…the other Crash threatening us is that of cultural overproduction. The powers that be would have us believe that in the cultural market place, unlike in the commodity marketplace, demand still exceeds supply and will continue to do so for a good while yet. The people supposedly have an insatiable hunger for cultural goods. And so we get a guaranteed boom in all cultural “values or securities”. In fact, this is not at all the case. In the cultural economy of the average citizen (if such a thing exists), there is a noticeable surplus of supply over demand. It is like/just the same as at the supermarket. The illimited promotion of cultural products already far exceeds human capacity to absorb them. The average person no longer even has the time to consume his own cultural products, let alone those of others. The public does its best: people run round from one exhibition to another, from one film festival to another but their capacity or cultural labour is stretched to the limit. What results from this is an original form of cultural alienation, not due to lack or deprivation, but to surplus and saturation. In this new context, the degree of cultural alienation, that is of being held hostage by culture (by its ads., its media, its institutions) comes close to the degree of voluntary submission in politics.
… culture…has become: a market with all the effects of artificial shortage, spiraling values and speculation. And, as soon as one tends to confuse these exponential market factors with irresistible cultural progress, what looms on the horizon is the same reversal as occurred in the 1929 crisis in material production: overproduction, priority of supply over demand, the end of `natural’ assumptions about an economy that had become speculative, virtual and completely cut off from real wealth and real economic requirements. This is exactly what lies in wait for culture and a cultural market turned speculative. And there could very easily be like Black Thursday on Wall Street in 1929, a Black Sunday of culture.
The expansion of cultural production far surpasses the expansion of material production, and the result is cultural bottlenecks that are even more monstrous than blockages in the economy or our constantly paralysed traffic systems. For, in the open field of communication, anyone can produce gestures, texts, colours, signs and meanings, spontaneously and indefinitely in a kind of uninterrupted interchange. Anyone can stage his or her own performance, unfortunately in total indifference to the other, or with only a token superficial consent and in a certain sense this is unavoidable for how can these countless productions be adequately provided for? …who will save us from cultural overproduction when this market, in its turn, is saturated? Perhaps we will have to undertake a massive destruction of cultural values to save the stock market value of the sign, the stock market value of the cultural artifact, just as they once burned coffee in the furnaces of steam engine locomotives so as to to save the world price of coffee.
Already most non-material goods are meeting the same fate as material goods: forced production, forced advertising, accelerated recycling, built-in obsolescence. Art becomes ephemeral, not so as to express the ephemeral nature of life, but to adapt to the transience of the market. Rather than decadent, art is now degradable in line with the biodegradability of the physical world. Such is the fate of our cultural signs, be the disinvested or of transvestite nature, they are part of the pure and simple discount of degradable products.
*ready to start burning tumblrs*