Sunday, January 23, 2011

Deconstructing Post-Modernism

“...there is little reason not to believe that all value-orientations are equally well-founded. Therefore, increasingly, choice becomes meaningless… we must now come to terms with the second revolution, ...of postmodernity, which is the immense process of the destruction of meaning equal to the earlier destruction of appearances.”
- David Ashley, Theories of Modernity and Postmodernity,1990

Post-Modernism can not be described as a branch of Modernism in the same sense that movements like Ab-Ex, Pop, and Minimalism were. PoMo alone is avowedly all about the destruction of meaning in Art, which puts it in a class by itself.

Epistemology is defined as "The branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity. "
(American Heritage Dictionary)

According to the epistemological doctrine of Post-Modernism, knowledge may be sought through many means including, for example, revelation (pre-modernist thought), empiricism, reason, and logic (modernist thought), and epistemological pluralism (post-modernist thought), there is, therefore, no ultimate truth and, thus, everything is of equal value (e.g., the concept of moral relativity). It is this latter transition to notions such as moral relativity that repels me.

The postulation that there may be no universal method of knowing (i.e., there is more than one valid epistemological approach) should not lead inexorably to the conclusion that all values are the same and that one set of values cannot or should not be judged better than another. I do not swallow this. Nor, I imagine, do the most thoughtful among the Post-Modernists. Unfortunately, however, most do. They often justify this by claiming that they need to complete the task of "deconstructing" (i.e. destroying) Modernism before they can begin to build constructive epistemologies as the cornerstone of a fully-functioning Post-Modernist paradigm.

I don’t think that they will ever attain that objective. It’s much easier to destroy than it is to build.

Remodernism is a response to the distance from meaning, beauty, and emotion that Post-Modernism has traveled. This is the heart of the matter.

Remodernism is meant to be more accessible for people and to give back to artists the right to express themselves and to communicate with their viewers on a person to person level.

The cynical argument is often made by the Post-Modernists that their movement is more "democratic", since it holds all critical opinions to be of equal worth, and the artist's intentions to be irrelevant. This is hypocrisy; the elitist Post-Modern clique is more full of pompous exclusivity and deliberate obfuscations than Late Modern Art ever was. They're just a little bit more clever. Post-Modernism is actually all about intellectual one-upsmanship. It's a pissing contest to see who can be the most nihilistically ironic.

It's nearly impossible to recognize a Remodernist by their work. We're used to an Art Movement being defined by a particular look (aka formal qualities). Cubism, Minimalism, Surrealism, etc. are instantly recognizable. Remodernism is not; it is a way of thinking about Art, and the purpose of Art, rather than a specific way of making art.

Another thing that seems painfully obvious is that artists' works often fall short of their intentions, at least insofar as not every viewer will percieve the 'spiritual' quality of a particular work of Art, regardless of the artist's stated intent. I often have this experience myself when looking at Remodernists' work.

To quote David Cohen "...I wouldn't want to participate in a criticism the function of which would be to award brownie points for good intentions."

I sincerely appreciate anyone's participation in this discussion, and I'm delighted to answer any questions that you may have about Remodernism.