27th May 2014: Around The Worlds
What would happen if we would spend as much time and effort on choosing which art events we'll attend to than we spend on looking for love?
Relational aesthetics happened because it's more satisfying to be with other people than see art.
Little by little we've learned that since art can be anything, we can do something fun instead of sitting alone in a studio, and just call these fun activities art.
This is why Andy Warhol's "Art is what you can get away with" holds such power in my mind. It's not that art is a joke, or that it's even really that interesting to try sell your piss as art to people, but that we're really free to do whatever. To get away, to escape, to be in another place for a change. Great parties are usually the thing we remember from biennials and other art events. Since that's why we came: we wanted to feel something intensive, and usually it's in the dance floor or during late-night drug fuelled discussions, or in the bed of a lover, that we experience such intensities.
Although art can also do that, or do it even better. Have you ever cried in front of a painting, felt your legs go soft from the beauty of an installation, had your worldview perplexed by a talk, got immensely inspired by a theatre play, gain new-found energies to continue your political battles after a public meeting, or felt serene after walking out of a movie theatre? Yes, I have.
Usually this is not the case. Most of the times we just do the rounds like the local police force cruising down the high street, scanning events with a tired gaze. Another day, another show.
The other day, my friend was wondering why artists have such a bad taste in music (he's not into Drake or Rihanna). With this he meant the blasting of pop hits during parties. Well, they are simple and they work. The pop songs, not artists. Never work.
I wouldn't want to strip pop songs out of their profound cultural and personal meanings, but I think pop music's powerful straightforwardness and clarity of its vision is what makes it alluring to artists.
Artists are not any different from anyone else, but the situation of an art event is: people have gathered to deal with meanings, and when they realize there's nothing exciting in the art works on display, hearing a 3-minutes pop song in full volume gives you -it gives me- life and direction. Pop saves the day, since it brings the night.
Here's a gut feeling: The same might just go for so-called relational activities, that have taken over art events during the past 20 years or so. Cooking together, building stuff with your hands, working and dealing with people who aren't exclusively your peers, going to places that are not the museum nor the gallery, and so on...That kind of stuff makes you feel you've done something instead of merely attending.
After posting this text I'll do a cover of Daft Punk's "Teachers". On it, they list their favorite DJs. I could list my favorite artists (some of them might be DJs too). My list would be quite mainstream compared to Daft Punk's underground heroes.
They are my heroes, actually. Daft Punk's debut album "Homework" means so much to me. I'm listening to it right now. "Around the world", a robot sings into my ear. Such a meaningful, effective line in a time of cheap flights, pointless work trips, endless craving for seeing yet another place. And after all the travels you're back where you started although you don't know where since your head is spinning.
The structure of "Around The World" reflects the endlessness and interchangeability of our journeys: the song consists of about 10 loops, all one to four bars in length, which come back and drop out again and again in varying combinations. The process sounds monotonic, yet the result is beautiful and alive (which is the title of the opening track on the album).
I've always been astonished by dance music's capability to address profound concepts and philosophies with the simplest of words and truncated lines. This is why dance music rules the night. During the day, we look for more complicated thought patterns, to prove that we've evolved, that we're going somewhere. But as the night sets in, we’re back in the loop eternal, around the world, and we hope the morning never comes. It's staggering how frequently we hear the vocalist singing a prayer on a dance music track, hoping this moment and this night to be forever. It's not for romantic love —it's the fear of daylight.
The 4/4 beat echoes through the planet, acting as the spine for the body of human race. We wait for the next drop so we could head for the next build-up. The unbridled force of primary affects: the aforementioned drop and build-up, but also ascend & descend, fade in & out, release, explosion, implosion. The very basic forms that music utilizes will keep us grounded into nature, from which these affects originate.
Maybe letting go of music will be last thing we need to do in our scientific quest towards a humanity without bodies, towards singularity.
Music is what keeps us mortal, addicted to our bodies and to the rhythm of the circular flow. We look for infinity in speed: Around the world as fast as we can until we've lost our way and are free of looking for meaning by measuring distances.
The paradox of a loop: it's never and always perfect. You can always add something to it or take something away, but you may as well not do anything to it. Listen to "Around The World" by Daft Punk, my friends, and you will truly understand this.
edit: this text has some similarities with an interview I conducted with the artist Dxxxa D for a show in Madrid. You can read it here.