We played a useless show last night.
Maybe that’s pretty negative. I dunno. To some extent I’ve always been able to ignore the lack of interest in whatever incarnation of band I’m in; I threw in for the music, for being able to play with other people. To use a skill that would otherwise be wasted. I never expected huge success (and I don’t think it’d work out too well if it happened anyway).
Playing Monday and Tuesday shows, playing when UK games are on, opening for bands from other places that don’t have any draw here… gets really old, really fast. The general attitude of this town, the city of not-giving-a-shit. It makes it difficult to bother, even when you’re not asking for much. Maybe especially when you’re not asking for much.
Being an real art student at a school has taught me a little about art, and loads about how I should find it unacceptable to let things just “be”. Everything should be able to (and must) be analyzed, broken down, rendered into parts. Inherent skill is to be left at the door. It’s not enough to just paint a tree; every branch and leaf, every brushstroke and color has to mean something, should it occur to someone that it might. And so on. I get irritated with some of the rhetoric thrown around, and here’s two bits I hear at least every other day:
1. “There is nothing new.”
Yes, this may be true in a matter of speaking. It’s like saying that everything sexually possible has been done. That’s probably so; people have had thousands of year to try things. It’s conceivable. However, this holds true for any idea you boil down enough. Computers are just fancy abacuses. Planes are artificial birds. At some time in history, someone invented the wheel- and while there were probably lots of things that had rolled down hills before, it was recognizing and harnessing that idea that was important. And even if there isn’t anything new, that doesn’t mean that things haven’t been forgotten and lost. Furthermore, if we take “there is nothing new” to heart and give up trying to discover something new, then why are we bothering with art in the first place? We might as well just be printing old works on posters instead.
2. “There is no answer to the question, ‘What is Art?’.”
There is no definition, at least acceptable by consensus, to that question. That’s for the viewer to decide. Rest assured, I could take the next person that says this to me, sit them in a room and show them a series of objects, and ask them whether each one is art. And I’d get a yes or no answer.
It’s a personal decision, and it varies for everyone. We can generally agree, across the board, that some things are art, and some things are not art; but there is a vast sea of grey. I think most performance pieces are not art; they are spectacle. They might satisfy the performer’s ego, they might draw an audience, they might even provoke some response or stimulate some thought. But they seem to lack a quality, sort of a grace, that I find in a painting or a film.
My point is, there is an answer to the question. It’s just not a single one.