After reading the “The Return to Ritual: Violence and Art in the Media Age” by Tobin Siebers, it is possible to come to the conclusion that the permission of the author that violence has become an important aesthetic signifier for our culture is a topical issue today. The culture of nowadays is full of violence, brutality, blood and the values of humanity are in process of their degradation. It is possible to see all the above listed issues on TV, in the internet, in newspapers etc. In other words, our life is fulfilled with the negative aspects of human relations and attitude to the other animate beings.
It is possible to support this point of view with the direct quotations from the work of literature. First of all, author has made a description of several works of art - “Lester Burnham dead”, “Bullet Hole” and “Self”. All these exhibits cannot be considered as a traditional art, because initially, humanity has created the works of art in order to enjoy them, to watch, to listen, to be proud of cultural events etc, but all the three works, mentioned above are related to brutality and to horror. To my opinion, such exhibits are more inherent to narrow-purpose activities - such as criminological analysis, postmortem examinations etc.
It is possible to assume that the key idea of such representation of art is showing the humanity the outcomes of violence and brutality and preventing their negative impact on the social environment. At the same time, according to the Tobin Siebers’ opinion, these works of art are “not merely about the art world or social violence. Their self-reflexive attitude toward both culture and violence works hard to anchor the one in the other, as if their purpose were to expose the fact that we recognize the presence of culture more and more via images of violence” (Siebers, 2003).
That is why, the interrelation and particular integration of the violence into the art is the indicator of our culture. In other words, nowadays people need such art- they are deeply interrelated with the numerous actions - with blood, violence, crossfire and death and people have become being not afraid of death and of injections on TV. Author says that “In some ways, the emergence of trauma art is only a dramatization of this fact”, it is possible to see the underlying message here- people have got inner problems and frustrations and such art is the mean of their relaxation and adaptation to their frustrations.
Author has relied to the Romantic age, when the nature-culture split has been charted for the first time by Rousseau and the images of a benevolent nature have been summoned by Wordsworth. Such approach has been applied in order to measure the negative and aggressive trends, which were inherent to the current society. Here, author has made an assumption that out negative trends can also be measured by the “negative culture” - in the case of increasing demand for such pictures and masterpieces, that means that there is an urgent need of implementing some measures, which may redirect the negative trends, inherent to some particular society, into another place.
Different scholars consider the “trauma” as a universal tool for understanding media society. Also it is as acceptable response the “trauma” to the panic culture- the product of the global capitalism.
In order to evaluate the difficulty of differentiating between the experience of real and staged violence, I would like to refer to the author’s approach- “If an art work is traumatic, it is so because it supposedly captures an event personal to the beholder. But art works of this kind are not concerned with the death or injury of a loved one, a close relative, or even a fellow citizen” (Siebers, 2003).
That is the individual and special feature of this type of art- it is not a real evidence for the beholder because none of one’s relatives or beloved people are not involved into the death or injury. It provides people with a possibility of watching, getting the information and making some individual conclusions, concerning the work of art while not applying it to the own personality.
From the other hand, it is possible to consider trauma as the representation of the cultural tastes of the nowadays society. As it has been noted above, we are deeply interrelated with the virtual world, created by the TV shows, movies, internet, games etc and we constantly need to see something, which may shock us, rather that some issues which may be a pleasure to the eye and may gladden our hearts.
That is why, it is possible to make a conclusion that being aware of such art allows us to prevent some critical situation is the life, which may lead to the outcomes, shown in the above listed exhibits. People should always feel the fine line between the art and reality because nowadays cruel world is the fertile ground for violations, roughness, heartlessness and the actions, supported with these factors.
Finally, it is not possible to prevent the emotional impact of the phenomena of evil, because it is widely represented everywhere - news about conflicts, disasters, terrorists, their actions etc. At the same time we should always remember about the difference between the artificial forms of violence and the real life, which completely depends on us.