Brian Eno on art, value, and culture

This is from my other blog and comprises a critique of Eno’s lecture to the AA School of Architecture while acknowledging the initial questions Eno asks and his stated premise.

Brian Eno’s lecture to the AA School of Architecture takes on the problem of how to talk about, to write about, to classify and describe art. Or that was the plan. The lecture starts well with the idea that the arts – all of them – are everything you don’t have to do as illustrated by screwdrivers. The business end is a fixed design, functional and with no room for manoeuvre, but the handle – that can be plain, striped, blue, red, yellow, pink, fat, thin, shaped, pared down. The business end is what you have to do, the handle is what you don’t have to do.

He made a similar speech a year before (the Peel Lecture; link in the text) which varies only slightly from this one in that Darwin and the taxonomy issue is missing. In that lecture, it’s possible to see the formulation of his ideas and the way his thinking was moving. It was a far superior delivery and, quite ironically, illustrates the problem a lack of taxonomy has in that it privileges existing power, reputation, and position. In any bricks and mortar university, and this had been, for argument’s sake, their own junior lecturer Brian Beano giving the talk, I doubt he would have got ratings much above 2*. But it wasn’t and I’m guessing it ‘went down very well’ because of who he is. The Peel lecture is a much better piece of work altogether.

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