I read recently an article about a group of late-teens who, after leaving a pair of ordinary glasses on the floor in an art gallery, took pictures of unsuspecting art-lovers looking at the “piece” from a short distance, and in other ways appreciating what they thought may be an exhibit.
This article was shared for the purpose of ridicule across social media, which is where I saw it repeatedly. Comments such as ‘I like to think of the piece representing the dumbing down of society’ was common, however I thought it perhaps necessary to challenge this statement:
We live in a society upheld, knowingly or unknowingly, by the current popular philosophy called postmodernism. Postmodernism asserts that such things as ‘truth’ are relative, and based upon a subjective reality rather than an objective one. For example, to claim that one religious belief system is right and another wrong is now considered taboo as “who are we to say what is right?” and “that’s your truth, they have theirs”. This offsets modernism which sought perfection, now seeking personal experience of perfection, undefined by others.
Art follows philosophical trends in much the same way. Postmodern art movements are subjective rather than objective, relying on the interpretation of the viewer rather than the conveying of meaning from the artists. In other art movements, in one way or another, the artists seeks to convey an image or message; in this one, they have no right to say how you see their creation. “What does it mean to you?”, a previously (frankly) irrelevant question is now the only question you must ask.
So, then it comes to the article. People who often deride postmodern art movements like to comment on the fact that such drawings are ‘just a bunch of lines that a 5-year-old can do’, and I find this to be a majority opinion, yet truth remains relative in discussions of philosophy with the same people. This leads me to believe an inconsistency exists within such people. They believe in subjectivity in regards to philosophy, but then go on to believe in objective truth in regards to art: “that God stuff is your truth and nobody can know, but that painting there: stop being stupid, definitely just a square of red”.
I believe a belief in relative truth should include an absence of derision at modern-art appreciators which recognise the same philosophy in the paintings. I’m not saying that those who hold to moral relativity must appreciate it themselves, but should at least consistently believe that those who do, have the right to do so, absent of mocking.
I myself am not a post-modernist, and also don’t see much in most postmodern art (with some exceptions for specific reasons which I may bring up later), which I feel is consistent. I also have friends who do openly recognise the post-modern beliefs, and love postmodern art, which is also consistent. This rant is just aimed at those who default to popular, inconsistent opinions; sectioning off areas of life and not recognising the holistic conflict between them.
End of rant.