Artists as Distant Early Warning Systems

McLuhan Galaxy

picassochagall Picasso & Chagall

The Artist as Distant Early Warning System (2005)

When multimedia artist Laurie Anderson performed recently in Vancouver, she mused how life is often like bad art. Characters come and go and never return. The plot changes randomly. Entire themes are abandoned halfway through. Unlike art, life’s point of view is always first person singular, in the present tense. (And usually a tense present.)

So one big purpose of art, for both the creator and the audience, is to give life the form it often lacks. Any artist worth his or her salt hopes to make a mark, to rise above mere trends, even if that expectation is something of a tall order in a culture with the attention span of a ferret on crystal meth.

Being ahead of your time has its down-side, evidenced by the struggling artist’s steady diet of Kraft dinner and humble pie. Prophets…

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