I was reading this art show review and I came across a quote from some old art critic/scholar of some sort named Walter Pater, “All art aspires to the condition of music.” I know I am taking it out of context so I don't know his true intended meaning but as The Velvet Underground filled my ears in the Princeton Record Exchange (a used vinyl mecca conveniently located less than a mile from the final home of Albert Einstein!) on a fine Spring day last week I couldn't help but imagine the strong images of Warhol that will forever associate the two in my mind, a simple melody evoking an entire essence of a time and place.
I often forget how much music meant to my own early understanding of art, coming of age during the rise of the lo-fi indie genre that made it all seem possible, every kid with a guitar feeling like Lou Reed's son ready to shape the sound of a fresh DIY era-- the look and ethos of the crafty Etsy culture, a lot of pop-y graffiti and the accessible feel of a newly hacked digital age all obvious responses to the homespun soundtrack of the late 90s/early 00s. I think music is what brought Brent to art too, making his teenage songs into stories, sending his early film demos to rock bands he admired and, like those rock bands, touring around his films to clubs & colleges all over the country. Music informs visual art and art informs music to make a sonic remembrance of a time, in my case of the grunge-y new-punk of an angsty (dwindling) Clinton-era middle class...
The Jeffery Deitch Machine knew the inextricable link of music & art when he would curate his art party events in New York, bringing in sounds that could contextualize the visual art to form an easily transmittable scene-- the place to be and feel and, ultimately, invest in for the future in the many different ways that means. Music acts as a widespread signifier of a larger cultural voice and I am wondering what the more recent contemporary art movements, and the era in general, will be sonically identified by?
The rampant tagging of highly individualized genres (I just saw the following tags on a friend's band camp page: pop jaunty jealous minty singalong Brooklyn) is causing a fracture in the voice of a generation but maybe it is this very fracture that is the cohesive style-- like the fluxists or dada-ists. Christian Marclay (his music & his clock), Girl Talk, M.I.A., Santigold, Ryan Trecartin's unhinged throbbing what-have-yous, Martha Colburn's flashy filmic moving montages- are all mixes of everything coming at you all at once, a collage of the global open source image & idea library of a new media age (maybe this is what the new aesthetic is all about?). (And looking at it objectively as a political moment, the Bush to Obama transition couldn't be more of a cultural mash up for sure!) It might be early to try and acoustically define a generation by its artistic output but I am totally interested in what will be playing in the dusty record store in the future (...crosses fingers record store will continue to weather time...) and what the time capsuled memories of my brain will recall from the not-so-simple melodies of the information age!