Posts Tagged ‘Consensus’

Exactly 1,925 Shades Of Color!

February 10, 2011

            The works featured at the local arts organization’s monthly shows are resplendent with color. Indeed, color is basic to art and seduces many into taking up the brush. How many of us haven’t wanted to gobble up the water color paint that comes out of the tube? It looks good enough to eat. Color is ubiquitous. Many people think color when you say Art (with a capital in the singular).

            This morning NPR featured a short radio journalism piece in honor of Fashion Week. It was by Ilya Marritz from WNYC. The subject was color, what appears in everything from clothes, to cars, to coffee cups. Inadvertently the short article gave a very brut, but concise, description of the everyday workings of consensus within the global political economy. The feature was built around a rather singular New Jersey company named Pantone “whose only business is color.” This company provides the color standards for which it has no rivals. “There are 1,925 color shades in the Pantone Matching System, each with a unique identifying number.” At the organization and invitation of Pantone, committees of select individuals meet to determine trends.

“But here’s a question that cuts to the heart of what fashion is: Why would any designer want to run with the pack?

John Crocco, the creative director for Perry Ellis, calls color forecasts “a self-fulfilling prophecy.” He says if designers choose to follow such forecasts, then they’ll be “part of what ultimately becomes the trend.”

But if designers disregard the trend, they risk irrelevance — just about the worst thing imaginable for any label.” (Ilya Marritz, WNYC)

            Irrelevance is the heart of Ranciere’s consensus/dissenssus model. Without it, his critique dissipates and becomes inarticulate. True, it (relevance/irrelevance) is not often mentioned and does not take center stage in most descriptions of the partitioning of sense. It (relevance/irrelevance) is this kind of assumed, presupposed ‘glue’ that coheres the various partitioned sensibilities that generate dissensus; causes them to stick to each other rather than just be unique, isolated expressions of individuality. It is not a matter of connectivity (the current favored buzzword) since a partitioning is required to establish the difference that accounts for, and ultimately comprises the dissensus. Connection makes for consensus, as evidenced by the “1,925 color shades in the Pantone Matching System”. No connection, no consensus.  More and more Ranciere’s ‘equality’, as the initiating enabler of dissensus, comes across as a similar kind of glue. This appears to situate it more with a kind of Lacanian desire, the desire of relevance/irrelevance (to have one partitioning of sense reflected in another) than with any philosophic critique. In turn, the philosophic critique of equality becomes rather a supplement, Ranciere’s very description of art and philosophy.