… It seemed that one could find a life inside pop culture now only as a voyeur — or perhaps as a spy.
… It was not that the boundary between high and low had been newly “blurred,” in the sense of being muddied or obscured. That boundary had been blurred long ago — blurred because it was always in motion, and impossible to fix. It was precisely the blurring of the boundary, in fact, the constant, aggressive redefinition of where that line ought to fall, the endless series of purposeful transgressions and rescue operations and redefinitions, which had, from Goya to Guston, been one of the crucial acts that made modern art modern.
[line break added] Now, for the first time, modern art had become so institutionalized as a tradition and a practice — so entrenched and so popular, so sure of its moves and so inclined to repeat them, so confident in its audience and of its own continued triumphs in making modernity look Modern — that its engagement with the world around it would apparently no longer allow for the uncharted complexity, the immediacy, the individual eccentricity usually possible before. Relations between high and low became formalized, ponderous, and self-conscious, like the relations between two wary, heavily armed courts.
… It seemed increasingly that the life of American culture had become polarized into two rival citadels that, like medieval fortresses in wartime, pulled all their former dependencies inside — on one side, the devouring television cable box, on the other, the museum. And in the barren plain in between there was not much of anything.
… For the most part, you chose between the little box or the big one, and it seemed at times that even the struggle between these two towers was a bit of a sham. As perhaps in all cold wars, the ideology of hostility increased in inverse proportion to the plain fact of coexistence.
[ … ]
… [David] Salle’s purpose was not to kid the high or to champion the low, but to insist on their absolute equality. He was the first artist to paint TV experience in TV light — the life of the deep blue bedroom lit by the light of the dark blue box.
It seemed that one could find a life inside pop culture now only as a voyeur — or perhaps as a spy.
David Salle, Comedy, 1995
My most recent previous post from this book is here.