This reading reminded me of the scene in 30 Rock, where Jack Donaghy proclaims that experimentalism is useless, because we already know that art is “paintings of horses”.
The “first word” and “last word” terminology is a very interesting way of comparing experimentalism with expertise. In my own life, my friends who are studying classical music performance probably hope to obtain “last word art” status, succeeding at a form of art that is well-established. Contrastingly, I have inventor friends who dream of creating things that people haven’t thought of yet. At what point are ingenuity and art linked, and at what point are they separate?
I personally consider ingenuity more impressive than expertise. I’ll prefer the artist who is doing things I never thought of, to the artist who is excellent at photorealistic drawing or some other well-established art form, such as paintings of horses. One of my favorite art-consumption-experiences is the feeling of “That’s incredible. Why didn’t I think of that of that?”
A downside of first word art is that we never know what of it is going to stick. We can go to electronic arts festivals and see all of the modern technological works that are incredibly inventive now, and those same works can be completely irrelevant in years to come.