“There is only one valuable thing in art: the thing you cannot explain.”
“Paint, not the thing, but the effect it produces.”
Today, the painting is elided with the explanatory placard––the movie, novel, poem, tv show with reviews, analyses, narrative synopses, social media exchanges, Wikipedia articles and so on and so forth. The information about art has no end. Accordingly, Art, as it were, is at some sort of point of demarcation where it
will no longer exist will assume/has assumed a new form and concept.
The artistic object, in this sense, is no longer intended as a container for the apophatic, in which the thing we sense but cannot articulate as anything other than “aesthetic” (ineffable) has left behind its thin film of presence/absence––a trace of that something we know is real but which always recedes into the Heideggerian Void just as our hand is closest to touching it: was that God just now? Love? Meaning? Being? Me? (as John Baldessari noted in one of his sign-paintings, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Aesthetics is what happens in the first second of looking at a painting,” after that first second, when language/thinking kicks in, “the thing” is lost) and, assumably, everything surrounding that now missing “thing/aesthetic” will be subsequently found on the placard immediately to the right of the “art object”: title, artist, materials, biography, historical circumstance, explanation of color, shape, subject, raison d’être) speaking of which, another symptom of this demarcation from/in/of art is the calling into question of what constitutes an “art object” to begin with).
The dialectic between the viewer and the viewed is inverted here … or X problematizes the mode of postmodern cultural production viz… . . These explanations in contemporary art themselves constitute a ([not]intentional) mixed-media approach prevalent in the art of the moment, whose diptych of art object & art theory can be tapped into not only through placards and museum-rented-headphones but through your smart phone, iPad or, god help us, Google glasses.
So the question posed might be: If art is disembarking, what border is it crossing, into what region is it destined? This new district may well be a “De-Aestheticized Zone” (DAZ) whose peripheries are contoured and islanded by information––specifically digital information, although not specifically digital information in itself but digital information as it bodies itself in us. This might lead to an anticlimacticism in the DAZ: rather than technology organizing itself into an autonomous entity beset on atomically annihilating our species, our technodeterminism will have metamorphosed us all into art “experts” rather than weak, meek, passive art “viewers.” In this human apocalypse, we will talk about art amongst ourselves nonstop, masterfully, without ever feeling a thing.