Below are my endnotes and references:
“The boat was departing at 8:30pm and at 8:14pm I got up off the picnic table . . . that I was the one that had to make it happen.” This is a direct quote from Jacky Petter’s blog at JackyPetters.com, which I quote with her permission. The exact blog post is here: http://jackypetters.com/takemeanywhere/. I am indebted to Jacky, who also allowed me to interview her, and who answered follow-up questions for me, the content of which shaped my work. “This is the craziest thing I’ve ever done . . . You have us.” This is another direct quote from Jacky’s blog. “Honestly, I think one of the coolest parts . . . SS Badger and the memories we created.” This is a direct quote from a correspondence with Jacky, in which she answered several of my follow-up questions.
Part I: #TAKEMEANYWHERE
From May 23rd to June 23rd, 2016, LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner hitchhiked across the country. My overview of the artists’ project was influenced in part by the overview written by the Vice Staff (2015).
#TAKEMEANYWHERE might best be thought of as “social media hitchhiking.” The quoted section is a direct-quote from an apt tweet by Jennifer Doyle, @FromALeftWing: https://twitter.com/FromaLeftWing/status/734927136306253824
PART II: #TRIBELRT
Right or wrong, many think of tribespeople as being especially loyal . . . (Fried 1975, p. 2 & p. 6). Actually, anthropologists suggest that tribespeople often have, in fact, regarded one another as relatives (Fried 1975, p. 80).
Similarly, many respected works of literature portray tribespeople as loyal and devoted friends (Rath 1989, p. 65). Authors have also imagined tribespeople behaving with beautiful spontaneity (Rath 1989, p. 66).
The word “tribe” has been associated with warm, folk-oriented society . . . (Fried 1975, p. 8).
Tribes are seen as a foil to modern culture (Rath 1989, p. 61).
Some anthropologists argue that many tribespeople have, in fact, developed their identity as members of a common tribe . . . (Fried 1975, p. 100). Some theorists have tried to distinguish one tribe from another on the basis of their language . . . (Fried 1975, p. 26).
Some theorists have argued, for instance, that members of a particular tribe might recognize meaning in a work of art that . . . (Geertz 1976; Geertz 2010). If these theorists are right, we might gain at least a very rough sense of a person’s society or tribe . . . This is implicitly implied by Geertz (1976). In addition, the editors/translators of a new Russian translation of Geertz draw attention to this notion in the abstract they wrote, preceding their translation (Geertz, 2010).
No doubt, art from distant cultures and tribes can still be largely accessible to us, even if we are, to a great extent, ignorant of the art’s sociohistorical context . . . Certain aesthetic qualities might appeal to people everywhere, regardless of culture. This discussion is a simplified and moderately different version of a discussion proposed by Stephen Davies, who also refers to Chinese paintings, carpets from the Middle East, and a “transcultural notion of the aesthetic” (Davies 2000, pp. 199-200 & 207).
PART III: TIES OF CLOSE KINSHIP
She regretted that she hadn’t asked about the kinds of things you learn when you make a true relationship with someone . . . What are their favorite memories? This paraphrases a portion of Jacky’s blog. It is from a different blog post, which can be found here: http://jackypetters.com/relation/ — Whenever they isolated themselves with just a few participants, LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner created a space in which those participants . . . This passages again paraphrases Jacky Petters blog.
Rachel Bewley, who has managed a family farm in Tennessee for nearly a decade since finishing college, graciously let me interview her . . . I am very much indebted to Rachel for letting me interview her for two hours, and for subsequently answering several follow-up questions. Much of what I write in this section is based on my discussions with her.
Anthropologists note that, in many tribes, once a person is adopted into a tribe, he becomes like a family member to everyone else . . . If one is adopted into the Wolf tribe, all male tribesmen from the same generation become one’s brothers (Fried 1975, p. 78).
PART IV: THE ROMANTIC TRIBE
In 2008, the artist Pippa Bacca was raped and murdered as she hitchhiked across Turkey . . . Their plan was to hitchhike, sometimes alone and sometimes together, through portions of Italy, Bosnia, Turkey, Serbia, Syria, and Lebanon before arriving in Israel (Provoledo, 2008).
They carried no guns or weapons to protect themselves, they had no safety net, and they traveled only with complete strangers (Antmen 2010, p. 62). They began their hitchhiking project, departing from Milano on March 8th, which is International Working Woman’s Day (Antmen 2010, p. 59). Arguably, their project was meant, at least in part, to draw attention to Woman’s Day . . . women whose achievements and struggles advanced women’s rights (Antmen 2010, p. 60).
As they hitchhiked, Moro periodically stopped and asked women to embroider patterns on her wedding dress . . . washing their feet was meant “to honor their profession, which is to bring life into being.” . . . they intended to ceremonially wash the wedding dresses, and, in doing so, “wash away traces of war.” (Provoledo, 2008). The two quotations are copied, verbatim, from Provoledo’s news story.
In light of global politics, many have perceived the artists and their project, “Brides on Tour,” as naïve (Antmen 2010, p. 60). We might conceive their action – choosing to be naïve – as an act of defiance against the traditionally passive role . . . (Antmen 2010, p. 62). They chose, instead – naively? – to act as if art can change the world . . . (Antmen 2010, p. 63). The mission statement for “Brides on Tour” . . . reads: “Hitchhiking is choosing to have faith in other human beings, and man, like a small god, rewards those who have faith in him” (Antmen, pp. 61 & 63). The quotation is copied verbatim from Antmen’s article. Arguably, too, Bacca and Moro needed for the project to be truly spontaneous . . . While Antmen never directly says anything like this, this idea, at least loosely, seems implied/hinted-at by her article (pp. 60-61).
Bacca’s sister says of her that: “She thought that in the world there were more positive than negative people, and that it was right to be trusting.” She added that, “Trust is a very human factor, and she believed that to understand people, you had to get to know them.” The quotation, here, is copied verbatim from Povoledo’s article (2008).
In an interview with the staff of VICE, Nastja said of #TAKEMEANYWHERE that “it’s about trust.” She added that her ambition with the project was “to connect” . . . Luke added: “It’s an informed naivety.” The quotations, here, are copied verbatim from the artists’ interview with the Vice Staff (2016).
PART V: METAMODERNISM
Dutch cultural theorists Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker describe metamodernism as a specific structure of feeling, or sensibility . . . (Vermeulen and van den Akker 2010, p. 2; Vermeulen and van den Akker 2015a, pp. 55-56). “Metamodernism oscillates between the modern and the postmodern. It oscillates between a . . . totality and fragmentation, purity and ambiguity.” This quote is copied verbatim from Vermeulen and van den Akker (2010, pp. 5-6). Vermeulen and van den Akker suggest that the metamodern sensibility might best . . . (Vermeulen and van den Akker 2015a, p. 56). Consider, for instance, the films of Wes Anderson, who has directed . . . Vermeulen and van den Akker refer to Anderson’s films as examples of films that clearly express the metamodern sentiment (Vermeulen and van den Akker 2010, p. 7), as does Luke Turner (2015).
Also consider the American crime drama Breaking Bad . . . Turner expressly provides Breaking Bad as an example of a show in which the metamodern sensibility could be discerned (Turner, 2015).
Vermeulen and van den Akker suggest that we can – strictly metaphorically – visualize the metamodern sensibility . . . (Vermeulen and van den Akker 2010, p. 6).
Sincerity and irony are both present in these films and shows and do not . . . . (Turner 2015).
They claim that the metamodern mindset “can be conceived as a kind of informed naivety, a pragmatic idealism.” The final quote in this passage is copied verbatim from Vermeulen and van den Akker (2010, p. 5). They suggest that people like me, who have a metamodern sensibility, tend to naively strive forward toward idealistic goals. Vermeulen and van den Akker write: “Kant himself adopts the as-if terminology when he writes ‘[e]ach . .. people, as if following some guiding thread, go toward a natural but to each of them unknown goal’. That is to say, humankind, a people, are not really going toward a natural but unknown goal, but they pretend they do so that they progress morally as well as politically. Metamodernism moves for the sake of moving, attempts in spite of its inevitable failure; it seeks forever for a truth that it never expects to find” (Vermeulen and van den Akker 2010, p. 5). In one work of art, titled Broken Fall (1971), artist Bas Jan Ader . . . if he paid attention – the impossibility of success (Vermeulen and van den Akker 2010, p. 9).
The American road trip has long been symbolic of a collective yearning to seek out beauty and truth within a corrupt nation . . . society, and preserve something of the utopian naivety of the Internet age? This quote is copied verbatim from the #TAKEMEANYWHERE exhibition webpage hosted by the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, which sponsored the project (Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, 2016).
Vermeulen and van den Akker contend that the notion of utopia appears in many metamodern artworks (Vermeulen and van den Akker 2015a, p. 57).
Luke Turner himself claims that metamodernism “does describe a climate in which yearning for utopias, despite their futile nature, has come to the fore.” The metamodernist artist, he writes, can “attempt to attain some sort of transcendent position, as if such a thing were within our grasp.” These quotes are copied verbatim from Turner (2015).
The metamodern artist might, on some deep level, know that true utopia cannot be realized . . . pursue it nonetheless, as if it is possible. This passage, which refers to ideas from Vermeulen and van den Akker (2015a, p. 65) and from Turner (2015), is copied verbatim from one of my own online posts (Corsa, 2015).
On board the S.S. Badger, in the middle of Lake Michigan, Jacky was cold. She was enjoying herself, and loved the people she was with . . . “But if I rode a boat with Shia LaBeouf while wearing his jacket, then surely nothing is out of my reach. So now, I will still dream.” This section was influenced by, and quotes, both Jacky Petter’s blog at JackyPetters.com, and also a follow-up email exchange between me and Jacky. The relevant blog post is here: http://jackypetters.com/takemeanywhere/. Once again, I am indebted to Jacky and her willingness to share her experiences and let me quote her blog.
PART VI: SPEAKING THE SAME LANGUAGE
Some theorists suggest that we should rightly call some of these communities “tribes” . . . This is one of Wheeler’s (2009) theses.
On Twitter, we might define a community as a group of people who are connected by mutual messages . . . people who are all connected to each other by mutual messages, but who are not strongly connected to members of other communities. This is roughly the way that John Bryden, Sebastian Funk, and Vincent AA Jansen (2013) think of Twitter communities (pp. 1-2).
Are authors right to refer to some of these communities as “tribes”? Writers in several online newspapers refer to them this way, including Jason Rodriguez (2013).
Members of some Twitter communities use certain words more often than members of other communities . . . far more frequently used words such as “anipals,” “pawsome,” and “furever.” (Bryden, Funk, and Jansen 2013, pp. 2-4). Just by considering the words a person used, and how often the person used them . . . (Bryden, Funk, and Jansen 2013, p. 4). The researchers also discovered that members of the same Twitter community are, in general, more likely to use words . . . Their tweets look and sound noticeably different (Bryden, Funk, and Jansen 2013, p. 4).
Linguists note that people sometimes change how they talk or write based on their audience . . . they might commit themselves to traditional grammar. This discussion and example are loosely based on passages from the work of Shortis (2009, p. 230 and pp. 238-239).
Likewise, those who engage with the artists’ work might never consciously think of themselves as part of a common group or tribe . . . In a very different context, Fried writes: “It is only when Dinka from different parts of the country meet together among foreigners that their common culture and language may draw them together . . . In their homes, they have no consciousness of themselves as a nation” (Fried 1975, p. 62).
Rachel has remarked that she felt that #TAKEMEANYWHERE, while in progress, had a . . . they can all jam together, regardless. After our interview, Rachel and I engaged in a follow-up email discussion. The quotations in this section are copied verbatim from her email. I am indebted to her help with this project.
Vermeulen and van den Akker are clear that metamodernism is neither a philosophy nor a movement . . . in metamodernism, there are no hard and fast rules, like one might imagine in a philosophical system (Vermeulen and van den Akker, 2015b).
Rather, Vermeulen has suggested that we might – at least metaphorically – better think of metamodernism as a kind of dialect. He suggested this to me in a private email conversation, which he subsequently gave me permission to cite.
PART VII: ECOSYSTEMS
Robert, Rachel’s husband who works with her on their farm in Tennessee, first met LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner when they arrived at the farm . . . I am indebted to Robert, who exchanged several emails with me, during which he answered a number of questions I posed to him. Much of this section is based on my email discussions with him and my interviews with Rachel.
PART VIII: SEEING MEANING IN THE SAME ART
Historians note that the Yoruba people associated lines with the notion of civilization. In their language, “civilizing the country” literally means “drawing lines on the face of the earth” (Thompson 1973, p. 35). Some of the Yoruba people arranged for lines to be sliced into their cheeks. They allowed for these lines to be noticeably scarred over, and the lines were meant to indicate . . . the way in which the Yoruba people viewed the lines involved in their artwork (Thompson 1973, p. 26 & pp. 33-37; Geertz 1976, pp. 1477-1478).
To better understand the kinds of sensibilities people can develop, which affect how they view art, consider the work of artists in fifteenth century Italy . . . would commission works of art from artists (Baxandall 1972, pp. 38-39; Geertz 1976, p. 1486). Art historians note that merchants and professional men from that time period tended to share certain common skills . . . many successful artists made work that appealed to those common skills (Baxandall 1972, p. 34; Geertz 1976, p. 1497). At that time, merchants needed to be able to look at different barrels of goods and quickly determine the quantity of goods in each barrel . . . they first needed to look at each unique barrel and determine how much it contained (Baxandall 1972, p. 86; Geertz 1976, p. 1486). Before becoming professional merchants, boys would often attend secondary schools where the focus was commercial mathematics . . . (Baxandall 1972, p. 86). Almost every mathematical handbook required students . . . (Baxandall 1972, p. 87). For instance, when artists included images of pavilions in their paintings, it was as if they were inviting their audience . . . (Baxandall 1972, p. 87; Geertz 1976, p. 1487). When they see a barrel or a pavilion in a painting, their interpretation of it and way of approaching it . . . (Baxandall 1972, pp. 101-102; Geertz 1976, p. 1488).
PART IX: THE PHILOSOPHY OF ART
Should the kind of art created by many traditional tribes be considered genuine art, at all? (Blocker 1991, p. 88). Some philosophers have argued that anything that is art must be the work of an artist who made it to be appreciated aesthetically (Blocker 1991, pp. 89, 92, and 97). Even more, they say, the artist must have intended that an audience would look at the work . . . (Blocker 1991, p. 91). Then a number of philosophers would say the beautiful carvings are not truly a work of art . . . Blocker distinguishes between “full” and “partial” senses of the term “art” (Blocker 1991, p. 96). Works of art, they say, are the kinds of things we take out just to look at (Blocker 1991, p. 91).
Then, according to these theorists, we would have to say that they do not have art . . . Dutton considers and rejects a similar position (Dutton 2000, pp. 224-225).
Suppose we, totally hypothetically, came to learn that the famous paintings of the Italian artist Giotto were, while he lived, only ever viewed during religious ceremonies . . . That should not rule those objects out as genuine art, either! This is a modified and simplified version of an argument by Dutton (2000, pp. 224-225). While very similar to Dutton’s argument, it is different enough that some theorists might consider it an entirely different argument. We might know such objects are art even if our aesthetic appreciation of them is never divorced . . . (Dutton 2000, p. 225).
Philosophers have found it incredibly difficult to define . . . to specify the essential qualities of art (Mag Uidhir and Magnus 2011, p. 83). We might be able to say that anything that is art must be the product of an action taken by a being with a mind that thinks about the world (Mag Uidhir and Magnus 2011, p. 86). Berys Gaut similarly writes: “The modified cluster account holds that there is one necessary condition for something’s being an artwork” and “An artwork is the product of an action” (Gaut 2000, p. 29).
Even if we grant that driftwood, displayed in a museum, is art . . . (Gaut 2000, p. 29).
Anything that is art must be ______ . . . rule out huge numbers of projects that we know, in our heart, are artworks. Lynn M. Hart writes: “One approach, the one generally accepted in art history circles, is to apply traditional Wester aesthetics universally as a standard against which all art forms should be compared . . . Productions that do not fit this single aesthetic are rejected and not considered art” (Hart 1991, p. 149).
There is a great plurality of art! There is conceptual art, found art, outsider/folk art . . . If we want a definition of art, we want it to respect the great plurality (Mag Uidhir and Magnus 2011, p. 85). Perhaps there are many different concepts of art (Mag Uidhir and Magnus 2011).
Or instead, perhaps there is one single concept of art, but that concept is complicated . . . Robert Stecker writes: “Where is the uniformity – convergence, consensus – in this diversity of views [of art]. I find it in the following aspects of all approaches to understanding art except the simple functionalist ones: the disjunctive character of art’s definition, the ineliminability of reference to function and history, the importance of both intention and institution” (Stecker 2000, p. 48).
Perhaps there are many unique, though overlapping, sets of properties an object could have that makes it a work of art. So if something is beautiful, expressive, original, complex . . . belong to a traditional artistic form (like painting) and a particular tradition within that form. This section provides a very simplified, and somewhat modified version of Berys Gaut’s “cluster concept” of art (Gaut 2000, pp. 26-28). My account here might be thought to be so modified/simplified as to no longer be Gaut’s position.
Perhaps we should define art like this: Anything that is a work of art must either have the first set of qualities or the second . . . Robert Stecker discusses the “disjunctive” quality of many conceptions of art (Stecker 2000, pp. 48-49).
Theorists note that many tribal people decorate certain tools and practical items in order to give them aesthetic qualities . . . to be experienced perceptually, and appreciated aesthetically even in their everyday use (Dutton 1993, p. 20). Theorists note that, when these objects have special meaning to the tribespeople as a culture . . . (Dutton 1993, p. 17).
PART X: WHEN YOU CANNOT SPEAK, YOU REMAIN IN SILENCE
Jacky remarked that it is hard for her to talk about #TAKEMEANYWHERE. She writes, “The experience has become incredibly personal and private to me . . . , #TAKEMEANYWHERE became so much bigger than I can express.” This is a direct quote from a correspondence with Jacky, in which she answered several of my follow-up questions, after our initial email correspondence.
The two Brigham Young University students eventually picked the three artists up . . . (Lee 2016).
“Despite the fact that I was with him for probably thirty more hours, this is the last footage I have . . . I wanted to document, and more like something I just wanted to enjoy” (Daly 2016).