This weekend, while channel-surfing in a vain attempt to pretend I’m doing something instead of procrastinating, I came across a program on Stephen Ibbot, a visual artist from Toronto. Wow. What a load of crappy crap crap.
Stephen puts together abstract images on his computer using a simple paint program and transforms the drawing into a painting. Whoopee. The drawings, while interesting for a four year old, can hardly be described as art. Then again, maybe I just don’t “get it”. The works have been described as “visually stimulating”. Oh, they’re stimulating alright. I can feel the back of my throat prepping to be stimulated at the tops of my lungs.
The art reminds me of the book Son of Interflux in which one of the characters, a failure of an art student, decides that his total lack of artistic ability shouldn’t prevent him from being an artist. He finally finds his niche in a branch of art that involves dipping bananas in paint and running them through a fan onto a canvas, or passing high-voltage electricity through pumpkins. Yah! Art!
Even worse is listening to art critics as they attempt to describe this visual drivel in intellectual terms. Are they really buying this stuff, or are they just trying to sound smart? It reminds me of Steve Martin’s comments in LA Story:
Steve Martin: And look at the way he’s holding her, it’s almost…pornographic!
(Camera cuts to a large abstract painting, predominantly red)
When I see this kind of pompous self-indulgence, I can’t help but get mad. Somewhere, someone is dying of malnutrition, of going without, and here we are, lavishing praise on some “artist” who’s managing to sell us some cock-and-bull story. Let’s be honest: this is a con.
While I’d like to protect people against this, the worst kind of hucksterism, I sometimes wonder: why bother? In my mind, this con-artistry (the only kind of art involved here) is no different from that employed by Enron, the tobacco industry, or anyone else that exploits other people’s ignorance. Why don’t I just join the party? Take advantage of the suckers out there and get rich in the process? Pave the Earth for a profit while I’m at it!
But I can’t.
Will this inability to rape and pillage the weak spell doom for my hopes of creating a successful company?