Red Tulips X
I haven't ever tried any of those "power" drinks, like Red Bull. The marketing has never appealed to me and I am certainly outside their target demographic. To be honest, I haven't given them much thought.
However, at a bus stop yesterday, I found this four-pack container for a drink called Wild Thing. It contains, it says, "horny goat weed". That, and the logo of the two energizing bunnies, certainly makes it clear what kind of market these guys are after!
Straightforward honest marketing -- who could ask for more!
Street Art III B
Just last weekend, I saw a formally-dressed wedding party taking photographs in front of this mural.
Leave My Money Alone!
I'm sure I have written before about my loathing for the spending of taxpayers' money on the arts and sports and similar hobbies. Almost every day my opinions on this are hardened with new evidence.
This morning I listened to a locally-based nationally-known stage actress tell a CBC radio interviewer that, with the reduction of Federal (i.e. taxpayer) subsidies, Canadian theatres are being forced to rely on box office receipts. She said this with shock and horror, and with that professional certainty that the vast majority of her white middle-class audience would agree with her disgust at this wanton neglect. She claimed that this would stiffle creativity because theatres would be obliged to put on old shows with a guaranteed clientele. The unspoken corollary is that the ticket-buying public is too stupid or too stuck in its ways to pay for new and inventive works and so they have to be forced to pay for them through their taxes.
Such arrogance! It is no wonder that such "liberals" or "left wingers" (for they would certainly describe themselves in such terms) are detested by anyone who actually cares to listen and think about what they are saying. Their solution to every damned thing is to put their hands in my pockets and to do it while telling me how much better they know what I need than I do myself! Social conservatives and corporate marketers are no less grasping and omniscient.
Liberals, left-wingers, corporatist fascists, Trotskyites, fundamentalists -- they are all the goddam same! Leave me and my money alone!
Art as Fart
This weekend we went to see an exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The exhibition was of the photographic, musical and video outpourings of a Canadian artist called Rodney Graham, described as a "conceptual artist". It was a real disappointment.
This exhibition displayed everything that is wrong with so much of "art", and epitomised why many people are driven away from any appreciation of modern works. This was a collection of mediocre artifacts surrounded by a wealth of intellectual bullshit designed to make the works seem "important" or "conceptual" or "good". Some artists can get away with this, I guess, but the majority of Graham's works are so mediocre (or worse) that the surrounding documentation is simply ludicrous.
A fine example: A series of a dozen or more small photographs took up one wall of a large room. They were all of upside down trees, out of focus, boringly composed. Reading the attached plaque, one learns that these pictures were taken by Graham using a small pinhole camera. Fine. So what? One still ended up with a dozen out-of-focus static and boring shots of trees. Another room was filled with similar shots of very similar upside down trees, though this time they were at least in focus and printed to twenty feet high. Nothing -- and I mean nothing -- that could not be accomplished by any amateur photographer after a lesson or two.
His conceptual movies were equally mundane and essentially boring -- even intellectually.
The exhibition's signature pair of photographs, "Fishing On A Jetty, 2000", make for a magnificent piece of work; that I cannot deny.
But that was it. The rest was weak, forced, and uninteresting. Like a fart, it was unpleasant to be around, but the memory quickly fades in fresh air.
I guess I was sad to hear that Hunter S. Thompson was dead. But then again I was always happy for Thompson to do whatever he needed to do, so why be sad that he chose his own path as usual.
I am privileged to be of the generation that Thompson best understood and of which he wrote with such disdainful passion. I'll re-read his works again this summer for sure.
The internet is home to pornography and paedophiles and loud political bullshit and almost endless commercial garbage. It swamps us. So much so, that it is sometimes hard to remember that the net is also the place where extraordinary creativity is available for all to see. In honour of that, I want to share three fine little films that I recently came across.
The first is called "Endless Love" and tells the tale of a potato and a tomato. The animation is in "Toy Story" style and quality.
The next is a short political satire called "Tony's Dream".
Finally, we have "Maximus Plumbeus", an actor takes on the "Gladiator" role.
In each case, it will probably take longer to load the files than to watch them; but they are all worth it. Bravo to the artistic chops of the artists involved!
We went today to see the exhibition of drawings and prints by Andy Warhol that is currently gracing the ground floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
This was an impressive exhibition, with a wide range of Warhol's work, many of which were completely new to me. I particularly enjoyed his early work on shoes for magazine spreads. Perhaps my favourite new piece was "Red Lenin", superbly displayed in a room otherwise dominated by the "Hammer and Sickle" series. The exhibition is rounded out with many well-known Warhol pieces -- the Marilyns, the Maos, soup cans, etc -- and the curating is excellent with interesting and appropriate written materials on both individual pieces and complete career segments.
If you can get to see this show, either here in Vancouver until September, or at some other incarnation, I would thoughly recommend it.
There is much fine writing and intellectual vigour available on the web. One such piece is Jonathan Jones' very fine ntroduction to the new "Cubism and Its Legacy" exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London.
The show celebrates the canvasses painted by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque between 1907 and the First World War.
"The paintings are brown and grey, with spaces of white canvas turned cream with time ... their difficulty is not of a type that recedes with familiarity. Cubism is like a maths exam at the gateway to modern art. The paintings are uniquely unyielding."Jones states the problem clearly:
"Paradoxically, cubism is difficult not because it is abstract but because it is descriptive. If it were abstract, we could let go, relax, be moved. But Picasso and Braque were not abstract painters, and cubism claims not to be beautiful, but true ...Jones reminds us of Arthur I. Miller's recent book which revealed just how closely Picasso mimiced the deepest science of the day.
Most modern painting is stylish. It uses geometrical forms rhetorically. In revolutionary Russia, black squares and suprematist constellations of bars and pyramids became a shorthand for a new society. In Mussolini's Italy, futurist images of bodies hurtling through space became icons of militarism. Today, such modern geometries are as likely to be found on an album cover as in an art gallery. Cubism was never a style in that sense. It was an inquiry."
"Picasso learned about [Henri Poincare's relativism] through the mathematician Maurice Princet, who was a regular at Montmartre cafe tables. Picasso's friend André Salmon wrote that Princet "preoccupies himself especially with painters who disdain ancient perspective. He praises them for no longer trusting the illusory optics of not long ago... " Mathematicians, philosophers and physicists at the beginning of the 20th century were recognising that many absolute truths were convenient caricatures of a universe that might be far stranger, far further from common sense than anyone thought."From this, the two painters developed their artistic creativity:
"Picasso's first essay in the new painting, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), associates the death of the picture with sexual aggression and "primitive" release. It is an overturning of civilised lies, one of which is the neat illusion of perspective. Braque put his anger into words. "The whole Renaissance tradition is antipathetic to me," he said. "The hard-and-fast rules of perspective, which it succeeded in imposing on art, were a ghastly mistake... "Of course, we still haven't reached the point in our development where such strangeness can be accommodated repeatedly. As noted above, most modern art -- through abstract expressionism and super-realism and all the other isms -- reverted to the search for a style, leaving Cubism as an original and unique expression of a special kind of reality.