the uselessness of art

Musician and friend Adam Simmons sent out an email a few years ago promoting something he called "The Usefulness of Art", along the lines of a music performance event, I believe.

It was not until a few months later when I received another mailout that I realised I had misread the initial message; It was not what my subconscious had presumed as the most propitious reading of that jumble of letters, uselessness, but in fact (possibly) the opposite, USEFULNESS.

I had a jolly good chuckle over this misreading, the unmasking of my values and interpretation of my world.

That we must resort to declaring the use-value of such a 'thing', such an 'action', such an 'experience', such a necessary mode of being in the world, in order to conserve "its" existence seems not only sad, but to an extent, plays into the hand of a consumptive ethos that leaches meaning through its attempt to possess, to colonise.

I sympathise with an attempt to 'remind' society of what place creativity plays in making us and the world, but my contrarian tendencies lead me to a more oppositional strategy, to emphasise the otherness, the unpossessability, the unknowability, and yet the crucial nature of creative process in everything we know.

The commodification of "art" and its processes, in many instances sees the termination of its value. The appropriation of the experience before it is even finished, before it allowed to freely roam hither and thither, finding its own course and conclusion, or not, is DEATH. It sounds a death knell to our societal integrity.

As esteemed academics and writers* now discuss the appropriation of the once-private-experience by the always-on surveillance systems and their downstream commercialising counterparts - where does, how does an authentic creative performance action survive ? Can it ever remain entwined in just living, or ist it doomed along with just-living to be from now and forever-on surveilled and tainted so that all is PERFORMATIVE; a performance-consciousness always-on, always for the benefit of the third-party viewer whether that party is present or not.

THIS is sad, and (along with much else) brings me to a pervasive sense of fighting for survival, of a life and death struggle, the transition of a species from some space to some space else.

What is being lost and what is being gained ? Who wins and who loses ?

It seems crystal clear to me, that those already in power will remain so through an ecology of technologies seconded into service to direct and manipulate in highly specific ways. More reason to guard against the right to privacy and to be aware of what is traded for an apparent ease-of-living on offer . . . . . . . . . .

* One such book and author being; "The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The fight for a human future at the new frontier of power" by Shoshana Zuboff (2019).

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I acknowledge that I live and work within, and am a temporary custodian of land that belongs to the Wotjobaluk people. I pay respect and homage to Wotjobaluk elders past and present on behalf of all GAIP participants. We also acknowledge and pay our respects to the original inhabitants of the lands we pass through during our performance collaborations and do our utmost to care for these places.