This page is optional. I mean I just want to have my say about ‘art’. What I think it is and what I don’t think it is.
1st I don’t know where the lines are drawn between the branches of art but, just assume I’m coming at it from fine art.
2nd I’m not trying to make many friends but I’m hoping you will accept that this is my view and you are under no obligation to agree.
‘I may not know much about what I like but I do know about art.’
‘What do you do?’ I’m often asked . ‘I’m an artist,’ is my usual reply (though I have to admit I sometimes say painter and agree to: as in painter and decorator)
‘Oh,’ comes the reply with some interest and an opportunity to tell me they are artistic too.
‘Are you a painter?’ At this point I have a choice. I can nod; therefore not lying, or try and explain.
It’s not that straightforward is it…these days. The disciplines overlap, we have installation, performance, interactive, hypermedia, digital, 3D, 4D…the list goes on and I haven’t even got to painter/sculptor/printmaker.
When I explain I write computer programs, content management systems, virtual reality, games levels, HCI, digital electronics and…wait for it paint and sculpt. The glaze is well and truly dry on their face already.
Their eyebrows start to drop…’and that’s art?’ I’m asked.
‘Well I think so,’ and so did my college and goldsmiths, who gave me a 2.1 for my effort back in 1993.
‘Oh and fractal geometry, that isn’t just nice wrapping paper…and solid fuel rockets. They were art at one point too.’
Currently I’m making full size replica Spitfire cockpit (the plane not the car) I’ve yet to decide if that is art or not? I’m doing it by eye so it’s a sculpture? Not sure but I’m sure it will turn out as deemed ‘art.’ It isn’t visually a true Spitfire more a carcass…like a half eaten chicken…if you can imagine that?
I digress. Back to my new acquaintance who is now gathering supplies to take the discussion further or equally preparing to withdraw. Once again I am forced to try and justify, once again, what a 21st C. artist is. It would be easier to juggle with jelly, as my answer never seems to work out how I would like…but for some unexplainable reason I can’t help giving it another try. There is a tragedy to it all of course, like trying to convince a fish that walking on land is an amazing experience. However I explain it’s going to be an uphill battle for sure.
I begin by saying ‘artist’ isn’t necessarily a verb…you don’t have to do it to be one. It’s easier to convince people you are an artist but is that the point of art? Art is an interpretation of an observation or experience. What you use to express that only needs to be a media that can carry the interpretation; the most appropriate media, the most symbolic and familiar. Now I think I’m on pretty solid ground if I say oil paint on canvas isn’t that for most people. It can be of course but it is of decreasing value. Where Marcel Deschamps site specific urinal may lose impact today is in the fact…he done it and moved on, and so have we. The spiritual sanctity of the gallery is no longer the sole pedestal of art. Art can be and is everywhere.
I know exactly what art is but I can’t say where it ends. I can’t create a bullet list of ingredients to make art either. If anything even the process of making art is no longer defined. There are those of course that believe that art making follows a traditional studio production. That as long as it is produced in an untidy ‘garage’ style studio it is half way there. That the stereotype artist is easy to spot in a line-up and adds corroboration to the work being produced, in the same was as ‘matured in Oak vats’ gives a stamp of credibility to a bottle of whiskey. But does it? What does that say about how we have pigeon-holed art. If it comes packaged correctly does that give it credentials?
At this point any acquaintance that is still standing needs to be given an opportunity to move on. Indeed I’m grateful for the good manners that they remained. I’m feeling guilty now that my well practiced sermon isn’t quite what they had expected. I do have a genuine desire to include a debate as to what this thing called art really is all for. But I know, as the lines of people pay homage to the paintings they browse past in the National Gallery, it will be difficult to redefine the boundaries of art to them. If it’s in a gallery it must be art said Deschamps, if it’s in a gilded frame I would add.
Now I will finish. Dear reader I am sure you have opinions on my rant, you may want to challenge me on some points…but I say no. This is my rant and if you have taken anything from this, or take issue, then please create your own rant and pass it on to others. Everyone will have a different opinion and I doubt there is one single definition of art anyway. If each of us nails our colours to the mast the art world will be a more dynamic and empowered place. The worst that can happen…the very worst… is that art becomes irrelevant due to lack of challenging opinion and exploration!