Often the world of commercial creativity goes into a brick wall. A creative block of its own quality and nature, which becomes evident when one recognises the pattern of what gathers the most attention from followers of a particular art form. Often in most creative scenes, the common narrative is that there is a sort of diminished quality to the newer and newer pieces of work that are being produced. The Hip Hop scene complains of soft, often lyrically impaired MC’s; music complains of monotonous producers who provide very little challenge to the audiophile ear;movie and video production has lost its sense of novel vision ever since the industry acquired new super powers in the form of 3D animation and computer generated imagery (CGI) to the point where acting has lost the passion to relay the message through dramatic genius. It is simply that the source of ideas for any commercial scene in any city or country relies on a scene whose very values spur on and stir the creative pot in the minds of its patrons.
The old philosophical rule of you are what you see, cannot be more epitomised by creative arts, and this is confirmed by the old adage, the observer is the observed first coined by the talks on creativity by J.Krishnamurti. That is, all the consumers of the art influence directly, the art that is being produced. There is a feedback mechanism built into the scene and that is what makes it unique. It is not separate from the environment from which it has been created. This provides great steering potential for the direction of any art form. While we realise this to probably be a good thing, it also has a bad nectar about it; and this is what has given rise to the challenges that most artists experience within their daily existence within the enterprise. Maybe that is the problem; we think art can be turned in to some kind of enterprise venture from which it can grow, sadly this cannot be the case, because the two activities are conflicting at their core. The counter argument for this, may be that how is art expected to survive if it cannot be paid for? This may hold true for some arts, like performance and reproduction, but the case is not always almost true because truly great art has not been subject to business plans, bank balance statements and return on investment analyses whilst in the crevices of the mind of the creator, it was simply created out of a feeling, a feeling of good whence upon the creator lays eyes upon their creation. While some may say materials are required to produce a piece of art, the others will say the art comes from the scarcity of material, it comes from innovation on the fly with the creation. It is only refined productions that require prudent planning and immaculate execution for it to be appreciated by those that deem themselves to be refined; this may include such people as those that run your corporate accounts or tax returns or some other similar mundane task.
Is “commercial art” an oxymoron?
This is not an attempt to define art or its purpose, but we can look at it from a fundamentally neutral point of view and observe its movement. This can allow us to create the contrast that will bring us closer to its true nature. There is an order to each creative process and this is guided by the imagination, and it may be influenced by the memories of ones life experience. Depending on how one identifies with their memories one can incorporate them into the ideas that make up what will be their art. Since all art is subject to interpretation, it is all up to your experience as the observer to make your own interpretation. The beauty that comes from this is in identifying with another supposedly unrelated individual through this shared interpretation of the reality.
Now, before we go into commercialisation of art, we need to first examine this process of imagination, memory and experience. Each of us lives our lives under what may be termed as the bombardment of daily awareness. This has given us this urge to find meaning in everything that we do, and most certainly meaning to all of life and existence if you deeply contemplate things. We identify ourselves through this meaning in the form of what our daily occupation is. This may bring rise to the assumptions that life is headed towards some transcendental goal of some sort, and we all have to strive to work towards this goal. The challenge is we not only have to work with our minds but also with the physical environment, which is what is usually used as the yard stick for determining how far we have come in relation towards this goal. This has also given rise to its own set of problems in that identifying too much with the physical may separate us from the transcendental, such as our psychology. Seeking by all its nature implies that seeking will come to an end, and one may identify with it as comfort both physically and psychologically, therefore, in our minds we identify with this goal through comfort. Once we are comfortable then the may may relinquish its states of awareness and creativity to times of distress and discomfort, which is were the oxymoron comes in -observe.
All beauty comes from struggle, because in struggle, all the energies are called forth to try and overcome this impediment to our goal. A symphony of battles is created as a result of this scenario and if one is aware and observant enough to their environment, they may be able to put fort an effort to recreate this observation through various ways of expression depending on how the creative may want the other to perceive what they have created. It is this level of discomfort that one may identify with and produce some of the most amazing experiences that may have multiple ways of interpretation. When one seeks comfort, there is a level beyond which this comfort becomes a delusion. Since we identify with our experiences and environments, should this level of comfort persist long enough, one may find themselves to be identified with this level of comfort which often enough brings the mind to a state of dullness as the individual is no longer ‘seeking’ and thus their creative progress may come to a slow decline.
What are the qualities of an underground scene?
So what is it about the underground scene that leads to people involved in it to produce works of art, which are rich in content, and have a quality of newness about it which stimulate the mind of the interpreter/observer, and what is it about works of art, which inspire all those who view it, to change their copy, emulate and even improve on it? The saying “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery comes to mind“. so we copy the artist whose work we like the most, is it because we identify with the work, and the energy which has gone into producing it. Is it that it could have a certain resonance with the state of freedom required to produce such a thing. After all, all art is information.
As a question set in rhetoric, one can immediately tell that there is a sort of creative momentum that is created in being underground, and the first and most important quality of being underground is freedom. Art cannot progress without freedom, and freedom cannot thrive where there are limits and impositions on how when and why someone should pursue creative expression. Once a limit imposed, either as a guideline, as a resource distribution mechanism, or even as a chaos control mechanism; there will always be a way in which these limits will express themselves in the way the individual produces their art.
Commercialisation always works to maximise profits, to gain market share, be politically correct, to adhere to established public order guidelines and to be sensitive as to not offend the hierarchical order and interpretations of the establishment that guides most if not all of current modern day existence. The fundamental concept of commercialisation is the chase for more money, for greater market share, for recognition, and for some sort of financial freedom which may give the artist more magic for which they can create with. This is a gross mis-interpretation, which most if not all people who call themselves creatives in commercial creativity are caught with. The idea of money, which is the greatest of all illusions.
The underground, which is free of all societal illusion, as such develops a culture of its own, one which moves counter intuitive to the constraints of open society; one which seeks to unlock the hidden potentials of any individual because there is a level of love for the art form, which exists in a non describable motif, one which, if one were to meet an underground artist and ask them why they do what they do they would have a difficult time in getting an answer. The answer is usually so complex and so involved in the life of an individual that it may take a much more involved conversation to bring out this vision which any artist has in their mind in regards to the conflict they experience between themselves and the contents and requirements of the culture and society they may find themselves in.