I’m on break and ill, and have been thinking about how much room there is for premeditation in art. My lecturers all push process art very strongly, and have relatively little time for art that builds itself too firmly on information and knowledge-building prior to execution. I understand their position, because so much carefully premeditated art comes across as cold and clumsy – lacking any wicked, moving spontaneity. They feel a piece of art’s meaning, its “academic” meaning, is threaded into a piece after it is made, a second skin over the aesthetics. What really comes across from them is that they privilege art’s formal value somewhat over its communicative or social value. This is not necessarily wrong of them, or at least I am trying to grapple with just the degree to which they are right. The formal qualities of art are, also, the qualities that most immediately prompt an emotional response in us. So I don’t think my lecturer’s approach is without merit – plenty of beautiful art is made exactly their way, without overly-self-conscious intervention by the artist – but I feel sure there is a category of art that transcends their attitude and that I must somehow strive towards – a theoretically careful approach, a premeditated approach, that results in art which conveys both the artist’s social and formal intents by more than accident.
But what I am calling “accident” here could just as well be termed “experiment”, a question of trial and error, of – indeed – process. Most of all I want my art to be heartfelt and didactic, and it is the “didactic” part that my lecturers find distasteful, as much because I have not found any approach that isn’t clumsy, that does more than paw at the viewer like an annoying puppy. I am not certain I will be allowed to continue next year, but I am hopeful, I truly bombed out of this previous semester and may have failed. I think either way I should persist, fight past my quibbling failures of morale and medical nature, repeat a paper if necessary, and be ready to muck in more with experiment, not get held up by *too much* analysis and *too little* action.
Edit: It occurs to me the reason I feel so uncomfortable with this privileging of form (setting aside all that Trotsky or Voronsky wrote against pure formalism) is that it becomes a method not only for occasionally making great art, but much more often for making financially lucrative crappy art – between the Warhols, Koonses, and even the Abramovics of this world. Art that is only moving on a superficial level, that lacks depth of thought to match its depth of heart, or that is not very moving at all when one meditates upon it without the placebo of hype, with a critical eye.