Postmodernism is dead. Let’s dance.

Postmodernism is Dead. Let's Dance.

Google Trends tells me that Postmodernism has been in the news again recently. Apparently, on the 24th of September, Postmodernism is officially over. This makes me very happy.

From the 24th of September 2011 to the 15th of January 2012, the Victoria and Albert Museum open “the first comprehensive retrospective” on the movement: “Postmodernism – Style and Subversion 1970-1990.” It’s about time too, Postmodernism has overstayed its welcome. In South Africa it was on its last legs when I finished art school almost 10 year ago. Evidently in the sea of confusion, those in the know assumed we were still in Postmodernism (woops). But regardless of whatever movement we’re in or have been moving towards, does anyone care about defining the beginning and end of Postmodernism?

I do, but only because I studied the bollocks and I want to see the ass end of it. This post is not a lesson on Postmodernism, go read the Wikipedia entry or this article. Postmodernism and its wide definition of art, where anything can be justified, became a self-fulfilling prophecy. If anything can be put forward as art simply by writing a paper with big words in it and making academic references, then nothing is art.

I used to care about art, but Postmodernism killed that for me. As a philosophical movement it was great, teaching us that commentary on society can occur anywhere (and so much more). As a movement associated with artworks I believe it had an unintended, negative influence on artists, the craft and the works produced.

The man in the street doesn’t care. He or she just wants something pretty to put on the wall. The casual art observer wants something that isn’t too offensive and is sure to be an investment. These days I get my fill of social commentary from the internet and Southpark, and I look forward to the next art movement that doesn’t contain the word ‘modernism.’

This comic proudly stolen from Dinosaur Comics

Hey online music services, over here!

I just don’t get it. Why hasn’t iTunes’ music offering, Amazon’s mp3 Store, eMusic or a kickass streaming service like Spotify or Rhapsody launched in South Africa yet? There’s so much happening internationally, yet promising developing countries like South Africa aren’t invited to the party. Why?

The most commonly used reasons are licensing issues and the insignificant size of our market when compared to Europe and the U.S. Whatever. This is a massive opportunity being overlooked by the Big Guns. Strikes, lack of infrastructure, and the costs associated with setting up shop in a new territory are not applicable. South Africa is the gateway to Africa, and as far as available music services go there’s very little competition.

Although the iTunes store is open to South Africans, only apps are available for purchase. The choices when using a mobile device are cellular networks and those fly-by-night companies that advertise on eTV. For desktop purchases, music consumers can visit the Nokia OVI Store, Omusic and the newly launched Look & Listen mp3 Store.

For some consumers this is okay, but none of these options excite me. I’m a wannabe tech geek and Apple fan girl with strange music tastes. I want to buy from a platform that I know and trust to just work. Why should I be forced to settle for less because of my geographical location?

It makes even more sense for RiSA to push for an iTunes launch, since the volume of legitimately paid-for sales through the US iTunes store must be staggering. There are many South African websites that make reference to opening a fake US iTunes account, and even more devoted to the sale of iTunes vouchers. Unfortunately, all that money leaves the South African economy… Also, it’s illegal.

There are dozens of forums and sites detailing how to mask a South African IP address to access legitimate music services currently unavailable in South Africa. There are also plenty BitTorrent networks to choose from if you want to rip off artists. In this day and age we’re able to take from cyberspace what we want when we want it, which is why I believe the key to reducing piracy is to make it easier to find and pay for a song than to steal it.

Sure, it takes time to get the licensing agreements and publishing in place, but other international companies have shown that getting local agreements in place can be done. From there the rest of Africa can be a cinch, especially where broadband penetration is better. Where there’s a will, and maybe some smart strategic foresight, there’s a way. Hopefully we’ll start seeing some more international competition in this space soon.