Color, Light & Space – Expanded

We are about to expand our discussion on Color, Light and Space with other artists (of all kind,) theorists, and writers. Tomorrow, we will begin this broader discussion with a fantastic essay by Alan Kirby. He is a cultural theorist and author of the book Digimodernism: How New Technologies Dismantle the Postmodern and Reconfigure Our Culture. The Postmodern “problem” we all have inherited is laid out succinctly in the introduction to his book:

“My sense is that, whatever its current relevance in other fields, postmodernism’s insistence on locating an absolute break in all human experience between the disappeared past and the stranded present has lost all plausibility. The last third of the twentieth century was marked by a discourse of endings, of the “post-” prefix and the “no longer” structure, an aftershock of 1960s’ radicalism and a sort of intellectual millenarianism which seems to have had its day. Like Habermas, my feeling is that, ever more crisis-ridden, modernity continued throughout this period as an “unfinished project”. Although the imponderable evils of the 1930s and 40s could only trigger a breakdown of faith in inherited cultural and historical world-views such as the Enlightenment, the nature and scale of this reaction were overstated by some writers. In so far as it exists, “digimodernity” is, then, another stage within modernity, a shift from one phase of its history into another.”

Alan makes the case that Postmodernism has reached an end, and he speculates on new directions that our culture may take. We recommend you take a look.

You can read more of Alan’s take on culture at his blog Digimodernism.

3 thoughts on “Color, Light & Space – Expanded

  1. Zadie Smith has a review that turns into a loose baggy essay on the loose baggy nature of the novel; I was reminded of your comments on pigment versus digital color. The essay is worth wading through for its gems like this:

    Smith writes: In “The Modern Essay” Virginia Woolf is more astute on the subject, and far more frank. “There is no room for the impurities of literature in an essay,” she writes. “The essay must be pure – pure like water or pure like wine, but pure from dullness, deadness, and deposits of extraneous matter.” Well, yes, that’s just it. An essay, she writes, “can be polished till every atom of its surface shines” – yes, that’s it, again. There is a certain kind of writer – quite often male but by no means exclusively so – who has a fundamental hunger for purity, and for perfection, and this type will always hold the essay form in high esteem. Because essays hold out the possibility of something like perfection.

    Novels, by contrast, are idiosyncratic, uneven, embarrassing, and quite frequently nausea-inducing – especially if you happen to have written one yourself. Within the confines of an essay or – even better! – an aphorism, you can be the writer you dream of being. No word out of place, no tell-tale weak spots (dialogue, the convincing representation of other people, plot), no absences, no lack. I think it’s the limits of the essay, and of the real, that truly attract fiction writers. In the confined space of an essay you have the possibility of being wise, of making your case, of appearing to see deeply into things – although the thing you’re generally looking into is the self.

    And now I see that WordPress didn’t erase the link I put into the earlier comment, which is irrelevant. The essay, which is more pigment than physics, speaks to the nature of human existence as well as the differences in artistic modes.

  2. Hi June,
    The essay was indeed, fascinating. You are quite right to make the connection to our discussion on Color Light and Space. In fact it is the entire POMO media world that is in line for this sort of critique. One of my favorite parts of the essay was this:

    “I’m willing to bet that the great majority of proofs sent to novelists by other novelists barely get read beyond the first two pages. (“The Corrections” writes Shields, in aphorism no 560, “I couldn’t read that book if my life depended on it. It might be a ‘good’ novel or it might be a ‘bad’ novel, but something has happened to my imagination, which can no longer yield to the earnest embrace of novelistic form.”) Tired of the rusty workings of one’s own imagination, it’s easy to tire of the wearisome vibrancy of other people’s, and from there it’s a short skip and a jump to giving up on the novel entirely.”

    Part of this “weariness” that Zadie Smith is writing about has to do with the computer, the jpeg, 140 word tweets, and the truncated thought processes of the world of contextual signs and codified narratives. We know it all already, especially as we encounter the replications of the recreations we’ve all internalized.

    What we are trying to do here is find a way around the POMO impasse, a way through to something “thicker.” I can see that more and more artists are also struggling with this idea as well. Thanks again June!

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