Friday, February 17, 2012

Clarksville Trash: What is Art?

We as visionary thinkers have fully swung in to an interesting time for the World of Art and what qualifies as higher forms of human expression.  Every single day, the boundaries of what we call art are pushed even further by a self-glorifying society and new platforms of discovery such as social networking.  Art is about the artist and what he or she is trying to accomplish.  If an artist splatters paint on a panel, is the random output art?  If a DJ samples the skilled work of several musicians and mixes them together into his own brew of sound, is it art?  Local artist Miguel Moon has an interesting theory on his new-found plane of creation through the use of his own keystrokes (what some would refer to as trolling) as art.

With the invention of the photographic image in 1826 and the wide-spread use of cameras by the turn of the 20th century, the art world got turned ass over tit and onto its ear.  No longer were artists constrained to the rigid school of instruction and years of training to reach a masterful level of realism with their mediums.  With this disintegration of the visual arts, creative types began experimenting with visual styles broken down from realistic representations by using methods such as Cubism, Impressionism and Futurism.  In the 1920's a group of artists donning themselves Surrealists including Max Ernst and Salvador Dali took this depreciation of skill in a different direction by painting realistically in an unrealistic method weaving worlds of fantasy onto canvass.  This newer, higher-art mode of painting was soon brushed aside for a further deterioration of skill bringing about Abstract, Minimalist and finally Pop Art (using a sense of design but not much skill or craft.)  The dumbing-down of Art had finally made it more accessible to audiences requiring less mental interpretation.  With less work involved for its audience in understanding what was in front of them, Art was more popular than ever.  It is so much easier to understand a solid red canvass than to decipher the story and metaphorical imagery involved with a classic renaissance painting which took 7 years for the artist to create.

People want to be easily amused which brings us to much of today's media consumption.

Today in our brave new technological world, the boundaries of art have practically disappeared creating a plethora of daily, disposable and viral creation.  Is a meme (taking a picture and adding your own caption) art?  Is graffiti a fine art?  Is crafting jewelry out of manufactured materials you put together art?  Is a cook an artist?  The definition of art is hazier than ever with more people having access to creative careers than any other time in history.

Miguel Moon, a local Clarksville artist has been creating his own new style of Art through social networking, mainly Facebook.  His theory is that the social network is his canvass and his keystrokes are digital graffiti.  Miguel's new opus of commentary and creation is Clarksville Trash, a Facebook page exposing the underbelly of our local community.  As the viewer peruses his curated wall of whistle-blowing, he or she may take part in the artistic process but just watch out- Mr. Moon will make art out of you as well.  So is trolling art?  I've always held firm that many things CAN be art but I have my own qualifications for "successful" art.   Successful art causes a reaction and rise of emotion or thought within the audience.  By that definition, Miguel's work is solid, managing to piss of countless Facebook users and being forced to create new profiles time and time again after being banned from the site.

So what's my take?  Good cannot exist without Evil.  Night cannot exist without Day.  Nothing can be All or Nothing.  You get no Yin without the Yang.  If Everything is Art, then Art does not exist, only our futile attempts at self-expression through infinite modes of creation, NONE of which are permanent or eternal.  All I know is that if it feels right, do it and I'm glad Miguel and the everyday artist find a sense of accomplishment from their compulsion to create.  An artist can only set his or her own standards and abide... The art IS the artist but to WHAT end... and WHO cares or is even listening?

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