There is a new sensibility taking hold in our culture. The days of Irony, Sarcasm, and Cynicism for their own sake without a redeeming quality is waning. A new sense of Pragmatic Idealism is taking hold. This new structure of feeling is beginning to re-frame how we view the world. It is called Meta-Modernism. The work of the Future World project, tells stories of the Meta-Modern in the incarnation of the current moment or trends projected into the future. The stories demonstrate risks and rewards of the effects of meta-modernism and they are told by rethinking meta-narratives within an informed “naivety”. This “Naivety” is the result of a clear assessment of the shortfalls of Modernism given to us by the Post-Modern period.
Meta-Narratives are according to John Stephens and Robyn McCallum, “a global or totalizing cultural narrative schema which orders and explains knowledge and experience. These totalizing cultural narratives included stories such as the belief in Progress, Science, the American Dream, Democracy, Capitalism and many others; also, that these narratives would lead us to a Utopia or improved state. It is a comprehensive idea behind the narrative told that has repercussions to culture. These narratives were strong drivers during the Modernist period, however fell way short of their potential. The reasons for their shortfalls, we can see now, is that a clearer understanding of how the meta-narratives, or “Grand Narratives” and their utopian ideals were in contradiction to what people experienced through the horrors of Auschwitz during WWII, the Korean War, and the economic downturn and many other experiences. The trust was broken in the belief that these narratives were even True or that Truth was objective at all. Because of distrust, the narratives that gave our culture meaning were deemed unreliable; therefore, Post-Modernism was born. The Cynicism was so deep that everything in western culture was starting to be questioned. This rejection of convention opened a space for people to explore and inquire about identity, values, morality, the role of government and various other aspects of our culture. We began to examine and dissect our understanding of the world; with the thought of reconstructing it and learn from that reconstruction. Which brought about the civil rights movement, feminist movement, the LGBT Social Movement and other social changes. The culture began to ameliorate disparity of all kinds and choice became more apparent within people’s world views. Truth began to float toward a more relative sense of truth with concentration of the Self and introspection. The feeling and belief at the time was that we had finally evolved in our state of culture, and that it was just a matter of time before many of our social ills would be corrected. This belief was so prevalent that theorist Francis Fukuyama proclaimed “The End of history” in an article of the National Interest. However, that feeling, and belief did not last long. Fast forward twenty years and people’s experiences began to tell different tales. All around the world countries were in recession, political extremism was increasing, and the middle class was shrinking. Things had evolved to such a degree that Mr. Fukuyama recanted his view that the evolutionary process of culture had fully evolved.
Along the way, many Post-Modernist problems were discovered and addressed to a point but not abolished. A degree of issues and disparities under Post-Modern sensibility remained and the culture was finding it hard to come up with solutions. The response was commentary on how bad everything was in all sectors of culture; Irony, Sarcasm, and Cynicism pervaded many cultural spaces such as art, entertainment, government, our social lives. Around the turn of the century, Post-Modernism ran out of steam. So many changes had occurred, 9/11, the Global Debt Crisis, Wikileaks, Arab Spring, Populist Extremism, Reliance on Social Media and many other changes, that the Post -Modern ideal no longer communicated our current state of culture.
The New prevailing sensibility seems to be, Meta-Modernism. Meta-Modernism is a language that speaks to these changes. A question could be asked, why go back to Meta-Narratives if they can cause such harm? Humanity is a species which relies on our stories. We tell stories constantly. Stories are our touchstones to dreaming of a world to come and then making that dream come true. Well this new sensibility in culture is pointing us to the fact that Post-Modernism has led us to a dead end. No solutions can come from it and the new distrust of stories has diminished our capacity to improve ourselves and our culture. However, we learned a lot on our journey towards that end. Going back to Meta-Narratives seems to be allowing this new cultural movement to again look toward Utopianism, Reason, and Progress in a way that could allow us to navigate in a hopeful, goal-oriented manner to move forward in changing our world into one with less world ending possibilities and more nurturing of humanity and the world we live in. Yes, this is a tight rope. We walk back, retracing our steps to find the assurance we once had in tackling the world’s problems to create a better life for ourselves, The American Dream, and the world around us. Therefore, this new sensibility does not reject all Meta-Narratives but questions and is cautious toward their claims to truth. That is why an informed “Naivety” is important in moving forward. Meta-Modernism explores the importance of these Meta-Narrative in trying to chart a path toward where our future may be going; positive or negative. Embracing the concept of meta-narratives as was just pointed out could bring Hope, however there is still the specter of dystopic proportions lurking behind which we would inevitably learn from both.
The Future World Project, creates work that explores aspects of the Meta-Modern sensibility. The project also explores the current moment or trends projected into the future using disparate stories and rethinks traditional meta-narratives within an informed “naivety” which is the result of a clear assessment of the shortfalls of Modernism given to us by the Post-Modern period. This project also recognizes the need for greater intensities of Affect in art today but still maintaining the Conceptual framework of art that was so ingrained in the Post-Modern culture. Art then honors the pathos as well as the logos in Art and our human soul.
This project looks at the current state of meta-narratives, for good or for ill and tells stories around these narratives. This type of work is conceptual and retinal in nature employing oil paintings, collage works, sonic art and video. The retinal aspect of art is created by the physicality of the aesthetic and using it to interrupt the idea. The viewer then oscillates back and forth between retinal expression and the idea of the work. The conceptual then becomes aesthetic and vis versa. The work re-prioritizes the tenets of conceptual work by making the aesthetic just as important as the concept. Instead of a straight forward concept for itself, in many cases relinquishing the Affective nature of the piece. Affect is instead an integral part of the work. The work makes its concept known not only through Reason but also through Affect. The emotional connection one makes with a work enables the viewer to internalize that piece of work more readily. Therefore, this art attempts to embody a Pathos as well as a Logos in understanding.
The differing approaches and multiple mediums of this project tell one story: that of, the Future World.