But I was surprised, delighted and intrigued with his use of cutting-edge Object OrientedOntology (OOO) philosopher Timothy Morton and his notion of ambient poetics, asMorton, that same summer, dropped the year’s most eagerly waited e-book on aesthetics:
Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality
where Morton directly ties aesthetics tocausality.It is due to what Kim-Cohen sees as a lack of this level of conceptualism (evencomparing Op Art and this ambient trend, disapprovingly) that provokes him to thunder (like King Kong) against the overly perceptual characteristics of ambience; a fault that hesees commensurate with a loss of conceptualism (he connects this deficiency with thedeath of one of Conceptual Art’s chief promoters; Seth Siegelaub, that occurred that samesummer), trouncing ambient art’s seemingly necessarily subtle, soft, and fuzzy qualities.This loss he reads as a regrettable move towards further cultural industrial spectacle of the sort that Theodor Adorno warned us of in his book
- where Adornourged art and aesthetics to resist such integration through formal difficulty - and awayfrom the art world’s previous embrace of engagements with criticality, new media, philosophy, economics, gender, identity, and interpersonal relations at the level of individuals, organizations, corporations, and nation-states. (page 18)Working this perhaps unnecessary polarity to its end, Kim-Cohen goes so far as toconjecture if the popularity of this modality of ambience signals the end of conceptualism. But this is something I see too little evidence of, both in this book andaround the art world. My feeling is that he just needs to hold ambient art and sound to thehigher standard of an immersive art that does not preference the style of quiet meditationand color transcendentalism over visceral engagement, such as that I experienced at
Smolenski’s brilliant immersive bell piece
that was perfectly presented at the Polish Pavilion that same summer at theVenice Biennale. Indeed, if Kim-Cohen’s assertion that conceptualism is over andambient aesthetics rule, Smolenski would have won the Golden Lion award (I think heshould have) rather than the relationalist, Tino Sehgal.