Artists are bad enough. Art critics – and art collectors – are worse. Andreas Gursky just had a photograph sold for $4.3 million.
Oh, and this is the photograph:
I could whine about how aesthetically bland and completely devoid of meaning or interest it is (indeed I have done so), but that’s not what I’m going to do today.
I could blither on about idiots with more money than sense buying crap because some other nong tells them it’ll be arty (indeed again, I have done so), but that’s not my purpose today.
Today I’m going to whinge about art critics. The piece that really got me annoyed was this piece of navel-gazing tripe. These twits simply make up crap in order to sound cleverer than the rest of us, and justify their positions. I know, because I’ve done it.
… In. High. School.
I still remember well: we had to do a “creative response” to the poetry of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. Most of the class were planning frakking dioramas and posters and crap. Though I liked the poetry – especially Sexton’s – I was totally turned off by the assignment. So what did I do? I wrote and recorded a piece of music.
First, I threw together a bunch of riffs and fragments I had lying around in my head, in whatever order seemed to work. Then I went to my guitar teacher,s house and recorded them. While there, I played around with his guitar synth, and found some cool patches (a koto, a breathy flute thing, a weird chaotic mess of crashes and bangs and thumps…) and added those in. Just because.
Then, someone pointed out, or I realised, that I would have to link the music to the assignment for which I had supposedly produced it. So…
The opening section with its unconventional and dissonant harmony recalls the challenging – and at first read, abrasive – nature of Sexton’s and Plath’s poetry.
The second section is more melodic, demonstrating the beauty that can be found in their poetry, but its 7/8 time signature recognises that even then their work is unconventional. I probably said the descant lines of the koto and flute reflect the hidden meanings or something.
Following that the heavy, distorted, dissonant riff represents again the aggressive and challenging – and yes, unconventional – nature of some of their work. It then goes into a melodic harmony line which reflects the many-layered meanings in their poetry.
The final section, dissolving into the chaotic crashing and banging, without discernible rhythm or sustained melody, reflects the apparent chaos and aggression, buts fades out leaving a final haunting note on the guitar echoing the final beauty and sadness of these poets’ work.
I threw together a bunch of disconnected musical fragments, added in synth bits when I stumbled across a patch I thought was cool, and then made up some complete crap about it.
And got an A+.
Because the teacher could “clearly see…” how I had represented the blah de blah blah…
Art critics do the same damn thing – except I suspect many of them have actually bought into their own bullshit, and actually believe it. And then you get artistes who go around spouting all the same crap – that’s of course how they get critics to say “wonderful, daaaahhhhhling”, and sell their work for exorbitant amounts of money.
Bollocks to that. My mother has a simple criterion for whether she likes a bit of music: does it make you want to dance? Broadened a bit, and thinking about the likely origins and purpose of music, I think that makes a lot of sense. At least music should make you feel “moved” – physically and/or emotionally.
Similarly the visual arts: it either looks good, and connects with you, or it doesn’t. Gursky’s photo looks like utter crap to me, but I don’t feel the need to go into it in any more depth. It’s art, and I like it or I don’t. In this case I don’t; then I move on.
I’m not arguing against thoughtful photography (or any other art). Of course we should be mindful of what we are doing and why, and be thoughtful about our composition. But all of this navel gazing arse gets on my nerves.
Just go and create. Have fun. Make nice things. Share them with others. Have more fun.