Sunday, June 7, 2009

Time Enough to Be

I came across an interesting, contemplative, personal discourse on art and art history that includes how it is critiqued, valued, accessed and evolving. Written by David Byrne he recalls his experience with libraries (which would include a similar consciousness raising experience for us all, undoubtedly). I'd like to share it here. He writes this, in part, about a displaced library supplanted by a gallery expansion:

...But where did the books go? Reading, the part of the Victorian outreach that involved more interaction and could actually be brought into one’s house for a while, is gone.

Maybe, with the sheer volume of text on the Internet, it isn’t deemed as important to make books available for free to the poor and newly arrived in the East End. Art you have to visit and see, for the most part, and books you can buy, browse at bookstores or now download. Maybe part of the museum or gallery’s attraction is the social aspect — reading is solitary. The Whitechapel was crowded, and people would presumably discuss their visit later over dinner, or at the office the next day. Picture viewing is also fast, while on the other hand, it takes many hours to read a book — which is another reason the literary experience has such a profound effect. Viewing an exhibition can be done in an afternoon or much less, and if you don’t like it you just walk out. The speed of the visit doesn’t make it less deep — a short experience can also be profound — and visual experiences can imprint if we are receptive enough. (Movies and music, I’ve noticed, are like books — you have to commit a sizable block of time to the experience.)

I found the entry quite sincere and thought provoking. I find myself rethinking how we are working over our concept of time or time is working us over as a bi-product of our willingness to speed it up (...or both) and how this has affected my personal relationship to art. Is experiencing art at a clip or in a meditative focus of equal or lesser value? These are some of the questions I find myself contemplating.

The journal entry in it's entirety can be found here along with many other interesting entries. Treat yourself.

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