In this clip Dadaist Marchel Duchamp argues for the “mediumistic” role of the Artist, a role intertwined with that of the spectator. I was reminded of this whilst reading a confusing defense of RapGenius as a worthwhile endeavor. If you make it passed the first few lines, the premise is that rap lyrics should be crowd sourced and explained because everyone deserves to understand the meaning. The defense is a response to a NYTimes article that pointed out that maybe the “…fallacious assumption at the Web site’s heart is that every rap lyric has a meaning and that the meaning of every rap lyric should be unearthed.” In other words, art consumption is not necessarily enhanced by over-explaining, something I have awkwardly wrestled with in the past.
I could have explained his place in rap history. His coveted early 12 inches, coming up with Rock Steady, his aggressiveness + sincerity on the mic. I could have gone into his achievements with his independently run label, how he ended up in that wheelchair, his history with and influence over the perplexingly popular MF Doom. Would that night have made more sense to her? Been more fulfilling? Was it supposed to make sense to her? What if I had mentioned why I draw inspiration from his life story, preserved and relayed to me mostly through music?
I didn’t say any of that then much like I tend not to say much of anything here. Maybe I was too busy being me, or as the cool people say, doing me (enough with the no homo, seriously). I knew why Grimm was dope. I knew it then, I knew it the first time I heard Take ‘Em To War, I know it now. I didn’t need anyone to explain it to me. Maybe that means that my wife ain’t supposed to listen to Crumb Snatchas and get amped when the chorus drops? Maybe her life experience, different from mine, prevents her. Maybe I prefer it that way?
And it’s something GRNDGD has taken on over time in a semi-serious tone by adding “No Context” as one of our taglines. Some things are better left unexplained and the context you need is better delivered by actual life experience, not a blog.
Duchamp, 1957 –
“I know that this statement will not meet with the approval of many artists who refuse this mediumistic role and insist on the validity of their awareness in the creative act — yet, art history has consistently decided upon the virtues of a work of art thorough considerations completely divorced from the rationalized explanations of the artist.”
“All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act. This becomes even more obvious when posterity gives a final verdict and sometimes rehabilitates forgotten artists.”