pamble- First Word Art Last Word Art

While I do appreciate the way this phrase can illuminate certain discussions about art and technology, it is, I think, an ultimately limited tool for categorizing and evaluating which excludes and/or misunderstands a great deal of the art on this lil ol planet. (Of course, what phrase that attempts to summarize art doesn’t fail at least partially). In the universe of this phrase, one can venture to innovate and create a new form, or to perfect a pre-existing form. Meanwhile, content and context barely factor into the phrase at all. For instance, a relief print made in 2016, which doesn’t really turn the whole world of printmaking on its head, but which perfectly encapsulates and communicates, say, the experience of someone living in Flint Michigan- this certainly doesn’t constitute first word art, and I don’t think last word art is a great word for it either. The hypothetical print I’m talking about is one that is more focused on content and subject than craft and medium. The medium was picked because it seemed fit to carry the content. The way I understand last word art is sort of the opposite of the hypothetical print: finding the perfect content to fit the medium constitutes the last word in the ongoing discussion of that medium. I suppose you could tailor firstword/lastword to talk about content instead of medium/form, but then that sets up a somewhat gross race to make the BEST Flint related artwork, before abandoning the subject altogether after someone gets the last word. I think it’s best to think about form and content simultaneously, to listen to a medium tell you what it’s most fit to say, and to listen to content reveal its own grammar.

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