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Thread: Why do people get Rothko but not Stockhausen?

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  1. #1
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    Default Why do people get Rothko but not Stockhausen?

    David Stubbs's new book "Fear of Music: Why People Get Rothko But Don't Get Stockhausen" was released a couple of weeks ago, and I know people were looking forward to it (I certainly was). Has anyone else read it yet? What do you reckon? Why do people seem more at ease with Rothko than with Stockhausen? Even if you haven't read the book you might be able to offer a few answers.

    I've written a review here: http://rougesfoam.blogspot.com/2009/...music-why.html and some more thoughts on the book's premise here: http://rougesfoam.blogspot.com/2009/...aesthetic.html

    Stubbs says the book is 'intended to tease and provoke further reflection, debate and disagreement rather than to settle any matter' (p.2). I don't think the matter's settled - so let's debate...

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    yeah saw this book... and i thought about this topic a while back too...

    Quote Originally Posted by zhao View Post
    other sound-artists I've talked to have sometimes complained that sound and music are not something the public and the (art) establishment, take nearly as seriously as visual art. music is entertainment for the most part, while "art" is deemed a more profound, significant, and indeed almost religious, experience.

    and it's true, only in recent years have sound been *kind of* taken seriously, with the popularity of artists like Christian Marclay. while famous observations such as "sculture is more suited for the medium of sound, because you can perceive 3 dimensions simultaneously; and with an object you have to walk around it" (who said that again?) have been uttered many years ago. so in this light perhaps the concerns of something like cubism can be easier realized with sound rather than collage or sculpture.

    would you agree that in general our societies and cultures seem to (unjustly, arbitrarily) privilege the eyes over the ears? and if you do, where do you think this prejudice comes from?

    my knowledge of western philosophy is limited, but i vaguely think this has something to do with the enlightenment and the materialism which followed -- sight would seem to be a more concrete measurement of the physical universe - after all seeing is believing, and sound is just so abstract, intangible, and ephemeral.

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    I'm not sure I get either of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by josef k. View Post
    I'm not sure I get either of them.
    Yeah, I'm def in the same boat, and my impression is that the percentage of the population who would fully 'get' either or both is rather small, so the polemic seems a bit misplaced.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tentative Andy View Post
    Yeah, I'm def in the same boat, and my impression is that the percentage of the population who would fully 'get' either or both is rather small, so the polemic seems a bit misplaced.
    tate modern gets five million visitors per year (if this is a decent source - http://www.culture24.org.uk/art/art64312), and had a massive rothko exhibition recently which was advertised heavily all over london on public transport, newspapers, tv etc for months

    what the author thinks it means to 'get' either stockhausen or rothko is presumably something he goes into a bit deeper in the book
    Last edited by UFO over easy; 06-05-2009 at 02:02 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by UFO over easy View Post
    what the author thinks it means to 'get' either stockhausen or rothko is presumably something he goes into a bit deeper in the book
    That's the thing - he doesn't really specify "get" in the book, or the processes of appreciating Rothko or Stockhausen clearly or thoroughly enough. Throughout he seems to imply that high numbers at the free-entry, top 5 tourist attraction Tate Modern seems to indicate that "people get Rothko", and yeah as a casual visitor you can enjoy his work fine in that way. But you can't then compare that to Stockhausen: something you need a musical concert or a recording for, which is a more difficult, committed and expensive process than wandering into the Tate Modern.

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    going to this tonite its got a lazer show hopefully be a good laugh

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    It's less hassle to pretend, or try, to like visual art than aural art, because musical pieces develop over time, meaning you have to grin and bear a potentially unpleasant experience for longer.

    You don't need to sit through a protracted performance when looking at a painting, you only need to stand in front of it looking pensive for half a minute and you've done all the work that you 'need' to do.

    Another reason might be that ordered visual 'dissonance' is all around us in the urban landscape - by walking around central London and looking about yourself, you ceaselessly produce unusual combinations of shapes and colours. Ordered dissonant sound is also present, of course, but rarely beyond the brief repetition of a pneumatic drill or revving car. And so we are more habituated to the former than the latter.
    Last edited by mixed_biscuits; 05-05-2009 at 06:28 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mixed_biscuits View Post
    You don't need to sit through a protracted performance when looking at a painting, you only need to stand in front of it looking pensive for half a minute and you've done all the work that you 'need' to do.
    nailed.

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    Also, Stockhausen serves imperialism.

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    Quote Originally Posted by josef k. View Post
    Also, Stockhausen serves imperialism.
    good point

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    well he also said 911 was a work of art so... i don't think his politics is so clear... to himself even

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    Quote Originally Posted by zhao View Post
    well he also said 911 was a work of art so... i don't think his politics is so clear... to himself even
    Apparently he was misquoted on that, and was actually saying 9/11 was an example of lucifer at work.
    Not that that's without its looneyness...

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    loving your blog rouge's!

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