July 11, 2011

The Full Story.

The Mountain from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

This video expresses some of the feelings I have had during our snorkel excursions here off Cap Tossa. (Check out the backstory, there's a Spanish angle to it, by the way.) While swimming, we can see the huge blue cataract of the Mediterranean. We see the carpet of flora continuing on the hillsides after they plunge into the water. We see the abundance of nature and the nakedness of predator and prey. It is humbling indeed. While the soothing music does resonate with the theme and the dilation into an ecstasy of nature is compelling, there is another side of nature, this video and the recent blogposts featuring shots from my Intova camera only show half of the story.

The other half is charged and tinged with danger. Our excursions off the coast is safe and secure to be sure. But when the waves are active, and you are struggling to fix on a single location on the rocks amid the froth of bubbles and foam, soothing music doesn't come to mind. You have to simultaneously fight the waves and go with them as well... all the while dodging the knife edged mussels and spiny sea urchins. The video bookended below is one I chose off the top of my head to represent that other extent: danger, discord, struggle, defiance, tenacity, independence, pride, anger, determination. Not order, harmony, the grain of life, a dissolution or surrender to G-d (or an otherwise denominated higher authority of your choosing). This is the center of gravity of contemporary art itself. Or to refine the thought: contemporary art is an account of the history of movement and counter movements, each movement begun as a kernel, grown with adherents, antithetical anomalies gather until (I note echos of Hegel and Kuhn here) the paradigm is broken and reformed by a counter movement. Repeatedly.

There is a great category we call art, known throughout the world and common between all civilizations. And another which may or may not be as equally great, a subcategory we call contemporary art, the art world known via art schools, art museums and art press. One extent maps nicely on one and the other extent maps nicely on the other. The claim to greatness from the latter hinges on the legitimacy of its claim on posterity. Homer, for example.

The actual experience off the rocks in the Mediterranean here is a blend of both dimensions, integrated seamlessly, ironic, charged with tension. I can only here indicate it with facets, the challenge is to show it integrally.

Posted by Dennis at July 11, 2011 5:33 AM

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