Sunday, January 2, 2011

Flarf, belatedly


Flarf? Seriously? Sure, and we'll set up a Department of Crayola studies right after this already tedious digital in joke finally stomps the last shimmer of resonance from The Ironic Effect .Flarf is late in the game, I think, attempting to be something that Pop Art was during the Sixties, a species of Capitalist Folk Art where the commercial design of advertising was taken as worthy aesthetic principle by serious working artists; it presented us with Soup Cans, Colleges with goat heads, American Flags and raunched out car seats , products of design all, and served as a genuinely odd fulfillment of Walter Benjamin's much cited essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction". Benjamin had thought that mass production of aesthetic objects would cause the mystifying and distancing aura to evaporate from around paintings, sculptures and the like and allow the rest of us to appreciate, enjoy and be inspired by art in a way that didn't rely on a priesthood of critics and academics to keep us attentively dumbfounded with a theoretical catechism. This was not unlike Martin Luther's spearheading the Protestant Reformation, initiated but the invention of moveable type and the printing of the Bible ; the Catholic Church had lost it's exclusivity as interpreters of The Word, and Luther presented that all a worshipper needed as his own Bible and the courage to seek the God of his understanding. Alternative currents within alternative streams makes for intriguing footnotes in literary histories and can give reason for a Cultural Studies major to further beg the question as to how information glut and digital dispersion usurps claims to regional voices and the certainty of the distinct and original voice rising above the rabble, but we have , in essence, the return of the Dada Gesture. The point is to gum up the works and make farting noises in the back row while the admittedly stuffy conversation , quietest and post-avant, drones from the podium. Good for a giggle, but Flarf seems like an undergraduate writing program manifesto that managed to crawl out the Kinko’s copier and land on someone’s accommodating server.