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Cybernetics and Contemporary Art - Jackson Pollock
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Modern or Classical Art?
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Especially after the Second World War, the meaning of the word “art” shifted. Towards what? Influenced by the cultural transformations in the society, as well as new philosophical currents, art became an appropriate portrayal of the present mentality. It depicts the idealization and abstractions of forms, trying to achieve totality.
In order to obtain this all-encompassing term and because, at the same time, art is a very “loose” definition, what can nowadays be considered as being “art”? Trying to explore the subconscious, could Jackson Pollock’s unusual style of painting, as seen in the picture above, involving continuous dripping of color from his brush, be art? It is needless to say that the level of abstraction in Pollock’s paintings is to such an extent that the viewer would capture either a glimpse of totality or just a bunch of seemingly random splatters of paint on a large canvas, as the video clearly demonstrates.
But how can Jackson Pollock’s painting, for instance, be related with cybernetics? Because of the high degree of abstraction on the canvas, this requires a very personal interpretation. Therefore, the feedback given with regards to the painting is divided between “genius” and “doodle”. Obviously, it is easy to observe that this particular type of interpretation characterizes the modern-day art. To my mind, it seems that art has lost its universality and truth. It is no longer an allegory, as Martin Heidegger claims in “The Origin of the Work of Art”. Now, we do not have a universal beautiful art; instead, it has all been broken down to each and every one of us. At its base, I believe that contemporary art has a constructivist foundation. As Henri Bergson’s philosophy clearly demonstrates, it is “change” that is fundamental to “the experience of reality".
With the rise of cybernetics, it was only a matter of time before the artists tried to emulate and embed this in order to fully achieve their creative potential. As discussed before, concepts like feedback, motion and interaction have taken an ever-increasing role in the production of art. Thus, the “artist” is no longer the person who writes “The Book” or paints “The Painting” or composes “The Song”; he just takes the role of initiating something, of starting it and leaving the rest for the receiver to “steer” the work of art into whatever direction he pleases. It is just like introducing a computer algorithm and watching it replicate itself time and again, with the cycling of the repetitive instructions.
In the age of “mechanical reproduction”, I feel that art has lost its depth. Now art is no longer individualistic. Everybody virtually uses the same software, the same creative-limitations presets within a program. The novelty, though, resides in the process of manipulating those presets. Moreover, I think that art lost its tangible feeling. Now, sculptures are no longer carved in stone, but designed with the common mouse and keyboard. Regarding the future of music, perhaps Jim Morrison best foresaw the death of art (especially music) as we know it: “I can envision maybe one person with a lot of machines, tapes and electronics singing or speaking”.
Further Reading on Cybernetics
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