[LAU] Art's suitability for anything

Jeremy Jongepier jeremy at autostatic.com
Sat Aug 17 19:32:56 UTC 2013

On 08/17/2013 08:04 PM, Brent Busby wrote:
> On Sat, 17 Aug 2013, James Harkins wrote:
>> I don't entirely agree that art should not suit to anything. I come to
>> feel more and more that art doesn't exist without a subculture, and
>> people make art/music/fashion etc to appeal to one or more
>> subcultures. There are possible exceptions (Harry Partsch, perhaps)
>> but I'd argue those are extremely rare.
> I'd agree completely with that.  In fact, that may be exactly what's
> been wrong with pop music since about 1997 or so -- there is no
> subculture.  In fact, apart from the electronic(a) movement and its
> various sub-genres, the one thing that immediately strikes me about pop
> music after grunge is that it has no name, no statement, no people, no
> look, and no intent.  It's just a bunch of a assorted songs from various
> labels which, while they all seem to be trying to co-opt some sort of
> look or feel from the past, don't actually have anything in common or
> seem to be in unison trying to say anything.  In all the years that rock
> music (and its offspring) have existed since 1955 or so, that has never
> happened before, and is probably the best argument that rock music has
> stopped evolving and has become like jazz -- an important style that's
> well on its way at this point to being taught in college courses.  The
> last prevalent style movement that had a name and a look and a
> subculture was grunge/alternative in the mid-90's.  Fashion and music
> have been on auto-pilot ever since, for lack of any concrete direction.
> (I wasn't much of a fan of grunge, so I'm not defending it as some sort
> of golden age -- just acknowledging that it was a real rock movement,
> and it looks like maybe the last one ever.)

There have been pop music sub-cultures after grunge, like postrock,
mathrock and emo for example. Especially emo was a very big subculture
with quite some influence on contemporary music and even fashion since
it was the emo kids that started wearing skinny jeans and shirts, had
their hair like Justin Bieber when he was still in his diapers, boosted
the sales of classic Vans shoes and made the so-called 'sleeve' popular
(fully tattood arm). Besides their own clothing code they also had their
own dance (anyone recall violent dancing?). But postrock and mathrock
and all of its sub-genres (like jazzcore, what's in a name) are indeed
genres that are like jazz. So I'd say emo was the last prevalent style
movement that didn't co-op a look or feel from the past.

>> Many western classical composers in the early twentieth century argued
>> for "music for its own sake" -- music that captures a glimpse of the
>> Eternal and thus whose artistic merit transcends human relationships.
>> But of course, it's all tap-room banter without a community of
>> musicians and listeners who agree with that idea! So this was just
>> another musical culture (which sought to pretend that it was beyond
>> culture).
> One could actually argue that the musical conservatory type culture they
> had created between themselves and their audiences was a subculture in
> itself, with far more direction than the post-1997 top-40.
> The ironic thing about all of this is that the most potent rock
> subculture ever, the psychedelic period in the 60's, was very political,
> and happened in an evironment that's very similar to where we are now --
> questionable foreign wars, questionable executive branch practices (from
> both parties), massive popular disapproval of the US government. Except
> this time, music and art is strangely silent about it all.  One would
> think in times like these, artists would not need to be coaxed to make a
> statement.

But making political statements doesn't go well with individualism. A
lot of artists barely make statements, they only make music centered
around themselves. I think this tendency also contributes to the fact
that no new exciting genres pop up anymore. Artists are so busy with
themselves that they barely care about what others are doing.


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