Modern or Post-Modern?

Photography is the media that appeared mid 19C, the era which “Science” started to lead the world as one of the ideology after IR. The modern art was also born around this period. It might be difficult for us to imagine the life without any movies or photographs, however, the life at that time was without them. The modern art was wanted through the climate. Now our society is fulfilled with movies, photographs, sounds and noises, and the art today shows us quite different aspect. What is the difference? And why does it occur? Now in this paper we look over the modern art and post-modern art through the their history.
Toshiharu Ito pointed that photography had penetrated into daily lives not as the art but as a functional tool. Exactly most of them in the museum we can see today seem as he told; almost are portraits as documents. But also he mentions in the same book, 『<写真と絵画>のアルケオロジー※1』, that photographs were 2D-images so that there was interinfluence between pictorial art and photography. It’s very interesting because in that era photography wasn’t thought as art. This mention shows photography was no less than art even in that era. Unfortunately photography was brought out at the associated session of the science academy and the art academy. He considers it’s the reason why photography wasn’t thought as art.
Modern Art started to use this media, photography, so the artists in this era were vividly aware of that they used new technologies, such as photography, movie or recording. Dziga Vertov(1923) was the one of those artists, and wrote※2;
The most scrupulous examination does not reveal a single film, a single artistic experiment, properly directed to the emancipation of the camera, which is reduced to a state of pitiable slavery, of subordination to the imperfections and the shortsightedness of the human eye.
He considered the technology much more exceptional than anything of human ability. He also said;
We therefore take as the point of departure the use of the camera as kino-eye, more perfect than human eye, for the exploration of the chaos of visual phenomena that fills space.
It’s the opposite view by Eugène Delacroix mid 19C; 「写真はあくまでも現実の反映であり、…しかも精確でありすぎる為、かえって偽りになる※3」. Heinrich Schwarz considered photography allotrio against art, and Aaron Schaaf amplified; 「写真が最終的に絵画の再現機能を奪い、絵画を抽象へ向かわせた※4」.
These 5decades might have changed people’s conscious to the mixture of technology and art. The more technology was getting penetrated into their lives, the more people got familiar with it, and found it’d be the incredible way to express new ideas, new ideologies and new world. Also Vertov intended these technologies should get relief from hands, due to their superior ability.
Vertov was not the special alone, most of artists in this era considered so. Why did they consider the new technologies the exceptional?
We can set up this question through looking over what Toshiharu Ito(1987) and Masafumi Fukagawa(2003) said. Ito(1987) pointed thus; “art” is the quite fluctuating intellection, and the imagination alone make works “art”. This imagination has been affected by the social situation. The era was an age of transition after the second industrial revolution. Nations were modernized, and liberalism and nationalism were accepted through the world. A lot of revolution occurred, and they moved to the center of people’s consciousness. Fukagawa(2003) considered those artists’ thoughts were made from the calling of time. We can guess their thoughts and imaginations were under strong influence of those situation. Second industrial revolution incubated “science”, and “art” changed itself under the pressure of the changing of the social structure.
Vertov’s film tells us they exalted camera, technology then.
Nowadays, those technologies are standard for us. We are surrounded by quite amounts of information such as images, sounds and noises. World situation is also very different from that of the end of 19C; after 2 huge wars nations demand the peace, the scale of economy got bigger, and trades and exchanges are getting larger, “that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government※5.”
Of course “art” under the affection of this situation is different from modern art.
For example, installation and archival art appeared. The artists doing installation intend 「明確な価値観や物語を一方的に(観る者に)伝達する事ではなく、観る人が展示されたものから、それぞれの考えや印象を引き出すようにする事※6」. According to Ito(1987)※7, we can’t find where photography stood and stands without seeing the history of industry and society; I mean the way to understand what art is the matter of audiences. Also Taki(2003) told the same thing※8.
That is to say, those artists, such as Christian Boltanski, ask us what the Times are, what the “art” is and where we stand.
It’s the opposite way of modern art; the artists of modern art didn’t ask such things, they just insisted their own ideology or something great. Now we lost everything, and have to keep asking those questions. Alternatively, archival art is one of the art forms, that the whole things combined various elements are treated as one work. Nakamura(2007)※9 described thus; most of archival art works, due to the huge amounts of contains, are very difficult to spend one’s time for appreciating every element like one painting and to appreciate with catalogs because they have very strong links with each space of the exhibition. So they force us to choice to look into each element or to look over whole shape as if one’d pass in front of each. Archival art is the way to express one concept or a world view with a whole one, that agenda and messages of each one are too weakened.Works of BECHER, Bernd and Hilla, “Typologies of Industrial Buildings,” is highly acclaimed as minimalism and conceptual art.
Here, I want to compare the movie, “Caché”, by Michael Haneke, with the modern art. “Caché” is one work of the post-modern art.
At first we must get confused which we see the movie of one scene or the one of the video in the movie while we are watching. We feel as if we are watching a movie or monitor somebody’s life. The camerawork ask us what like it is to take a movie and record. And it make us think over why we’ve got afraid of being seen or monitored by somebody.
The story is never sentimental. So there’s no moving and left some not-good feelings. But it forced me keep watching; because those are so strong. The hero got too much doubts, fear and impatience, and explored the discrimination against Algerian. Even though the man was gentle and correct, that that he’d got through his life runs over under such a situation. We might wonder if we also have it.
This movie makes us think over the matter of privacy and problems between France and Algeria, immigrant in France and the republican institutions. There’s a society that Those who are treated like that by others, and the bottom of the problem keep remaining.
This is also under strong influence of the situation today. It’s the same point to the modern art, however, this movie can’t insist anything if the audience feel boring; like archival art, agenda and messages of each scene are too weakened, and like installation, we have to be inspired and guess what this movie say.
The art in our times have these characteristics.
Originally “art” is a tool to inform. Music express the nature with sounds, paintings depict portraits and landscapes. But images by photography or films, technologies through machines, started to record everything without imaginations. This works through those medias brought great meanings to the society.

1 伊藤俊治著(1987)『<写真と絵画>のアルケオロジー』 白水社
2 Dziga Vertov(1923), “The Council of Three”, “KINOKS: A REVOLUTION
3 Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix (1969),『ドラクロワの日記-1822~1850』、二見書房
4 伊藤俊治著(1987)『<写真と絵画>のアルケオロジー』 白水社
5 Francis Fukuyama(1989), “The end of History?”, The National Interest
6 小林美香(2003)「写真/展示/空間」『現代写真のリアリティ』京都造形大・編、角川書店
7 伊藤俊治著(1987)『<写真と絵画>のアルケオロジー』 白水社
8 多木浩二(2003)「まなざしの厚みへ」、『写真論集成』、 岩波現代文庫
9 中村史子(2007)「アーカイヴという視点、アーカイヴを眺める視点」、『京都美学美術史学』第6号より、京都大学大学院文学研究科