This is a series of extraordinaly documnetaries about history of thoughts in terms of art, which made art more relatable and relevant. In fact, art is never an independent deprtment of its contemporary society. It's about emotions, perceptions, and challenges. It's the reflection, exploration, and expansion of Zeigeist bounded by its existential shackles. And that is why a documentary about art should also look into the ethos and the social-economic-political complex of the era. One may think such approach risks over-interpretation. But to take art out of its historical context and appreciate it only for its aesthetical merits, in my opinion, is a severe underevaluation of the thoughts the artists had put into the work. The re-interpretation of art is an interesting process of uncovering a thread of the conscious or subconsicous collective tendencies among artistic individuals' response to the social conditions and changes. And this series presents a perfect illustration.
EP1 Vienna, 1908
An empire stuck in front of a crossroad of the future and the past. Imperial prosperity embellished with lavish ornaments but also suffered highest suicidal rate in Europe. The theme of this episode is how this emotional twist of Vienna spawned Freud's theories and in turn the rebellious arts expressions to come to terms with oneself.
EP2 Paris, 1928
Best episode in this series. Surrealism: a real challenge on perception and a fierce test on at every boundaries.
EP3 New York, 1951
Now I have to confess I do not have a taste for Jazz music. The fictitious Dowager Countess of Gratham portrayed by Dame Maggie Smith once made her observational comment on Jazz: "do you think any of them knows what the others are playing?" To be honest I don't even think the same player could play a same song for a second time and that's not a philosophical proposition. I was able to keep up with the televised consumerism. And the "On The Road" live-as-you-go sentiment. But I slipped into a state of mixed shock and bewilderment throughout the rest of this episode. To me this American brand of free expression is just utter randomness. It could probably be seen as an footnote for what Steve Jobs described as "connect the dots afterwards". And this prevailing benefit-of-hindsight thinking seemed to have provided justification for a lack of training and planning. Much as human lives corroborate this philosophy, the Americans seem to have brought it to a new level and championed it fanatically. At the moment I still find it difficult to sympathise with this grade of wildness. But most likely it's because my mind is not modern enough yet to jump on the bandwagon.