When I tell you that the arrangement of sweetly colored textural shapes above is not art I sincerely hope you believe it. Admittedly, you have little reason to. You’ve been here before. You’ve seen that week after week I populate this space with images that are in fact art, or could, without too great a leap of imagination, be considered as such. High art, low art, unexpected art, unintentional art; Categorical labels and their attendant quotation marks, though generally eschewed, abound here for those who’d choose to employ them. This post though, is different. Truly. So when I assure you that the image above, and those to follow below are not art, have nothing whatsoever to do with art, and that when looking at them you probably ought to cringe and scowl, your nose ought to wrinkle, and you should turn away feeling vaguely disgusted, know that I mean it.
This image is not art. No matter that it sits there, displaying a certain textural quality. No matter that you can almost feel it on your fingers. No matter that your eyes glide over its surfaces and dip into its recesses. No matter that, just behind your eyes, your mind does its tricks of correlation and interpretation. Don’t be fooled.
There is a shape on display here. No doubt about that. It’s a voluminous shape seeming to take up space. There is a complexity to it and a certain asymmetrical balance. You might become intrigued by this shape. You might even find yourself creating a sort of mental model of the shape, spinning it around in your mind, and contemplating it’s aesthetic qualities. But none of that makes this thing art.
Here are some colors. A controlled and not altogether inharmonious palette of colors in fact. Colors bear associations and even emotional content evidently, so the colors here could conceivably not only send you off on a tangent of associative thought but also make you feel something. Don’t, however, confuse this experience with that of viewing a piece of art.
The thing above exhibits absolutely no obvious utility or function. But there it is, existing. Surely there must be a reason. You know as much. Maybe the reason is obscure and abstract, or maybe the reason is simply obscure to you, unfamiliar as you are with items like this one. But don’t think for a second that the probable necessity of some explanatory paragraphs to make that reason clear confers some artistic gravitas on this thing. This thing is not art.
Again, you might ask yourself, what is this? What is it for? What does it mean? Looking at it all sorts of inferences come to mind, surfacing, playing out, and being replaced in turn. There is a free-association of language, with words just tumbling about willy-nilly, almost like poetry- humble mesoamerican bruise papoose, subcutaneous, atrophied and oxidized, slouching toward enanthem but lost to the lava flow. The texture, colors, and shapes all suggest corollaries and possibilities. There is something phallic about it obviously. Also something vaguely anthropomorphic. Something morbid perhaps, or fetid. Something grotesque but also compelling… As your mind applies all its algorithms just remember this, whatever it is, it isn’t art. Of that you can be sure.
Being that I am the one who put these items on display I can hardly pretend that I don’t know what they actually are and where they come from. Some of you most likely want to know after having read 6 paragraphs which lead you exactly nowhere. Some of you might be annoyed with me, to be drawn-in and sent away without knowing. I can understand that. But I want to ask- do you really want to know? Are you so keen to categorize these blobs and slabs that you can’t just click away now, content with this meaninglessly miniscule portion of mystery still in tact?
I would think that the prospect of being shown a group of images, complete with texture and shape and color, which make absolutely no claim on being “art” of any kind whatsoever, and in fact emphatically deny being any such thing, would be a welcome respite. A sort of reward in itself. These are images after all which require no kind of adoration or supplication from you. Their existence does not imply, in any way, that you must give them proper consideration or else find yourself judged. They do not take titles or feel entitled to your attention. They do not seek the high ground of a pedistal. They do not claim to be meaningful. They do not pretend to be removed from you, the viewer, but simultaneously crave your praise. You would not want to own them and they are not worth your money. They’re not art.
Isn’t that enough?
If it isn’t enough for you, well, I’m happy to point you toward the answers you seek. But remember- once you know what these things-that-are-not-art are… You can’t “unknow” that knowledge. And you might want to. I mean things that aren’t art usually have meanings and real consequence which aren’t always pleasant. Outside of the realm of art, your safety can not be 100% guaranteed.
If your adamant though-
Until next time.