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    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2008


    I think these contextual shifts are interesting.
    I would have liked the video to discuss the possible flaws in the transition.
    It seems to me that Tuymans and treated the major pedestrian area largely as if it were interchangeable with a gallery.

    Perhaps I am looking at this the wrong way, but to me that makes very little sense. A gallery is an art destination. You go there specifically to view art - very often you go to view art by a specific artist. You have already been convinced the material is worthy of your attention beforehand.
    That is why you are there.
    It does not exist in isolation as a magical realm free of any other reference that you are annoyingly transported to at random by naughty pixies right in the middle of your work day. Somewhere out there is material promoting the showing. And it has made you decide to head in and take a look.

    Street art does not generally have this same promotion network. While I appreciate that there is community among the artists, for most viewers a piece is both the art and the promotion all in one. It is connected to (and often references) its own location. It isn't destined for the giant white walls of galleries. The best street art is not only interesting as a visual piece on its own, but plays strongly - sometimes essentially - to its location(s). One of the interesting things to me is how the same basic image can change so much depending where it is placed - not just in terms of the area of town, or the specific structure but also in terms of the variety of materials it is placed on and how those materials themselves degrade and contribute to the change over time of the piece.

    Street art is embedded into the everyday environment. People aren't showing up in those locations specifically to view it. They are on their way to work, or on their way home, or headed to a friend's house, or going to the shop, or whatever. This is especially true of areas with heavy pedestrian traffic - it isn't even a park where people might be there with more leisurely intentions.

    Even just at a basic pragmatic level:
    They place a great big piece right beside the side walk. People on that side of the street who actually noticed it (instead of walking quickly along with their heads down as so many do when they are busy and hurried and doing things) would need to stop their current walking, step away from the sidewalk and move back in order to take in the whole thing. It seems to me like the piece is well placed if the viewer is the hidden camera, but down at street level it takes a fair amount of effort to take in the whole thing. The kind of effort you might unthinkingly put in if you showed up on that street specifically to view the piece, but if the piece is also its own promotion then I would expect some better placement to be in order. A large painting like that might do better on a wall facing into a pedestrian walkway where you can look at it for the length of the block (or several blocks) while you head towards it.

    I think that 4% of the people stopping to view the piece is actually quite high when it has all these things working against it.

    But then, what the hell do I know? I'm not a street artist. What do the rest of you think?
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2008 edited

    A couple of days ago in the Money=Art thread, Warren said "the motivation of art is to speak." I bring that statement up specifically, because (I'm a mechanic, not an artist, but) it's a relevant thought when I'm dicking around with designs (or designing to be wanted). I'd probably add the addendum that the measure of success of that art is when it makes itself heard above (or despite, or in concert with) the surrounding din. A piece may be "relevant here and now" or speak "an essential truth" when framed on a white wall with directional spots, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's got a voice when it's out there in the real world. And that's... just the way it is. The burden of making some noise lies squarely on the artist. If you've got something to say to a street full of pedestrians, you find a way to say it -- or I suppose you could just toss off some statement about how all those people must just need to wake up.
    • CommentTimeMay 10th 2008
    @Ariana - That Your Local Graffiti thread is the awesome. Thanks! (I'm pretty behind on all things whitechapel these days.)
    And thanks for your thoughts too - I appreciate your insight.
  1.  (2179.4)
    I agree that the very close proximity of the placing worked heavily against the piece being noticed at all. Also, people are very used to seeing graffiti and advertising and will quite simply blank it out when part of their daily routine. I wonder how many of those that stopped actually knew this experiment was taking place, or where told of it from someone who did. Did any of them know the artists work already and recognise it? He is a local after all.

    It's interesting as an experiment, but I'm not convinced that it says anything grand about peoples perception of art.
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2008
    @synthsapien said: It's interesting as an experiment, but I'm not convinced that it says anything grand about peoples perception of art.

    Agreed. Interesting, but rather lacking in anything remotely resembling scientific method if the goal is really to be able to draw conclusions of the sort you mention.

    Too bad they didn't do any exit interviews of the people who stopped to look. Or at least not that I'm aware of. That would have given insight into the things you ask about art/artist recognition.

    There was a vaguely related thing a while back where a different group arranged to have Joshua Bell play in a busy metro station in Washington.
    The full story (which is hopefully what I just linked too, but I'm unslept and a little bleary-eyed so please forgive me if it isn't) is interesting in that they actually talk to people and come to realise how costly it is for someone to stop and listen to a busker - no matter how lovely - when they must get to their job, and how very brief the window is in which the music even has the potential to reach the commuters etc.

    It's also interesting to read how Joshua Bell's expectations changed as the busking session went on.

    I'm always a little wary at first about these context shift experiments, because I have a lingering concern that people might be hiding lame intentions about revealing the lack of sophistication of the so-called masses. Or similar classist wankery. But I do think the shift is interesting and worth taking a look at in an assortment of ways.

    I hope I'm not getting incoherently rambly here. I might have to put myself into bed and refuse to let myself back out again until I've at least had a few hours sleep. What I don't know is, I'm totally going to bring along some texts and read them under the covers. Ha HA bossy self! Take THAT!
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2008
    If I understand the video correctly, some folks expect a painting of highly stylized copulating monkeys to "wake up" pedestrians. Amazing. I'll have to agree with the woman from Christie's who said it depended on context.

    I'd like to see some of Tuyman's work up close and with a little more time, because on first glance it's boring and says very little. I could be wrong, but that video doesn't really allow for much appreciation of the work. Walking to work would allow even less.
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    I couldn't appreciate the work from the video. Perhaps from a photograph, or in a gallery, but definitely not from the video.

    And yes, poor placement. He mentioned making it a contrasty painting, but to me it seemed to blend in with the wall too much - it seemed to be a black/brown/grey/white color scheme painting, which isn't going to pop that much off of a grey wall. There are lots of things they could have done to have made it more accessible to the pedestrians, and therefore more effective. Placement is important. Color is important. Subject matter is also important. I have doubts about being moved by monkeys getting it on, regardless of how stylized it is, and the historical context (which we have no way of knowing if the average Belgian citizen is well learned on the importance of what his painting was about).

    While Banksy is famous for his street art, he wouldn't be if he didn't know how to manipulate people into looking at his work. In fact, there's a contrast of one hour, and lots of pedestrians reacting and interacting with a bit of street art.

    1 Hour in the life of a Banksy
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    banksy is amazing, i have just recently discovered a lot of his work/projects/experiments.