Find out– among other things– the benefits of saying FUCK YOU to art world shitheels, how uncool starving in an attic is, and why you are probably not a princess or an astronaut.
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.
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:
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?
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:
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.
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.
- 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: