I’ve been thinking a lot today about the confessional nature of our society: our once hidden journals are published publicly, people living in relative obscurity sign papers agreeing to be followed by a television crew, our paintings are unearthed from behind dropcloths; we don’t wait for a salon or a committee to agree that our hearts be displayed on a white gallery wall anymore. We share instantly. We share what’s rough and what we’ve edited to our own vision of perfection. We write raw memoirs that are read by millions. There’s some strawberry fluff out there, to be sure, haphazard works and strewn together messes that can hardly be called art. They can be called entertainment, and there is of course a place for entertainment. I enjoy a bit of fluff myself. Some of the television shows my husband films are light and airy and only borderline educational, but it doesn’t mean they’re a drain on our collective culture. They’re easily digested. We can’t always watch gritty foreign dramas or listen to only symphonies. Hidden in the messy mass of work that’s available for consumption is some really heavenly work, and if you know how to sort it out, the art world will have no borders for you.
I mean, in ancient civilizations they used to kill people in an arena for sport***, so what if we watch celebrities dancing on two left feet or five year olds compete in pageants? So what if I gladly ingest Mackensie Phillips’ wonderfully weird memoir in one afternoon? I still think we’ve come quite far in the higher forms of art – we share, instantly, pieces of our souls with receptive audiences around the world. Instantly. I think this is a beautiful advancement. There’s still a place for the traditional viewing and sharing of art, of course. Just last week I was introduced to the paintings of Xiaoze Xie at our little local art museum. His oversized oil paintings are so precise that I thought they were large photographic prints at first. Had we not decided to visit the museum that day, I wouldn’t have known about him. So I don’t think that the digital sharing of work will EVER replace the physical, nor do I want the new to cancel out the old. I hope they’ll always hold hands to cross the same road, you know?
((I’m sure that a pale army of hipsters is shouting at me right now – ‘What? You’d never heard of Xiaoze Xie before? I knew about him before he even painted that!!’ To this I say, Okay. Eff you. Why is art and literature appreciation a competitive event with you people? Egh, away with you, pretend pale hipster army!))
Far Away is a part of this digital collective movement. What started out as personal websites that showcased portfolios, personal poetry, literature, thoughts and dreams, has grown into a dense, gorgeous world that stretches to infinity. It runs parallel to art seen or read in person; each a part of our individual creative spirits. I think this brave new world of ours is just fantastic.
(I am simultaneously publishing this on my personal site)
***Did you know that in Elizabethan times it was popular to see a “bear baiting” show on a Saturday? They would basically tie a bear or an ape to a pole and let mastiffs attack it. And the people would clap and roar their approval! Bring the kids, buy a turkey leg! Somehow Jersey Shore doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?