Warning: If you’re a gypsy artist who practices sculpture with empty toilet paper rolls, listen to the complete discography of The Decemberists and your look is somewhat related to this guy, you should think twice before reading this post. Otherwise, enjoy.
Allright, on a standard blogging day, it would be normal for me on this Monday night to post and give my thoughts about last Sunday’s Superbowl ads. But hey, there must be hundreds of thousands of articles on the World Wide Web that will provide you with much more in-depth information than my patience will ever let me achieve, so instead of wasting my time, I decided to write about a very huge problem our society has been facing lately: art. Now before you stop reading this and label me as a corporate asshole who has no knowledge of what art is, let me put you in context.
Last Saturday I went to see a show called 4-Hands iPhone, by Atau Tanaka and Adam Parkinson. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t feel ignorant, it’s VERY normal. I wish I had a Youtube video or something to show you what pain I felt for the 40 minutes the show lasted, but I can’t find one, so you’ll have to let my words recreate the feeling for you.
The “concept” was to have two “performers” handle an iPhone in each hand, and move them around to create “music” through the reaction of sensors and apps from their phones.
Let me rephrase this.
The show presented two guys standing on a cheaply-lit white stage, holding two iPhones, making slow and incoherent movements that produced what could be labeled as the most annoying sound the world has ever heard, next to my neighbour’s lawn-mower on a Saturday morning. Sometimes, this eardrum killer was accompanied by sounds that resembled the scream of dying birds or violins burning in a bonfire. This auditive torture lasted for more or less 40 minutes, accompanied by sighs and whispers of people in the audience that went like: “How long is this going to last ??”
So the “show” finished, and I left with an unordinary feeling of frustration inside me that felt closely like if someone had laughed straight to my face for close to an hour. And then something struck me. Where is art going nowadays ?
Let’s be honest, contemporary art has given the right and possibility to any clueless idiot with a very poor sense of creativity to build, compose or paint the worst piece of shit in recent history and call it “art”. I think it’s time to put things back in perspective and classify what is art and what is not. This will be a daunting task, but it has to be done, for the sake of art itself.
First and foremost, the fact that what you do is “different” doesn’t mean that it’s art. Stop finding meanings to things that have none, and especially, stop pretentiously saying that the audience is not intelligent enough to understand your “masterpiece”, because it is not the case. The audience doesn’t understand your work because of the fact that it’s a total useless piece of crap that has nothing to do with art. Things can be different and understandable, and APPEALING. Pink Floyd made music that was different, and they sold out stadiums for years in a row, and people liked their “different” music. Picasso painted differently, and his work gets sold for millions nowadays, and people hang it on their walls. Tarsem Singh makes movies that are considered different, and he hits big numbers at the box office.
Then, a piece of art needs to have something artistic to it. Perhaps the hardest factor to define, I can’t provide a straight answer for that, but I can tell you what IS NOT art. A packaging of irritating noises that sounds like a semi-functional steel factory IS NOT art. An out-of-focus, badly-lit picture of your girlfriend sitting sexily on a plastic chair in your backyard IS NOT art. 7 rusty screws glued together that are supposed to illustrate the rebirth of Christ when looked at through a telescope IS NOT art.
Also, the mean to create your piece doesn’t justify its cheapness. I don’t care if you spent years creating a system where your movements are detected by an alien device to create music, if it sounds like shit, then it was a total waste of time. I don’t care if you painted Barack Obama’s portrait using a shovel stuck in your nose, if the painting looks like Chuck Norris, then you failed.
Finally, if your “art” is appreciated by a small circle composed of your brother, your sister’s friends, your parents and 3 ultimate-hipsters who you’re friends with on Facebook but you’ve never met, then chances are your art maybe just a goddamn hobby. And that’s FINE. Do whatever you want in your spare time, it’s your right and I’m good with people doing something they like in their free time. But I mean, it’s pretty easy to see when you have no talent, and if it’s the case, then keep your so-called “art” to yourself, get better, try hard, and maybe someday it will pay off.
“Art” and “popular” are not opposite terms that can’t be put in the same sentence. It’s really easy for an untalented hipster to call out real artists who have success, make money out of it and are world-known. It’s easy for them to say that what these guys do is business, and that it’s not art, and that they sold-out, but here’s the fact: These “business” people have way more talent than you will ever dream of having, they’ve made a name for themselves and they’ve appealed to the masses, while you are sitting alone in you’re 500-square foot apartment, smoking marijuana and trying to put together potato-roots to recreate the Eiffel Tower.