Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On "Postproduction"

In reading Postproduction I find that a major concern with the artists of the nineties was the overabundance of preconditioned cultural information and its malignance in the public consciousness. In the information age, much of our interactions have become abstracted where it becomes easier for people to be apathetic to their fellow citizens, domestic and abroad. Cinema is a prime example of how such an artifact retains its solidity from copyright protection and the aura that Hollywood injects it. Consequently, many of such products continue to present society in distinct categories. How else can we still think that blacks are funnier than whites? Blondes are stupider by the dozen? Despite the "independent" films that abound, Hollywood appropriated that label to catch a certain audience of "sophisticated" film viewers. All still polarized.

Perhaps this is a broad stroke of a linguistic brush here, but upon reading, I was inspired by the artists' endeavors to reinvent art definitions. Nevertheless, I find it difficult to abolish the author, as what is implied in Postproduction. Roland Barthes was too reactive to embrace the autonomy of readers. Foucault's assessment of writing as a form of immortality (although altered in the 20th century to the sacrifice of the author) I believe still holds true with authorship and art. Is art an artifact of the human species that the species wants to remain, after possible extinction? Moreover, although I praise the artists mentioned in the book, there were some practices I found questionable, perhaps because it is absurd in writing.

I may modify this post. I think I need to develop this more coherently. Consider it a flash of light to emit a little longer.

Raul Garcia

1 comment:

  1. Raul, although you are right to argue that the consequences of Barthes' famous and influential text "Death of the Author" was to shift the balance of power from author-artist to reader-viewer (and largely the result of the unfortunate statement that ends his essay), we should not overlook that Barthes' critique of the Author (capital A) was meant to be a critique of the sovereign subject, and, as such, his critique also applies to the critic-reader. (The author wasn't meant to die so that s/he could be replaced by smug, complacent readers who assert their "creativity" over the work of the artist.) The subversive power of writing is related for Barthes precisely to its ability to render indiscernible, multiple, dispersive what is considered irreducible and specific, and this is what Barthes wishes to advocate: a writing practice that involves, and mutually implicates (and explicates), both writer and reader; and not once and for all, but each and every time the work is engaged with, disseminated, read. In this sense, Barthes should be understood as proposing a new kind of participatory art, not unlike the one we find in other sixties works that were attempting to redefine the relation between artist and consumer, and which serve as precursors to Bourriaud and relational aesthetics.