What is the point of this blog?
We have to eat. It is generally agreed that we have to get dressed. Ideally we live in homes of some sort. Why not eat delicious food? Why not make those clothes beautiful? Why not fill the rooms we live in with furniture we love? Life is enriched by surrounding ourselves with objects that give us pleasure.
Philosophical version for people who clearly have way too much time on their hands (present company included):
A group of artists in the early days of the Soviet Union, calling themselves Constructivists, proposed,
“…to us art is the creation of new objects…. But it should by no means be supposed that by objects we mean household articles. Of course we see genuine art in utilitarian objects produced in factories, in the airplane or the automobile. But we do not wish to limit the production of artists to utilitarian objects. Any organized work – a house, a poem or a painting – is an expedient object that does not isolate people from life but helps them to organized it.” – El Lissitzky & Ilya Ehrenburg, “Blokada Rossii konchaetsia,” Veshch’ no. 1-2 (March-April 1922)
I would propose that all art can be seen as the creation of objects, and those objects are the means by which we organize and define our world and proclaim our own place in that world.
To say that wearing a pair of jeans and a grubby t-shirt that you grabbed off the shelf at Old Navy because you don’t have time to think about your clothes is not fashion, makes an artificial distinction that is nearly impossible to nail down and doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Every time we put clothes on, whether they are the clothes that we call “high fashion” or not, we are constructing an image of ourselves to present to the world which places us and defines us one the social and political spectrum of the culture in which we live. That culture determines the choices available to us, what meaning is invested in the choices, and what values inform the selections we make.
It seems to be a dominant trend (among intellectuals in American society at least) to see Art (paintings, sculpture, theater, etc.) and finding beauty in that Art as intellectually admirable and value, signifying substance, depth and knowledge, and to dismiss fashion (and less so interior design – both tied into a conflicted relationship to “shopping”) as superficial. We appreciate a fine restaurant and a good meal, but turn our noses up at anyone who seems to have invested “too much thought and time” in his or her appearance. All production can be invested with more or less craft, skill and creativity, and this effects how we respond to the objects of production. To make choices based on seeing value in the work and creativity invested in the production of any object is not superficial. It is the source of pleasure. It is, perhaps, what distinguishes us from animals — the ability to consume not just what we need of the world, in a primal way, but to shape the objects that we consume to bring us a different level of pleasure and satisfaction. Life is enriched by surrounding ourselves with objects that give us pleasure.