When we look at a work of art we are told something. The viewer’s experience is contingent on four practical factors: 1) The intent of the artist, 2) the viewer’s subjective experience and knowledge, 3) the immediate environment 4) the socio-political context.
Art is its own language and it has been used to communicate since the magic and mystical scribblings in the Lascaux Caves. As Alan Moore once stated, “There is very little difference between magic and art… the ultimate act of magic is to create something from nothing” He goes on to discuss how the manipulative nature of art leads him to classify them both in the same category. In short, art has immense social, cultural, political and personal power.
There is no stronger evidence than knowing that the U.S.’s Federal Bureau of Investigation kept records on many of the artists of the 60’s and 70’s, including notations that remark how these artists may or may not impact culture as a whole. For instance, Nixon had a reasonable fear that John Lennon’s influence might cause him to be unelectable, thus pushing to have his visa removed.
Buried in FBI files are countless records of the way artists affect and impact culture, the attempt to censor and control these artists and their motivations may act as an attempt to control culture or at least monitor it to understand it’s movements. Another reason to support grassroots art and maintain honest intentions and careful contemplation, addressing it as more of a sacrament. Our culture needs honesty and integrity.