The Quasimodo silhouette of art: utility, commodity, and economics

One similarity between the techno-libertarian manifest destiny of futurism and the populist backlash of Trump or Brexit is a bluntness about the bottom line of “utility.”

Art and its complex, tangled, and soft messaging -its layered density, subtlety, and non-productive pursuits- is a threat. The effort to unpack or ascertain its message is inverse to its bottom-line value: the more baffling, the less quickly capitalized or commodified.

Good art looks to reject easy commodification, or quick absorption, containing its incompatible antinomies within itself. Its greatness can only be realized over broad swaths of time.

The knee-jerk reaction points to the high sales value of good art: good art has been successfully commodified, and the price inflated through investment portfolios. However, that is the art of economics glomming onto something alien to it’s nature.

Art commodified is a malformed conflation: a disfigurement warping art into a shape recognized as the discourse of dollars. It is not that the art does not still carry its message, but cloaked and hunchbacked with economic weight, it has been Quasimodo-ed and requires a genuine heart to see past its ugly silhouette.

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