Wednesday, September 12, 2012

arse gratia artis

A woman wrote to a newspaper recently and argued, quite reasonably I thought, that if she takes her children to see a movie rated “cool for kids”, they should not have to sit through trailers for movies rated “only for adults who don’t know something sick when they see it”.

Just one of the 400 sound reasons I avoid watching TV in real time is that there is no avoiding having vile images hurled at me during ad breaks. I figure if I want to watch ugly shit there are more than enough opportunities for me to select it deliberately.

I do not advocate absolute censorship – far from it – but the freedom to choose some-thing implies its corollary; the freedom to choose no-thing.

There are many reasons for me to spend the rest of my life despising things done by the Kennett government, yet I once received a fine in the mail for failing to vote at a state election. I hadn’t realised there was an election on because I was going through one of those recurring phases when reality is unbearable. For a while I chose to avoid news broadcasts, papers and other public information and so missed the vote.

Several good bits of advice came my way. “Tell ‘em yer a Jehovah’s witness cos they don’t have to vote”. “Tell ‘em you voted and someone at the booth must have stuffed up.”
Instead, the excuse I gave the electoral commission was the truth. My reply said something like “I am not coping, so I've been living with a media blackout. If I’d known there was an election I would have voted, because I hate Jeff Kennett’s guts.”
Well, I never heard any more about it, but I digress.

We might be a minority, but some of us people out here occasionally become disturbed and, when disturbed, find disturbing images disturbing. Sometimes, we are fine but disturbing images still disturb us.

A fair dinkum judge’s words have become a cliché - while we struggle to define “porn”, we know what it is when we see it. The same pretty much applies to art. I might struggle to define art, but I know what it is not - it is not used on the covers of vampire books, nor are images from the darker genres of movies what I would personally call art.
Anyway, an original might or might not be art but a copy is, by definition, just a copy.
And so to an article in The Age about MCC plans to spend $60,000 on CCTV to protect street art in Hosier Lane.

Some artists are distressed by the idea, as the cameras would put artists off working there. ''It's a violation of privacy with artists that value their privacy immensely.”

It certainly is a violation of something. The "art", I mean.
I wish they cared enough about their privacy to keep their art private. If they want to force it on the public, then the public is entitled to invade their privacy. Or something like that.

I’m torn. I don’t know whether I like the idea of putting artists off by installing a camera, or giving other morons the freedom to paint meaningless but less disturbing rubbish over some of this "art" by not installing a camera at all.

I shouldn’t have to see this sort of shit without first having a chance to say “no thanks”.

If the MCC goes to all the trouble of making buskers audition before they can get a licence, they could also use a little quality control with the way buildings are being defaced - because defacement is what it is.


  1. Keep their art private....


    I personally am not a fan of that type of art.

    I think I prefer the quiet ugly graffiti that's hidden under bridges or inside toilet stalls. Well, as long as it doesn't say anything mean.

    I like reading stuff like "Paul hearts Sam".

    I wouldn't say I'm morally against this decorative graffiti. I just don't find it overly attractive. And it would seem unfair to pay rent in a building; then have it decorated in a way you didn't like.

    I'm intrigued by you missing the election. I guess they depend on people to keep up with the news. They should be aware the some people like (or NEED) to avoid it. I would think they'd send out notices. Although then there's lazy people like me who forget to check the mail for several days on end.

    1. Dina, there was a time when graffiti was clever. There were books published with photos of clever graffiti. One example, during the women's lib heydays of the 70s:
      "If he beats you, leave"
      Someone added an S so it read "If she beats you, leave"
      Someone deleted the S so it once again read "If he beats you, leave.
      Back came the S. Away went the S. Finally, someone added a comment so the whole message now read:
      "If he beats you leave... but what happens if he only comes second?"
      Clever, but still a form of vandalism.

      Now a lot of "tags" remind me of a dog lifting its leg on a tree to say "I was here"... only the dog scent disappears with rain or time.

      I have seen some wall art that was neither my cappuccino, nor offensive. I'm cool with that if they have the owner's permission. But it is a pity when people insist on painting over brick walls that are more than a hundred years old, and destroying the character of our wonderful city's history.

      You forget to check the mail for several days on end? Do you have a really big letterbox? Do you not have your box [letter box] filled with junk mail?
      Personally, I would be very disappointed if a bill was eaten by snails because I left it too long... I like paying bills.

  2. The best analogy is the porn one. Individually we can distinguish art from porn, as we can good street art from bad. Of course graffiti is not even in the running.

    1. Andrew, Tag Graffiti on trains is a pet peeve. It distracts from all the "Don't" signs, and people end up putting their feet on seats and other stuff.
      [Strangely, I've never seen a "Don't vomit" warning...]

  3. This reminds me of how TV here in the U.S. has illusions to outrageous violence in their commercials and yet continues to bleep words such as damn or bitch. Go figure.

    1. Quite hypocritical isn't it, Rubye?

      Though I must admit that after about 8.30 any word is fair game here. [Usually gratuitous, of course]. This is a pity, because once upon a time people were clever about trying to sneak something past the censors.

  4. If it's art put it on canvas, if it's good it'll sell.

    It's rubbish. Ugly. Fences in Thornbury are covered in it, this mess. Trendy lardheads find it atmospheric, exciting, as they do anything looking rundown, slumming through it, pockets full of cash.

    1. Pockets full of cash??? The bastards!
      Frankston's artists walk around with brains full of mash. Must have something to do with the price of housing.

  5. Some street art is good other is dumb but I guess its all in the eye of the beholder. I agree with you about buskers have to audition and so should street artists. Graffiti artists can be clever but much is just vandalism and if caught they should be made to clean off graffiti for a month.

    1. I'm sure I read somewhere that one council didn't want to force graffitists who'd been caught to clean off their mess, because there are health and safety issues with the cleaning agents.
      But in principle, I totally agree with you. Maybe a month on their knees begging forgiveness?

  6. That was one of my vaguest comments, I was half asleep.

    Frankston Savers is stuff they've found at the tip, you should try Brunswick.

    1. I've been had. Savers is my favourite store. So... first the council demands a garbage charge including the "state government imposed landfill levy" [plus estimated impact of carbon tax - amount not specified]... and then the mongrels give the stuff to savers and I have to pay to get it back.

      Sorry your sleep has been disturbed, but at least I am now awake to yet another government scheme for ripping off innocent [i.e. naive] taxpayers. I shall have trouble sleeping myself, tonight.

  7. Isn't the whole point of grafitti that it is 'true art' because it falls outside standard conventions? It follows, then, that standard protective measures would destroy that which they strive to protect??

    So applying standard conventions isn't just controlling, but insulting to the artists' integrity. Isn't this 'art' all the more beautiful for its transience??

    1. I hear what you are saying, Red. I think I even follow most of it. Street art should be transient, I agree. Actually, most of it should self destruct within 24 hours.
      Which brings us - either by your logic or my subjective objections - to R.H.'s point: If they want it to be permanent they should put it on a canvas or some other kind of permanent medium.