The More Technical or Art-specific Explanations

Posted: January 26, 2016 in Page 8: Coming to Terms with Bad

Park in Paris

The “Coming to Terms with Bad” Work

This “Coming to Terms with Bad” work is about bad, which the name implies of course. In fact, as far as I’m concerned it not only deals with it, bad, it is bad—just because it’s photography, which is reason enough. I did it knowing full well that it was bad, just because it’s photography. [What you say?] You yourself might not be so jaded—but you might be missing the point. You might tell me not to be so hard on myself; that in fact, it’s not half bad. OK, it’s not bad in the ‘evil’ way referred to in the “Coming to Terms with Bad” article above, or in a sick way such as in the article “Just Plain Nuts” (On the home page; see reference to artist Bjarne Melgaard¹). That type of bad is for sure to be avoided, though unfortunately today it is not only not being avoided, it is being actively pursued, which is the main reason I decided to say and do something about it. In effect, this work is about coming to terms with bad.

My work, in its physical form are photographs, which I consider not only to be a lesser art but something which today has become a plague on the ‘fine’ art scene. Galleries have become an extension of the popular masses’ Facebook pages. Truly an embarrassment. I should know of what I speak; as a young man, when I was trying to find myself, my way in life, make sense of all that was before me and that all seemed so senseless, I felt the need to express something. But since I was no artist I picked up a camera to do the work for me. In a word: pathetic. I did my own dark room work however, did gallery prints, did OK work—for photography—and though it was better than the run of the mill crap you see today in this Facebook culture of ours, it was still just photography.

So I tell myself, well, I’m not OK with this shit; I need to say something about this ugly, sick form of ‘bad’ mentioned above, that unfortunately today is not only not being avoided, it is being actively pursued. And what more appropriate way than to go back to this pitiful medium of my past, photography, to say something about bad today.

However, the photographic images in this “Coming to Terms with Bad” work are meant to be well balanced none the less: they are bad, yes, but bad only to the point of “numbskull bad” also referred to in the Coming to Terms with Bad article. The ugly, inhuman sort of bad, I don’t do that. This is a major part of my art statement: that refraining from this sick sort of bad can be done if we are conscious of the problem, despite the odds¹ expressed in the article “Just Plain Nuts”:

“Somewhere along the line we have associated being bad with the future, as being the future—and the future is a mental construct that the mind can not deny, can not deprive itself of. In effect, the mind can not conceive of our existence without situating it in time, without recording our passage from the past towards the future, as identified by the changes it perceives in our environment.” So what does this all mean? : It means that somewhere along the line we have come to think that being bad is being ‘in’, ‘hip’, ‘modern’, and that at this point, not only do we want it (to be bad), but—if the laws of physics are correct—it can’t be otherwise, it’s beyond our control!

Tough odds indeed.

Once again however, despite the odds, I would like to say, I would like to think, that we—at least as individuals if not the society as a whole—can refrain from it.

So, that’s why these Coming to Terms with Bad photographs are not bad in an ugly way. But they are bad, which brings me to the other axis, or idea behind this work: that to the extent they belong to this seemingly boundless Facebook culture of mediocre photography, they are bad, period—the situation today is that bad.

Let’s all admit it.

In effect, art is certainly not about the talentless type of photography we see today: our slick Photoshopped pics (like mine in this exhibit—let’s admit it) and the seemingly inexhaustible stock of snapshots cluttering up so many silly galleries today, gawked at by so many wannabe artists living in the FaceBook-Instagram world. But don’t take my word for it:

The eminent psychoanalyst Erich Fromm, already back in the early sixties, said that people who had taken up this snapshot craze, are a perfect example of the hoarding mania (a primary illness of pathological alienation), which is thoroughly documented in psychology. The only thing tourists—in his example—think to do is accumulate pictures. But in doing so, they never live the experience itself. Today this pathology is worse. In the Facebook-selfie world, the narcissism that is inherent is acute, chronic, and rampant. The life experience is concentrated almost exclusively in the poor person’s thinking of himself, and himself alone. The life experience he is so longing for though, to transcend his lonely self, unfortunately, totally alludes the person.

However, as I said, it’s not all bad; the overall message I should want to convey is that life is both good and bad. Moreover, I think a person can be happy in life just about anywhere if he is happy within himself. To ensure a certain balance along these philosophical lines, I try to maintain certain positive aspects in the work, aspects that are nothing more or less than the A, B, Cs of any decent art:

  • Compositional balance: forms, dimensions, colors, etc.
  • Human significance, or importance of the theme, largely alluded to above.
  • A certain originality, both in its theme and technique.
  • And that it be defiant of any humanly imaginable mathematical model of any inspired mind, calculating intellect, however great, while yet—at the same time—be crying out its obviously triumphal glory to any and all an aching heart—to any, to each, to everyone of us—to all mankind!—and this, even for one so unfortunate as to be blind. Wow!

As far as technique goes, I am using an old version of Microsoft Paint to modify my images, an application that is very rudimentary as a graphic tool. This is not meant as an excuse for the ‘bad’ work (I am more than competent with Photoshop), the work is meant to be bad afterall; it belongs to photography in this dumb smartphone, Facebook culture of ours today. But, as I said at the outset, not too bad, not an inconceivable, unforgivable, evil brand of bad—just the mediocre bad of the aforementioned crap culture of ours today—mediocre indeed, with mediocrity being—now that I think about it—a form of bad so prevalent and pernicious that it may be as bad as the rest.

How can we be pure?
How can we be sure?

In final analysis, the question: is this “Coming to Terms with Bad” work, this exhibition, worth anything? If nothing else, at least it’s trying to mean something worthwhile, at least it was inspired by something worthwhile—namely this troubling idea that makes one ask: can a moral sense of bad exist in a purely secular world? The implication couldn’t be more grave: Thou shalt not kill; I don’t care; but maybe I should—even in this godless world of ours. How’s that? Well, maybe we oughta’ consider the premise expressed in the Coming to Terms with Bad article (see above).

So, at least the work is trying to mean something worthwhile, which is more than I can say for so much of this other stuff parading as ‘art’—in the noble sense of the term—where art, certain art movements, try to mean something, try to mean something humanly important. I’m really trying here.

Footnotes

¹ References to this sick sort of bad can be found in the article “Just Plain Nuts,” on the home page of the Day4thArt site (https://day4thart.wordpress.com/). In this article, see section referencing the artist Bjarne Melgaard.

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