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Sunday, December 8, 2002

Fast Food Art For A Fast Food World

By Dorran Harper

Rupert Christiansen laments the fast-fooding of the arts [Fast-Food Arts The Telegraph 12/04/02]. Surely he doesn't mean that because some have tried to break down the definitions of shall-we-call-them longer-form arts and elevate the status of bite-size popular culture, that this has degraded the definition of art.

Yes, debates about "high" and "low" culture have been going on forever. And yes, the juggernaut appeal of pop culture in the contemporary world tends to mash over almost anything in its path.

But far more dangerous to the definition of art is the failure of those promoting it to engage meaningfully and honestly with it. What's the point of trying to lure people in to the arts if you don't give them a meaningful way to engage with them? That doesn't mean justifying art because "it's good for you." It doesn't mean touting "a lifetime of slow, meditative looking, reading and listening" if that's not the way your life works. Why is slower necessarily better?

Arguably, the average person today is more sophisticated in their perceptions of visual and aural information than they were yesterday. Now, if you want to talk about how "art" is marketed... then that's an entirely different issue.

Dorran Harper
Vancouver, BC

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