Thursday, January 10, 2008

Open Letter : Dinos Chapman

The other day I decided to spend my morning drinking half a pot of coffee and letting my eyes vibrate across the 159 fantastic pages of the new Bibliodyssey book. In front of all of the crazy imagery was a foreword by artist Dinos Chapman. The forward was actually declared a 'forewarning' about the internet in general, which Chapman describes as a "treacherous minefield to be trodden with trepidation if it is to be used for anything other than a purient delve into the seamier side of human frailty." Mr. Chapman's was certainly being deliberately crass and provocative, but I feel the need to comment on it anyway (there's a wonderful symmetry in giving sober reflection on the internet to a crass and provocative printed page, for one.)

The essay seems intent on disproving what the book itself seems to suggest, that the internet contains unearthed hidden treasures and knowledge free and waiting for discovery. Chapman writes that digital life has "been dragged down to its lowest common denominator, a labour-saving device of the most crass order: a less than useless tool for ordering cold inedible pizza from around the corner, a plain cover wrapper for pornography, the discrete purchase of Viagra, the sending of virtual birthday cards..." To me, the entire two pages seems more like a personal expose or confessional than a true piece of analysis, a man attempting to hijack this deeply considered and well curated book with a strange kind of literary exhibitionism. The foreword to this book could have taken any number of tacks-- the issues with digital archiving, copyright and originality, visual culture, a nice short story-- instead all I got was a person I care little about telling me that he spends a lot of time at, and lecturing me about how by spending time on my computer every morning I am a lonely, distracted hermit in search of ever more esoteric forms of titillation. Thanks, Chap.

What is the best future scenario for this kind of outlook? A return to salon culture? Post-apocalyptic hunting and gathering? One of the more obnoxious things about the foreword is that it tries to cast in internet as both banal marginalia and all-encompassing dystopia. In other words, a shrill prophesy of the inevitable decline of (post)modern culture.

Please, Mr. Chapman. The kids are alright.

1 comment:

peacay said...

Heh. Maybe you should see this too.

I don't want to enter the 'treacherous minelfield' by further commenting ;- )