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Oct 24, 2011

Culture by the LOWest Bidder- (A Conservative Rant)

We all know that our culture has become increasingly tolerant for decades. What was taboo in our grandparent's time was exposed by our parent's generation and then celebrated by ours. That's not all good news.

The story of western civilization has been one of fairly constant refinement toward such distant ideals as beauty, quality, craft, subtlety, transcendence. But over the past few decades the liberalization of culture– which certainly focuses on freer expression– has been accompanied by a disappearance of the guiding influence of taste. The rot that so widely disgusts us in politics today spreads to journalism, the arts and even science. Spectacle drowns substance. For instance porn has not only become mainstream, it's now become  Big Business! Major corporations that are getting rich on porn are still quiet about it, but soon there'll be no adults left in the room to tell them to knock it off. Now that they are in the game, there is no going back. Politics will obediently follow, enshrining former taboos into the law of the land. Is this not alarming in its own right? Without some institutional voice urging us toward higher ideals the "development" of culture simply becomes a market-driven race to profit from the lowest instincts of the masses. In another generation there will be no need to even cover it up. It will have become business as usual.

A liberalization of culture is one thing, but abandoning the standards of a culture to market forces represents a loss of a sense of what is decent and good. Freedom of expression is a valuable individual right, but in the absence of a standard it matters less and less; "good taste" is reduced to the merely popular. And without a standard of taste there can be no avant garde, no satire, no creative breakthroughs. Everything becomes equally vacuous.

I can see no cure. We cannot transform our institutions, we can only transform ourselves. I wonder if,  like the memorizers of books in Vonegut's Farenheit 451, we individuals will one day be the secret carriers of high culture inside our lone hearts... Take some time today to remind yourself and revel in what is truly GOOD!

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Tim Holmes Studio

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.