I think as artists we are all curious to know in what period we are practicing. Is this post-modern still, or post post-modern? If we even decide at what time we are practicing will this influence are work at all? As artists we are impacted by the imagery from our past and in our contemporary space no matter how much we would like to deny it. We are depositories for this onslaught of image saturation that permeates our practice as artists. In the first years of my image making, not only was I influenced by modernism but postmodernism as well. It has always been interesting to see how aesthetics is measured when art is being presented and how the concept in certain cases is more important than the sensory beauty. So to do something new that isn’t a recycled version of what has been done is a difficult task. How does an artist do this while it seems everything has been photographed, most of the time better than you? What can you say in your work that’s new and thought provoking when it seems everything is just a reaction to something else, all the while creating an aesthetically pleasing image? Widespread aesthetic saturation in contemporary society has diluted the aesthetic from having special status at a time when there seems to be a revival. So instead of “opposing the aesthetic and the conceptual, think of the two as mutually sustaining.” This appears to be the balance of the beautiful and the sublime.
What’s interesting is Jeff Wall’s work is criticized for being banished of all contingency. Contingency meant in a way to carry with it aesthetic significance. Wall claims that lack of contingency, or aesthetic significance, “is manifested by a kind of emptiness “. Wall continues to say “society contains this emptiness and its opposite, and both appear in the work of art.” This lack of aesthetics that give the work of art this emptiness is a kind of artistic sublimation that Lacan referred to as “The Thing”. The Thing is what occurs when an object is represented in an image, and through this representation the viewer becomes aware that their unconscious attachment to the real is lost. The first image I thought of is A ventriloquist at a birthday party in October 1947,1990 by Jeff Wall. Its staged banality runs in conjunction with what i think is going on with this whole "The Thing".
Going back to the idea of widespread aesthetic saturation, Ross explains how in postmodern image culture the line between the culture and the commercial sphere is blurred. The methods of the avant-garde have been appropriated by the established art market to the point that we as consumers are desensitized to its shock tactics. Cultural groupings occurred out of the modernist movement of new technologies such as photography, film, television, and radio. The media mobilized these groups and cultural forms started growing out of the cities these émigrés resided in. These were international anti-bourgeois artists. Williams essay explains how modernism became integrated into international capitalism and lost its anti-bourgeois status. These elements of modernism became essential to the market especially in advertising and cinema.