A Computational Photographer Goes to the Guggenheim

I found myself in New York with a group of friends and one of our many stops was The Guggenheim.  I'm by no means on the clock (hell, I didn't even pack my gear), but I'm all for cultural enrichment.  So we check it out. 


Their Kandinsky collection was on display just outside of the little lunch nook.  That was pretty impressive, and the audio tour that accompanied it made it that much more enriching.  I also got to stand a few inches away from a Picasso - that was cool, and these two highlights alone were worth the price of admission. 

The big exhibition on display was called Storylines.  I'm not going to re-hash the purpose or meaning behind any of it - follow the link and read for yourself.  I'm probably going to sound like an inartistic, uncultured tourist here, which I understand may be damaging to my site where I am selling art, but I am not going to hold back my thoughts out of fear of damaging sales. 

So here goes:

The entire premise of the exhibition is flawed.  In baseball, there's an old adage is that if you have to make a case for a player to be a hall of famer, then they're not a hall of famer.  Along those same lines of thinking, if you need an essay on a plaque and/or a 5 minute audio accompaniment to explain while a gooped together pile of trash, or a rusty old engine, or some frankensteined together beer pong tables wrapped in human hair* are art, then guess what?  It's not art. 

* I could not find any official photos so the direct direct link is to the audio explaining the piece, but images are out there if you want to search for yourself.  Or not - you're not missing much. 

It baffles me how many rubes have been duped into buying in to the idea of most of the junk** being labeled as "art".  Some of the stories that accompany the pieces are moving, but putting a moving essay next to a pile of trash does not make the trash art - if anything, it detracts from the essay. 

**When I say "junk" I mean it literally, not as a pejorative term.  I mean it as an actual stuff that belongs in the nearest dumpster, destined for the nearest landfill. 

Frankly, I am personally offended, as someone that actually puts effort into art, to have the fruits of my labor tainted by being in the same bucket known as "art" as some of this junk.

Oh - apparently my cats play with fine art.  Look in that image about 2/3 of the way over from the left and about half way down the image.  You see that orange circle?  I know what it is, do you?  Spoiler: It is the orange ring left after you unscrew the top off a bottle of Gatorade.  I know this because my cats love to play with them.  One will play fetch, bringing it back to be thrown again over and over. 

At one point I noticed a large crack in one of the floor tiles as we walked from exhibit to exhibit.  I thought about coming back another day and taping to the wall right next to it my own print-out (in their font and style of course) of a long-winded essay about multiverse theory and how this crack represents a fracture in the space-time continuum that is created every time someone makes the decision of stopping to read this very essay or not (how meta, right?) and the butterfly effect that falls out from it, ultimately closing by going all Godwin's law and claiming that your decision just now to stop and read this text just mighthave given rise to the next Hitler in countless parallel dimensions.  Viola - art!  Then I decided I didn't have time and didn't feel like ending up in jail while on vacation.  It does make me smile to think out there someplace there are several parallel me's that did this.  I figure some ended up divorced because it was the last straw for their respective wives, some did indeed get arrested, but just maybe, at least one of them got it accepted as "art" and it was deemed so moving that it launched a career in fine art.  That means out there somewhere there is an art community where one of the modern giants knows this whole branch of "art" is bullshit, smiling and nodding, playing along with the whole scam, while he rakes in the dollars.  You go, parallel me!  And just think, all this wouldn't have not happened*** if some other scammer...er...artist didn't get his engine block accepted as "art", then some guy dropped it on the way up to the display nook. 

***no, that's not a typo'ed double negative - it's amazingly clever, in context.

In conclusion, I probably just alienated some of my target audience.  Oh well - I'll still sleep okay tonight.  I probably also damaged my chances of ever having anything on display at the Guggenheim (at least in this specific universe).  I'm okay with that too.  By the way - I'm totally willing to engage in debate / dialog if you have a differing opinion.  When I tried doing this with others that accompanied me on the trip, the response tended to be some combination of defensive and/or dismissive.  All I ask is that you keep the discussion intelligent (it doesn't even need to be clean).