May. 13th, 2015

jojothemodern: (Default)
WHAT THE HELL AM I LISTENING TO

Seriously, I've listened to experimental music before, and I am not sure at all what Tyondai Braxton is going for in this newly released album, HIVE1. The tracks strike me as formless at times, eschewing musical basics like "melody". At times they change direction so much it sounds like two tracks crashed together. You really need earbuds or something for this album, because otherwise you miss too many carefully chosen noises.

According to Wikipedia, Tyondai Braxton co-founded Battles. OOOOOOOhhh. I totally remember that group from a CD sampler included with a music magazine I bought back in 2007 or something. It was a great song, but I recall being disappointed when I looked up other tracks from the band. I also didn't know why they claimed to be a rock band. Whatever it was, it didn't sound like rock at all. This stuff I'm listening to right now is also supposed to be rock. Okay, apparently I don't know what rock is. (Then again, Margaret Atwood doesn't consider Oryx and Crake sci-fi, and JG Thirlwell hates it when anyone says his music is industrial. Categories are up for debate.)

"In 2015, Braxton released HIVE1, his first solo album is six years and his first on Nonesuch Records. Written and recorded throughout 2013 and 2014, the recording comprises eight pieces that were originally conceived for a performance work called HIVE that debuted at New York’s Guggenheim Museum in 2013."

Ah. The Guggenheim. So this isn't exactly music- it is ART, it is a "performance work", and now I think I am on solid footing as I listen to these ambient waves roaring in my ears as I type (track 7).

Isn't it interesting that there is an entire world of artistic output that is pretty much exclusive to a particular privileged sphere- if you come within a certain income bracket and live in a city like New York, then you have access to "performance works" at the Guggenheim. If you live in New York but have less money, then you don't. If you have money but live in Indianapolis, then you don't. The idea that special people get special art... idk, that's a bit odd. Then again, it's simply art adapting to a capitalist society. I don't judge it. I just wind up noting it.

At least the internet gives everyone else a sort of ground-floor access to a generalized version of the art world; you don't go to the Guggenheim but you hear the music in its final recorded form. You don't see paintings where they hang worldwide but you get to browse Google Art Project. Through YouTube and Spotify and whatnot you can see and hear most of what's available, even if it isn't all uploaded legally (I've heard even Spotify accused of streaming albums that they technically don't have the license to use). This on top of media we've had for a while, books and home video.

So complaining is probably a waste of time that could be better spent on experiencing some art. Whether or not there is even a benefit to seeing a performance work live at the Guggenheim is uncertain. Who knows how much of it is just placebo effect. Just that feeling of being privileged and a bit pampered.

Ramble ramble ramble.

How much of liberalism's beef with the wealthier classes is less about genuinely wanting what they have- the envy and jealousy that is so often pinned on the left- and more about the principle of the thing? It's not that we actually need to go to the Guggenheim so badly, it's more about the fact that there is such a thing as exclusivity in the first place.

Some want everything available to everybody. Others want nothing for anyone, a minimalist society where huge art museums in New York aren't a thing. Communist revolutions in the past tended to lean in the latter's direction (though not very well, since the revolutionary leaders quickly decided some exclusivity wouldn't hurt them). Not sure what modern liberalism/progressivism aims for. You can only declare everything "privileged" for so long before it becomes clear that you don't have a plan for fixing anything. You just get a thrill out of saying "privilege!" Too much of a thrill. It's an emotional outlet that is probably hampering serious efforts. Tackling income inequality could perhaps get further if we didn't get the anger out of our system so easily.

So wait- how do *I* feel about exclusive art?

I am forced to apply philosophy, a little bit of a Buddhist viewpoint, and my ACoA-induced ability to call myself out. Most people prefer top-40 radio. This city's art museum, huge and stuffed with valuable paintings and sculptures, had free admission until this year but didn't exactly have to fight off crowds. I have access to so much stuff already and rarely take advantage of it, preferring to read library books and watch anime. Whether exclusivity is wrong or not is one issue and whether the exclusive stuff is even desirable, much less needed by us plebs, or not, is quite another topic. I can't conflate the two. I have to be honest with myself if I suspect that I am just wanting something I can't have. It's a very human reaction to the sight of other people getting something that you are not. I also have to be honest with myself if I see myself applying ideology- it's the principle of the thing! I don't want to be an ideologue.

But ah, I already am one. Looking up the Guggenheim in New York showed that it only costs $16 for a general adult to get in. I can't tell from here if exhibitions cost extra. Who knows whether it cost anything at all to see Tyondai Braxton's performance work. I made assumptions without even thinking about it- you had to have money and live in New York to see it! Well, you had to get to New York, and yeah you would need at least $16, which a lot of people don't have, but that is not what I pictured while rambling up there. In my case I think it was both envy AND a general dislike of exclusivity that led me to knee-jerk imagine a bunch of rich people in evening dresses sipping champagne while pretending to understand experimental rock music.

But even if that image were accurate, who cares? (That's the Buddhism talking.)

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