Wednesday, April 30, 2008

But Is It Art?

Java forwarded me the petition about this sickening and despicable "thing". I must admit that I'm neither a dog or an art lover but I cannot find anything in my brain, either the left side or the right side, to justify why someone would put an animal through this.

As far as I'm concerned it doesn't "highlight the plight of stray dogs" and it doesn't do anything other than get the "artist" some cheap publicity.

There's little excuse for this sort of behaviour and there are very few who would disagree with me on that.

Over the years I've pondered on the question and issue of what is art and what isn't. I've seen many a painting, photograph or other piece that has made me wonder about the definition of art. I'm sure if I were to look up the word in a dictionary I'd easily get myself a proper explanation, proper in the way that these things can be.

I've come to my own conclusion on the subject. Which is, that if we talk about it, if we think about it and if it interests us, either in a negative or positive way, then it IS art. I like, no I love music, and in the same vein for me there is no such thing as bad music. There's lots of music I don't like, there's lots that I do like, but it's all music nevertheless, even dodgy stuff like OK Computer.

For me, the objective of art is to get our attention and to gain our interest, to stimulate the mind and to make people stop and stare. But it's entirely subjective too. Tracey Emin can put her bed on display as a work of art and people will pay good money to go and see it and stare at it for hours on end. My bed is in a similar state to hers. There's less fag butts as I don't smoke, there's less womens' clothing but I beat Tracey hands down on the number of drumming magazines and books that have something to do with Sri Lanka around the bed.

Yet somehow I doubt people will pay good money to see it. Tracey's is art, mine is a bed. It's a shame because otherwise I'd be a multi millionaire. And I hope she doesn't mind me calling her by her first name. Recently I saw a picture of a piece by Damien Hirst. It was a series of evenly space coloured circles on a white background. It looked pleasant enough and I have a strong feeling that it was worth a lot of money.

My opinion is that anything is worth the money that someone will pay for it, I'm not questioning the worth. But, the talent in coming up with the piece was clearly in Mr Hirst thinking of the idea and in being Damien Hirst. One could justifiably argue that he came up with the concept and I didn't. One would be right of course. But if we compare the talent required to paint the piece with the talent it must have taken John Constable to paint the Haywain then you can probably see what I'm getting at.

It can't have been easy for Mr Hirst to draw those perfect circles, though I'm not sure if he used a compass or perhaps a series of jam jars to do them, but the skill in creating that particular piece was in thinking of it and in being called Damien Hirst, as well as creating all his previous work, which is what has made his name so valuable now. Give me a few compasses and some jam jars and I could knock up passable copy of Mr Hirst's piece but give me a paintbrush and some cans of Dulux and there's little probability of a perfect copy of the Haywain being conjured up.

In music there's that famous piece called 4' 33" by John Cage. It's basically four minutes and thirty three seconds of the musicians playing nothing. The idea is not that it's four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence but that it's four minutes thirty three seconds of hearing the other sounds in the environment. If I remember rightly Java and Theena were the only two people in the world to buy the extended version.

It's not my kind of thing, Mimosa did once try to cover it, in a funked up style, by I kept coming in at the wrong time and the brass section overcomplicated things so we abandoned it. It's considered to be a serious piece of music by many, including myself. Simply because this chap, John Cage, came up with the idea of using a total lack of music as music. It could lead to a related post about whether he gets royalties if there is four minutes and thirty three seconds of noise without music anywhere in the world, but that's for another time and place.

Back to the original question and the original dog.

"But is it art?"

Sadly the answer's a resounding "Yes".

It's also crap art, it's sick art, it's art that should be banned, it's art that should never be bought, art that should never be celebrated. It's art that should be illegal as well as immoral and it's art that should make the artist an outcast. It also should never be written about. Because when people write about it they make the artist more famous and more successful and his work will become more valuable in the future.

I'm too smart to fall for that though.


Anonymous said...

With regard to "4.33" we did a small skit.. called "waiting for gobbo". One guy is sitting on a bench waiting for his friend whose obviously late.. after waiting for abt 4-5 mins.. the friend finally turns up.. they meet hug each other and exit stage right.. not a single word is uttered, and the audience is left more than a wee bit surprised to say the least. :)

Wonder whether it's a dramatic candidate for 4.33, although we weren't aware of it, back in our school days.

BM said...

I don't think death can be considered art in any form..

And "it's all music nevertheless" I'm sure you have forgotten the Hilton's "music" blasphemy...

Bimal said...

Hmm... a bit dicey that one!

Let's say a suicidal maniac with a machine gun is let lose in a crowded station. He goes and kills hundreds and takes his own life.

Now we will certainly talk about it, think about it and even will be interested in it (in a negative way of course). Does that make it Art?

It certainly can be repeated by the next maniac who comes along.

Anonymous said...

Bea said...

I think the whole debate of what is art is one of those conversations that can go round and round in circles becoming ever more pretentious

That said, for me art is something that involves creativity and imagination and causes me to think more or think differently. I see this as being different from craft which is more about skill in making something. In both art and craft there is an element of the aesthetic, and thus often a good deal of overlap between art and craft.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

BM - I really do think that it's all music, no matter how good or bad it may sound.

Bimal - Sadly, if a "named" artist did that then it probably would be called art and some would pay good money to go and watch it. It doesn't make it justifiable just because of the "art" label though.

Darwin said...

If it's art, it's dumb art. Simple as.

Bimal said...

RD - Yes, it is a crazy world like that.