Posts Tagged ‘pop culture’

Vincent van Gogh probably would have appreciated today’s “grunge” look. Teens carefully contrive to look cool and casual, by actively choosing garments such as stonewashed jeans and cutoffs, with exposed seams and ragged edges… The style even has a name, “shabby chic”. Ironically, mimicking the authenticity of bumhood, can cost just as much as a pristine wardrobe.

Van Gogh’s journals and letters reveal that his family was concerned about his appearance and how “shabby” were his clothes at the time. But he cared more about the art than the outward signs of success. In fact he thought it ironic himself, and explained,

This is the way I expressed myself to Father. I noticed that people talked about the strange and unaccountable fact that I was so hard up, although I belonged to such and such a family. I replied that I thought it was only temporary, and would come right after a time….What you say is true, financial questions have either advanced or handicapped many people in the world. It is so, and Bernard Palissy’s saying remains true, “Poverty prevents the good spirits from arriving.”

Poor Van Gogh, content to wear, “two workmen’s suits of rough black velvet, of that material known as veloutine. It looks well, and one can wear it everywhere…”

Apparently Van gogh’s parents were somewhat concerned, enough to ask his brother Theo in a note,

We have improved his appearance a little bit with the help of the best tailor from Breda. Would you be so kind as to do another work of mercy and have his chevelure metamorphosed by a clever hairdresser – here in Etten we don’t have such people. I suppose a barber of The Hague might be able to do something about it, therefore try to coax him into coming with you to one.


As they say, clothes make the man. Everyone could benefit from having their “chevelure metamorphosed by a clever hairdresser”, lol… What could Vincent van Gogh achieved if he had been dressed in Ives St. Laurent…? Vincent’s journals are worth a look.

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is “pop art” Art?

To me, it is the creator or originator of an idea who has done the work; reprooductions of an artistic ‘style’ are not the equivalent of the idea.

There is a distinction there, because so much of the methodology of today’s art is reproducible through software applications or mechanical means, especially in the world of graphics.

Stylizing one’s work to be representational of a trend may be functionally appropriate, and useful in mass reproduction, in fields of design and decoration and illustration. It is the origin of the terms “popular” “trendy” and “fashionable” to take on a particular form. However, it’s not the same thing as “art”, in my book. It may be “artistic” and “graphic.” But not “fine”…

For example, Daniel Mena is a graphics artist who has incorporated the feeling of Andy Warhol’s “pop” in his representations. We have the cut-out print designs, the stylization, all reproducible graphic iconography….Yet I discern to real “meaningful” quality to his body of work. He’s got the technique, and run with it. But that is not the same as Warhol’s original experimentation, built up through a foundation of a career as an illustrator. It incorporates elements of Warhol’s styling, but not his meaning.

Whereas the work of another artist, Inka Essenhigh, may have the stylized form of a Dr. Seuss cartoon, she creates images of individuality imbued with symbolic references, worven together to yield narrative that is highly meaningful to the careful observer. There is no such meaning found in pop art, which is merely a stylish shell.

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New term. Not as morbid as it sounds, and not to be confused with a “memento mori” an “exquisite corpse”or “cadavre exquis” is an activity in which several people contirbute portions of a final work of art. Similar to a game called Consequences, in which players write in turn on a sheet of paper, fold it to conceal the previous part, and then pass it on for a further contribution. Each participant, then is responsible for part of the “body” or “corpus.”

In a sense, the term exquisite corpse applies to any collaberative effort, even a musical jam session. But usually the composite result is a documented artifact, such as a picture, poem or story, or cartoon or video. (The technique is not the same as the non-linear cut-up style of Brion Gysin, in which pre-existing words and phrases are sliced up, edited and arranged, as used in Naked Lunch by William burroughs’ and by other Beat poets’–such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg at various times.)

The stage production Hedwig and the Angry Inch and its film adaptation heavily utilize the exquisite corpse format as a symbol. Near the end of the play/film, as the already bizarre story reaches its most surreal point, Hedwig begins reminiscing about all the relationships and events in her life that have made her feel “cut…up into parts”, with pieces going to various important people. The following song asserts that now, however, she has “sewn up” or reconstructed herself, recovered, and become whole, though as a patchwork of sorts (“tornado body and a hand grenade head, and the legs are two lovers entwined”).

In another example,

In the Montreal World Film Festival of 2006, from an original idea by Adrien Lorion, David Etienne and Michel Laroche, a group of ten film directors, scriptwriters and professional musicians took the concept to a new level with the fusion of the art of film-making and song-writing: Cadavre Exquis première édition.

Surrealists, such as Yves Tanguy, Marcel Duchamp, Jacques Prévert, Benjamin Peret, Pierre Reverdy, and André Breton, played a form of this game. And it can be adapted to any media, allowing each artist a portion of the whole, in his own styling. the methodology is open to adaptation. The original item may be modified by one person at a time, chronologically, passed hand to hand or even sent like a chain-mail. Or each artist may contribute individually to a designated block of the whole, like a quilt, grid or checkerboard, or a body-map. A bit like Frankenstein, actually.


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Specifically Avatar, for all its fabulous effects, would not interest me at all, except to enjoy the effects. But the 3D experience itself, like most carnival rides, tends to leave me feeling nauseous instead of entertained. I’m a little leary of the “immersive” audience experience. I like reality the way it is. These things remind me more and more of what life might be inside “the Matrix”.

It reminds me that many action movies these days seem to be filmed indoors, on a soundstage in an atmosphere of claustrophobic darkness and what is meant to be mist, but seems to be blue smoke. Batman Returns, all the Vampire series, anything ‘inner city’, leave me with the feeling I’ve been immersed in a subteranean environment too long, and I leave the theatre eagerly to enjoy fresh air and daylight!

It makes me wonder if what we mean by “entertainment” these days is instead immersive conditioning to an alternate environment. But I like reality the way it is — outside the movie theatre.

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I think movies these days are ALL about effects or costuming…they rarely have any “meaningful content”…(which is all some people want, considering it’s “entertainment”.) To me, entertainment doesn’t mean its necesarily ‘mindless’ though. But i hate to have paid to see something I’d rather forget. i think that’s why foreign films have such appeal–the moviemaking process is less Hollywood, less mindlessly commercial.

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