September 2, 2006
“Contemporary” Art is a joke, and… the past few weeks have been great.
A few weeks ago I read Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration. It was a nice read. I suppose you could consider it a seminal text in the philospohy of the seperation of church and state.
I’ve been slowly — very slowly — wading my way through Bertrand Russell’s ‘Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy.’ I’d have to say, one of the most difficult books I’ve ever tackled. I’ve been making it through, though I have to read each chapter several times over.
I just got back from a trip to Chicago, IL to visit my friend Andrew. Dale and I went to visit Andrew at his apartment and we had a very good time.
Dale, Andrew, and I took the train from St. Louis to Chicago – around a 7 hour train ride. It was the first time I’d taken the train and now I’m convinced there’s no reason to ever drive a car if you can take the train. I hate driving cars — in fact, I hate cars altogether. There was a restaurant on the train where we ate lunch, and a lounge area where we sat and talked in comfortable seats for most of the trip. There’s all sorts of room to walk around, talk, eat, use the restroom, snack area — who would want to drive if you can take the train for cheaper, more comfort, and safety?
Once we got there Andrew power-walked us all over Chicago. I say power-walk because Andrew seems to be in the habit of walking near jogging speed. I told him – ‘You walk REALLY fast’ — and he seemed to deny this. But I feel quite justified as we were alway passing every pedestrian on the sidewalk.
We would walk around for near 10 hours per day seeing all the aspects of the city. We’d also use the public transportation to get around.
Since it was a little late the first night we walked along the beach (Lake Michigan) and it was very impressive. The city at night and the beachline and everything was just beautiful.
The next day we visited the Art Institute where we stayed nearly all day. It was very impressive. Orignal works of Picasso and Claude Monet stood just inches away from us. I found myself staring at various pieces – some for as long as 30 minutes. One piece I really enjoyed was an 1800s portrait of Paris in the rain, and another was of an old man riding his horse drinking from a stream, with a young boy sitting beside the bank.
Besides paintings they also had scultures, old renaissance furniture, ancient armor, shields, and many other interesting things from antiquity.
We also made a trip to another art institute — this one being a ‘Contemporary’ art museum. It was awful. I can’t believe the junk in there they consider art. Just to name a few ‘works’ we saw on display:
1) Melted plastic forks strung out over a tattered cloth.
2) Some old dirty cloth, cut up, with burnt holes hanging on the wall
3) A quick child-like sketch of a pair of scissors from 3 angles
4) Some colored circles slopped on a canvas
5) A comic strip with no characters just the chat bubbles and a glop of slime – and the characters talked about absolute nonsense. I couldn’t make out what they were talking about at all
6) A small LED light sign with scrolling text saying stupid contemporary art quotes. Something about ‘Modern art is just a reinstatement of the old’ and ‘Government is opressing people’ and stupid things like this. Don’t ask me how this made it into a national art museum. And if you consider this junk a reinstatement of the old — I need to slap you.
7) A junky socket mount where light bulbs of various colors and sizes were arranged in a X by Y grid. It was maybe 5 feet wide, 8 feet tall. Tawdry is a great descriptor of this ‘art piece.’
There were few impressive displays. One worth mentioning: high quality photographs of Chicago at night. I don’t know how the photographer took such high quality pictures. The lighting was absolutely perfect and the quality so crisp and clear. There was some real talent there.
I think future generations will really enjoy those pictures – just as I enjoyed the 1800s painting of Paris. I think a large job of an artist is to portray the aspects of everyday life of a certain time – and those pictures did a great job of that.
Before I leave the subject of ‘contemporary art’ I think I’ve figured out what they’re trying to do. Greg and I discussed at Alex’s pizza what we feel is really going on. I think I can easily explain the phemenona with an anaology related to alcohol: I’ve noticed oftentimes those who drink alcohol (or any mind altering drug), after drinking considerably tend to think they come into some form of mystical knowledge. They feel they rise to some elevated state and become one with some higher consciousness where everything is connected and all is one.
The mind basically relates concepts together through beliefs. Mental objects are bound together through various relations and these relations are what constitute knowledge. What goes on when these people are intoxicated or high, these relations, which most likely exist in the brain, are temporarily disbanded and the mental objects within the mind are set loose — all mental objects once again being all seperate — no relations existing between anything.
When this happens people are not being elevated into all knowledge, they are actually leaving every form of knowledge and entering a state of NO KNOWLEDGE AT ALL.
Contemporary art seems to glorify this anarchic state of being – where random objects are taken from normal relations and related in stupid ways. I think they’re trying to reach that ‘intoxicated’ state to where objects exist in their most ‘free’ form. In fact, when they do so, and they just slop objects together randomly — they lost art altogether. Art is skillfully putting objects together, not trying to seperate those objects.
Greg and I conclude it’s basically the artist guy craving attention – trying to justify his lack of excellence and trying to convince people he has talent. In reality, he’s lacking every form of it.
Anyways, other than that — We also watched movies – Andrew has near every Woody Allen movie ever made and I had the good pleasure of getting to see a few of them. We also watched several Simpsons episodes on DVD and listened to Bob Dylan.