Category Archives: Art

A lot of people chew up the scenery. I’m a firm believer in less is more…

The Alternative Advent: Day 2

alternative advent day 2bThe object of art is to give life shape & something to chew over—

It also works the other way…

Skill without imagination is craftsmanship. Just as, imagination without skill gives us modern art. Tom Stoppard made that observation, no doubt with, The Prudence and the Pill in mind: Nothing unites the English like war. Nothing divides them like Picasso.

Modern Art, it’s true— is considered with derision by many and as absurd by most, typified by nothing better than The Turner Prize. It is greeted each year with anticipation and enthusiasm, but for all the wrong reasons. With a glint in their eyes and half-baked chuckles wrestling in their throats, our newsreaders announce the short-list and their creators’ achievements, knowing full well that that we: the unenlightened ones, will be hooting and cursing in equal portions wondering what on Earth it’s all about?

Rachel Whiteread won the award in 1993, with her creation “House”. You may remember it: a Victorian Terrace was filled with concrete then its outsides were taken away, and so astonishing was its impact, the local council waited an entire year before tearing it down.

More recently though we had my personal favourite: Simon Starling, who ingeniously turned a boat into a shed, then back into a boat. Imaginatively titled: Shedboatshed (Mobile Architecture No 2). It was supposed represent the, slowing of things down, and about trying to retard the incredible speed with which we live.

The only thing I could tell was being slowed however, was the boat’s ability to float.

But of course it did. It made perfect sense. It made as much of it as being described ‘eccentric’ did to Mr Starling— which wasn’t a great deal, in fact he took great umbrage at the description— an act I found more bewildering than his former dinghy.

There’s little wrong with ‘form’ of any kind going hand-in-hand with hand and head, but when hands and bloockls become inseparable, even indistinguishable from the bullshit and bafflement which surrounds it; perhaps it’s worth trying to take the intellectual out of the art, or better still, away from it altogether.

How about bringing a little accessibility back? How about something like:

Bubble Gum Art?

I’d have galleries handing out different coloured gum upon entering, to be chewed; there’s a little ‘shaping’ for you right there, where it matters— on the building blocks. It’s contemporary, very pop; and like all art— not everyone’s cup of tea— so it’ll either be chewed over or not—  with verbals or mandibles, it doesn’t matter…

Towards the end of the gallery I would have a canvas for the used gum and a bin for that which was not. I like the irony but none of the significance which could easily be spun— but it’s as close as I can imagine, art for art’s sake, becoming more than a spectator sport, at least indoors anyway; and the kids would love it…

It’s clever—

But is it art?

27076_original

What’s to be found with a poor trait?

IMG_5433But difficulties to be had ahead?

But where there’s challenge, there’s triumph

I’ve not been able to get past this image today— whether it’s because my post is too large or small, or too plainly insignificant— it’s not that it’s even particularly serious; in fact it’s quite absurd.

But of the thousands of portraits I’ve taken, this one gets to me every now and then— mainly when I’m feeling a little conflicted about something I’ve said or haven’t said in the right way, wrong way, or anyway— It happens occasionally, so the leveller comes out: the corrosive for recursive thinking. A mental pacifier, an eraser for the clutter. Sometimes it’s a room or place: a good pace. And sometimes a picture.

It’s just, I have absolutely no idea what he is thinking; but it helps…

“Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.”

Heraclitus

There’s nothing normal about growing up with dragons in the pantry…

Maturity is something sometimes, some of us have to grow out of—

When growing up is a small price to pay for surviving it…

one way dirtyMost nights I wouldn’t remember falling asleep. A curious state of affairs for such a rare occurrence, but had it been a regular household, I’m quite sure things would have been most different.

On a typical day, and I use the term lightly, I’d be up and about early so as to avoid any unpleasantness, but this particular had come and gone and it was midday before I awoke; almost three before stirring with any conviction. And I was in an horrendous mood because of it. I wouldn’t have even been able to put ‘why’ into words without sounding hyperbolic.

Upon reflection, I merely chalk it up as being one of those things childhood throws at you to give you excuses later in life for underachievement or lack of ambition.

I remember thinking it was a little warm for the time of year until noticing an orange flicker, licking the bottom of the window. I just assumed the house was on fire again and went back to sleep. This would have been fine had it not been for the sound of screaming and the smell of dead babies. Heat is one thing and tolerable to a point, but knowing where to draw lines and when to erase them is a life skill that should be treated with priority. My pen comes out with the stench of death. So I told them.

I’m all for living and let living, but when the latter means nothing of the sort and the the sanctity of life, human or otherwise is being defiled and I’m able to smell it; it makes you feel somewhat responsible, partially. It was why I’d bought them the febreze in the first place.

I didn’t get much of a response beyond the cackling, but deduced it must have been Toebag and not Hag who was responsible for the foul emanations: she’d probably slaughtered the babies she sat for and brought them home for a snack.

Toebag’s more reasonable when it comes to this sort of thing then Hag, who tends to break her victims’ spirits before desecrating their flesh. I never quite understood that at the time, but with advances in science the way they are, it’s quite possible it had something to do with the heterocyclic amines or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons released during the initial stages of absolute terror.

Needless to say I was curious, a state of affairs rarer than lack of sleep— so when I finally found the temerity I was looking for hidden under a stack of witchcraft today and my heat retardant spectacles sitting on them, I decided to investigate. Sure enough, there was Toebag, horns erect and tail swishing, breathing fire and what have you, tucking into a vegetable curry and not the twins from the previous night. That, I thought, was the luncheon of a sick and depraved animal— and I wasted little time in telling her so…

Hag was there too, slouched in a curtain of rasping flames looking fiendishly dull, so I took the opportunity to mention that I was concerned about the effect of excessive heat on my trousers but was forced away by a collective shriek that knocked my specs clean off.

It’s bad enough having to share a house with a couple of demented bat-wings who find it innately pleasurable to torture people and singe them for making reasonable inquiries about the laundry, but there’s just no need for pyrotechnics in the house. I distinctly remember being told as a child not to play with matches, and here were two up-grown blasphemers revelling in Satan’s unholy winds, hurrying me into the kitchen to make my tea before my face dissolved.

I was so on edge I even jumped at my own reflection in the patio doors after popping outside to see the rabbit who was oblivious to whole thing and Autumn was no where to be seen, obviously in fear of wasting one of the nine lives she was saving for more desperate times. Those two always gave me the impression that they’d gladly remain neutral provided their respective body weights in biscuits everyday was satisfied.

As for me, I scowled and cursed a little, which was customary even then, avoided the flaming projectiles that were aimed at me and drank my tea in peace.

Where it seemed to me to be much more quiet—

Must’ve been the tea…

Two fortnights; four weeks; one month or thirty very odd days…

To a month of links and thinking differently;

And a little bit of noise—

I hope it’s been some fun…

coacheswar-crimescricketbreadsticksblogging cats baby-sitting aboutbad-teaching balloons  ettiquette  coffee furniture girl gnomes habits grammar house-sitting immigration golf knitting meltdown marshmallows lost miniamlism nail-clippings onearmed man rules procrastination phone-calls senses shit pockets sick

stuffed-cats superhero syntax

I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained…

Walt Disney

The who gives a #@%& pocket, more about cats & the dangers of hand-held fans…

A three piece discord—

And the cunning of the third person…

go to break earlyAs I enter the third day under the roof of ignominious, quasi-disharmony, I decided I ought best choose my words carefully in case my laptop is bugged. And though diligence is not something that comes naturally with a pen in hand, I feel it’s quite possible the being spied upon trope is not an over-reaction, and my house-guest has not gone shopping at all.

I actually considered writing this in the third person to induce ignoratio elenchi and befuddle my would-be observers, but not only would that’ve been far too weird, it would’ve contravened one of my personal laws. To describe my loathing of self-referential utterances in the third-person as rules, would be an affront to my very soul: rules are merely principals to be observed. Laws on the other hand: something to be obeyed. It is called illesim and it’s creepy. Salvador Dali did it once in a televised interview, but if you remember my piece on minimalism, he also once had to be rescued from a deep-sea divers suit with a pair of pliers…

Anyway, as I’ve accepted a luncheon invitation and’d found a suitable pause in my morning’s work, I thought I’d jot down some of my recent acquisitions, one of my old ones, skip the overture and play the second of three specially recorded: symphony of words:

I’ve discovered that it’s part of cats’ original sin to lure their owners into a down-pour wearing dressing-gowns only to be snubbed at the last moment; and playing with a hand-held-fan too close to close to someone’s hair can leave the blades entangled in it. The latter occurred last evening and I have been looking over my shoulder ever since, hence my spy-awareness.

Personally, I can’t really see what all the fuss is about, even my sister laughed, so it must’ve been a little bit funny, even though by then the turbine had actually begun to groan. There was no permanent damage and the marvellous fro-effect was upsettingly temporary.

And lastly, otherwise I’m really going to be late, is the who gives a @#$% pocket. I’d like to call it an invention, but I believe it to be a naturally occurring phenomena, something we all have; and just like addictions or imaginary friends: we just have to acknowledge it’s there. They are simple to use and needn’t be particularly large since they aren’t designed for non-specific items, as it will soon become clear.

Have you ever been in a situation where you have been questioned unnecessarily, or had to endure the dribbling of an inferior; been put on the spot with the express intention to cause yourself embarrassment? Had to suffer the nonsensical ravings of a co-worker, family friend or house-guest?

If the answer is yes, then the who gives a @#$% pocket is like a vacuum for all these things and more. You see, for Baloney Detection Networks and Hemmingway’s bullshit detector to become something more performative, they need a Ghostbusters-like containment unit.

So the next time someone you know has been savaging your ears relentlessly for a month or more about the same old rubbish and you’ve reached the limits of all fissionable care, here’s what you say:

Wait a second, let me look in my who gives a @#$% pocket

You look, then you say: nope, the @#$%er’s empty…

You see the charm and size of your imaginary compartment is both infinitely variable and irreverent because not only is it yours and yours alone, but the @#$%er’s always empty. I discovered it quite by chance one day and have been smiling about it ever since.

Stupidity is infinitely more fascinating that intelligence. Intelligence has its limits while stupidity has none…

Claude Chabrol
 

The Iron Wall…

581453_10151211969251041_233961945_nNatural Grafitti—

Whitstable…

“Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don’t come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make someone smile while they’re having a piss.”

Banksy, Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall

There’s not a great deal to minimalism— otherwise, what’d be the point?

It looks like you can write a minimalist piece without much bleeding—

And you can. But not a good one…

David Foster Wallace

iuSo with that in mind: I’d like to begin with an idea I had about using stray cats as temporary ‘cats-eyes’. They might not be as hardy as the real thing, but at least you could run over them nine times before replacing them— that said, I am in no way condoning the use of animals as traffic signals or road signs: I love cats, and with any luck the rest’ll be a little less cruel.

*

Minimalism is very much like dance— ballet to be exactI am utterly baffled by it. It seems to demand a rather off-putting level of technical knowledge, knowledge I’m afraid would require me to slip into a pair of tights to fully gather. For instance, unless the performer actually falls over, it’s hard to know whether they were dancing moderately or spectacularly.

The same is true of classical music and art— where only an expert can really detect a wrong note or incompetent brush stroke— but with those forms we have the compensations of emotion, colour and story— except, admittedly, in the case of atonal music and art of the blank or practically-blank variety. And it seems that dance, whether classical or contemporary, shares with minimalist symphonies and abstract painting, a problem of narrative.

While great art can contain no story and bad art can consist of nothing but plots, our natural instinct when faced with entertainment is to try to extract a tale or meaning. When watching ballet, I was never sure whether to think he’s pissed with her or she’s trying to stab him or he’s asking the gods for, I don’t know— something?

The problem is that we’re most comfortable with art that achieves its effects verbally. It’s no coincidence that the mass art-forms are literature, cinema, pop, television and theatre. Even with a Beethoven or Mozart symphony, it’s comforting to have a programme or sleeve note revealing what the piece is about.

With dance I always felt as if the audience had to provide mental subtitles for what is essentially a silent film. Some choreographers compensate for this with the use of mime, but this just repels me further— mime being the only art form lower on my list than ballet.

I can only speak for myself, but I’ve found that learning about anything, not only improves your understanding of it, but also your ability make fun of it; should you need to lighten the mood in the the company of over-bearing pretentiousness of course. As such, I think it’s a point that should be hammered home in schools: if the class clowns think they’re funny now, imagine how funny they could be if they could read. The country that does will top the world’s league tables for achievement.

Minimalism is one of those things that needs to be snickered at I think, if not openly mocked— not just because it’s crap and because of the people it attracts— but for a combination of the two. There’s nothing better than observing the complete abandonment of reason that stalk those who follow it.

It just doesn’t have the stories. No matter how you attempt to roll it off the tongue, minimalism is dull:

A 20th century art movement stressing the reduction of work into a minimum number of colours, shapes, lines and texture with no attempt to represent or symbolise anything. It is sometimes called ABC art, minimal art, reductivism, and rejective art.

Now that just about sums it up for me: no attempt to represent or symbolise anything… For example:

Frank Stella, whose pin-striped paintings feature nothing but straight lines running parallel to the edges of the canvas for instance, delivered the ultimate sound-bite of minimalist philosophy, when he declared there was nothing besides the paint on the canvas and what you see is what you see. Wow!

Salvador Dali once gave a lecture in a deep-sea diving suit but had to be extracted from his metal helmet with pliers after becoming asphyxiated. Hilarious, but to a minimalist? I can imagine them either turning up their noses or suggesting he should have done it behind a screen, silently, with no audience— in darkness. What you cannot see therefore, is something you simply cannot see. A kind of Minimalism without the effort.

And what greater expression of minimalism could there be than not turning up to give a lecture no one would be present for anyway? I can imagine them patting themselves on the backs and marvelling at their brilliance and how triumphantly clever they are and wondering why no one had thought of it before.

That said, they must make wonderful house-guests, providing your plates are the right shade of white and the food is all the same colour. Quite…

The Minimalist sedulously eschew obfuscatory hyper verbosity and prolixity, in the smallest possible way of course— and therein is its charm.

As for me, I think I’m far too simple to really get it, beyond the facile syllogism it is what it is, but perhaps that’s the point. I like simple things, like carrier bags, no doubt for similar reasons: every time I go to the cinema there always seems to be hordes of children running about with them over their shoes. I don’t know why and I don’t particularly want to know. I won’t think less of them for their fashion choices and it’s not as if I will take a camera crew to their house and get the neighbours to re-decorate it.

But some people would; and decorators are as culpable as any for the proliferation of minimalistic lexis:

  • Share space between different uses

  • Remove formal spaces

  • Add double-height space

  • Reduce circulation paths

  • Build furniture into rooms

  • Use bedrooms for sleeping

  • Add a focal point

  • Bring in the outdoors

  • Invite natural light

  • Tie spaces together

  • Reveal the structure

  • Be playful and imaginative

  • Separate spaces

  • Plan for flexibility

And all these things appear quite normal until you actually start to combine a couple of them— and then you get to the bottom of what they really mean. These are not scholars of the English language, otherwise they’d not’ve bothered. This is ‘verbosity’ merely posing as minimalism: bob-a-jobbers posing as intellectuals or stylists or whatever the professional nomenclature is these days…

The tying of spaces together to separate spaces make for endless hours of shuffling, especially once any formality of space has been withdrawn. But then again, what you see is what you see, so let us reveal the structure by bringing the inside out, whilst bringing the outside, inside-in; inviting ‘in’ the natural light to accompany the focal point. Hell, why not an indoor water feature?

Perhaps then we could entice raccoons to dinner; the sun past the zenith; sing a one word hymn to the dribble of damp bamboo; and find a way to squeeze through the space that was once formal.

I am curious though, as to how one actually reduces circulation paths unless you‘re actually tying spaces together: wouldn’t that cause asphyxiation and require evacuation with pliers? And how does one share space between different uses unless the different uses are in fact the separation and binding of spaceis it prior to them being de-formed? Surely this taints the principal behind it somewhat.

If it is what it is— it must surely and can only mean, that it is and wants to be a de-form of some kind. Or perhaps it has no choice? Anti-art for no-one’s sake whatsoever.

And this is before we’ve been playful and imaginative by building our furniture into rooms. I know I can do it— especially after adding a double height ceiling; but how this would squeeze into the minimalist ethos, I’m not entirely sure.

As for extreme minimalism, I suppose less truly does mean more and to hell with ceilings altogether.

Thinking about it now though leaves me strangely depressed. Perhaps I should have stuck to thinking about:

  1. aubergine juggling and

  2. novelty uses for children as expressions of style;

  3. all the other all important questions I haven’t addressed, including:

  4. Is there room for growth in minimalism?

  5. What do they really call themselves?

And if so, where does it go next?

I value little my own opinions but I value just as little those of others…

Michel de Montaigne