I sometimes write about art too
I am a public intellectual. What does that even mean?
Well, I've got a PhD and I've written a number of books; none of them bestsellers. I worked as a journalist for many years and taught journalism for many more.
Now I am learning to write about art; criticism, commentary, history, and theory. Here's a sample of some ideas I've thrown out there.
Postmodernism and the Bonaventure Hotel
"From a distance, and looking up, the Bonaventure building resembles a truncated spaceship. A series of cylindrical towers around a central core cylinder. For all money it looks like a Saturn V booster rocket array on the launch pad. This image is enhanced by the hotel’s external glass elevators. They appear like the infrastructure of the gantry; lifting astronaut-guests up into the darkened recesses of the residential towers."
The Bonaventure Hotel, Los Angeles; photo by the artist, 2008
"Several factors work dialectically to situate art works as commodities, even TikTok videos. The most salient is the ideological pull of commodity fetishism that reduces nearly all relationships between people and artefacts to a simple commodity transaction; to this we can add the subsumption of leisure and private life into the commodity form. Nevertheless, these broad ideological conditions do not necessarily allow us to make definitive statements about the social conditions pertaining to the labour that produces them. From this we can conclude several key elements:
1. Selling a work of art does not necessarily equate to getting a wage for producing that artefact
2. Art works can be commodities in practical and ideological terms (and can be fetishized as such) but this does not equate to commodified production relations;
3. Performative labour – such as producing TikTok videos – remains difficult to quantify as commodified or uncommodified labour;
4. Commodified aged labour in the culture industries exists on an industrial scale through gallery attendants, museum curators, music studio technicians, advertising, sales, clerical work, stagehands, set and costume designers and so on;
What we are left with is a more general question about the relationship of the aesthetic of art to the political economy of art. Is the aesthetic outside the commodity form."