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[- Dark Matter and the Counter-Public Sphere
By gregory sholette, Section editors' corner
Posted on Thu May 1st, 2003 at 11:50:28 AM EURODISCORDIA TIME
Until very recently, such things as home made crafts, amateur photography (and pornography), self-published newsletters, fan-zines, underground music and comics as well as non-professional collecting practices have had little impact beyond their immediate community of producers and admirers.


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Today, an ever more accessible technology for manufacturing, documenting, distributing as well as pilfering images and information has dramatically ended the isolation of these informal creative activities. One can hardly escape an encounter with this heterogeneous production as it radiates from homes and offices, schools and streets, community centers and cyberspace, especially in cyberspace. Qualities that were anathema to modernist notions of serious art such as fantasy, nostalgia, and sentiment appear essential to the content of this informal artistry as it ranges from the whimsical to the inspired, from the banal to the reactionary, and from the obscene to the seditious. It is my contention that the majority of creative activity in our post-industrial society remains invisible to the institutions and discourses - critics, art historians, collectors, dealers, museums, curators and arts administrators-- who manage and interpret contemporary culture.

The term I choose to give to this vast and heterogeneous pool of unseen creative activity is "Dark Matter." The term is borrowed from the science of cosmology and refers to the enormous amount of invisible material predicted by the Big Band theory but so far never directly perceived. Its presence can only be inferred indirectly from the motions of astronomical objects. Likewise, the Dark Matter of the art world also makes up most of its universe. In so far as this shadowy realm is unburdened by the ironic posturing or careerism of the high-art tradition it fulfills what is arguably a widespread tendency to participate in creative labor not dictated by necessity, but by desire.

While one can question the a-political nature of most of this work, or following Adorno dismiss it outright because its "low" subject matter reflects, rather than negates the manufactured escapism of mass culture, I prefer instead to focus on the self-directed and counter-productive nature of this activity and argue that structurally speaking, this largely invisible, creative work is closer in spirit and market value to politically engaged, activist art than either of these are to commercial or fine art. Dark Matter is therefore related to the practices of artists who self-consciously work outside the parameters of the mainstream art world for political and socially critical reasons. It is the emergence of these autonomous groups of activist artists into a broader visual arena, one where they become visible not only to each other but also to the centralized institutions of the art world, that presents new possibilities as well as traps.

As the theorists Alexander Kluge and Oscar Negt argue, "the possibility of a horizon of a different kind" from that of the alienated conditions of production under capitalism.

[ED - posted by Trebor]

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Dark Matter and the Counter-Public Sphere | 1 comments
[new] intellectual masturbation (Avg. Score: none / Raters: 0) (#1)
by RobertEbright on Thu Oct 2nd, 2003 at 09:09:52 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
(User Info)

sure, high art, is a deleriously cultural phenonomena that relegates itself to the presence of a upper class, which its allegiance to and continued existence are inherently tied.

the dark matter of invisible expressions of individuals seeking less than money and more an outlet from which to reflect the presence of their perspective in a continually alienating hyper-crowded media sphere don't follow the rules of which they are either ignorant of or appaled by

this is the way in which things are going to continue until we dramatically transform our culture into one that isn't obsessed with status and the creation of social hierarchies beyond immediate interaction...

just some thoughts...

Dark Matter and the Counter-Public Sphere | 1 comments

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