This past Friday night, my wife and I had the chance to catch Sufjan Stevens live at the historic Chicago Theater – three days after the release of his latest full-length album, The Age of Adz (pronounced Odds). The moment we headed back to our car, the inevitable question showed up…
So, what did you think?
For the most part, we tend to answer this question in one of two ways… “liked” or “disliked.” And unfortunately, the conversation often ends there. With the over abundance of review sites such as Pitchfork, Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB, or Meta-Critic, these type of responses (or lack thereof) is of no real surprise… for in many ways, the four star rating system of critics has killed the participant’s experience. We have forced films, music, food, art, whatever into “good” and “bad” categories (largely) on the basis of entertainment value. Will I receive my money’s worth of leisure?
While nobody wants to negate opportunities for mindless entertainment, (in my opinion) this sense of entitlement that is encouraged has slowly dismantled the relationship between the viewer and the art – no matter the medium. Unfortunately, this negates the simple reality that (most) art was created with the intentions of it being experienced with someone. Sure, Sufjan certainly creates music nobody gets to hear; however, his overall hope is that it is a participatory event.
Two questions emerge. Should we maintain this relationship (between art and viewer)? And if so, how?