Politics and Art

I came home the other night from reading about new media art with a focus on surveillance to find a letter in my mailbox from the police department. First I thought I'd gotten a speeding ticket, but no -- they had written to tell me that they had peered inside my car while it was parked inside a parking structure downtown and had detected a detachable cd player that might attract car prowlers. Now I suppose I should be glad that nobody actually broke into my car, but I find that I don't like the idea of the police monitoring it all that much more. Maybe I've read too many conspiracy theories, but sometimes I feel like we're slowly sinking into a state like 1984, only it's happening so slowly that no one's going to notice -- it will just all seem completely natural.

I'm glad there are artists commenting with surveillance works and the like, but I still feel like no one's really paying attention to the direction our society is going and I'm not sure what would change that. It's not really the cameras and police that bother me on their own...it's the much bigger problem of the apathy that is allowing those in power to do whatever they want without us noticing or caring. It's things like Bush claiming that waterboarding is not actually torture and no one protesting the ridiculousness of his statement that really gets to me.

How does this relate to art or my MFA? Political artwork used to have a lot of power, but now it seems run of the mill -- we smile and agree that our country is not being run very well and then continue on our way to get a cup of coffee at Starbucks. And now there's this trend of candy-coated, nostalgic work that looks no deeper than the cartoons that were on when we were little -- and it's fun and nice to look at -- but there's this idea that part of the reason it's acceptable for the work to be so insubstantial is that we don't have anything to fight against like the generations before us. So, alright, we don't have WWII, but we are in a war that we didn't agree to led by a president who is getting away with making and breaking rules whenever it pleases him. I don't know if art is part of the solution and I don't know if I'm ready to address any of this in my own work yet, but I think it's something important to consider.