What Do You Dream of Now?
up to the skies
Thing like that drive me
out of my mind
---Lou Reed, "Satellite of Love"
Dreams of a better (or at least different) world have fueled artists' pursuits for millennia, with more modern examples ranging from finding inspiration in exotic locales (think Gauguin or Rousseau) to exposés of human suffering designed to raise consciousness (think Picasso up through Emily Jacir) to simply musing on the aesthetics and metaphors of space exploration and the technology explosion of the last century (think Rosenquist up through Cory Archangel).
The appeal of "over there" or "tomorrow" (that is, the unknown and hopefully better) worlds is understandably a rich vein to mine for artists, but while we see turmoil the world over with protests and wars and plans for new wars and what not, there seems to be a bit of loss of direction (perhaps simply the result of a vastly connected and much more complex world) in the dream department these days.
Neil deGrasse Tyson makes a passionate argument that the lack of enthusiasm for more space exploration (via NASA funding) is an indication that we have stopped dreaming the way we used to in this video:
Of course, there is a generation of artists who recognize the appeal of deGrasse Tyson's other declaration (that "the universe is in us") and have concluded (rightly, I think) that that's a rich enough territory for any artist to explore. But at other times I find it hard to separate dreaming inward from the eventual drudgery of "navel gazing." The idea that there's still so much more worthwhile "out there" is difficult to give up.
Art world types (ok, so mostly those who fall into the "geek" or "nerd" categories) are excited for the upcoming return of director Ridley Scott to the sci-fi genre, with his highly anticipated new flick "Prometheus."
And among the super-geeky there's also viral enthusiasm for Scott's envisioned TED talk from the year 2023:
It's an blisteringly exciting vision: "We are the gods now." And isn't it partly the their secret desire to be more godlike (to create new universes that he/she completely controls) that makes exploring new territories or building new, better worlds (according to one's own vision) so appealing to artists?
But, alas, achieving anything approaching the Prometheus vision would seem to require that we continue to invest in space exploration.
Is deGrasse Tyson off base?
If so, what do you dream of now?