The Logic of Modern Art

The essence of modern art is the negation of beauty. The value of beauty – along with its association with the sacred – is inverted. Ugliness and vulgarity is now put forward as ‘art.’

The method for how this is done:

Beauty has two forms: 1) beauty-without-form (generalised beauty), 2) and beauty-with-form (the beauty of particular things.) There is, additionally, the perennial connection between the aesthetic and the sacred.

This gives three means of inverting beauty:

  1. Inversion of beauty-without-form
  2. Inversion of beauty-with-form
  3. Inversion of aesthetic/sacred link

 

We will begin by looking at 1) beauty-without-form.

 

1. Inversion of Beauty-without-Form

To understand beauty-without-form we must understand the concept of entropy

For our purposes, entropy can be understood as the principle that everything in the universe tends to greater disorder over time. As time increases, so does disorder/entropy. The exception is if energy is put into something to make things move in the other direction – i.e. to increased order (lower entropy.)

This is intuitively obvious. If we put our energies into the construction of a building and then leave it to the elements, it will only deteriorate over time. The brick and mortar will crumble, glass break; the building will slowly fall apart until collapse. This is entropy. From order to disorder. Conversely a large pile bricks and materials will never spontaneously arrange itself into a house by chance.

To take another example, consider a sandcastle on a beach. But instead of thinking of it as a single object, think of it in terms of its many constituent parts – the grains of sand that it’s made up of. And along side this; consider a pile of sand consisting of a more or less identical number of grains of sand.

The sandcastle represents the grains of sand in a low entropy state (ordered.) The pile of sand represents the grains in a high entropy state (disordered.)

Entropy is a measure of how many ways we can rearrange those grains of sand without messing up the overall shape or structure. There are infinitely greater ways of doing this to the sand pile without causing any meaningful alteration to its structure. This is therefore said to possess ‘high entropy.’ Whereas, almost any rearrangement of the grains of sand in the sandcastle and it will no longer be the same thing. This means it exhibits low entropy, which represents a more highly ordered state.

And again, if left to the elements, then the winds will attack the sandcastle and it will gradually disintegrate and become less ordered.

 

A low entropy state is an aesthetic state. This is what we’re referring to as beauty-without-form; the beauty of nothing in particular. And conversely a high entropy state is an unaesthetic state.

Low entropy = High aesthetic

High entropy = Low aesthetic

 

A low entropy state is a high aesthetic state…

Beauty-without-form is the manifestation of order in the world. The aesthetic is the crystallisation of order in the world. Order can be understood as consisting of two complementary components, harmony and complexity:

ORDER = HARMONY + COMPLEXITY

(it can be understood as such – it is not a synthesis.)

If we take a look at the pictures above and below we can understand what the simple formula above really means.

 

So,

Beauty-without-Form = Harmony + Complexity

 

Therefore, beauty/order can also be negated in one of these two ways:

1) through the radical minimisation of harmony

2) through the radical minimisation of complexity

 

1) [high complexity / low harmony vs. 2) low complexity / high harmony.]

 

1) high complexity / low harmony = would give you disordered complexity

2) low complexity / high harmony = would give you hyper-simplistic harmony

 

Examples of 1) and 2) …

So this is the first means through which beauty can be negated. – the entirety of modern ‘aesthetics’ constitutes a willed negation of beauty. Modernity is entirely negationary. Modernity is a neurosis.

 

2. Inversion of Beauty-with-Form

Now we move on from the negation of beauty-without-form to the negation of beauty-with-form – that is, the standard of beauty which is particular to a thing itself.

The clearest exposition of this idea came from Plato. Though the idea itself existed long before he came along.

This idea is called Plato’s Theory of Forms. Its premise is that every object has its own ideal form or structure – which exists in the metaphysical realm; outside of space and time. So, for example, there exists the Form of a perfect circle. An individual object in the human world can be said to be a circle, or circular, only insofar as they participate in, or imitate, the perfect Form of a circle.

Every person is born with innate knowledge of the ideal form of all natural phenomena. Two pertinent examples, for our purpose, are the human face and human body. It has been found, for example, that newborn babies spend more time looking at attractive adult faces than unattractive ones – this is an innate preference. They possess an innate (though sub-conscious) conceptual model of the perfect face against which they judge the attractiveness of actual human faces.

The Marquardt Beauty Mask, developed by plastic surgeon Dr. Stephen Marquardt:

 

Marquardt’s Beauty Mask overlaid over two real-world examples – one representational, one actual.

 

Two historical representations of the perfect male body – Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man (left) and Myron’s Discobolus (right.)

 

So this is the second means of negating beauty: through the negation of beauty-with-form – by which we mean radically distorting an object away from its ideal Form (whilst still being recognisably of that Form.)

Examples:

 

Six pieces by Francesco Sambo:

 

3. Inversion of Aesthetic/Sacred Link

The third and final means of negating beauty is less directly to do with beauty itself. It involves a radical rejection of the traditional link between the aesthetic and the sacred.

This is accomplished through the juxtaposition of the aesthetic and/or sacred, with elements which are at the furthest possible point from the spiritual. (The lowest, basest, crudest; that which is vulgar, sordid, dirty; the most biological, animalistic and carnal aspect of human existence.)

Two well-known examples, utilising this juxtaposition in regards to that which the West has traditionally considered sacred:

 

A similar juxtaposition in the realm of the aesthetic: feminist theatre group Sirens standing on stage making male masturbatory hand motions, as part of an art piece:

 

To conclude: the practical uptake of all this is that now – equipped with the underlying logic of modern art – it should be perfectly possible for us to create our own pretend modern art, as a form of mockery; but more importantly to elucidate the principles outlined in this article, and in doing so to demonstrate the bogus nature of it all. This is surely the optimal line of attack against this stuff – a more effective strategy than simply constructing and propagating arguments against it. Thoroughly undermine its credibility. The Emperor has no clothes…

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