The art of War is a book written in the 6th Century BC that has become a corporate bible.
I am crossing out the “The” and covering the “of” with as and calling an exhibition scheduled for November “Art as War”.
Art as War
The basic concept evolved from my interest in war economies as an efficient use of power, resources and the labour pool while also being umbrella’d under a cause most, if it is to work, believe in. The biggest obvious problem with this idea is the war itself. Everything else that unites a nation and brings forward working together and being open to innovation is a good thing but the destruction and death that underlies the motivation for war, in its classical sense, is the great human tragedies.
But on thinking of ways to directionlise an economy so that the efficiency of war could be attached to a more beneficent cause I realised that most artists, and other people with passions they follow, have what could be called their own little self contained war economies that they live within. The artist has a cause and the art is the propaganda they employ to forward that cause towards ultimate victory. Neccessity being the mother of invention then it is tantamount that the artist innovates under conditions of lack to be able to funnel the required resources to the war effort.
But of course, when the war is won, the fat comes back and lean is no longer mean, so to ensure that the economy of purpose is always in vogue the sense of victory or the reality of winning must be above rewards. Therefore monetary success must just become another tool for the artist to expand effort and not a reward in itself to sustain the status quo.
But before I digress too far into semantics and make a treatise of this little set of notes, without mentioning that such a need to be expansive underpins the motivations of the conceptualisation at hand… but I have mentioned it anyways, I think that the notion of treating the art of making art, in our modern world, is indeed an act of war by many artists against the enemy that is the state of things. We artists often lie at the edge of change calling forth the multitudes to see the possibilities for life that we envisage. We are calling to charge the multudes who just want to stay warm and not too wet in the protective ditches that lie on the fronts of progress. We seek to rush accross the no mans land between what is accepted and what could be and push our flag into that new land and call it ours!
To do this, to be brave and unheeding of the comforts we could have, we require less, and make better use thereof, and hone our skills so that our work amongst the craters of the possible will push forward the lot of all those behind.
Good Golly, I can’t help myself. What was supposed to be a factual discussion on the merits of the artistic in the way that much of it is created has become a call to arms. I’ve already strayed towards my own propaganda when I really should be desseminating on economies of scale and the reasoning behind motivational fronts in support of those economies. But all in all, this is what I seek in this concept of “Art as War”. To discuss and argue the mindset of the type of artist who comes to art as a tool to make their feelings about liife understood, the passionate ones who seek to win over the buyers to a way that goes deeper than the motivation to have a bigger and better shiny thing.
Though, of course, it can always be argued, that the artists actually create newer and bigger shiny things, that they push the edges, are the edge dwellers of any note, that widen the conceptual possibilities of modernity while going through the process of learning that it’s the doing of the thing and the power to venture into unknown territory are of far greater consequence than the finished articles. But this too is about the question of innovation and its dialectic within the world vision of any singular artist and applies to the concept as a adjunct.
So if you allow yourself to take the time to view the military uniform as both totemic item and utilitarian article, totemic item to define status and enlist motivation towards a goal and the question of efficient utility of available materials, the application to a singular artist with regards style, content and support skills is an obvious connection between the idea of war on a macro national scale being also the definition of an artist, singular or within a group, on the micro scale.