Masters Degree – Assignment 2, a – Critical Discussion & Examination of Research Practice, Process and Product.
“I’m interested in what would normally be considered the worst aspects of commercial art. I think it’s the tension between what seems to be so rigid and cliched and the fact that art really can’t be this way.”
– Roy Lichtenstein
Lichtenstein had clearly never (anachronistically) read “Heartbreak Soup” by Los Bros Hernandez or seen a copy of Speigleman’s “Maus”, yet there where undoubtedly examples from the medium that would have tempered this wild tarnishing of a medium with an assistants brush, Little Nemo by Windsor McKay to name but one.
But is nothing new for Fine Artists to take influences from one popular medium and raise it up for inspection through the lens of their own medium, regardless of how simplistic the individual artists interest is in the original medium (as a valid form of communication in itself with a broad and encompassing range and heritage for example), or how facile and surface their explorations and research might have been (see Roy Lichtenstein – Whaam! 1963 and the quote above).
For the most part it could be argued that what the Fine Artist has seen is the simple existence of that singular example of the medium (in this case comics) in the moment and chosen that, with their projected values in place, and rendered a new idea (the validity of which CANNOT now, it seems, be questioned as it is now ART); much as they might draw a life model or a slab of meat, regardless of the models own life story or the meats provenance, at best, discussing only the surface details in truth, the immediate available information taken from silent observation and recording it to be dissected later by critics and curators. At worst simply repeating what they see in their immediate vicinity, shouting it on canvas or other media like a child pointing from a bus shouting “Fire Engine” or “Doggy”.
Since the Fifties* and the mainstream of art schools adoption of those (recent then) historical trends in the arts to drift away from and distance itself from “the admiration of craft” and “client led conceptual impetus” as an important element of Fine Art, we have seen the simplified adoption of other mediums in “craftless expressions” that deal with “higher concepts”.
Poorly crafted and shoddily edited films, amateurish photography, poorly observed and naive drawings, ridiculously naive application of paint to canvasses, all referring to their chosen “influence”, whether a particular medium or event as something the artist has explored – but in fact has looked at only those examples and instances easy to find; dismissing the diversity and breadth of the “explored” medium, and so adding to the easier “lie” that all poorly understood “stereotyping” perpetrates.
This is often the nature of art that is created as a response to an artists un-commisioned, brief-less search for subject; a response usually followed by the layering on of meaning or “concept**” (whether by the artist or the market savvy critic), though not in every case obviously.
“I’m not really sure what social message my art carries, if any. And I don’t really want it to carry one. I’m not interested in the subject matter to try to teach society anything, or to try to better our world in any way”.
– Roy Lichtenstein
…the eternal struggle of the contemporary fine artist to produce something new and vital. To walk down paths not to often trodden. A pinball bouncing from the no go areas of apparent contrivance in search of the “REAL”.
After the Smithsonian’s retrospective look at the medium of Game Art (Video Game Art Exhibition at the Smithsonian adds academic kudos to the still young Medium/Industry… See also these short films), it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine a Turner Prize selectee who has “investigated” the medium of Games Design as a jumping off point for a hastily thrown together response to this phenomena, layering their explanations and gallery tags with words and phrases like “transient experience”, “retro-culture”, “neo-experiential passivity” and “aggressive reinforcement of sexual stereotypes” etc.
*though this development without doubt started around the time of the advent of Photography and earlier during the rise of the original Art Salons.
**though how something that wouldn’t merit 15 minutes on Tricia or Jerry Springer counts as conceptual, and the communication of ideas related to complex belief systems and social order by renaissance artists isn’t I will never know.