Don’t look now, but another art season is upon us and also the end of another art decade. It has been a decade bracketed by 9/11 and the election of Barack Obama, and, in our corner, by art world market dominance and deep insecurity.
For the art world the beginning ten years of the new millennium can be branded The Synthetic Decade, a dual meaning of artificiality and synthesis. Paradigms of identity, subject matter, instant communication and materials exploded all over the planet, to the point where notions of "movements," "styles" and "trends" became meaningless. The late Jason Rhoades is the most symbolic creator in this matrix, a man constantly enveloping one culture over another in his chaotic installations.
Indeed, chaotic installations are now the marker of biennales and whatever art fairs are left, yet, they are essentially the last gasp of studio materialism, for they have been overtaken by the seamless projection of imagery in cyberspace. The internet is awash with blogs which thrust toilet roll continuums of images at us in an orgy of delight. One can assemble a "collection" at the behest of one’s printer, slapping on the bathroom wall high quality images that would have been the envy of photographers just a generation ago.
This cyberimage proliferation has the immediate potential of obviating the need for "galleries" or "objects," because the gallery is on the screen in front of you and, in bad economic times, the competition to own objects becomes culturally vulgar. The only real threat to the Internet as the new main strip of art watching, the same Internet which is destroying newspapers, the music industry and television as plutocratic moneymaking portals, is the dirty little secret that the Internet is a centralized machine controlled by the state. The state is not benign and giving it our trust as the highway of ideas is problematic bordering on suicidal.
As sure as sin is alive in the world, a crackdown will come and it will arise out of the necessity of governments to suck the last farthing out of every one of us. When a jury in Massachusetts cooperates with Big Media to soak $675,000 out of some cyberstoners for downloading four songs, we have a real reason to worry. The logical end of the new tyranny is artists in caves scrawling on stones.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).