Over the last few days, there has been a raging argument in one of the forums about detail and texture. One artist lambasted another about the level of detail that he produced. He said many negative things about art which looked like photographs.
Now the thing is, who is to say that a work produced by hand that looks like another medium is not art? Now I am not talking about realism or photo-realistic work but perhaps hyper-realism. These are works that have mind blowing detail. You can view them from a distance and get the impression that you are looking at a photograph, then move in close and see detail, move closer and see still more detail until you are right on top of the work, and finally see the brush marks or pencil strokes. Do the same with a photograph - any photograph, and you will not get the same experience. Some people find this utterly fascinating, and others do not. That's not a good basis for arguing whether a technique produces a work of art or otherwise.
When an artists creates a hyper-realistic work, there is more detail in the piece than can be captured by any mechanical form. The artists can control what is in and out of focus, what details are left in, and what are excluded, and have total control over dynamic range and distortion. The result is something far more alive than can be seen even in the best photograph.
If any particular artist chooses to spend half a year working on one painting or drawing and creates mind-blowing detail, then people should either explore the resulting work and enjoy it or leave them to get on with it. For someone to target another's work based on some personal weltanschauung, I submit, is wrong.
This morning, I grabbed a coffee from the local shop to the train station. In there, I found a flier called 'Coffee News'. In that, not surprisingly, were some adverts. I thought, "Hmmm, it's only a single page, local distribution, the ads are probably cheap. I'll take a copy." Of course, something called 'news' needs some editorial content, but as you can imagine, the space allocated was small. In fact there were only three articles with any meat. Hold that a moment, when I say 'meat' think more cocktail bite than porterhouse steak. Nevertheless, it was encouraging to see that this publication was popular with the fine arts.
For example, there is the annual gnome convention in the Australian NSW Glenbrook Park. I kid not! The 'Free Weekly Coffee News' has balls. So I read on. There is an art exhibition in Hornsby, represeted by six local artists and properly curated. It's free. I might take a look.
A black lab named Marvin is painting pictures with his tail in Rhode Island.
It continues to explain that the talented pooch is raising money for his local animal shelter. Let's see how this is done:
The dog's wagging tail quickly created a work of art.
G I V E M E A B R E A K ! -- what the heck is going on here? While it's all fine and dandy to raise money for some worthy cause like an animal shelter, and it's fine too to sell paint marks on a peice of paper caused by a wagging dog's tail dipped in paint, let's PLEASE not call it art. This is degrading. This is sad, and this is wrong.
I might not be quite as annoyed but for the fact that there is a local artist scurrying arround producing purile thoughtless incipid 'abstracts' - some of which may be indistinguishable from Marvin's portfolio, and unfortunately seems to be making a few sales. We must remember, such activity is ONLY on the backs of great trail-blazng visionary painters and this sort of trash could not possibly stand on its own.
To be applauded are those who paint abstract, but on the basis of stellar ability in the production of realistic works; those who have learned color, composition, form, texture, vibrancy, hue, impact, weight and balance. There are those who can produce an abstract that makes the viewer weep for unexplained reasons.
To be sure, there is a lot of 'art' out there, and we are happy about that, but perhaps there is a little too much tail-wagging.
If a work of art does not move you; if it does not cause you to stop and think; if it does not make you look; if it does not increase the information in your own brain, then can we call it art? I think not. I think art necessarily has an element of 'surprisal'. That's a real word too. If I told you 1+1=2, you already know it. You could easily work it out. It's obvious. 1+1=2 does not surprise you. But if you threw a coin, and it came up edges, that's surprisal - and a lot of it - especially because you smugly predicted either heads or tails. The case of edges fills your mind with new information. Your brain cells 'light up'.
If art causes surprisal, then it's good art. If not, then it's boring.
(C) Jeremy Lee 2010, all rights reserved.
Note: I am allowing the blogs in the category 'Book' to be stored for personal use only, but not for distribution or commercial use. Should you wish to reproduce any material, please contact me for negotiations.
spOOk's art is owned by Jeremy. He has practiced drawing and painting for about 40 years, and might get good at it one day. spOOk's art is focused on graphite portraits.