Friday, October 29, 2010

Just Don't Say the Word

"Everything signifies," Barthes

Ed Ruscha, 2009

Fearless creative visionaries are normally not concerned with social categorization. They create and media designate. So no one of genuine vision would dare say the word, but this month UCLA held a conference on the hipster. A Village Voice reporter summarized: "It was very vague." Conference speakers noted that no one owns up to this category, which was also Julia Plevin's point for the Huffington Post. The style of the last decade is opposed to media categorization. But evasion of mass culture is combined with highly selective indexical gestures of cultural reference, all done with an authentic sense of ease. Sophia Coppola's use of Ed Ruscha's drawing, in Somewhere below, shows the work on the ground, evading typical hero worship, yet serving as a recognizable index to L.A. and the lifestyle of the effortless bohemian that Stephen Dorff plays.

Since mass production reached an excessive point of augmented survival in the 1960's, each decade has seen a play of forms and style. The 1960's hippies, 1970's punk to disco, 1980's yuppies, 1990's indie, 2000's hipsters. But unlike Dick Hebdige's reading of a closed network of codes, the internet allows codes to become vernacular, so that no one ever exclusively belongs, but there is an open dialogue. The style du jour unites fashion and art with similar gestures.

Cobra Snake, 2009

The basis of indie street photography of the 2000's was again the same 3 values - evasive of commercial forms, indexical street style and effortless point and shoot cameras.

Beautiful Losers, 2008

In art, the over-worked gradeur of the 80's yuppies, and the intellectual identity consciousness of the 90's indie movement was too much work. The 2000's required the only gesture left - as easy as possible.

Dan Colen makes art by throwing confetti

Read more on hipster art in a review of a 2003 Paris exhibition of the young New York scene.

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