Exploding Art Mimbulus Mimbletonia style

A blog by Julia Felix about experiences on the CAMS New Media in NYC and Europe study abroad program.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Only Empty Walnuts Make Noise

Today we did two things - gallery hopped in Chelsea, and met up with a sound art writer and critic.

The End.

Haha, you wish my blog posts were that short. As usual, I will explain in excessive detail what went on today.

Everyone got up at the crack of dawn (11:30am) to go down to Chelsea. The plan was that we would divide up into smaller groups when we got there, wander around for a little bit checking out a bunch of art galleries, and then go meet a sound art guy infront of MoMA at about 5pm. As usual, I was with Stacy, Rachel and Jenny.

We got to Chelsea and wandered around for a long time looking at random art galleries. Most of them weren't very interesting actually, but I attempted to find something good about the art that we looked at. I was sort of reminded of John telling us once that most people spend about three seconds looking at each art piece before they move on to the next, and I often counted while my group checked things out and it was actually about three seconds per piece. I tried to counter this by talking about the art with the gallery people and getting some press releases, but it was kind of pointless. By the time I was half way through the press release, everyone else in my group was mostly done with the show and I had to leave.

The gallery hopping wasn't a total loss though, since we found a really amazing artist named Michael Cheval. His work reminds me a little bit of Renaissance paintings, but it's also got some very surrealist qualities. I'm pretty sure he's considered a surrealist painter actually. So I'm excited about finding out for him and I really wish I could get his art album *coughhintcough*.

Another show we saw was your typical political art exhibit. Basically, it was about how everyone hates Bush, Bush is destroying the country, etc etc. I was a little upset though when we met up later that that was the one my group remembered best. We were talking, and I was saying that I thought Cheval was amazing, and then all of a sudden it was "Yeah, that political one was really good too!" and the truth is, it wasn't. There were about six or seven really interesting pieces in that show, and the rest of them were kind of shallowly deep "Yeah, Bush is stupid." type pieces.

So I've got a new question to think about now: Does art have to be about some kind of issue in order to be good? I really don't think so. Terin was talking once about how he appreciates nice looking images and all, but he doesn't think something is really good unless it has some kind of deeper (he seemed to mean political by this) meaning. But if someone takes a picture of a tank with a baby on it and claims it's a statement about the war in Iraq, does that make it better than a well thought out, hand crafted surrealist painting? I suppose I'm just a little disappointed that someone can disregard something as cool as Cheval for something that has a much more obvious (and therefore shallow, I think) "deep" meaning. But you can be the judge of that.

We finally met up with the sound art guy (I can't remember his name, no one else seems to be able to either, and it's not on the Wiki. Sorry.) and he turned out to be probably the nicest person we've met on our trip so far. He really seemed interested in explaining sound art in general to us, not just his own work, and was just really excited about us learning about it. He took us to two sound art pieces: The Times Square piece by Max Newhouse, and another piece up in The Dreamhouse (sort of in Soho) by Laurent Marion (I think). About half of us (myself included) thought both of the pieces were amazing, and the other half hated both of them and never wanted to hear sound art again.

One thing that we discussed was that Max Newhouse didn't agree with the term sound art at all. He felt that the sound itself wasn't an art, and that the placement/atmosphere of the sound is what mattered. I agree that his piece, which is actually right in the middle of Times Square, would have been stupid in a gallery or something, because it was just a synthasizer playing the same tone forever. But in Times Square, it was really relaxing to have a single note playing. It kind of reminded me of Tibetan throat singing or something.

The other piece was in a gallery, and was also just a continuous noise that didn't change, but it was awesome by itself. In that case, placement didn't even matter because there was actually a point where I was lying there with my eyes closed and completely forgot about where I was. So I'm not sure what to think about that, but I loved both of them.

We talked a bit to the guy afterwards and discussed sound art some more. It actually took quite a few times of asking him before he would go into his own work, and it was kind of nice talking to someone who didn't think what they were doing was the best thing in the world. Then I went home and spent way too long working on this. That's all for tonight.


Anonymous Talia said...

The people who like art with "deep" meaning are the same ones who like independant film and short stories that aren't about anything.
Here is my new deep and meaningful version of Pins and Pomade:

(WALTER is robbing a grave.)
WALTER: I rob graves because my life is soulless. (In black and white, Walter jumps off a building and lands in front of his girlfriend GIULIETTA.)
GIULITTA: This death does not effect me.
(in color, Walter is being cremated and his enemy EUSTACE floats in the air above the fire.)
EUSTACE: Time is meaningless and without substance. Time is meaningless and without substance.
(The sound gets all fuzzy like it's being heard through a tunnel. In slow motion, REGINALD shoots himself in the head and the blood splashes on GIULIETTA as she laughs.)

THE END!!!!!

12:48 AM  
Anonymous Mararrrr said...

Frau Silva, the German teacher from a few years ago at the Academy, told me something that makes a lot of sense to me. She said that it doesn't matter what the author is "trying to say", it matters what you take away from it. If all we do is assess a book (or piece of art, in your case) based on what we think the author wants us to think, we never actually get to the next step of getting something out of it. I think that's sort of a confusing way to say it, but I'm not sure how to explain better without writing a huge comment...

Also, you can never "know" if the person who photographs a baby on a tank is opposing the war in Iraq, or whatever example you want. Maybe it's a statement about how heights are good for baby brain development, and thus we should place them up high, like on top of a tank. Even if they say that it's about Iraq, maybe they're just saying that so Julia Roberts will buy it, thinking it will make her seem political/controversial/deep.

By the way, I really want some walnuts now.

11:21 AM  

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