old versus new – What on earth happened to May 68?

For a long time, the category of the “new” served as a criteria to judge the quality of an artwork. In this order of things, both the “classical” had its untouchable place secured by the patine of time and its recognized significance to a given culture (with aspirations of universality), as the new had its place just before subsuming into classic itself thus finding a label and reassuring our world view. The entire History of Art has understood its own role as the survey of this progressive linear development, in which a style would be followed by a next one, where influences where both picked up and rebelled against in a more or less deterministic way. This comfortable and traditional state of affairs has suffered multiple and decisive attacks throughout the XX century up to a point where criteria have become itself difficult if not impossible to find.

This tendency however, is not exclusive of the artworld but has become a strange feature of the time we live in. This thought has come in to my mind as I read British avant-garde musician, performance artist and blogguer Imomus´ recent post about his latest collaboration with freelance musician Germlin titled “Snoopersnapper, the glomming glam vampire“. In his late forties Imomus reflects on his latest collaboration with someone half his age, mocking on whom is taking advantage of whom and asking if Germlin instead of collaborating shouldn´t be rebelling against him (Imomus).

On the comments section an anonymous wrote something which I found particularly interesting and on the point:

“I don’t meet any angry youth. Although they’d have a point if they did get angry – the UK boomer generation has the property the young will never own, the pensions they will never see. They had the steady careers-for-life, and the free further education. People listened when they protested against wars, and they got to mess up the planet and leave it for everyone else to clean.
Today’s kids have more of a right to be angry than their parents ever did!”

Voilá! What on earth happened to May 68?

Its a pretty goddamn remark! And it happens to be truth (for a specific cultural sphere at least, for there is more than enough anger in this world specially religious and economical motivated and incomprehensible to me).
What happened to generation clash? Why did twenty year olds give up on street protest, political commitment, social engagement and even such basic things as voting? Nothing seems to move them, so focused are they on getting their 15 minutes fame on TV, becoming famous, earning lots of money, and by pulling out this sequence being loved by as many as possible! Why choose having a mind on something when one can take on different characters, assume different profiles on the web, be oneself and others at the same time?

Even pointing out this loss of values, this flatenning of ideals, “feels” old fashioned and that´s how serious the problem is! I am completely torned between how much qualitative change digital has brought us and the negative (inevitable?) associated aspects of the total mediatization of our lives taking place…

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