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Student 24's picture

What bothers me is that Sontag's essay is written as if we – or, rather, I since I am the one reading this essay... Okay. Start again. What bothers me about this essay is that it is written as if I, along with the other readers, were all audience and no artist. As if audience and artist were two separate groups of people and neither took part in the activity of the other. As if creation-and-production and observation-and-interpretation existed independently in separate bodies of people.

So here I am just refusing the binary of audience versus artist, in Sontag's accusatory rant to the audience about not giving art the full attention it deserves because the audience simply jumps to interpretation, skipping appreciation for the elements that compose the artwork. First of all, that’s a silly thing about which to get upset. I’m a musician and countless times I’ve performed many of my own songs, lyrics, melodies, piano solos, etc. I’ve received comments and remarks from people, and I don’t know if it’s a wide range of responses, but here are a few: “I just wanna marry your voice,” “You have a really sexy voice,” “I didn’t know you could sing!” “I’m so impressed,” “Wow, you’re so good,” and other ultimately useless nonsense. I used to get upset that all my feedback was about my voice and my singing. Or just the fact that I could sing. Or that people liked it. Where was the attention to my lyrics? My poetry? My story? My words? Where was someone who wanted to make sense and make a story out of what I just sang to them? Instead, I was getting impressions of pleasure and enjoyment as a result of my performance.

I now know that my lyrics aren’t very accessible for interpretation. That’s for a few reasons. I’m not particularly articulate when I sing and I also have really convoluted imagery in my lyrics that usually don’t even make sense to me until I sit down and dissect them to form some sort of interpretation. That interpretation then becomes the message for my song. The message is what I believe myself to be projecting.

I want to move people with my music, and I know that I have to put the work into my songs to make that happen, rather than sit around and pout that people don’t appreciate my music. That’s useless. If I want something, I’m going to have to work to get it, and not be upset and make absurd demands. If people want to interpret, they’re going to interpret. If people want to enjoy, they’re going to enjoy. If not, that’s life!

And this is coming from someone who is both audience and artist. I enjoy dissecting some art and figuring out what it’s about; other art, I’ll allow it to make an impression on me; and other art, I’ll ignore or pass, because I personally don’t feel a reason to spend time with it.

 Not all art is successful. And that success really depends on the interaction between the artist and the audience. But then you have to remember that many members of the audience are artists and all artists are members of some audience.

I understand this essay isn’t organised at all right now, and I’m just rambling about ideas coming to my head, but there’s one thing I want to bring in. Remixes of songs.

I currently listen to a lot of electronic music, dubstep, glitch-hop, trap, and a lot of tracks in these genres use samples from or are remixes of other songs. Right as I write this I’m listening to a remix of a Doors song, and the track’s genre is called ghetto-funk, which is this glitchy, funky, and really energetic genre. I love it. I love remixes and I especially love glitchiness in vocal samples. I recently made a track ( after listening to a Doors song (not the same one) and I played around a lot with making it glitchy using my own vocal samples. It’s all a cappella and has a lot of filters and effects and distortion and all that jazz, and my point basically is that I love this style of music making. Processing, reprocessing, cutting up, dissecting and reconstructing. Much like making mosaics. Then breaking them and making them again.

So, back to remixing. Artists and musicians who make remixes are, in my opinion, the perfect example of artist and audience in one. And not just any audience, but a highly attentive audience. A remix-er has to break down the original track into its several elements and then take those elements and construct a new track from them. A successful remix can have many dimensions: 1. Highlighting successful and characteristic elements of the original track, 2. Bringing to light (‘light’) elements that aren’t prominent in the original and effectively creating a new perspective or point of focus when going back to the original, 3. Expressing the remix-er’s own individual style and ‘voice’ in the remix track, 4. Adding or recreating the track to produce a new platform for interpretation.

Here’s the thing. An audience is selective. An audience has free will. And audience can do whatever the hell it wants to a piece of art. That all depends on what the artist evokes from the audience. A remix-er can choose to remix one song, ignore the next, interpret another, and straight up cover the next. Honestly there shouldn’t be any direction into dealing with anything in art. We all have free will. If the artist has a problem with what the audience is doing or not doing in response to their art, then please, be my guest, they can make use of their free will and do something about it.

(This is long enough already, but I could also go into the market and industry for art, photography, and music. And economically how the industry needs an audience to react in order to function. But I’m not going to go into developing those thoughts now.)