The Effects of Pure, Unadulterated Art

The text below was meant as a comment reply to my friend Glenn, but I think the subject warrants its own blog post:

Art becomes problematic when money is the object, because in order to make money, the artist must “comply” with the mainstream pop culture & limits of the time. Wild experimentation would result in a financial disaster, so no risks are taken. But it’s that experimentation that propels both art & our world forward. See, if you do pop music exactly because it’s easily consumable, and because you want to make a buck, then no, what you do, is not art. It’s a product.

My previous article was meant to go against the powerful mechanisms of capital and power in particular, who would manufacture “art” in order to sell to the masses, rather than because it’s good art. Just today I was reading this, where 6 media giants (in cahoots), get to decide 90% of the entertainment that gets served to the population. This is not just money we’re talking about here, but it’s POWER. When you control that much of the art people use, then you control these people, plain and simple.

That’s why I mostly listen to bedroom pop these days. 90% of my music experience is music written by young people in their bedrooms, who give their music for free (usually, but not always), and self-publish mostly via Bandcamp. These artists don’t even offer a picture of their faces to accompany their albums or their Tumblr blogs, while these one-man projects are usually hidden behind a pseudonym. In other words, this is 100% antithetic to what mainstream show business are. Plus, this kind of “chillwave” music speaks to me volumes about our situation today, about how we feel, or how we want to feel, rather than a sterile Katy Perry or a Lady Gaga song would ever be able to do so.

Regarding video we are still in the dawn of true indie video. Good cameras have just become to become affordable. For video, it’s like we live in 2003, in terms of computer music tool availability. Consider that chillwave took off in 2009. So by 2018 or so, I think we should be having amazing short films or other artistic videos, mostly for free on Vimeo. Sure, we already do have some (e.g. Matthew Brown’s work), just not as many.

I mean, just like with bedroom pop, I expect that artistic indie video will go to a different direction, to a new dawn of cinematic experience where the aesthetics, senses and emotions get 10x higher than in a normal narrative movie — for those who can “decode” the style. Chillwave was never about competing with mainstream pop, instead the Internet-sprouted genre was surprisingly current, and much more emotional: I listen to “Skin” by FiveNG for example, and I get transcended like I’m on a voodoo ritual. I listen to Washed Out’s “You & I“, and I get so fucking horny, that no other music ever managed to do so. I listen to “New Theory” by Washed Out, and my eyes fill up with tears with nostalgia about a place and time that was, but never really was. No other kind of mainstream music, ever, was able to do this to me. Maybe it helps that I’m a synesthete, I don’t know. Or maybe it’s because I give music a chance to open up to me. But since this hasn’t happen with any other genre or mainstream art before, I do give the credit for these high emotions and thoughts they inflict on me to the very fact that bedroom pop was created by real humans for a multiplicity of reasons (but all these reasons were pure), and not by an established capital power encouraging the masses to simply consume and obey.

To make it more visual: mainstream pop is like eating donuts. Full of corn syrup and wheat flour, among other additives, fried in PUFA oil. You eat some, your insulin spikes, and an hour later you need more because that’s what sugar does to you! You end up fat, sick, and dead inside. You become a slave of the system, of a chain of events that only stop when you die. True music instead is like eating a steak with a mix of veggies as a side. It’s a less interesting proposition at first, but it provides true nutrition, and after a while, this “real food” is the only food you eat, but you don’t necessarily “crave”, because craving itself is a symptom of the metabolic syndrome.

So similarly to music, I don’t expect this new kind of video art to try and compete with Avatar or Star Wars, but instead, be truly different. We live in the dawn of a new kind of filmmaking, which is truly impressionistic in nature. The people who will have their brains and eyes open, will feast on it. The rest, they can stay slaves of the powers of capital, who mostly serve pedestrian love war-stories. Good luck to them.


Jim wrote on December 12th, 2011 at 9:30 PM PST:

Loved this article. I read a few yrs ago that indie music as a whole was equal in sales to mainstream music. I think what is happening is that many people are seeking indie music and unless the commercial media can control blogs and websites, that people will continue to seek out music that speaks to them. Much of the present trend has always been there. In the sixties we would talk about bubble gum music and corporate rock bands like the Monkeys, Association and 3 Dog Night where corp owned the name and rock groups and the musicians were left in the cold. In the seventies a solo entertainer could make a decent living still, but by the time the eighties came around the lounge act was dead.
I think it is a very exciting time. I do not personally think that more and more people will abandon popular music for its sameness and that it lacks the passion. Again Eugenia I love how you passionately will call a microphone blimp like a hairy pussy or in this article an orgasm.
for me that experience was several years ago when the first night of Michael Landau playing with the Robben Ford Band at Jazz Alley in Seattle. The second set just blistered and it drove me crazy and insane and it was better than any sex I have had.
What the ingredients in the corporate music lacks is two ingredients Passion and Love. As long as music is delivered without that and continues to be based on focus groups and auto tune, you will find me like millions, auto tuning out

Glenn wrote on December 13th, 2011 at 2:07 AM PST:

It’s hard to call. I think artists can still be making money and stay true to the music, or whatever it is they do. Video, Painting and so on. Without money, amazing art like this wouldn’t be possible. Amon’s on the Ninja Tunes label, and I know those guys are in it for the love of the music. They’ve had a lot of experimental artists on the label. It’s still business to them of course, but at least they allow artists who are signed to the label to pretty much record whatever they want.

I remember one of the popular albums on the Warp label back in the 90s was Aphex Twin’s ‘Selected Ambient Works’. It was music he’d recorded since was 12 I think. Tape hiss, no real production value. But the label still released it.

But yeah, sadly the big labels who do manufacture music solely to make money are still around. The trouble is, people just don’t have the time or patience to be searching websites for new music. All they know is what they hear on the radio at work, or what they see on the video shows on tv. Maybe even what their friends are watching.

Nothing has really changed that much. Just the listening format.

This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on December 13th, 2011 at 12:48 PM PST:

>they allow artists who are signed to the label to pretty much record whatever they want.

Most indie labels allow their artists to self-produce anything they want (even Subpop does so). But unfortunately, only a small number of these indie albums are actually pure. See, even if the label lets the artist do whatever he/she wants, the fact that he/she has a label contract means that he/she is interested in getting “popular” and “selling records” or whatever. To do so, the artist has to play ball with the constraints of the music that his/her fans/customers expect from the act. This fact alone puts limits in the freedom of the artist for experimentation and “going all out”.

Sometimes you will see some artists do experiment with the kind of music they really want to produce (e.g. AFI, Green Day, all have done that), but you know what they do in these cases? They release that music under a different band/name! That’s how deep their fear of alienating their fans runs! And in the Green Day case, their label put a stop to their little experiment, taking their alias web site and downloads down.

Edit: Today I downloaded another 1.5 GB of legal, “chillwave” music, from self-published artists that I don’t (neither I need to) know how they look like. These people made music the way they wanted to make it, without a corporate machine behind them to control their sound or image. Pure awesomeness.

Even Bon Iver sold out. I mean, he now has a physical workout DVD coming out soon. What kind of bullshit is that? Why do I need a workout DVD in the first place when I can go out in the sun and exercise by myself, and why does it have to come from a musician? Completely fucking crazy shit, man.

Yanni wrote on December 13th, 2011 at 5:41 PM PST:

I don’t have anything to add to this argument. I don’t care if it’s popular or not or mainstream, etc. I just want the chance to hear it (or see it) and make up my own opinion. That’s why I hate the radio format and I rely mostly on vimeo videos, commercials (surprisingly, I’ve found great music just because I liked the music in a commercial…thanks Shazaam) and blogs like yours.

Thanks for turning me onto Washed Out and Scanners. Two great bands I’d never heard about until I read about them here.

glenn wrote on December 16th, 2011 at 8:10 AM PST:

Art is subjective…I know probably one of the oldest, most cliched statements…but it’s true.

The real problem is with the word.

The creator of the “art” should never strive to make “art” or even consider them self an “artist,” it’s not for them to decide if what they create is “art.” It’s self aggrandizing and self important to consider yourself an “artist.”

If the “artist” would consider their craft more than they are concerned with being an “artist,” then better “art” would be produced.

John Sweden wrote on December 21st, 2011 at 3:46 PM PST:

The answer to the corporate bulldozers is…Ta Daaah:
Just stop buying their shit.

It’s very simple. It’s the one thing corporations are terrified of. People not buying their shit.

It means that you need to become aware of how conditioned and addicted you are to sucking at the tit of wanting.

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