Art, According to Me
Art is taking a concept that already exists and pushing it to see how far it would go.
With any luck, you’d break through the limits of the original form and you’d create something entirely new.
Here’s a car. It’s perfectly common and ordinary. Make it fat and bloated like it’s made of flesh. Now you have a sculpture! Take a house. Just fill it up with water, and it turns into a metaphor for suburban life. Cut a lemon in half. Inside: some strange anatomy. Put Jesus in full S&M gear and paint him on the cross. Make a collage out of the drunken texts your ex had sent you and frame it in gold. If you curate it right, your very sock drawer can be art.
Shoot expired film, and line the faded images with shiny neon! Record yourself as you do an interpretive dance at the DMV. Use whatever you have lying around, like odd buttons and dried beans. Recycle junk to make jewelry, and cover your driveway in chalk splotches. It doesn’t have to be highbrow to be art. Sing to the words of your electricity bill while drumming on the toaster. Write down everything you happen to overhear while standing in line at the grocery store and put it in a screenplay format. Invite people over. Give them a bunch of stickers and tell them to go nuts. They’ll cover every inch of your bedroom with stickers: that’s performance art and an art installation all in one!
I don’t believe in art for art’s sake. Art is about contrast and juxtaposition. It has the function of reinventing things we are used seeing to the point of taking it for granted, and shaking us out of the illusion that we have it figured out, because we don’t. It must be striking in some way, it must unsettle us and keep us alert to possibilities we haven’t yet considered.
Art needn’t necessarily be about something transcendental, abstract, or even morally sound, for it blurs the boundaries of our ethics by testing them. It shouldn’t be about some higher concept either, because there are enough trivial facts we struggle with as it is. But whatever the chosen medium and materials or technique used, whatever the skill level of the artist or the precision and detail achieved, whatever the idea and ideal behind it, art absolutely has to have a visceral effect on those who consume it.
Art utilizes aesthetics to appeal to the senses but ultimately it impacts the very way we think about life. It can be beautiful, sure, but it must make you at least a little bit uncomfortable.
Art is asking “what if?” and if it’s good, it makes you want to act on it and find out.
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