12/12/11

Boundaries of art

TL;DR: A sensitive bitch bitching about Shining and Cephalic Carnage.

My topic today is the boundaries of art and whether there are any. I'd say that in general I am quite tolerant and open-minded when it comes to art. Not to say that I enjoy every kind of art, but I accept its existence. As long as the artist is not hurting anyone (against their will), it should be ok. There's an audience for any kind of artistic activity today. Sometimes I feel as though the boredom and safety of our everyday lives and the flatness of it all forces artists to push the boundaries of art further and further away from reality. And at the same time, the audience seeks more and more extreme experiences from art. The products that result from this can be very thought (or vomit-) provoking at times.

I just wish the audience would be smart enough to distinguish art from reality. Because it is the audience's responsibility, not the artist's. However, I'm sometimes worried about kids and teenagers who today are able to access all kinds of shit (sorry, art) via the internet from a very young age. Teens (let alone kids) haven't developed a mature sense of judgement yet so they sometimes are "in danger" of taking art way too seriously and then damaging themselves or others. I can only think back to when I was when I was 14, listening to Children of Bodom's lyrics like they were the Ultimate Truth.. Ugh. Embarrassing.

Of course, the positive thing is, if you're smart, you'll be able to reflect on your teenage thoughts later (and see how immature you really were). It can be quite enlightening. Everything you do and have done will be good for you, if you're able to learn from it later. But, no kid with an undeveloped sense of judgement should experience the sort of art I'm going to discuss in this post.

***

Two separate instances of shock and disgust got me thinking about this issue. The first one is a Swedish band called Shining. I'm taking them too seriously! Goddamnit. Don't worry, I'm not contemplating suicide. But I just cannot listen to that band without paying attention to the disgusting "message" their vocalist is attempting to send to his audience. Even if the music was good at times, I can't enjoy it. The despair-ridden moaning is just too awful to listen to. If you can distinguish the lyrics, it's even worse. Ok, I completely accept this form of "art" just like I accept the most horrible kind of gore movies. I just don't enjoy them. But I can't help but wonder how far we've gone in themes of art. In the case of Shining: encouragement to self-destruction and suicide. A whole genre of music called depressive/suicidal black metal, of which Shining is just one example.

I read an interview (in Finnish) where the singer and mastermind behind Shining explained his motivation for doing what he does. According to the man, Kvarforth, his target group are the weakest people who are most prone to influence and most receptive to his message, which is, simply, suicide.

"Och jag tror du vet någonstans där innerst inne (And I think that you know somewhere deep inside yourself)
Att självmord är den enda vägen ut (That suicide is the only way out)
Tveka inte, skjut, skjut, jag sa skjut, skjut (Don't hesitate, shoot, shoot, I said shoot, shoot)"
- Tiden läker inga sår

Is this his way of trying to save our planet from overpopulation? He's either not serious or totally insane.

Or, alternatively, it's just art and I should just shut up and get over it.

I'm definitely not Shining's target audience. I am disgusted by those lyrics. Fortunately, I'm pretty sure most of Shining's fans and listeners are smart enough to see beyond this "message" and focus on the music itself. Maybe they find comfort in the lyrics at times when they feel bad, maybe they see how self destruction beautifies art, but are smart enough to leave it to that. But I'm also worried that someone would swallow the shit he's feeding. After all, it is the listener's responsibility to interpret what s/he is listening to. And I don't trust people's judgement.

Shocker number two was just a music video, which basically introduced me a combination of death metal and gore/maggot porn. I'm not linking the video, and I'm warning you: Don't go looking for it if you think blood + intestines + porn + a male ejaculation involving a maggot + an exploding penis might be too much for you. You'll not be able to eat anything for a few days if you watch it. But if you're willing to risk your sanity: the music video in question is Cephalic Carnage's Ohrwurm. I watched it once and it was quite enough. You have been warned.
I'm just wondering, in general, what the purpose of a video like that is. Again, I think that its creators absolutely have the right to produce such content. But what is the purpose? To shock people? What is the reasoning behind shocking people in this way? Surely it's some sort of promotion for Cephalic Carnage, but, to be honest, I couldn't really remember what the song was like after watching the video. I had to go back and listen to the song separately from the video to realize that it's actually a really good song. But, what about the video and its purpose? An escape from reality... to disgust?

***

Phew. I got it out of my system now. I feel rejuvenated.

I came to the conclusion that these forms of art, like Shining and Cephalic Carnage's music video, are manifestations of the normal lives of western, modern age people. We don't encounter death and violence anymore, so some of us feel a primitive attraction to themes like this. Finding comfort in self-destructive themes or watching maggots crawling out of penises to edge up their boring everyday routines a little. Weird, isn't it.

Do what you want. But don't confuse art with reality.

2 comments:

  1. Loistava kirjoitus jälleen kerran.

    Täytyyy myöntää, että minua on aina kiehtonut ääripäät taiteissa. Kaveri on suositellut minulle tuota Shiningiakin, mutta en ole vielä saanut aikaiseksi perehtyä. Kiinnostaisi kyllä.

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  2. Jos joskus kokeilet Shiningia ja sattuu kolahtamaan niin kerro sit mulle että miksi..

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