Tag Archives: contemporary art

BEARS VS ABSTRACT CAPITALISM

29 Aug

No, not that type of bears. Try Tumblr. There’s a smartphone game called Bears vs. Art, in which

“Greedy millionaires have opened abstract art galleries to display and admire their latest work. Now Rory the bear is ready to fight back against the pointless pieces invading his home! … While pompous guests admire perplexing paintings, you get to rip them to shreds.”

Despite the ambiguous syntax, they do mean the paintings and the guests.

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I haven’t been able to play it, not that I particularly want to. It’s free (or rather “freemium” in the manner of Candy Crush Saga and the same developer’s Fruit Ninja, a subject I’ll return to) but even though it was marketed as a multiplatform, international game many months ago, so far it seems only to have emerged for Android in the UK and of course, obviously, Singapore. It doesn’t look like my mock up:

BearsVsArtCol

“Pointless objects hanging mid-air, hidden subtext from just a square?”

Destroying works of art and murdering “people who came to look” is super cute!

I won’t do much more analysis here because Daniel Golding has already done a very good job of it in a lengthy ABC article that I think you should read (link below). He also seems to have played it, unlike me. If any readers have the game, please leave a comment and tell us all what you thought of it.

It’s clear even from the promotional material that the game displays both a very unpleasant anti-intellectual disdain for individuals and things that seem too clever for certain other people’s liking and, as Golding writes, a superficially more liberal disgust for “accruing wealth at the expense of good grace (that is, destroying a forest to build a gallery, or selling apparently meaningless art).” Note the old chestnut of abstract art being particularly odious, for some reason. Greed overriding good sense seems, on the face of it, a position that arguably has some merit. Yet this is a game offered as free while encouraging people to spend considerable amounts of real money for in-game items that– guess what?– have no intrinsic value either and whose cost is also inflated out of all proportion to any real world commodity or the utility gained from it. Just like the art market. If you want to get into contempt then both industries are equally worthy of contempt, in other words. They’re both examples of abstract capitalism, almost entirely divorced from– or at least having unique and nonlinear relationships with– traditional economic factors like supply and demand, scarcity, or input of labour and materials. They’re actually bubble markets, which stay inflated only because of a collective agreement and faith (or delusion) that the commodities have worth, and that the market will continue to expand indefinitely. Which of course, being bubbles, it’s in their nature never to do. The trick is to flip your artist’s work or video game for a profit at the right time, before the bubble pops.

Inside the game industry, people who pay out for premium items or preferential access are known derisively as “whales”: they swallow everything, subsidising all the free games (sic) enjoyed by the more financially prudent majority. “Freemium” games, Candy Crush Saga and Farmville among the most notorious, are explicitly designed to be highly addictive while becoming increasingly untenable to play for free; at a certain point it becomes virtually impossible to progress without paying something, giving them access to your contacts so the company can market to them (AKA “share this with your friends!”), or both. This is now the dominant model for the massive mobile and tablet app market. So game developers are hardly taking the high road or restraining their greed, either. And even the art world isn’t gleefully positioning itself at the top of the slippery slope that ends with you hitting Heinrich Heine at the bottom, ruefully holding a placard that says THOSE WHO BEGIN BY BURNING BOOKS WILL END BY BURNING PEOPLE. I occasionally joke (for example) about the work of certain artists being indistinguishable from fly tipping or the things teenagers doodle on their school folders, but I wouldn’t spend a great many hours of my life programming a game in which they and their art are annihilated by an angry bear, in the hope of making a lot of money by exploiting the very same economic shenanigans I affect to hold in contempt. People Who Work in the Games Industry vs. Cognitive Dissonance.

By the way, Halfbrick also developed the aforementioned Fruit Ninja. It is a matter of public record that the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron is obsessed with this game. He spends “a crazy, scary amount of time playing Fruit Ninja on his iPad” according to a senior government advisor. Scary indeed. Maybe think about being obsessed with the wellbeing, safety and prosperity of the British people, dickhead?

http://www.abc.net.au/arts/blog/Daniel-Golding/Bears-vs-Art-A-battle-for-the-soul-of-Australias-gaming-industry-140319/default.htm

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“CRAPPY FINE ART”

11 Jan

A thought-provoking and informative article inspired by the recent $5.7 million sale of a most definitely crappy act of plagiarism by a technically capable but unimaginative hack (with plagiaristic form) of an original Chris Foss painting for a book cover. Although obviously the utter shithead who bought it for $5.7 million has to take a lot of the blame, too, along with all of his or her kind. Ultimately the artist is just servicing this plutocratic market and churning out high-end widgets that just happen to take the shape of art works, like a glorified McJob work experience boy. If he wasn’t doing it, somebody else would. See also The super-rich are never embarrassed.

“So what do *I* think of Glenn Brown’s appropriated art, referencing great SF illustrators? I could use the big put-downs from fine art school and call it commercially technical, overly kitsch and academic in its attempt at realism. I think it’s crappy fine art. But it’s crappy fine art borne aloft on millions of viral cat pictures and an internet culture of ripping and running with images without regard for the original creators. It’s the fine art we culturally deserve,  just as much as Warhol’s soup cans were fitting for the commercial-goods industrial era. Would I pay millions of dollars for it? Hellz no. But the momentum of  post-modernism’s love of referencing, appropriating and remixing is what led it to be worth that much.”

Read the rest here, in Scientific American for no discernible reason:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/symbiartic/2014/01/09/how-plagiarized-art-sells-for-millions

MAKE BRITISH ART LESS ANNOYING

10 Jan

A number of germane and saucy suggestions by Tom Jeffreys and Oscar Rickett. Sluice Art Fair with its “artist-run projects, baffling curatorial initiatives, oddball conceptual stunts and some unfashionably beautiful pieces” is mentioned as the only art fair worth saving. I agree wholeheartedly, though I should also disclose that I’ve been involved with Sluice since the first one. What, you don’t think every critic and journalist in the art world reserves the best reviews for the projects their mates are involved with? They all do, it’s just that very few of them ever admit it.

Sorry it’s in Vice. You can’t have everything.

http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/how-to-make-british-art-better-in-2014

NEW YEAR, SAME MISERABLE BASTARD

1 Jan

This year the WordPress annual blog report has expressed viewing figures via the rather peculiar metric of “sold out performances at Sydney Opera House”, which I apparently did eleven times in 2013. Whatever I was performing there, it must have been rocking.

I’ll be doing some proper posts again in the new year, and also recording some more Artbollocks Theatre readings. In the meantime:

You can read my tip*, one of the top five of 2013 for Culture Pros in The Guardian. Spoiler: “pro” isn’t short for prostitute, but you do still need to pay us… somebody else’s top tip is to use cat, owl or bird hashtags so look forward to plenty of those in 2014.

Derren Brown is also mentioned. Don’t worry about it, just accept it.

* NB: Not a euphemism.

Grumpy-Cat

#CAT #OWL #BIRD #CAT #OWL #BIRD #CAT #OWL #BIRD

  • If you’re in the UK and you’re a blogger, a journalist, a commentator of any kind, or even if you just like twatting away on Twitter, then you can rejoice in the fact that from yesterday– the 31st December 2013– the Defamation Act 2013 came into force and henceforth prevents anybody from screeching defamation or libel every time they’re fairly criticised unless they can conclusively prove in advance that “serious harm” is being done by discussion of the matter at hand… so every single one of the people who’ve threatened me or other commentators in the past for expressing opinions and encouraging debate, or rumbled about legal action in an attempt to stifle dissent can now definitively and with the full backing of British law DO ONE. Critics of the art world, the Omerta era is over. Let’s make sure the gains made by the late, great Cathedral of Shit and their ilk aren’t reversed.
  • And finally, below you can check out some of the greatest hits and biggest shits of the past year from this blog. I was joined during my surprise 2013 Antipodean gigs by these top special guests:
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ARTIST OPPORTUNITIES THAT AREN’T, RUN BY GALLERIES THAT AREN’T

TOPTASTEMAKERS

Boo! COLOURBLIND KIDS TV PRESENTER CAPTAIN HOOK and THE GRINWITCH OF BOTOXIA– I beg your pardon, I mean “TOP TASTEMAKERS” SAMIR CERIC and ZOE KNIGHT of Debut Contemporary are the bumbling panto villains of this season, and every season. Boo! Look out, Wendy, they’re behind you!

brent_resize

One of the USA’s most exciting contemporary artists, BRENT.

"Can you tell what it is yet?"

ROLF HARRIS. [Joke about Two Little Boys]

C0085418 Shoichi KOGA, "Seitenmodoki" (Ganesha Nan

JAPANESE OUTSIDER ARTISTS.

HandsOfOrlac

OH SHIT, IT’S CHARLES SAATCHI!

Maude

MAUDE LEBOWSKI.

“Check out my street art and viral vid website, redwindmill.co.ck."

TRUSTAFARIANS OF THE BELLE ÉPOQUE.

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… and VINCENT VAN GOGH.

PS: #cats.

ARTBOLLOCKS PANORAMA

26 Sep
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“And so, faced with demands of balance and social adaptation, I oppose the claimed neurosis and dysfunctional logic…”

The interest in Artbollocks Theatre has been so great– including the prospect of some live onstage thespianism later this year– that I’m making a special effort to collect more of the worst press releases and artist statements for future performances. Here are some recent acquisitions that have attracted my wrathful gaze like the angry lighthouse in the Lord of the Rings films. Meanwhile, there’ll be a new episode of Artbollocks Theatre tomorrow (27th September) at 12.30 GMT.

FILLS THE SPACE, CONTAINS THE SPACE INSIDE ITSELF

“The space of the white cube is normally used to display objects. What Senstad is showing us are different works that have the removal of the object as a theme. In Color Kinesthesia and Color Synthesthesia IV she shows us light perceived as color. Small technically [sic] modifications in the perception can alter even an empty space into a massively colored place.

In the same way she shows that a sculpture is a three-dimensional object, obviously, but that this object not only fills the space in the white cube. It also contains a space inside itself. By folding out the sculpture she questions the function of the sculpture as a solid and defining marker of a gallery space, a way of seeing sculptures that minimalism taught us in the 1960s.”

The space is inside the space that fills the space but doesn’t. Either that, or somebody bought a pack of coloured light bulbs at IKEA because they were on special offer. Silly Modernism, teaching us that sculptures are solid three dimensional objects. Ha ha, so wrong. The ambulance driver is here to take you back to the retirement home for your medication, Modernism.

GREEN QUESTIONS FORMULATE FURIOUSLY

»Museum Off Museum« is formulating questions as to the current meaning of artistic practice and how it understands itself, as to the form and function of exhibiting, the future of knowledge generation and cultural mediation. The interest additionally circumvents the processes of analysis and translation as well as an investigation of static forms of representation in times of mobile communication. Expanding the contexts of knowledge, the history of cultural identity, the materiality and cultural codes of collections as well as artefacts play a central role in this regard. The process of differentiating between works of art and historical documents, images and reproductions, exhibits and displays, installations, stages and filmic setting will be shifting within the exhibition. In this process, the exhibition reflects, on the one hand, the subjective potential of museums’ narratives and academic methods. On the other hand, the symbolic order of knowledge defined by museums is being questioned, fictionalised and expanded. Besides, the project focuses on the influence of artistic interventions within museums and on exhibition concepts in the present day.

Oh hello, it’s our old friends “investigation” and one hand/other hand, back yet again to add nothing whatsoever to our understanding of art. Of course the interest additionally circumvents the processes of analysis and translation and… wait, no. For a moment there I thought I’d had a stroke and lost my ability to process language, but it’s OK. This person is just writing long strings of grammatically correct but content-free gobbledygook.

ANARCHIST CHILDREN DAYCARE

And so, faced with demands of balance and social adaptation, I oppose the claimed neurosis and dysfunctional logic. Faced with assurance and confidence reflecting a market’s good health, I claim self-deprecating esthetics of destruction (after construction) and of grime. Faced with agreed sobriety offering comfortable esthetic, “prefabricated” and easy to digest points of reference, I build a complex, brutal and fragmented work. Faced with the truly dictatorial so-called maturity of a laborious majority, I oppose a childish thing made of neon colors that could have come out of an anarchist children daycare. Faced with the unique and reassuring reading of a play existing for and by itself, I create a dependence of the works on each other, multiplying points of view and signs…
Therefore, this exhibition was built on the exploration of the limits of individual freedoms, rejecting any principle of adaptation and conformity to elaborate the esthetic hypothesis of a thought free to shy away from itself, its goals and habits at any time. It rests on shifting foundations that support the changing architecture of identity whose perpetual movement, escape or avoidance constitute the ultimate resistance in the face of the burdening rigidity of the enslaving machine…

All you so-called mature individuals are TOTAL DICTATORIAL FASCISTS, OK? This artist REJECTS your adaptation and conformity, you SLAVE SHEEPLE. [Music cue: Rage Against the Machine, Killing in the Name.] Continue reading

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