Michelle Kuo in “The Shining,” Artforum, cites Siegfried Kracauer who tells us that the artist’s “tasks multiply in proportion to the world’s loss of reality.” Our sense of reality has been stretched to the limit this past year:
The power of the visual has ascended to ever-greater heights, even in a world of invisible networks of control, of flexible and tentacular streams of surveillance, biopower, and microregulation. But at the same time, the top-down dissemination of information via mass culture in the twentieth century has been hyperdiversified, splintered. Today, we confront the spectral atomization of disinformation throughout the dark reaches of the internet, the most esoteric voices flowing like microscopic particles into the lifeblood of the media apparatus. Technological networks can amplify these bits and flows—exponentially, monstrously, radically. And the most effective vehicle for these streams is the image: the appearance of truth, or of might.
Kuo accordingly offers this solution:
Just as other disciplines have, art must think the unthinkable. Art must counter image with image—constructing pictures but also precipitating their undoing, their disruption, their unmooring. Just as Trump’s image seems to usher forth a world of risk, a state of chaotic volatility, art has long fomented the contingent, the unprecedented. Like spectacle, art seduces, frightens, incites, deranges; it glows.
Her proposal needs debate. The essay, however, is a must read for anyone who wants to look ahead. The full text can be found here.
The image above, via rogerebert.com, is a still from the movie version of 1984, with Richard Burton in the role of O’Brien.
War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.
Orwell’s simple contradictions have been surpassed, his ironies shattered.