A couple of weeks ago, I saw Cai Guo-Qiang’s exhibit (retrospective?) at the Guggenheim. I love the sheer power of his work and how easily people can connect with it at levels varying from the playful, to the philosophical, to the technical.
The three pieces I enjoyed most were installations, one depicting a tiger being shot with arrows, one depicting a bombed car flipping through the air, and another involving wolves running into a plexiglass wall.
It struck me how, as a composer, I want more and more to create works that are like exhibits (installations, boomboxes throughout the room) and visual artists want to be more temporal (Matthew Barney’s Vaseline sculptures, Cai Guo-Qiang’s freeze frame-inspired scenarios).
Sure, multi-dimensional works like these have existed since the 1920s, but now they seem to have a new sleekness and maturity. Earlier, artists doing interdisciplinary/multimedia/event-based work had to consciously address their defiance of convention. This defiance often served as the “point” of the work and many great works came from this approach. In the post-pluralist age, this disregard (rather than defiance) of conventions simply helps direct attention to the intended artistic expression, providing an opportunity to create works as powerful, but more sublime, in such media.