A reflection on the states on art as per Giulio Carlo Argan.
Giulio Carlo Argan on Art
(Excerpt and translation from Nuove Tecniche D’Immagine)
There’s people that ask whether it is morally necessary to concern oneself with art
At a moment of crisis when we no longer know whether man will continue to dwell
On this planet earth and if he does indeed survive will he want to continue his existence as a man. To ask oneself such question is to answer no, to admit then, that in the system of historical values art takes a subordinate place and cannot change if not ready to conform to the model and other changes. Otherwise if it were true that art cannot reproduce itself in a state of non-freedom, it would follow that a condition of freedom
Does not exist completely without art, and therefore it would be necessary to recognize
The merit of being represented in history, the anticipation and recovery on another level,
The freedom denied to the order of religion and politics. Reduced to the simplest terms the problem is a dilemma of freedom or not.
Freedom is the possibility to extend the experience beyond the immediate data, the action beyond the answer to the conditioned stimulus: to interpret the past while doing history,
To live the present doing politics, to organize the future by program it. The faculty in which we can see ourselves in a different condition from that which we are in the present, is that it tightens us in a angst from which we want to escape in order to live in a wider space and time; this is the imagination, without imagination there is no history,
Ideology, morality, politics. Nor the arts, for art is able to realize the imagination as conscience and intentionality, can be the representation connected to the will or the motive for doing, on the contrary it is the process in which the motive to operate in the technical garments of a ethical determination gives way to an extended experience of the
Those who want to destroy the ethical ideal of freedom, the imagination, hit and wound the imagination paralyze thus the will and capacity of choice reduce the human being’s action to obtuse obedience and superior orders or the imitation of a machine, the model of automatic unquestionable behavior, highly productive and morally irresponsible. Because in its history, art is the model of behavior as solicited by the imagination, determined by specific and rigid choices, and a behavior which is controlled in every action and moment, art is in the eye of fans and it becomes a necessity to understand the rest, and it becomes dutiful to defend if not for the sake of defending the condition of the
Free mental state from which it has descended.
As a “test” to the situation, art reveals the condition of extreme angst and difficulty and danger the faculty of imagination exercises in the boundaries of civilization and what we refer to as technology and consumption. These are conditions that everybody is being exposed to, not just artists , scientists and philosophers who are the specialists of imagination and thought, they reveal the seriousness of this condition. The only criteria
To evaluate the meaning of their work is to establish whether are defending and redeeming the right of the imagination or instead dispute it.
The technological system or consumption in its economic and political configuration
Does not aim and radically destroy the imagination but rather to condition it
Infrastructure it discredit it and use it. It chases her like at duck at Christmas time.
It isolates her (in a cage) with continuous throw of information. It forces her to reproduce enormous quantity of images designated for immediate consumption, alienates her from behaving ethically to insert her in a mechanism of technical behavior.
Since every productive enterprise is in need of technicians , the industry of the images is (the entire industry of images, strict images) is in need of technicians of images. That the artist has always been the technicians of images, is clear, that he aspires to remain
As such in the boundaries of the productive apparatus of the industry is also understandable. But in the apparatus his technique is not autonomous and cannot produce the maximum. Could that be the crisis in the arts?
In truth, in the actual system of industrial production no technology is autonomous
And produce the maximum . The incompatibility does not exist between the technical
Aspect and the execution of art and the technical projections and production of the industry. Though it has come later, the crafty stage of artistic techniques has been
Been overcome without having to place in difficulty the search for the esthetic value,
Not because they are archaic, or not authentic in a way that that the technicality of the art
Cannot link to the technicality of the industry. In the actual industrial system no technology not even that which comes directly from science is able to maintain itself autonomous and achieve the maxim values and that is due to the fact that the industrial
Technology is not pure technology or else pure instrumentation but is instead a technology or a means committed in realizing the finality of a economic profit that immediately constitutes itself in a political power. As a instrument of power it exercises the same demeaning pressure towards the arts and sciences. It mortifies in the same method the artistic and scientific imagination and it removes the art and the science
From researching the respective institutional finality, disengages her from her history and diminish her, forcing artists to self-serve the prestige and social dignity of the artist and scientist.
In place of the artist as a technician of images, we find two sorts of esthetic operators that specialize both in the technicality of production and that of consumption; in actual market research, and in “public relations”. The alienation of art in the industrial system is accomplished precisely with this major chop in two cuts, each aiming at a particular
Scope, having in mind as a final common finality, not necessary the esthetic value, but the use of the aesthetic quality for the consumption of the product and the profit of the enterprise. The phenomena is not a general one, it does not happen without any resistance. There are people who work moved by an artistic intention and remove themselves from the direct conditioning of the apparatus of production and consumption.
These are the people that alienate themselves because they are not able to understand what kind of relationship could there exist between art, the industry and capitalism.. Could they be the last defenders of the actuality and concrete function of art? Or
Could they be instead adversary transvestites, hidden in the belly of a Trojan Horse?
….to be continued