized agriculture required fewer farmhands and urban factories needed more laborers to increase their output. The result was the birth of the middle class and modern cities, and with that, modern popular culture and entertainment. This explosion of productivity and technology would spawn cross-continental railroads, massive foundries burning plentiful coal rather than wood, and the magic of electricity. With everybody from the richest entrepreneur to the poorest worker sharing in this massive upheaval, what did the artist have to offer with their landscapes and cherubs?

It is because of this age, and as a result of the wonders of that technology, artists felt it necessary to separate their work from reality. With abstract art, there were no constraints like perspective or anatomical proportion. The artist was now free to create something that could not be found anywhere else in the world, no matter how far you travel in a locomotive or a hot air balloon. This process of evolution would continue in the 20th century. Further development of technology would up the ante and compete with art directly. With the invention of film, television and radio, entertainment could be pumped directly into the home. The mid 1960’s would see the color television and color films, and photography was beginning to be accepted as a medium for art. Facing the possibility of becoming irrelevant and niche, the standards for what would qualify and be labeled as art were lowered. Films and television shows were created with capital from investors, teams of professionals and large studios in a way that no single artist could match. Rather than trying to top the spectacle of entertainment, minimalism reset what was to be expected from artists. By going to the opposite end of the spectrum from sensationalism and grandeur to obscurity and subtlety, the disparity between art and entertainment could be bypassed completely. By standing in opposition to entertainment, art had a new reason to exist. This is why modern art isn’t explained, people are just told they don’t “get it.”

When minimalism lowered the bar, it made sure that art could continue to exist alongside entertainment and technology. Minimalism was also a fresh alternative to the over stimulation of entertainment, and to consumerism in general. Requiring so little, minimalism allowed the inclusion of the lazy and those who lack artistic talent. Businesses could quickly and cheaply create a stylish but no-frills product without ever having to mention the words “budget” or “economy model.” Following the dynamics of capitalist competition, more and more would adopt this business-friendly exploitation of culture. Without Donald Judd’s basic shapes and unfinished pine, Ikea could never exist. It allowed the inclusion of the poor as minimalism began to be associated with frugality and asceticism, two virtues of American counterculture. Now that art was cheap ‘n’ easy, spread throughout culture and ingrained in philosophy, it would change society in ways it never had before, and it would continue to be relevant.

Today, art follows what I call the Kanye West Template. This involves creating as much false or real controversy as possible to gain exposure and maintain relevance. This is how pop culture is hacked and gamed. Rather than providing some kind of thought or creation that generates widespread interest and attains popular acceptance (hence, “pop”), a divisive and provocative viewpoint is presented to stir emotions and illicit a response. Other purveyors of the template include Donald Trump, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Charlie Sheen, among a bevy of artists like Justin Bieber and Marilyn Manson. But, can minimalism produce something beautiful? Although there is no virtue or value in schlock and laziness, the style can still be stirring. A prime example was constructed thousands of years ago in Giza by laborers paid in alcohol. The pyramids of Egypt are simple, they are giant stones arranged in fancy piles, yet they have inspired more awe, mystery, and debate throughout their existence than any piece of modern art.

How Modern Art and Celebrity Worship Encourages Society to Objectify People and Judge Personal Beliefs

Objectifying the artist and including them, and their thought process and attitudes, with the work that is to be evaluated and criticized has changed how we as a society judge one another.

If you’ve read my other article on modern art then you already understand how art has subjectified the act of expression itself over the objectification of a great thought, emotion, event etc. This means that in modern art, the style in which the artist expresses him/herself has been made as important as the work of art itself. The artist takes on a kind of cult of personality through the choices and attitudes (the thought process) they display in the art, attitudes which often clash severely with societal norms in order to affect the viewer. That means in modern art, it is literally style over substance because of competition from CG graphics and other electronic media. That is, except for these artists:

Banksy, Daft Punk, Elena Ferrante: The New Cult of the Anonymous Artist

There are very good reasons why some of the innovators in the article have decided to remain anonymous. The creator of bitcoin must have understood the potential destabilization of a decentralized currency on the currency markets, whose toes he/she could be stepping on, and how deep that side of the pool was. Banksy obviously knows that graffiti is illegal. Aside from the legalities, being anonymous also prevents one from becoming a part of the work, and a part of what is scrutinized by the public. The anecdote about jazz trumpeter Dupree Bolton hiding from the public due to the shame of his criminal record is one example of an artist separating themselves from their work to avoid judgement.

In an age in which engagement with artistic works has been displaced by gossiping about celebrity artists, the anonymous innovators have forced us to return our gaze to the creative product.

Objectifying the artist and including them, and their thought process and attitudes, with the work that is to be evaluated and criticized has changed how we as a society judge one another. In modern art, rather than judging an artist solely on the merits or lack thereof in their work, modern art encourages the examination of the choices, and therefore, the attitude of the individual during the artistic process. Particularly so if that behavior is deviant or controversial. It would appear, to my view, that this attitude has begun to spread or be spread into other areas.

In social media, commentary is valued equally to original content. Posts, status updates, and likes are often times commentary themselves. The emphasis is connectivity, or the ability to freely express oneself to another. When that ability is threatened, such as the attempt to copyright reaction videos on youtube, people respond quickly and emotionally.

The effect on social discourse is to significantly muddy the waters in ideological, epistemological warfare. Now that the person has been objectified, society is free to pass judgement on them as well as their ideas. This means that the event the most sophisticated, well-constructed arguments can be completely ignored and ad hominems heaped upon the person instead. Now that everybody has the option to kill the messenger, nobody wants to be the messenger and nobody’s getting the message. Rather than presenting an argument standing on its own cited facts and logic, the attitudes and beliefs of the presenter are the focus of examination. Those who have contradictory beliefs are “corrected,” and every social interaction becomes an opportunity to prove and reinforce loyalty to an ideology and rebuke outsiders.

Political correctness and “microaggressions” are an example of how specific choices of language, phrasing and interaction can be associated with undesirable attitudes by popular society rather than the individual. By giving into political correctness, one is forced to admit that they are, in some aspect, subconsciously antisocial and that popular society is attempting to correct them (white guilt anybody?) rather than attributing a different meaning, and intent, to their words and actions. Instead of ignoring the message and attacking the messenger, you only need one wrong word or act to establish bad character and discredit the messenger. Anybody wishing to have an intelligent discussion will be presented with a minefield with all of these divisive, pseudo-scientifically derived word and mind games.

The legal system has begun to take on these characteristics as well. Things like hate speech and hate crimes place additional emphasis, and scrutiny, on the thought process of the individual. Although the traditional, Orwellian meaning of thought crime does not require a specific act, these types of hate crimes do lay additional punishments on certain motivations and beliefs in addition to the act. Although the aim of these laws is admirable, one has to wonder if the act of having an illegal thought, and nothing more, would be enough to get one arrested in the future. With the spate of highly-publicized killings in the news lately (the media loves the ratings), legislation requiring mental health screenings is being proposed for gun buyers.

But none of this is new. For decades, the American people have been made to focus on aspects of psychopathy whether it be serial killers and suicide jumpers on the news or divisive, schizophrenic social attitudes and conflicts. When JFK was assassinated, Lee Harvey Oswald was the “lone nut.” In other words, on of us just went crazy and tried to kill the president on his own. This meme would be repeated for RFK, Ford and Reagan, and after being beat about the head with it for a few decades the people have succumb. The paranoia and polarization of our current times is the result.

Chinese Setback in South China Sea Tribunal Incites Protests Against KFC

“While the state news media has denounced the tribunal’s decision, it has also poured cold water on calls to protest.”

Following last week’s decision from the Hague ruling in favor of the Philippines and against China’s claims over the resource-rich South China Sea, Chinese citizens are protesting American KFC franchises across their country.

KFC Targeted in Protests Over South China Sea

Despite being a comparatively small boycott, the Chinese government has begun censoring the phrases “KFC” and “South China Sea” in social media as part of a larger effort to prevent wide-spread protests and unrest in general.

The first sign of the KFC campaign was a banner unfurled on Sunday outside an outlet in the northern province of Hebei. “Boycott the U.S., Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. Love the Chinese people,” the banner read. “What you eat is KFC. What is lost is the face of our ancestors.”

The Chinese government has acted wisely in this situation since the nationalistic fervor of prior boycotts have often led to serious property damage and even deaths. My question is will the Chinese boycott their Starbucks franchises as well? Will they protest the fake Apple stores? Or the knockoff Nike factories and the Ford F150 clones? How about the “Polystation” game console or the “X-Boy.” China need not be worried about losing the face of their ancestors, every fake iPhone comes with a camera these days.

Old Lady Mistakenly Fills in Crossword Art Exhibit, Becomes Art

This is completely logical when art itself lacks beauty and has no intrinsic value or affect outside of its original context.

An $89,000 piece of avant garde artwork was mistaken for a real crossword puzzle and filled in by a 91 year-old retiree in a Nuremburg art museum.

Crossword artwork filled in by German woman in museum

Gerlinde Knopp, who was leading the excursion, said the museum was also full of interactive art, making it easy to lose sight of what one could and could not do there…

The woman had no malicious intent and the art piece was restored, but something else very interesting has happened here. As art becomes more abstract and ugly, it begins to look less like a product of effort, skill, and inspiration and more like a self-conscious expression within a society. This artist was trying to be ironic by deliberately choosing to create, sell, and display, in a museum, an image that is actually printed millions of times a day in newspapers around the world and probably already exists in every living room or driveway, but the whole thing is ironic only within this context. People going to a museum to look at something so mundane and common is only ironic when they expected to see art.

When the context was changed and the crossword art was displayed among many other interactive exhibits, it reverted back to its original purpose- a crossword puzzle to be marked up rather than preserved and admired. This is completely logical when art itself lacks beauty and has no intrinsic value or affect outside of its original context. Playing off of preexisting social conditions and expectations is an easier way to evoke thought or emotion from a public already overstimulated by Michael Bay CG explosions and Avatar in 3D.

When a piece of art represents a reaction to society, the choices made and the decision process of the artist become the subject. That means making art that still has an impact doesn’t necessarily require great skill, discipline, or creativity. This is how art has continued to exist alongside the much more visually impressive creations of computer graphics and other forms of media. The style and intent of the artist can replace substance, so the work itself is allowed to be, and often is, unimpressive. Take for example, the prankster who left a pair of glasses on the floor of a San Francisco museum to be mistaken for a genuine art exhibit, drawing a crowd and photographs. The prank itself stirs more emotion than a lost pair of glasses and the same is true for this scenario. I am amused by the fact that an elderly woman mistook an art exhibit for what it literally is, but I was even more amused that the modern art “experts” working at the museum failed to foresee this level of irony.