We have a small kitchen in the back of our office where is posted an assortment of take-out menus, local stories, clippings from a variety of regional and national newspapers, plots of interesting quotes and web site articles. There’s always something “appearing” that can make a trip back for coffee or tea a little more enlightening; one that hung there for a few weeks was an article that contemplated the length of time it takes to look at a painting. That particular article stuck with me; it spoke to the very individual process of finding meaning in a particular work of art, and the investment of effort that may be required to find value (or meaning, or understanding) on a personal level from a given work. I was reminded of that article when I came across a quote by artist John Waters about his piece “Contemporary Art Hates You.”
“It does hate some people. It hates the people who have contempt without investigation. People who say, “Aw, my kid could do that, that’s the most ridiculous thing.” It does hate them and it should hate them. And yes, those who do follow contemporary art, and must learn the secret way to look at things, well, they’re happy it hates those people. Because those people are too stupid to look…It could be if everyone would open their mind enough and study enough and see enough so that they learn to see. Or learn to understand it. Or learn to be outraged by it. Which is what contemporary art is supposed to do in the first place – it’s supposed to wreck things, it’s supposed to destroy what came before. It’s supposed to alter what you think is good, I think. But unless you accept and look for that or find delight or some kind of intellectual stimulation, it does hate you because you are stupid. And I don’t hate all stupid people, but I hate militantly stupid people.” (Eyemazing Magazine, via jasonkrugman.wordpress.com)
Pretty strong words, pretentious even, but I appreciate the sentiment of the quote and the piece itself, because I have been that person John Waters is talking about. I have dismissed art that I didn’t understand.
I happened upon John Waters’ quote while looking for imagery for a project in our office. The image search lead to an artist’s web page; that artist (Jason Krugman) has a blog where he catalogues and highlights things he finds interesting…much like drawingontheland. I love these kinds of sites; you get a glimpse of what a particular artist (or architect, or biologist) finds inspiring, where they look for inspiration, the processes that they use to create their art. Check out his blog; he works with circuit-controlled lighting but has a wide array of interesting posts, including an old Chevrolet educational video of how a car’s rear differential works – it’s actually very interesting. If you go, check out his solar sculptures – an installation piece that uses PV panels to power mallets that in turn strike wooden boxes – and watch the video of Rob Seward’s Four Letter Word.
We also have on our office wall the definition of a designer as written by our own David Carpenter. It includes the statement that inspiration can come from anywhere and that solutions are often found in unexpected ways. Though we may not always find exactly what we are looking for, sometimes meandering a ways down the rabbit hole can help us open our minds and see things in new and exciting ways. Happy wandering!