What does it mean when an artist does something that has “already been done”? When someone says something has “already been done”, I think that in most cases it means that the newer work that has been created was not effective in making a novel perspective accessible to an audience. The critic who claims that what the newer work has touched on has “already been done” is not pushed to feel that the newer work is bringing forth an alternate perspective of a previously discussed subject. This new work might have new components that an old work did not have, but if these components are just bells and whistles rather than significant parts that guide the audience towards a moment of insight, a visceral reaction, or whatever it might be that makes the newer piece important (despite the fact that the work’s old relative still lives on), then the new work has failed somehow. This is relevant to creating works that are technologically novel. If the role of the technology does not effectively help an audience reach something past the surface of the work, then the technology might be unnecessary or might serve a better purpose if used differently.
I do not think that it is pointless to continue a conversation that a “first word artist” has started, as perhaps what made the artist’s “first word art” so significant is that it initiated a conversation that was worth continuing. By adding to this conversation, one is not merely “doing something that has been done before”. One is attempting to explore this conversation in a way that has not been explored before, answer a question, or create a new question from an old one- all of which are certainly worthwhile. I do not think that it is necessary to recreate the wheel in order to reach an idea which is novel. We stand on the shoulders of other artists, even if those other artists include individuals who created work within a cultural interim that existed between “us” and the “first word artists” or “us” and the “last word artists”.
With this being said, I have thought of some questions to consider when further examining Brad’s idea of “last word art”. Does this “last word art,” need to be created within the time frame of a specific art movement (perhaps an art movement that was started by a “first word art”) in order to be considered “last word art”? What are the constraints (if any) a work must fit into in order to be considered “last word art”? Is there a window period that still allows other artists to challenge a potential “last word art” so that their work can be considered “last word art” within that specific movement (making the position “last word art” tentative during this window period)?