Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Hello is there anybody out there?

As I set out to begin making stuff that in a utilitarian sense has no justification (not that much does) I find myself curious about what justifies product that for lack of functional purpose might be vulgarly referred to as art? Does there need to be a concept, a well formulated lesson about the human experience OR can it just borrow from pieces and provide escape? What makes something entertaining and to whom? The question of audience to an artist is one that is sometimes brushed off or not regarded as a legitimate creative concern. I wonder if it should be?
Admittedly all cultures have fine art, music, etc. These generally serve the public as entertainment, a source of emotional release and catharsis. In some societies the government more heavily subsidizes the arts than here in the States. I am reminded of the Kids in the Hall sketch about screwing the taxpayers (apt since they shot in Canada). The question of government involvement in any aspect of the private sector is one that only vaguely relates to my ultimate concern about audience. However it is a relevant question as to how art is justified in a socialistic system where the free market success of the product is not the end all be all as it is here in the States? To be honest this is a bigger and undoubtedly more pretentious (even for me) issue.

So I will instead take what I feel is a legitimate question of an audience relationship with art as a measure of success in a free market Capitalist society (good ole’ USA). The sociological consideration of what makes up subcultures and the like is key to understanding the potential market for any product (this is demographics). In Hollywood the Blockbuster is the big deal. Costly flicks that can make or break a studios annual earnings. If War of the Worlds doesn’t do well that will be a surprise but it is still more likely than impossible since blockbusters don’t always sell well. This brings up the unreliable side of demographics it’s not a science like anything remotely related to social issues it’s at best a game of fickle numbers and spun statistics that changes like the fashions with the seasons. In this there is something to the more things change the more they stay the same. Basically people want the same things for their leisure dollar.

The delineation of the pie depends on understanding subcultures and the waxing and waning of trends. It seems there is a natural flow in the popularity of certain things with certain groups. Let’s keep it simple and start with the fundamental element of an audience, the individual. An artist makes his or her product because they (put em both together why not I’m not deferring to the female stupid PC bullshit) must. The power of a question, an idea, or something in the ether compels them. To live is to be in bondage to entropy. Not everything is valid, and art in order to not succumb to this entropy and drain all the resources of the world must be understood and appreciated. So I as an individual creating something am engaged in a two fold process of at once elucidating something, somehow both for myself and others. I am engaging in a discourse in an understood system with an understood language, it can be gibberish but you still have to be able to read it as such. I can trust that there is an audience but can’t force it. Justifying my work as an artist saving it from entropy is something I am responsible for if I want to make a living providing this service. This is advertising and making connections, ultimately it comes down to communication, but not too direct for you risk becoming a propagandist. And so there it is the varied audience with varied appeal that is as dynamic as an artist that does not risk becoming stale through laziness of pandering. This more likely than not is why there are so many one hit wonders.