Beyond the Banana: The Flowing Art World in the Age of the Internet

  In 2019, Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan created a very interesting work of art called “Comedian”, but in fact it was just a piece of paper taped to the Bananas on the wall. Perhaps the artist considered the length of the tape, the softness of light and shadow, the color and curvature of the banana, and the perfect integration of banana, shadow and tape. Perhaps even this banana contains the regret that the artist could not afford to eat bananas when he was a child, but these words still cannot be changed This is a fact about a banana because it can be eaten, and has been eaten several times. The most recent one was eaten by a Korean college student during an exhibition, and previously it was eaten by an artist named David Datuna at Art Basel in Miami.
  This is not a work of art that is particularly worth paying attention to, because after Marcel Duchamp’s bejeweled ready-made art “Fountain” came out, we knew a Urinals can, as the philosopher Arthur Danto said, be transformed into works of art. Perhaps like Duchamp, Cattelan also likes to turn toilet supplies into works of art. He created an 18K gold toilet and placed it in the famous Guggenheim Museum in New York for people to use. This work is called “America” (America). In fact, the art world is becoming desensitized to such eye-catching installations, but what we really need to pay attention to is why do we know such a work that actually doesn’t require much attention? Because of the Internet and social networks. Through the images on social media, we see that it is indeed a banana, and that there is a person, whether Korean or American, eating that banana that may not be delicious.
  Judging from the book “Mobility” by the German art philosopher Boris Groys, eating this banana may be the correct way to “see”. In this book, Groys mentioned that in the early twentieth century, avant-garde artists once asked some seemingly simple but difficult to answer questions, such as: “Why do some things enjoy special treatment, and why does our society care about them?” , invest financial resources in protecting and repairing them, while other things are handed over to the destructive power of time, and no one cares about their eventual disintegration and disappearance?” Groys is clearly referring to a sword from Arthur Danto and What has attracted much attention since George Dickey is the art world and art system, and their criticism. The museum plays an important role in this controversial system. It seems to be a guardian for mankind. Cultural products with eternal value, however, in fact, the museum is also responsible for selecting those unique urinals, toilets and bananas, qualifying them to enter the sanctuary of the museum and then become valuable works of art.
  Groys described this entire model in another book, “On the New.” He regarded institutions such as museums and libraries as archives. This archive is responsible for establishing a hierarchical order, placing different works in different cultural value levels, and jointly forming the memory of each of our cultures (Groys: “On the New”, 2018 Annual edition, 42 pages). In contrast to secular space, objects in secular space are not recorded in archives, but are “consisted of all those things that are worthless, inconspicuous, boring, extra-cultural, meaningless and fleeting. Composition” (On the New, p. 43). Archives like museums exist to counteract the constant passage of time in daily life or secular space, as a human artifact is stripped of its original context and placed in a museum. After such archives, it was given the name of art. Since the Romantic period, art has often been closely associated with eternity freed from the shackles of time.
  However, if we point the finger at museums, that is, we believe that the arbitrary monopoly power of museums should be resisted and deprived of them, then as Groys said: “Abolition of the privileges of museums It means pushing all things, including artworks, into the torrent of time.” In fact, the so-called “pushing into the torrent of time” is nothing more than restoring the nature of the objects as objects that have been consecrated in the museum. After all, it is an item that will be defeated by time, and bananas are almost an extreme case. For anti-essentialists, there is no fundamental difference between artworks in archives and objects in secular space.
  It’s just that the artwork has been stripped of its original context and then sanctified. The so-called sanctification means that new interpretations are injected into it. For example, in the early 20th century, the Austrian Secession master Gustav Klimt painted a portrait of Margaret, who came from a wealthy family, and gave it as a wedding gift to her. This work of art is simply a portrait of a family figure, like one of our photographs, or at most like the portrait on the business card of an American General, George Custer, from the dawn of photography. , this is just a home furnishing, so much so that the lady did not attach much importance to this work and shelved it, becoming an ordinary clutter in the utility room. But once the work was collected in Germany’s Neues Pinakothek, Margaret’s story was replaced by a grasp of Klimt’s style. Therefore, sociologist Bourdieu said: “In museums and exhibition halls, the original functional diversity (of objects) is neutralized, and the method of neutralization is to be placed in one position and displayed so that it is sacred into art, so that they arouse (people’s) pure interest in form.” (Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction, Harvard University Press, 1984, p. 50) Of course, after entering the museum, the appreciation of pure form can only be left to professionals, and the public What I heard from the explanation microphone rented from the museum was the glorious history of Margaret’s Wittgenstein family, as well as the anecdotes about the famous philosopher treating money like dirt. These anecdotes will also become the basis for this incident. An explanation of what makes a work of art great.
  The museum system described above can be said to be a form of archives that revolves around “objects”, and this form has finally come to an end with the advent of postmodern art. The person who read the obituary There is the October art critic Douglas Crimp, whose writings describe museums as ruins (Douglas Crimp: On the Ruins of the Museum), whose imagery of ruins is reminiscent of Klee’s new angel described by Benjamin, the ruins it looks at are a history that has been terminated. There is also another gravedigger, Groys, who believes that the museum apparently died from “mobility” or “the flow of time.” It is not difficult to see from his “Moving and Living” that museums will usher in their own destiny from three dimensions:
  The event nature of contemporary art has replaced the eternity of traditional art. This seems to be a dismantling of Baudelaire’s famous saying: “Modernity is transition, ephemerality, and accident, which is half of art, and the other half is eternity and changelessness.” Groys said that originally the art in early modernity It is to replace “eternal ideas” and “sacred spirit”, but contemporary art is very different. “The production of artistic events is even more characteristic of contemporary art.” Therefore, when a sensational artwork appears in our lives, such as “The Artist Is Here” performed by Marina Abramović at MoMA, in which the artist sits motionless in a chair for six or seven hours a day, it is very It was hard not to cause an explosion of pictures and comments on Instagram and Twitter, and the online carnival reached its climax when her former lover Ulay arrived. Of course, this is nothing more than a superficial carnival of signifiers in the Internet age, and this is how a performance artist who is unknown in public perception gains attention. The reason why eventfulness can replace eternity is because of the establishment of digital archives. Objects lose their materiality on the Internet, leaving behind metadata about the work of art: “about its original context in the flow of matter.” Information of ‘here and now’: photos, videos, textual records.” Artworks that are separated from materiality are also separated from the causal connections in the original world. According to Žižek, the so-called events are “these sudden There are no signs of the situation, and there may not be a detectable cause.” .

  Since contemporary art has undergone drastic changes, the way of viewing art has also had to change to adapt to the changes in art. The original contemplation of the original works in the museum has transformed into the evaluation and forwarding of the works in the form of pictures and text on the Internet. . As Groys said: “People don’t read, people write on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. People don’t look at art, but people take photos or record videos and send them to relatives and friends.” In fact, Compared with this artistic incident of Abramovich, her 1974 work “Rhythm 0” (Rhythm 0) is even more frightening. At that time, the audience could use seventy-two objects on the table. Do whatever you want to her, including roses, honey, whips, crossbows, and the most terrifying thing is a loaded pistol. The artist was indeed frightened at that time. The only regret is that there was no Internet in 1974. It’s not just Abramovich. We saw Beuys, the father of performance art, holding a dead rabbit. It’s not because we have seen the work that has the “aura” of the here and now. After all, we were not there, and the performance There are only traces of art after it is over. The land art “Wrapping the Coast” by the Christos is not stored in a virtual archive in the form of pictures or text. Therefore, when we enter the era of the Internet, the various artworks in this archive The traces increased dramatically and turned into a sea of ​​text.
  The narrative of the museum itself has also changed. The original fixed narrative has now become a flowing narrative that changes with the artworks. Every curation is a reflection of the existing narrative. subversion. When talking about the difference between curation and traditional exhibitions, Groys said that “traditional exhibitions regard their exhibition space as anonymous and neutral” and “only the exhibited art works are important”, that is, the art The works are eternal and immortal, while the space used to display these works of art is nothing more than “temporary and accidental.” The opposite is curation, “a curatorial project is a total work of art because it instrumentalizes all the exhibited works of art so that they serve the common goals set by the curator.” It is precisely because of this At one point, “every curatorial project contradicts the goals of the previous, traditional art historical narrative” and “if this contradiction does not occur, then the curatorial project loses its legitimacy.” Simply put, in the traditional museum narrative, only the artwork itself is considered to be the artwork. As a neutral space, the museum is not only unimportant, but can even be replaced at any time, because it is just a container and a tool with a limited function. The museum in the curatorial project will form a new artistic narrative together with the artworks. This narrative itself can also be understood as a complete artistic presentation under the management of a curator. Each artwork in this presentation They may come from various parts of the world, from private collections or from other museum collections, but at this moment they are given new meaning by the curator, thus becoming part of a new art historical narrative.
  Therefore, Groys’s inspiring “flowing without residence” obviously implies three levels of flow: the flow of art, the flow of viewing and the flow of artistic narrative. The famous British sociologist Zygmunt Bauman once described “liquid modernity” (or translated as “liquid modernity”), which can be used to describe the underlying reasons behind this “liquidity”. “The remoteness of systemic structures, coupled with the immediate context of the unstructured, fluid state of life politics, changes the human condition in a radical way and requires us to rethink those assumptions about the human condition that An old concept that serves as a framework for grand narratives.” (Zygmunt Bauman: “Modernity in Motion”, 2002 edition, page 12) Originally, traditional museums and the way of creating and viewing art were all related to a It is related to the traditional art system, and behind this system are fixed and unchangeable transcendental concepts, which Bauman considers to be concepts that “survive despite death” and are also some grand narratives. The birth of Internet technology has completely changed the form of what Groys calls archives, subverting the original grand narrative and turning it into a new, more fluid art form. Information about art has replaced the status of art itself. As Groys said: “There is no art and literature on the Internet, only information about art and literature, and information about human activities in other fields.” Therefore, art It is the Internet that has replaced the museum system in the wave of institutional transformation. “The Internet has not become a place for the realization of postmodern utopia, but has become the cemetery of postmodern utopia, just as the museum has become the cemetery of modernist utopia.” .
  Groys once said when commenting on Kabakov’s dormitory: “Every museum is an abandoned dormitory. Artists are brought to the museum and destined to live in their afterlife. Live together.” From this perspective, in the Internet age, even collective dormitories have moved into cyberspace as a whole. Artworks are no longer the undead displayed in the cemetery, but are forever restarting themselves, each day Every curation is a reset of a new narrative, and every reset of a new narrative is the rebirth of an artwork. Therefore, the fate of Cattelana’s 18K gold toilet seems to have given us a hint from the beginning. The work was eventually stolen when it was exhibited at the Churchill Manor in England, and the artwork disappeared. Perhaps it can be like every other Stolen great art finds its way into personal collections or the black market, but perhaps it has been smelted into gold nuggets and sold. Now that work is like Schrödinger’s cat locked in a box, both alive and dead, and the toilet is both a work of art and not a work of art. There is only one way for it to exist, and that is the endless pictures and texts on the Internet. They are like Veronia’s veil, recording the miracles of the past.

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