3/2/10

Turn It Up

"All legitimate art deals with limits. Fraudulent art feels it has no limits. See, the trick is to locate those elusive limits. You're always running up against those limits, but somehow the limits never show themselves. So that's why I say that measure and dimension begin to break down at a certain point." --Robert Smithson, in conversation with Patricia Norvell

William S. Burroughs, Wong Kar Wai, Guided By Voices--what do these artists have in common? They take a trope or a truth and amplify it, distorting it beyond reason into something extraordinary. By forcing the codes of the genres they work in, by pushing them to the limits, they reveal the limits of the art itself. Rock'n'roll--an adjective as well as a noun--reveals structures; you can see how well the building was made by making it shake.

Likewise, we love to see ourselves reflected in the revealing mirror of other cultures. Like a Japanese t-shirt of the Statue of Liberty whose caption reads "Liberty True!", these distortions have the power to clarify our understanding of ourselves. A genre is already a kind of distortion, but further amplified through a foreign perspective, it can have the revelatory power of rock'n'roll.

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