I have been struggling with trying to decipher aesthetic philosophies of art of late. At the moment it is the writings of Walter Pater, who makes the point that, “All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music.” The impetus behind this statement is that in music form is least separable from matter. The implication is that music is the highest type of art because what it is, is not separable from how it is. Whether this is correct or not, the assertion is in conflict with much music that is produced today. Or vice versa, probably.
I am not saying that modern music isn’t art, what I am saying is that Pater’s vision is no longer applicable, due in large to the phenomenon of re-mixing. For example, Britney Spears’ latest EP contains four different versions of the song Womanizer. There is a lot of talk about multiplicity or possibilities in relation to art, but most of these discussions relate to the possibilities suggested by the artwork, not the imperative for the artist to cover as many as they can.
It is obvious that ‘re-mixes’ are not artistic exercises, they are marketing ones: “Why sell one song once when we can sell it four times?” This is not necessarily a negative thing. What is wrong with the ‘consumer’ (a term that I loathe) being able to listen their preferred version of a song? However, it does suggest to me a confused or lacking artistic vision from the artist; the artist them-self is unsure as to the best production of a song. A gut-reaction that shows, upon reflection, just how thoroughly western culture has absorbed notions from the art for art’s sake movement.