SF New Mexican:
“Catholic churchgoers received a crude disruption during one of their holiest and most somber days of the year. Someone planted three compact-disc players in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and set them to play a loud recording of sexually explicit language during the noon Ash Wednesday Mass ...” Probably a stunt by kids tired of sitting through Mass.
But isn’t this a little ridiculous: “The Police Department sent its explosives unit—the bomb squad—to investigate the CD players. After blowing up two of the CD players in a grassy area near the church, officers determined they were not dangerous and kept the third CD player for analysis.”
SF New Mexican:
Senate passes bill to inform schools of criminal convictions. You’d think, post-Columbine, this would have been done a long time ago. Towns were smaller, once upon a time, and this function was often performed by gossip.
International study finds new autism genetic links. Good news, and bad. Good that they’re doing larger studies. The bad news, “‘I think the most important thing that the study shows is that the genetic causes of autism are likely to be varied,’ said Andy Shih, chief science officer for Autism Speaks. ‘The genetic mechanism involved is probably not uniform.’”
NY Times Magazine:
Her autistic brothers. Read this one.
Globe and Mail.CA:
U.S. report calls for limitations on TV violence. “In general, what the commission’s report says is that there is strong evidence that shows violent media can have an impact on children’s behaviour and there are some things that can be done about it.” You think? It is the depiction of violence without consequences, such as people walking away from bullet wounds, that hurts children most. In the absence of other evidence, they will end up believing what they see, in some fashion.
NY Times Art & Design:
Let’s have some fun this morning. I want you to go here, and look at the paintings. Then read this, about the philosophy behind abstract art. There’s an implication here that one must appreciate the purposeful choice of transcending reality, foregoing realistic detail for pure color, line, shape ... feeling and emotion. Another says context must be known and appreciated, to appreciate abstract, and towards the end defends the medium by showing us abstract artists are usually also artists of great realistic skills. The artist must be knowingly making a statement.
So what of this?
She has no training to speak of, and no context. Doing a Pollock piece without his angst, should be worthless by the above measures. Unless it’s a depiction of female toddler angst, which, given the Pollock priapic style [scroll down to Pollock’s entry], is missing something rather essential.
What is she? An artist, a child, a good copyist? Is her work valuable, or not? Is the work’s value exclusive of her value, or the obverse?
I used to have a quandary I’d pose to my assistants and their friends, all from prominent art schools in Manhattan: What of those brilliant abstracts you’d find when your film came back from the lab? The first image from your average roll of film, usually snapped while winding the film into the camera. Abstract, colorful (orange from processing, usually), the height of spontaneity. Some would end up quite impressive in their uncontemplated expression. If that image is ‘great’, does abstract need education? Technical skill? Intent? If this random image is making a statement that was not precontemplated, is it still great abstract art? Should we appreciate it, or should it be shuffled off to the category of ‘unintentional art’, as if to say, “it’s okay to like it, but one must be effusive only over critically approved intentional work”?
I never got a consistent answer on this from my assistants. Most said it was art, but less than intentional art. Even if the result was more compelling. Some would split hairs over who was doing the creating. If it was an artist who was trained through art schools, it was art. If from uneducated talents, it ‘didn’t count.’ Then I’d ask about the cave paintings at Lascaux, which everyone thought was art. Bringing that sensibility back, then those who disagreed about uneducated talent would pull back on their opinion. They’d all settle on the idea that education didn’t matter for that rare great natural talent, that education might ruin the gift.
We’d dive into these questions:
Is it better to feign a childlike perspective, or is it better to actually be a child, and paint what you feel? If it’s better to be childlike, then why ‘ruin’ them with training at all? A pretty even split of opinion, in discussion.
Are we supposed to appreciate abstract because the realist who painted it so fully traded their learned talents for childlike instinct? Why not just celebrate children’s art? Ah, here we got a differentiation. A clear benefit. An adult will pursue complex themes that are unfamiliar to a child.
What is more important, the artist, or the work? Even split, again. The ego of my assistants, young college students, must be factored into this.
And if you didn’t know how a particular image was created ... would it matter? Even split, again.
I made a mistake, however. Do you see it? The essential relationship of artist to audience. In talking to artists, I totally ignored the viewers of the art. The audience must perceive any given piece as being ‘art.’ And what is ‘art’, anyway?
My wife, a RISD grad, has a story she likes to tell about a class in her first year. The instructor told the class to go out to a lumberyard, purchase a 12"x12” piece of wood, and ‘make art’. Some sawed, some painted ... all failed. The instructor told them that art begins in the choice ... they all chose a particular grain pattern, a color shade that appealed to them. In judging the aesthetic of the blank piece of wood, they had already created a personal statement of ‘art.’ They should have just handed him the wood, unadulterated.
So, in viewing the original link above, let me know if you saw ‘art.’ For the record, I did. I just thought I’d throw a snake in the grass on a calm, peaceful day of weblogging and spur a different sort of Friday thinking, when most ‘thinkers’ are probably pretty well wiped out.
Here are some links to spur more contemplation:
Histories of Internet Art: Fictions and Factions, Net Practice, “not art.”
Derek Powazek, “Unintentional Art.”
Ironic Sans, The Art of 1010 Wins.
As the Warsaw Crow flies, Where is the Art?
Columbia Alumni Magazine, Found Art, New York, Empire City 1920–1945.
Whiimsky, Inc., The subconscious art of graffiti removal.
Princeton University, The Art of Science.
What’s Left: Proving art is in the eye of the beholder.
NY Times Letter to the Editor:
“On Wednesday February 14th Unicef published a report comparing the well-being of young people in 21 rich countries, and concluded that British and American youths endure the worst quality of life of any. In contrast, North European children, especially the Nordics, apparently have a lovely time. Cue hand-wringing from a lot of worried Anglo-American parents.”
A look at child soldiers. Haunting photograph; that silver speck on the end of the gun, above the barrel, makes me wonder if it’s a realistic toy. That question, real or not, is why so many kids get shot by cops in America.
NY Times Tech:
If Leonardo had made toys. Can I get a miniature helicopter to control from my computer, that’ll retrieve refills of coffee?
School’s books are racist, says sacked teacher. And in Britain, too. Nice.
NY Times Dining & Wine:
In a bottle, the scent of a mouse. Stuart Little, gone tippling.
SF New Mexican:
Filling a library’s soul. “That’s my favorite book,” [Mayor] Coss said, holding up a children’s book. “David Gets in Trouble.”
Cervical cancer vaccine hits roadblocks. Troubled Merck is trying to push for maximum profit, before competing vaccines become available. Texas Governor Perry, who has ties to Merck, is ordering all young girls to get the vaccine before the next school year. No doubt the vaccine is a huge breakthrough, but those with autoimmune disorders, or a family history of such, should be circumspect about receiving the vaccine. The safety studies Merck has agreed to, give you an idea of what kind of beta-test you’re subjecting your daughters to. Merck and the FDA really don’t know what the long-term effects may be. I mean, look at what we’re learning now about the SSRIs, Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil and such. Especially in reference to pregnancy. I’m not opposing Gardasil; I’m just saying, ‘educate before you vaccinate.’
“This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together ... Harry Potter posing naked with a horse ... mass hysteria.”
Apologies to Dr. Venkman.
Mallory climbed Everest in a gabardine suit ... Prince Charles plays basketball with similar style.
War on terror’s other front: cleaning up US pop culture. “What America appeals to is everything that is low and disgusting in human nature.” What could he be talking about.
Related: The kids are not alright.