Victor BYCHKOV (author of the project) The Lexicon of Non-Classics Twentieth-Century Artistic-Aesthetic Cuiture.
(Editorial Board: Oleg Bychkov, Ljudmila Bychkova, Nadia Mankovskaya) The 20th century is the century of the global transition from Culture to something radically OTHER that has not yet had place in the history of civilization. It is art — the main barometer of Culture — that felt this process most acutely and expressed it through its essence throughout the century. The reasons for this essential cleft in the human being-consciousness are rooted somewhere in the depths of the cosmo-socioanthropic process and are beyond human understanding. At the level of civilization they initiated an avalanche-like development of the scientific-technological progress (STP) in the Euro-American (Western) regions in the 16th-20th c. on the basis of ratiocentrism and the radical fissure between the scientific-technological way of thinking and the spiritual, ethical, and religious foundations of Culture. With all that, the 20th century became something of a breakpoint, beyond which one sees either the destruction of the Earth's biosphere or the mankind's leap into the new aeon of being.
The STP, in principle, provided for the humanity's material needs, but in the atmosphere of predominant lack of morality and the accelerating growth of the capital it placed the humans on the verge of the nuclear and ecological disaster and stimulated the development of the society of unbridled consumerism (in the developed countries, first of all, that serve as a beacon to others). Having rejected its spiritual and ethical ideals, the contemporary society has become a producer of temptations, and the contemporary human - a "desire machine" that cultivates his own corporeity. The thing and thingness, the body and corporeity are now at the helm of the developed Western civilization, which is wantonly looked up to by the peoples of the East that have not reached the necessary level of prosperity.
The last stage of the technological civilization has found its, if unwilling, theoreticians in the form of many of the greatest 19th-20th c. thinkers (starting with Nietzsche and Freud), and its expression in the artistic movement: from the avant garde of the beginning of the century to modernism to postmodernism. The main tendencies of the "advanced" 20th-c. art practices: abandoning, the traditional principles of art (mimesis in all its aspects, idealizing, symbolism, expression); departure from art as an aesthetic phenomenon; in the area of artistic-near-artistic activity - going beyond the traditional framework of art (into life at various levels: from the theourgy of the symbolists to the utilitarianism and functionalism of the constructivists, designers, organizers of environment, etc.); rejection of ethical and spiritual criteria in art; the "re-evaluation of all values" that goes back to Nietzsche, and replacing them with anti-values (from the point of view of traditional Culture). A certain aesthetization (or, more precisely, presentation) of evil, violence, ugliness, exaggerated sex, aggression, etc. are the main tendencies of that which is coming to replace art in contemporary POST-culture.
Two parallel processes are developing in artistic culture that fall under the Nietzschean notions of the Apollinean (on the basis of the latest technological achievements and the principles of rationalism, functionalism, clarity in design, architecture, organization of environment) and the Dionysian (many trends of the contemporary non-utilitarian art that are based on the irrational, subconscious, absurd: from Duchamp, Joyce, dada and surrealism to the latest examples of environment and performance art).
At the present time the main tendencies of the 20th-c. art can be summed up under several - partly intersecting - headings:
- A global tendency along the major highway: the avant garde of the beg. of the 20th c. (shocking, manifesto-driven, rebellious movement oriented towards the re-evaluation of the traditional forms and methods of artistic expression);
- modernism of the middle of this century (legitimization of the achievements of the avant garde in the area of the creation of new artistic languages; turning them into certain classic styles);
- postmodernism of the second half of the 20th c. (ironic-nostalgic play with the meaning of all cultural values);
- concervatism: a tremendous complex of most diverse arts that preserve, imitate, and profane the traditions of the classic arts (including the elements of the avant garde and modernism) and are, as a rule, commercially oriented at the non-demanding taste of the main mass of art consumers; here belongs also all the limitless area of mass culture, kitsch, and camp. Hence grows a new phenomenon: the mass spectacles of the show-business that are based on the latest technological advancements, as well as on the simulacrums and fragments of all traditional ans in their pop-modification (the latest electronics, laser technology, decorative-theatrical arts, rock-culture, etc.);
- the global organization of our environment at all levels: from dwellings and offices to city, park, health care, etc. environments. Here attempts are underway to find the newest methods of applying various arts and technological advancements to the natural conditions of human habitation;
- electronic arts (video, computer, Net-art) that are aimed at creating virtual realities where the recipient acquires active functions (interactivity) and where the border between the artist (or the group of people responsible for the creation of a given cyberspace) and the consumer-recipient is erased.
It is all these issues that are dealt with in the hyper-text of the present "Lexicon of Non-classics." The "Lexicon" includes the terminology that reflects the main philosophical-aesthetic problematics, theories of art, concepts, views, etc., as well as the corresponding artistic practices of the end of the 19th-20th c. (in all their main types, trends, schools, forms, including their main representatives), with the exception of the "classic" trend (also see conservatism) that has been well studied and is practically extinguished in our century in the sense of active creativity.
The authors of the "Lexicon" attempted, in one study (combining the efforts of philosophers, art critics, and philologists), to present a rather complete (as far as the matter of the study permits - since it is at times still in the process of formation or deconstruction - as well as according to the extent of the capabilities of the research team) picture of the non-classical aesthetic consciousness, of art, and, more broadly, of the variegated art-activity of the radically new (and transitional in essence) period of artistic culture that started somewhere in the middle of the 19th century. Its last period is marked here as POST-culture (see: POST-).
The "Lexicon" includes essays on the following topics:
- main philosophical-aesthetic, applied scientific, etc., theories, concepts, and problems of artistic culture (and particular art forms) of the last third of the 19th- 20th c. (existentialism, informational aesthetics, Freudism, structuralism, semiotics, hermeneutics, postmodernism, etc.)
- the main, most significant, as well as original and unique authors in the fields of aesthetics, philosophy, and art theory of the period in question (Bergson, Baudrillard, Bakhtin, Deleuze, Derrida, Freud, Heidegger, etc.)
- non-classical trends, movements, schools, styles in artistic culture (i.e., in the main art forms and their non-traditional forms) of the period in question (abstract art, avant garde, aleatorics, dodecaphony, cubism, surrealism, conceptualism, pop-art, etc.).
- the key figures in artistic culture and art-activity of the 20th c. of a non-classical orientation (Beckett, Berg, Beuys, Godard, Greenaway, Dali, Kandinsky, Le Corbusier, Malevich, Picasso, Stockhausen, etc.);
- aesthetic and specific art terminology that has formed in art criticism, philology, and aesthetics, in order to describe the processes and phenomena of non-classical artistic culture and particular artworks (the absurd, antinomy, action, assemblage, virtual reality, installation, artefact, thing, writing, concept, deconstruction, discourse, intertextuality, schizanalyse, etc.)
- certain philosophical-aesthetic concepts and artistic phenomena in the history of culture that stray away from the "classical" line of development, are marginal in respect to the latter, but have exercised a certain influence on, or are typologically close to, certain phenomena of contemporary non-classical culture in the proper sense of the term (in this case the authors limited themselves to general essays on medieval and Orthodox aesthetics as certain "non-classical" antitheses or paradigms of a number of processes of the 20th-c. artistic culture);
- foundational essays on classical aesthetics, in order to provide the background for the foundation, or the main "thesis," 0around whose Aufhebung, or driving it to the level of absurdity, was formed almost all of the 20th-c. non-classics (sublime, play, inspiration, art, the beautiful, aesthetics, the aesthetic).
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