In a discussion about the tension between art and technology my doctoral supervisor, Brogan Bunt, brought my attention to a quote by Charles Baudelaire:
Modernity is the transient, the fleeting, the contingent; it is one half of art, the other being the eternal and the immovable. (Baudelaire)
One of the gripes I have with exploring art within the craft of technology is that I feel that many works are doing nothing more than expressing “hey, this is what you can do with technology these days”. Its a gripe that I support by issuing the parameter-mapping Turing test challenge… this is a challenge which effectively asks: ok that’s nice and clever and everything but what is the eternal and the immovable in your art?
What one can do with technology today is only interesting given the context of today. Tomorrow, it will be .. well, yesterday’s news. So really, I think I am questioning Baudelaire’s statement. I’m not sure that the transient really is one half of art. Time robs art of its context … it robs it of the meaning of its transients. A great work of art must surely transcend time, in other words it must host the presence of the eternal … the immovable.
So … I’m going to correct Baudelaire’s statement:
Modernity is the transient, the fleeting, the contingent; art, being the eternal and the immovable, must transcend modernity.
To be honest with myself, I think I must accept that perhaps my definition of art is one within which I place no pre-condition of the necessity to understand the context of a work. In other words, I would like my art to speak to all people, irrespective of their understanding of the context within which it was borne.
That puts me in a particularly difficult position because technology has been central to so much of the work I have produced (and currently am producing). I think there is a preconception that I am slowly realising I must discard. It is the preconception that the exploration of technology can reveal something that is eternal. I think that is a fallacy.