The Gentrification of Culture

pattycakes_

Well-known member
Shaka wrote this in thirdform's algo-indie thread

pitchfork and the music it covers only made sense to me after moving to the US and seeing what rich(ish) americans are like, the way they live, the worldview, what they like, all of that. it's squarely aimed at that demographic, the people who write for it are from that demographic. i think this category of americans are totally different from their european counterparts.

Which jogged my memory on some posts I wrote on a music production forum:

Re: [Damien] Hirst/pretentiousness etc. The rich love a good boost to the superiority complex. They infiltrate the walled gardens, showering money, compliments, patronage, gallery space and promotion until finally knocking them down and building their own, just with well dressed guards and sleek looking security code pads on the walls. This way they get to feel responsible for the art's existence, minus any of the soulsearching and existential turmoil it tends to take passing through to be capable of creating objects of any real wonder. They champion it to show they're able to see what those lesser are not and love to talk at great length about why it reflects so succinctly on matters they themselves never actually have to deal with. The art world at this point is nothing but a fever dream for the emotionally empty rich and aspiring to pass money around and act out their bohemian fantasies. Hirst and all who followed figured this out a long time ago, and have been pulling the same illusion ever since. Well, maybe a shi1te public statue at a dock here and a Pollock pastiche there, but on the whole, the show has been down pat for decades.

Imho, it's detrimental to take any of it anything beyond face value, but there is an F For Fakian art to the grift. Can't abide myself, but they played those cards well. From my pov, the crucial killer blow that era pulled was stripping out the emotional (soul searching, spiritual) aspect of art, which in turn brought it closer and made it more palatable to the vapid curators, experts and wealthy consumers, allowing for a much cosier host/parasite co-existence. I feel like this had the knock on effect of lowering the value in the mainstream eye of arts more concerned with matters of the soul and being 'real' etc. Yeah yeah (guess what, you, rolling your eyes, you're one of them.)

This was asymmetrically echoed in the jazz world with the academization and conservatorization of that whole scene. As soon as those with money step in and offer their helping hand, it all goes a bit wonky and suddenly you've got Wynton Marsalis as global ambassador and the 30 years of cosmos-bound exploration starting in the 50s with Sun Ra is nearly forgotten. The kids of the wealthy parents buying the art, now studying at the conservatory are contentedly stunted in the safer side of 50s with the hopes of hitting the stage at Montreux one day... with the pleasant, melodic chinks of champagne flutes and rustle of haute couture in the background.

You could swap jazz with dance music and the academy for any of the big branded platforms out there ahem boilerroom ahem and the same play acts itself out. This sh1t doesn't lend itself to a healthy, vibrant music scene. It lends itself to a spiritually bankrupt, conservative, empty shell. Weekend at Bernie's (the entire western cultural canon mix.) Clubs stuffed to the gills with the types equivalent to those waffling it up at White Cube.

Plot twist, there's no longer any difference between the creators and the consumers. Tail swallowed.

Kinda seems as though as long as Hirst continues to pull that disgruntled 'yeah, and?' face for the rest of his life, the curtain will never be pulled back. Not by those willingly playing along at least. Nor will it on Montreux as long as the champers keeps flowing, and nor will it for BR as long as there's a constant flux of impressionable kids too young to go to a club yet and grow up thinking that that's what it's about - they, themselves, on the screen, looking cool and their own personal experience over the music, dj or communal aspect which is what this sh1t used to be about since back when DJ CroMag picked up a few sticks and got something going on a log

Tell you what though. Hirst's eyes nowadays say it all. The furtive hesitation just under the glazed surface. Trapped. Way past the disbelief that he's gotten away with it phase at this point. Much more the 'The Horror, The Horror' zone.
 
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pattycakes_

Well-known member
This one was a back and forth between another poster who's posts I'll color red.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trashman ➡️
But what is the grand strategy to this crowd?

The closest I have to an answer to that is just more of the same. Sport, fun, social life and ego boost all rolled into one. An artificial construction of rarefied air to reinforce their sense of self as the chosen ones. I would be surprised if there was any goal in mind. I'd imagine much of that world is subconsciously created. Their nature acting itself out, unencumbered by financial restrictions. How many artists would be able to resist the seductive pull of the high life? From what I've seen, many artists nowadays are in it for just that. This is what I meant by creator and consumer being one and the same. Middle/upper class folk acting out the schauspiel together. Each willfully deceiving and being deceived 'simply fabulous dahling' and whatnot.

I wasn't talking about the average GS forumite or bedroom musician.

Anyway, it's probably always been this way to some extent, but the YBAs were a clear turning point.

Quote:
My ex-girlfriend took a spot at SVA and then Columbia, worked for an “artist” in Chelsea, did some decorating at Jay-Z’s loft, all the while playing the role Bushwick “open studios” but to what end? Back to running the widget factories in China.

A friend of an ex worked for an artist back in London. Big name guy from rich ancestry. iirc he'd decided to be an artist because he had no need to work and the lifestyle appealed to him. The friend's job, along with a team of others, was to do the actual painting. It went something along the lines of him giving a rough outline of what he wanted and they, the art school educated minions pouring all their skills into these huge pieces for weeks or months and then he'd sign his name in the corner and sell it to Elton John for half a mil. +/- true story. His parties were legendary apparently, lol.

Quote:
I look at these artifacts as a force of nature that is more akin to “law” or “war” or “family”.

Each is an abstraction that can manifest itself in any way imaginable. Like gravity makes things “fall” but it also “pulls” the tides and makes celestial bodies go “around”. It might also hold the universe together.

I love your breakdown of how if works. I think your spot on and so incredibly good at writing about it. I don’t believe it is in place simply to reinforce power dynamics. There is something else at work here. Something more profound. An alchemy of sorts. Whether it’s pernicious and insidious is a point of concern. Are we as “artists” contributing to it or rebelling against it. In the end, like you said, it’s nearly always captured. It’s turned into “the Horror” …. But is that because this crowd is “the horror”? Can it also be a force for good?

I was talking today with a friend about how there seems to be something afoot here. Because it's all happening in sync. Politics, the climate, culture, humanity, technology. Pop culture ate itself and an ill wind has been blowing for a while. Whether it's all being tended, or could be tended is a big question. For me it feels more like we're in some archetypal tale prophesized way back when and this is an ending to a great cosmic cycle. Not necessarily the end, but maybe a time of transition, or a death before rebirth (or maybe just a wake-up call?! I don't know!) These things shift over millennia, so who knows how long it goes on for. But the question if it could be redirected is interesting. Because for sure many things are in our hands. With my friend we were talking about what could be an answer to where we're at right now, musically, at least. What's missing now that felt like it was in endless supply back in the day?

For me it all comes down to one word: ..soul.

I saw it mentioned earlier in the thread that soul doesn't exist. I couldn't disagree more. The critical theory heads will trick you out of believing in things because they can't see them.

But that's just it. It's not for the eyes or mind. It's felt. And I think as long as you've been calibrated to a decent level, you can't deny it when it's there in front of you.

But that begs the question, can we un-eat ourselves? Or has it been woven in?

As a part-time idealist, I think it can be done but tales a lot of mental work. Being online all the time (irony on a forum, and yes I am an addict, too) has made us all so self aware. Social media. Visual representation as important as everything else. We all operate as little brands, carefully curating our images as much as we can. Well, not all of us, but many. And that's a powerful force of influence over our behavior. Was always thus? Maybe. But the internet multiplied it ten fold.

Have you heard of the Hawthorne effect? Where the studied subject's behavior changes when it's aware it's being monitored? And then what about when the subject is monitoring itself? Or what about monitoring itself while aware it's being monitored? Hehe. Some kind of mental matryoshka going on there. Layers and layers. All this is stifling, suffocating, totally oppressive. There would have to be a way of breaking out of it as much of this as possible. I'm picturing that last scene in THX1138. Breaking open the hatch of that relentless whiteness into the wide open spaces of nature.

Because I think this is where soul lies. ...In truth. In unmanaged, unfiltered, raw honesty. That's why @ NawwwwwSun 's grimy approach appeals to me.

When you combine truth with talent, it's undeniable.

I'm certain that there will always lie within all human beings the soul receptors, just waiting to receive the signals. It doesn't matter how dark things get. If you can find a way to activate your internal transmitter, then I think we'll be onto something
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this can already be done during the process of getting free, of which I'm sure with some work, techniques of varying legality could be developed
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pattycakes_

Well-known member
Quote:
Your outlines of function describe tactical social warfare. It’s how a military unit takes over a block and moves on to another in an urban / social warfare battle within a larger war.

All of these subtle changes are not so subtle. They seem benign, but they’re meant to appear this way. But look what it accomplishes. Look at your description of jazz. It was blown up. Just like any of the counter-cultures. They are all captured at some point and “gentrified”. This isn’t “conservative” this is radical. This is war machine so far beyond the jacobin.

Trivialization is an effective tactic, no doubt. Whether intentional or unintentional. On our side it's important to keep the home fires burning. And to call out the wack, when it's causing destruction to our turf. Also to make art that stands for what we are about, and strive to make it if we're not already.

Quote:
The vanguard is real but where is it? Here is the question that concerns me:

IS A VANGUARD EVEN POSSIBLE IN A PANOPTICON?

This takes us back to the Hawthorne effect and the efforts to break free of it. It's something I spend a lot of time thinking about and trying to implement.

But I have a counter question:

Do we always need to progress? Or could we also thrive on a more settled culture where those frameworks which have been proven to work for decades could just be continually elaborated on, only in a more 'healthy competition' style environment, just like what jazz was doing for so many years. They would all hang out, jam, swap ideas, share ideas. All in the aid of growing the artform and therefore the culture around it including both creators and consumers aka musicians and audience. I hear those theorists squawking in the background again. It'll never work! Really? It seemed to work out pretty well for jazz for the best part of a century.

Maybe all we need to do is a little retracing of the steps? Maybe a crossroads was passed, meaning one road still remains unexplored? Not long ago I was thinking about an alternative reality where dance music continued to be played by bands, ala the disco era. With all the knowledge and tech we have now, but with bands instead of one or two guys in a bedroom? Just throwing it out there.

I'm not married to the idea that we need to always move forward even though so many people I look up to were all about exactly that. Maybe it made more sense in their time because there was so much innovation going on musically and technologically during their careers. Maybe there's a new paradigm here? Especially when there's no new ideas. Just look at Hollywood.

I can tell you this, let's just say a new Curtis Mayfield came out right now with a new song as potent and well written as Move On Up. A totally new song, but with the same energetic power. Nothing would need to be new about it for me, innovation-wise. I'd just be amazed and elated. I don't need things to be new, especially when I still get visceral hits from old and even ancient things. I'm definitely of the 'if it ain't broke' mentality. If it's good, it's good.

Quote:
Maybe Hirst has figured a way “through” or maybe he his captured. Hard to say. That look could be “I’m in. What now?” If he is hiding in plain sight, what’s the revolutionaries’ next move? Maybe he has none. Maybe his contribution was mapping the way through.

I'm thinking Hirst is not the guy I want to use as a guide for where we're going hehe. He and his crew played a major role and inspired a lot. For me right now it's time to take matters in to our own hands... if you're up to it. As above, I'm not driven by doing something new. I just want to make things that speak to what I stand for, and that can absolutely be archaic in form. But, if something new would emerge from experiments, then great. But yeah, just follow your heart and bring the fuccin ruckus is about the best advice I can think of.
 

luka

Well-known member
unfortunately ive just heard barty has been locked in a bum cabinet for the rest of his life
 

luka

Well-known member
So I'm wondering if we're stuck here now. Or will this all come to a breaking point?
stuck pretty good to all intents and purposes but never discount the ways life has to surpirse you. music is alright and
if someone is really good at it, it will make a difference probbaly, maybe
 

pattycakes_

Well-known member
stuck pretty good to all intents and purposes but never discount the ways life has to surpirse you. music is alright and
if someone is really good at it, it will make a difference probbaly, maybe


I've been having this same conversation with several people recently and think all it would take would be the right kind of spark which could potentially have a domino effect

It feels like the public is just waiting for it
 

pattycakes_

Well-known member
Money has stagnated the arts. People are putting up with things right now, like 'it'll do' - subconsciously. On the outside, they're all desperate to be seen as having a good time
 

luka

Well-known member
money is not to blame, its us. we' dont' know what the fuck we're supposed to do. i don't you don't, wash your hands don't.
 

pattycakes_

Well-known member
The concentration and distribution of money has evolved a lot since the internet came along. I think the internet is a huge factor
 

luka

Well-known member
i havent read that bit yet but even if its on purpose we're to blame for being that stupid. its all out fault for being so unimaginative imo
 

WashYourHands

Cat Malogen
it’s a bit like when DIY realised that 100-150 committed attendees were a better shindig all round than thousands of randoms, unfortunately you can never quite anticipate the tipping point, only look back when it finally passes

you can set certain very loose parameters then stress a system, eg rupture certainty in western entitlement, it’s happening all around in multiple forms

whether it manifests through art? yes, but immediately commodification added, tyranny of likes, marketed around, sold, that’s where you have to be at your most collectively creative bypassing embedded and ingrained patterns altogether
 
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