Monday, October 3, 2016

When Should Art Think About Restraining Itself

Real art isn't supposed to be pretty; at least not necessarily so (an adage I think's been around for some time now). It's meant to resonate with and invoke all aspects of our emotional and sensorial experience. Especially with photography do we see where ugly or horrifying tells the story of other realities we need to understand on more than just an objectified level, such as worded descriptions might provide.

I think most of us get that. That being said, though, doesn't excuse art from the nostrum that there can always be too much of anything, or that anything can be taken to extremes. A case in point is the mixed modality installation now making waves in LA called the Tension Experiment.

First of all, let's be clear here. This is undoubtedly clever and creative. That's not the point though. I say that because, in my view, what we have here is a corollary to what Jeff Goldblum's character said in the first Jurassic Park movie:  "...Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could they didn't stop to think about whether they should..."

The thing is, we are already being saturated with fear of all kinds within overlapping commercial, cultural information environments. And even more disturbing, the commercial dynamic is accelerating the path towards instant gratification of whatever fantasy that might be imagined. What we risk in this is setting up a self reinforcing emphasis on stimulating the baser parts of our brains to get at ever more extreme fantasies to keep the spiral going; and make no mistake, with the potential sums involved to be made here, there will be way too much incentive to do exactly that.

The bottom line for me here is that I just wish artists would put considerably more soul searching in play when they consider putting on any kind of exhibition. They would be among the first, after all, to demand that of the scientists and engineers among us.

The Future of Fear: Inside the psychological maze of LA's most insidious theater event

Director Darren Lynn Bousman gets under my skin with The Tension Experience

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