Form and function can be said to be negotiable in terms of the perspectives of the creators and users of particular forms. Even if one hasn’t read any of the previous long long long long strings of words proceeding this present page, it seems obvious that if this is true anywhere within the encyclopedia of human industry it is true in the arts, especially the arts of recent times. Despite the efforts of the many lovers of classical and romantic tendencies, fearful that new ways of asking questions might threaten beloved historical solutions, elegantly elaborated throughout the ages, and addressed to problems long forgotten, AND in the face of the efforts of a critical establishment hostile towards that which it perceives as a threat to its vacuous base of power (that is, the psuedo-objective application of an arbitrary hierachy of aesthetic criteria based on conventional models arising out of a system of historical averages established through the misinterpretation of certain works considered historically significant and re-applied ad hoc to works which may in no way resemble the models in form or function which the criticism draws upon for its ‘criteria’), OR despite the protest of others trying to disavow the existence of or otherwise disempower forms and functions in use by many people out of fear of the unknown or worse, DESPITE THESE THINGS, artists have managed to utilize the negotiability of form and function to discuss many possibilities from many perspectives.
“Wait, let me get a beer. Now do you mean to say that it is desirable to view things from multiple perspectives? Like even if the “thing” thereby ceases to be one things and instead becomes several??”
What I am saying is this: Art is useful for many reasons. One is Perspective, as Leonardo pointed out, but lets hold onto this idea because I have more to say about this later, for now I want to talk about experimental forms as manifest in the arts and their function. Realize, please, that I am don’t mean “form” as some old or even new convention out of which works spring to to which pieces are cast in the manner of a mould. Rather I am referring to the ‘form’ as the thing in itself, the object or process that is present.
At first, it might seem like the notion of “experimental form” in the arts is redundant. Maybe it should be redundant. I mean, the arts are about creativity, right? Well, I thought so at least, however what seems largely expected of artists by cultural institutions, the critical establishment, and the public by and large consists of conventional behavior, a sentimentality acted on nostalgically to create warm memories of past aesthetic joys, and above all a respect for the dominant social values- even when the work in question pretends to disagree with them. Need examples? How about all the capitalist punk bands out there? It seems there is a contradiction here.
Out of this contradiction comes many things. Its like a cloudburst. One of these things is the habit of artists to consistently re-open the boundaries of the art world and art forms for themselves through the creation of experimental forms of work. One way that many artists do this, with or without knowing it, is through work in which the form and function are united, where they are simply different aspects of the same thing.
Experimental form emerges when someone decides to design or present their work in a way that the current conventional context for “art” or whatever else does not include. For example, an artist might decide that the very short film they are making (say the sixteen second one) is best presented on a very small (say, cell phone sized) screen. This is in contrast to the standards Hollywood has set, and enforced culture, for what is considered a “movie.” A “movie” is thus for many people something which lasts for a specific duration and is projected a certain way, among other things. In fact, the convention could be taken further into what a “movie” has become for many people, as under the leadership of Hollywood the conceptual field available to the filmmaker is strikingly low, but this is really to frightening to discuss here. I am only trying to give an example, and that example is of a that is different from what is expected of a “movie” yet certainly could contain much useful content. In fact, the difference in presence do to this forms experimental nature might increase the effect of its content especially where the content and form are structurally integrated.
Another, deeper example could be given. If not only the form and function but also the motive behind the creation of a piece departs from the conventional set if motivating principals (if the piece has a distinctly different catalyst or reason for its existence than is common for works appearing to be of similar media) than a situation arises where the form created is already a priori its own function, which then continues to develop further functionality as it interacts with the public and the environment as a whole (including other artworks). I feel like Pauline Oliveros‘ music illustrates this idea nicely in that, taking active listening on the part of both performer and audience as a manner of operation, and the spiritual, conscious, awareness which her practice is involved in as its motivation she unties form and function. The uniting principal is the point of motivation for the work as well as its product.
Well I think I am going to make a new film.
“and what will it be about?”
you know I don’t like talking about films I haven’t seen…
“should be very popular”
I don’t see why not.