|Copyright RT 2014|
Friday, 19 September 2014
Tags: blogging, cynicism, disillusionment, the Situationist International, desperation, Guy de Bored etc
'The best artists are people who don't consider themselves artists, and the people who do are usually the most pretentious and annoying. [laughs] They've got their priorities wrong. They're just doing it to be artists rather than because they want to do it.'
- Aphex Twin (interview here)
I'm the only fan of electronic music who doesn't worship Aphex Twin. His music has never impressed me greatly. I like what he says about artists, though. He may be talking about music-makers, or Artists, or any kind of artist. Either way, he has a point. Perhaps the point is that it's possible to make things without the burden of an officially designated label hanging 'round your neck. And what you make is still valid. Conversely, to freely create, knowing that what you make may not conform to expectations, and have the nerve (!) to call yourself an artist, may be an equally interesting position.
Thursday, 18 September 2014
|Copyright 'RT' 2013|
“Where there is a true art and genuine virtuosity the artist can paint an incomparable masterpiece without leaving even a trace of his identity.” - Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red
I fell asleep thinking about 'real' art as opposed to 'fake' art. What is unreal about fake art? What is fake art? Isn't the faker being genuine in their determination to not create real art?
When doubters mock the efforts of contemporary artists working in what we might call the 'post-modern' idiom, do they know why they're doing it? Is it because they think they know what 'real' art is and therefore feel justified in deriding that which they deem to be 'fake'.
Perhaps it is simply a matter of taste, their taste against that of their target. Suppose they were to meet the artist and discover that she is serious in her intention and honest about what she is trying to say? Would they change their minds?
Perhaps the artist in question is an excellent actor who has mastered the art of appearing to be honest and serious. But supposing they are not and, as well as being honest, they are likeable. Would that change the critic's mind?
If one of your friends happens to make art and you are exposed to it on a regular basis how do you judge the work? Do you ignore it if you don't like it? Then you are conspicuous in your silence. Do you offer encouragement as a conscious act of friendly support?
It is thought that makers of art can be the least generous in their support of other artists. I understand why this might be so: jealousy of the friend having achieved a greater level of success, or being more prolific. They may feel threatened. Why? Because the very fact that their friend makes art undermines their own impression that they themselves are special. Not her!
Did Orphan Pamuk actually say the quote at the top, or was it written in his novel? It seems unclear since many uses of it leave out any mention of the novel, thus attributing it to him directly. If it is in the novel it may or may not be what he thinks. This notion of 'true art' is as old as art itself, no doubt. Or, I should say, as old as the first time anyone looked at art and said aloud that it was true. Was there fake art in the caves 30,000 years ago? If so, what did it look like?
'Genuine virtuosity' twinned with 'true art' encapsulates what many believe should be the standards by which all art is judged. Is it a virtuoso performance? Has she demonstrated a mastery of her tools? If so, that is laudable! But perhaps what she has painted is not as impressive. It is a dog. Her dog. A Labrador rendered perfectly right down to every hair on it's coat. How important is the subject matter? A badly-painted portrait of a Labrador would be laughable, unless it was done by your young niece or nephew, in which case you may still laugh behind their back whilst encouraging them to their face. "Keep it up! One day you might be an artist!". This may, in fact, be an unintentionally cruel response. After all, would it not be better to suggest they take up the recorder, rather than encourage their folly?
The anarchic spirit of Dada did not break the shackles of virtuosity. They hamper the progress of aspiring artists even to this day. It fired shots which the majority of the public withstood quite easily, firmly bound as they were/are in the bulletproof belief that true art demands virtuosity. The elevation of the artist (in any art form) depends on their demonstration of skills mere mortals do not possess. The romantic notion of the artist as one with a great gift (bestowed, by whom?) endures. We are all susceptible to it. We need examples of it to enrich our lives, we suppose.
The artist who says something meaningful, but 'badly' according the to viewer's personal criterion, is worthless, surely. Shall we give her credit for a brilliant idea? Or even a the heartfelt expression of an emotion rendered in a manner which cannot be considered to be 'real' art? She has wasted her time creating a digital representation of something in a manner which displays no virtuosity at all! As for the post-modernists...
Art was taken from the people when it became Fine Art. Folk Art? Outsider Art? What are they? Categories appointed by critics and historians in order to differentiate the Fine from...what? The Fake? The Unrefined? Fine Art defined in Webster's dictionary: '1. a: art (as painting, sculpture, or music) concerned primarily with the creation of beautiful objects - usually used in plural, b: objects of fine art. 2. an activity requiring a fine skill.' There you have it.
It may not occur to pompous critics (both professional and everyday) that they fail to grasp what modern art means today. It has no cast iron 'meaning' in the old-fashioned sense (which they cling to as a life raft to save themselves from drowning in doubt and insecurity) because the old standards by which Fine Art were judged are insignificant.
The irony is that some of them may have applauded Punk Rock at the time, joyfully denouncing the traditional notions of what 'proper' music should sound like. Yet they fail to see that the very same attitude is all around them in art today. Perhaps this is because music is Popular, therefore can be made by common people and accepted on its own merits. 80s New York band The Lounge Lizards even called themselves Fake Jazz. But they were too good to be 'fake' and went on to appear at prestigious (real) Jazz festivals. Perhaps Rig Rip & Panic were genuine Fake Jazz, except they were more like Roland Kirk's Punk kid brother and all the better for it. Art today remains sanctified. I have no idea why this is the case, why it has not been freed, no matter how many movements have tried.
Art is everywhere on the internet. It would appear to have been democratised/liberated by technology, just as Dance music was in 80s. At least, the medium for exposure exists, even if many who exploit it do not use the medium itself as an artistic tool. One would think this would shatter the old preconceptions. It may, however, have the reverse effect. We are all susceptible to over-exposure. Those who surf compulsively find their critical facilities eroded. They cannot chose or be selective. They are consumed in the vortex of on-screen images. This may be for the best, ultimately. Even the high culture elitist may, due to a surfeit of art, be fooled into liking art made by the non-virtuoso, the unreal artist.
Box sets are big, stupid and outmoded. Right? Not in the homes of a generation old enough to have bought LPs first time 'round and when the CD box sets started coming collect them too because many contained previously unreleased tracks. And besides, what else were baby boomers going to spend their money on?
Box sets were exciting for others too, of course, myself included. But to confess that is also to confess to being of certain age, probably. Do kids buy box sets? No, surely not. Many can be downloaded anyway. I'm not precious about sleeve notes and packaging, but they're seen as a bonus by some.
A box set signifies the old world, the last hurrah of music companies still creating cash from the vaults. Pony-tailed executives rubbing their hands with glee as yet another take of a track is dusted off - ''The suckers'll lap it up!".
Yet there's something appealing about these digital dinosaurs. They sit heavily (literally) in a world where music is weightless. They defy this anti-gravity world of one-click access and the virtually invisible file storage system where recordings exist in name alone (lost amongst all the others). Almost every day I catch sight of the boxes below. Admittedly this is because I no longer have a large CD collection.
So here are some of my favourites.
Bernard Parmegiani - L'Œuvre Musicale (INA)
Acousmatic/electronic/tape genius. An infinite world of sound.
Miles Davis - The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions (Columbia Legacy)
Of the many Miles Davis box sets, this is the one I play most often. Electric voodoo.
Various - Popular Electronics: Early Dutch Electronic Music From Philips Research Laboratories (Basta)
Ornette Coleman - Beauty Is A Rare Thing: The Complete Atlantic Recordings (Rhino Records)
Arranged as the sessions were recorded. It's Ornette Coleman.
Duke Ellington - Anniversary (Masters Of Jazz)
13-disc epic feast of Ellington. A gift (from myself) that keeps on giving.
Wednesday, 17 September 2014
Miriam Elia's superb parody of Ladybird books. We Go To The Gallery mocks the modern Art world with an acute sense of the absurd. That may be easy to do, but this succeeds because the jokes are so good. Penguin, who own the rights to the Ladybird series, have tried to prevent her from publishing. They are currently in discussion about the matter. You can buy the second edition from her site.
Tuesday, 16 September 2014
(attention-grabbing opening line alert!)
I cut someone's throat today by mistake, of course. I'd cut him out, flipped him over, thrown him on the pile of cut out images and carried on cutting. Then I returned to the pile and started cutting what turned out to be the flip side of the man I wanted to keep in one piece. I sliced straight across his throat. I can patch him back together, though, Frankenstein-style. What is collage but the act of Frankenstein-like artists? Some of us make what some might consider to be monsters. Some make pretty things.
From Frankenstein to Funkenstein, who else but Parliament...
Thanks for dropping by. If you like what you see, keep it to yourself. That way Include Me Out will remain your special secret and I won't feel under any pressure to perform when it's just for you and me...
Monday, 15 September 2014
Strolling through Soho the other day LJ stopped, saying 'Hold on, look at this!'. So I did. We found ourselves staring in wonder at a magnificent Art Deco doorway. Looking up, we saw it belonged to Hammer House. That's Hammer as in Hammer horror films. Along with Doctor Who, they gave us British kids our first taste of fear on TV in the 60s. Fear and the psycho-sexual terror of busty beauties being ravished by monsters, but perhaps we could not fully understand the (Freudian?) meaning of all that blood and bodice-ripping.
We chatted to the guy sitting behind what must be one of the oldest reception desks in London, the country, even. It was tiny, the original 30s desk, squatting in a nook under the stairs and in front of the lift. Part of it is visible in the reflection on the first shot, to the right of me squatting on the stairs. I would have photographed it but we were too busy listening to him tell us about the building. You read a bit about it here.
Modern film production companies run by the likes of comedian Jimmy Carr use the building, so it's still involved in horror. Unless you think those 'comedy' panel shows are good. Anyway, here's the door from inside and out.
'This coach is bound for a terrifying destination' (as the voice-over says) should be an announcement on the 259 to Tottenham...
Two great pieces from 1956 by Asger Jorn, co-founder of both COBRA and the Situationist movement. He collaborated with other Situ superstar Guy Debord on a couple of visual/text collage classics, Mémoires and Fin de Copenhague. There's a good feature on the latter here.
|Worthless Grave, 1956|
Ekoplekz and Pierre Henry together is a pairing Nick Edwards (Ekoplekz) would enjoy, I'm sure. He doesn't know that he's already collaborated with the legend, if only in my room. I happened to leave Pierre Henry's Coexistence (honestly) playing whilst listening to Four Track Mind. It worked, of course.
Most of these tracks come from the Unfidelity sessions but I think this is a better album. With three tracks stretching over the 8-minute mark, Edwards has room to stretch his legs, so-to-speak and it's to our benefit. Ariel Grey can therefore evolve to the point where the trademark Ekoplekz mood goes East of The River into Augustus Pablo territory for a while. Ekoplekz Meets Augustus Pablo Uptown is another imaginary collaboration I'd like to hear.
This is like Ekoplekz plus, if you get my drift. It's darker than a lot of what he's done, Return To The Annexe especially. But those DIY beats are still in evidence, as is the overall feeling that Nick is experimenting as he goes and leaving much of it alone rather than heavily editing the results. Only 300 available.