Arthur Danto’s “The Artworld” described how all of art was contained within its specific context, under its own specific art-historic moment. This has two very important implications for our understanding of art.
The first was that every piece of artwork could not be understood outside of its particular context.
The second was that the art world could only expand and become larger through time. Therefore, as time continues, more and more things that were unacceptable before gain acceptance.
Although Danto’s theory was originally intended to address the products of visual arts, it is just as applicable to music.
As one who considers music to be the greatest good in life, the word ‘art’ has, in my mind, more musical connotations than visual. Therefore, I must request that Danto enthusiasts to forgive me for making this jump so carelessly, but ‘art’ to me is primarily music.
The category of “music” has expanded to allow almost anything today. Genres that were unthinkable before have most certainly become allowed today.
The industry is roaring with scantily-clad, underage teens. Profanity, drugs and violence have already made the transition from once being provocative and shocking to the trending norm. There is a clear formula that must be followed when making the next great hit that has begun to displace true originality.
Therefore, the expansion of boundaries in the definition of music has resulted in a vast collection of less-than-pleasing sound. Of course, this is a personal judgment, but these observations do not trouble me as there is enough worthwhile music to be found if one spends the time searching.
However, every time I check out mainstream hits, I am compelled to immediately hit the mute button. Every song sounds the same. It’s almost as if the way songs become famous has been completely flipped.
Rather than a song being so great that it becomes a hit and unites the populace, people nowadays unite to choose which songs are hits and which aren’t.
I’m sure many readers would say this is a futile argument because mainstream music has strewn so far from art that it no longer even holds a place in this discussion. However, it could also explain why Danto’s theory is slightly limited. Rather than allowing more and more things to come into acceptance, perhaps music and art progress only in trends.
Danto did however say that after enough time, as long as one predicate was a condition for art, its opposite would eventually become one too.
Yet, in the music industry, the opposite didn’t just become a condition, but completely took over from the original predicate (take it as creative genius). This is more of what we’re seeing in the music industry where creative genius is not even a required condition anymore.
In summary, society today is quick to dismiss the necessity of standards, claiming that standards are too rigid and can be manipulated too easily by those in higher positions. However, in the music industry, it is clear that quite an argument is a smokescreen for committing the same crime.
Today’s music industry with its heavy mind-control/illuminati themes and blatant disregard for the people it sells to is debatably the lowest point for music ever known.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say I’d rather listen to some cavemen playing percussion with branches and rocks than this garbage.
It would be nice to think that art evolves through time due to a natural expansion of boundaries but in reality, if we remove standards altogether, sometimes we can lose a whole art form altogether – today we’ve lost music.
Dhruv Chatterjee is a College senior from Kolkata, India.