April 1, 2013 Comments Off

Liner Notes

One of my favorite memories of listening to Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew is reading the stream-of-consciousness liner notes by Ralph J. Gleason. They’re very much of the era, with their run-on sentences, digs at the man, and confidence in the incipient unfolding of some glorious electric new age, but to me the first paragraph still stands as a timeless description of what I love in a lot of music.

… so much flashes through my mind when i hear the tapes of this album that if i could i would write a novel about it full of life and scenes and people and blood and sweat and love.

Ecology and narrative: those are the qualities in Bitches Brew that left me awestruck. The sensation that you’ve been sucked into a wormhole and deposited into an alien place with half-familiar beings who move about their lives–that impressed me and seemed so much grander than just expressing emotions. (more…)

January 13, 2013 Comments Off

Supply Side Art

Art critic Dave Hickey discusses the oversupply of art creators and the power academic patronage exerts over them. Also, hookers in Las Vegas.

Dave Hickey: 09/17/2009 from MFA Art Crit on Vimeo.

Filed under: Aesthetics

Tags: , , , ,

January 8, 2013 Comments Off

The Problem with Interesting Music

“Interesting” is both the go-to faint praise for managing a conversation about someone’s mediocre art (“I thought it was really, um, interesting”) and the highest value to which contemporary creative work aspires. Beauty could never hold that dual responsibility. You can’t bullshit someone by telling him his terrible modern dance piece with spasms of sexualized coughing fits was “really, um, beautiful.” Interestingness is not a passing trend. The German social theorist Niklas Luhmann argued that every social system has its own binary code (in law, it’s legal/illegal, in business it’s profitable/unprofitable), and art’s has been interesting/uninteresting since the advent of modernism. It used to be beauty, but beauty got kicked to the curb just like moral instruction several centuries prior, according to Luhman. That would come as news to fans of Andrew Wyeth paintings or the crowds who throng to André Rieu concerts, but to anyone who has seen the inside of a seminar room in an art or music department, the primacy of interestingness is axiomatic.

What makes something interesting is open to debate, which is exactly the point. (more…)