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Real Art Criticism. Real Art, Real Gooey. [Dec. 1st, 2006|10:06 pm]
Nedroid Comics and Art
I'm taking a supremely lousy class called "A Critical Approach to Art," in which we learn absolutely nothing about art criticism and instead learn how to waste three hours every Thursday night. Just to give you an idea of what this class is like... it's one of the required senior seminars for my major, which means that everyone in it is a senior, which means that we've all been in school for four years or more. On the second day of class, our teacher took us over to the library to teach us that that's where books are, and that books have information in them. Also, you can check books out of the library. If only someone had told me this sooner, my years and years of formal education might have been easier.

Anyway, a few weeks ago we had class at the art museum, where we read a poem entitled Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. Our assignment was then to choose one artwork in the museum and sit in front of it for an hour and a half and write thirteen things about it, like the poem. I chose a work by Kate Shepherd entitled "'As the hart panteth after the water brooks,' Black Floor and Dark Yellow Walls" (which I don't have a picture of, but you can see some of her other work here which gives a pretty good idea of what this one was like).

So in the interest of being educational every now and then, here is what I wrote. I hope this sparks an involved discussion about art theory and contemporary work and the current state of art field, or that people will post pictures they have drawn of things talking that shouldn't.



I
O Black Floor
and Dark Yellow Walls
What an ugly interior design scheme
If I lived there
I would shoot myself

II
Big Yellow Square
Why are you so big
Why are you so yellow
What if you were small
and red
Would you be a ladybug?

What then?

III
"Enamel on panel," says the placard.
Why not "Panel under enamel"?
What makes enamel so special?

IV
The Dark Yellow Walls
are actually pretty Green
Either Kate Shepherd is colorblind
or a Liar

V
Why is this painting so big
Why not make it smaller
Would that have been so hard, Katie?

VI
The qualities of color
and planar variation
give the piece an illusion of depth.
It beckons the viewer to walk into the room.
However, the guards stop me.
They are earning their pay.

VII
The hart panteth,
the water brooks.
Then the hart brooks
while the water panteth.
Kate Shepherd watches
and later makes this painting.

VIII
If instead the Yellow Walls
were rocketships
and the Black Floor
a river of magma
and the hart pantething were
a series of explosions,
this piece might not be so boring

IX
Lines on the Black Floor
Merely a decorative design?
Or perhaps they represent
the unspoken dreams
of a thousand crying children

X
This painting was plotted
with an architectural computer program
Which is basically cheating
Unless Kate Shepherd is part computer herself
like her brain, or her hands

XI
There are eight distict panels
one, two, three, four,
five, six, seven, eight.
Eight panels.
Ah ha ha ha ha ha.

XII
Where would you even find
a piece of Plexiglass this big?
Maybe she had to special order it
or something

XIII
People stop to look at
the circle of hands
or the floor of army men
Nobody stops to look at the Black Floor
or the Yellow Walls
Kate Shepherd probably feels awful about this

Note: Since I still had a lot of time left, I wrote extras. Then, when I was done with that, I spent a good deal of time writing the lyrics to "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" from memory, which I have not included, since I'm sure you all know them already.


XIV
Reflected in the plexiglass
I see the ghost of another, better artwork
Why not just stick up a big mirror
and claim as your own the reflections?
Seems to me like a pretty easy way
to make money

XV
There is an awful lot of empty wall
around this painting
Is this a statement on how, ultimately,
we are born alone and we die alone?
Or an inefficient use of gallery space?

XVI
This painting is boring
More boring than "Group of Chairs,"
which itself is pretty boring.

XVII
If you stand on your head
the Black Floor becomes a Black Ceiling
The Walls are still Walls, though
Also since there is no floor you'd probably be
walking around on exposed pipes
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: obakehoshi
2006-12-02 03:16 am (UTC)
Oh, my. These made me giggle quite a bit. Thank you so much for sharing.

It reminds me of this one time I went to the National Art Museum when I was six years old. There was a traveling exhibit about collages. I distinctly remember walking around and looking at shadowboxes with pens, ink bottles, pieces of paper, and pencils glued to the back and thinking, "Wow. I am six years old and can replicate this exactly."
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[User Picture]From: autophanous
2006-12-02 03:20 am (UTC)
xv is fabulous.
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[User Picture]From: rubberbandiv
2006-12-02 03:21 am (UTC)
Hoorj 4 modern art! Or whatever name they're giving it now!
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From: crapjournal
2006-12-02 03:43 am (UTC)
Yeah, I really like XIV, though since it's such a great idea I wonder if it's been done already?
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[User Picture]From: nedroidcomics
2006-12-02 03:46 am (UTC)
I would not be surprised.
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From: themarinator
2006-12-02 10:28 pm (UTC)
There's actually a riddle-story about it, I think it was Indian... two great artists were comissioned, on pain of death, to decorate the walls of the Rajah's palace entryway in the most beautiful way possible in a year. One got one half of the hall and the other, the other half. The first artist spent the year traveling around India collecting the best patterns and fabrics, seeking out beautiful colors from other renowned artists, and then painstakingly composed a breathtaking mixture of color and pattern on his wall. The other artist was so afraid of the death sentence that he spent the whole year freaking out about how to make his wall beautiful enough, until he had nearly run out of time. What did his wife tell him to do the night before the deadline...?

... cover the whole wall with mirrors of course...

p.s. here from metaquotes
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[User Picture]From: angryogre
2006-12-02 04:09 am (UTC)
this is the best thing I've read all week
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[User Picture]From: zarahemla
2006-12-02 04:22 am (UTC)
Would be extra good with border drawings of dinosaurs. :D
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[User Picture]From: nedroidcomics
2006-12-02 04:25 am (UTC)
I actually did draw a dinosaur, looking at the painting in question.

It's like you read my mind!
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[User Picture]From: fozwalla
2006-12-02 04:53 am (UTC)
Here's hoping your classmates and/or professor find this funny ... instead of hostile and failing-grade-worthy.
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[User Picture]From: leighs
2006-12-02 05:18 am (UTC)
You know, it actually took me a long time to figure out how to efficiently use the library.
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[User Picture]From: nedroidcomics
2006-12-02 01:05 pm (UTC)
Trust me, there wasn't a single thing efficient about it.
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[User Picture]From: leighs
2006-12-02 05:35 pm (UTC)
That sucks. It sounds like that class is a waste of time.

All you really need to know to efficiently use the library is how to access their online article databases. It's better not to actually go to the library unless you have to pick up/return something there, in my opinion, or maybe if you just want to sit and do work.
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[User Picture]From: lots42
2006-12-03 02:45 am (UTC)
I used to ask 'Where are the Garfield books' in new libraries because I knew the good stuff (to me) would be near it. Now I know. 741.4 FOR THE WIN, BABY!

(Comic book graphic novels is what I usually quested for)
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[User Picture]From: firework_kid
2006-12-02 05:26 am (UTC)
XII is the best, man.
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[User Picture]From: cmzero
2006-12-02 08:07 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: tekende
2006-12-02 09:09 am (UTC)
This is the best thing ever. Seriously. I love it.
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[User Picture]From: nezumiko
2006-12-02 09:15 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: nedroidcomics
2006-12-02 01:07 pm (UTC)
Aw yeah, that's the one! Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: kateshort
2006-12-02 06:00 pm (UTC)
You had to write about that??? Holy crap. Makes the whole thing so, so much funnier. :)
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[User Picture]From: lots42
2006-12-03 02:46 am (UTC)
That image makes my brain hurt, even through the haze of my legal narcotics. (The only positive to migraines)
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[User Picture]From: manycolored
2006-12-02 02:21 pm (UTC)
As an instructional librarian, I apologize for your library instruction class. Personally, I think it's pathetic that intelligent, self-sufficient patrons have to suffer through that remedial crap along with those who have somehow made it to higher education without figuring out that books are arranged according to the little number on their spine, and can be looked up on that thingee over there called a com-pew-ter. Believe it or not, it's horribly, horribly common.

What that means is we don't have a chance to show you the really useful stuff like citation trailing and searching databases with all the little Boolean tricks that make you get what you're looking for in the first page of results.

On my behalf, please bonk on the head any classmates who appeared flummoxed by the idea going to the library and charging out a book. I am not supposed to do this for myself, and have been placed in a position where I interact with patrons only by phone and email, just to ensure that I can't go around bonking people.

Also, your poem deserves an even broader audience than LJ. I love it.
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[User Picture]From: lots42
2006-12-03 02:48 am (UTC)
How do I learn these tricks, please? I am always searching for new stuff to read, I can bust through a Sandman book in about half an hour.

(My favorite is Death)
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From: gisho
2006-12-03 02:56 am (UTC)
Citation trailing: basically, when you find one article you like, you look for other articles that use it as a reference and read them too.

Booolean tricks: well, there's a gazillion, and it depends on what you're looking for and whether you're getting too many or too few results. If you're getting too few, a good start though is to OR a few synonyms in parentheses and then AND them with the other terms.

(Here from metaquotes. Your poem is a hundred times better than the painting itself. I cannot appreciate any artwork I could replicate in twenty minutes with a house-painting brust or five with a good graphics editor.)

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[User Picture]From: manycolored
2006-12-03 11:29 pm (UTC)
Probably the best way is to go to the reference desk when things are quiet and tell them what you want to learn. You may have to convince them and nurse them through the shock that you already know the basics and want to know more. Most academic libraries also offer free quickie classes and have brochures and websites with instructions on various library skills.
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[User Picture]From: trueflight
2006-12-04 03:44 am (UTC)

Librarians = Awesome

My college library had a talk and tour at the beginning of term, which included not only useful information such as "this is how the databases work" and "don't be scared of the big rolling things in the basement," but also useful information such as "you can eat in here; you just can't spill" and "forget about being quiet. That's what the study rooms are for."

I love my library, tiny as it is.
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[User Picture]From: masanori
2006-12-02 03:04 pm (UTC)
I'm amazed you were able to write thirteen things about that. I could probably one come up with one, "It sucks."

Good work. I love them all.
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[User Picture]From: cmarie14
2006-12-02 03:47 pm (UTC)
I just popped over from metaquotes. Forget art, you should be a writer. You remind me of Bill Bryson, of Walk in the Woods fame.
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[User Picture]From: apey1013
2006-12-02 05:40 pm (UTC)
Got here from metaquotes. This is pretty great stuff. I think that you deserve an 'A' for funny.

Also, I love your note about the "Fresh Prince" lyrics. I used to try and write lyrics from memory in class, too. Mostly Dresden Dolls and Rocky Horror.
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[User Picture]From: lots42
2006-12-03 02:43 am (UTC)
I do not think there is anyone above the age of 25 and below 40 who cannot recite 'Fresh Price' lyrics from memory.

I've half expected Carlton to shotgun Will into paste since forever.
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[User Picture]From: krinndnz
2006-12-04 03:49 am (UTC)
Seconded.

Note: Since I still had a lot of time left, I wrote extras. Then, when I was done with that, I spent a good deal of time writing the lyrics to "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" from memory, which I have not included, since I'm sure you all know them already.

I think you should have written 12 poems and then Bel-Air'd your teacher with the thirteenth.
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[User Picture]From: drhastings
2006-12-02 06:54 pm (UTC)
That was the best piece of art criticism I ever read. I tittered.
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[User Picture]From: 20_phone_calls
2006-12-02 08:32 pm (UTC)
i wish that when i had to read and interpret thirteen ways of looking at blackboard in my english class that i could have read this instead.

i tried to pick a favorite stanza, but they're far too fabulous to pick just one. high five.
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[User Picture]From: baochan
2006-12-02 10:41 pm (UTC)
Oh my God. So amused.
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[User Picture]From: tekende
2006-12-02 10:50 pm (UTC)
You should write a book full of these. Just choose a bunch of paintings and write these poems for all of them. It'd be fantastic.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-12-02 10:53 pm (UTC)
This is artwork in itself. And it's not boring.

^___^;; Sooo amused.
~Larwick.
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[User Picture]From: lots42
2006-12-03 02:42 am (UTC)
Please let me turn the third to last one into an icon, I will so totally credit you.
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[User Picture]From: i_phoenix
2006-12-03 02:22 pm (UTC)
I adored III

It made me stop and nod and think that if I ever had a painting in a show, I might actually switch things around light that.

What is so important about the enamel indeed?
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[User Picture]From: zxaty
2006-12-03 06:27 pm (UTC)
XI was my favorite.

Pure brilliance.
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[User Picture]From: trueflight
2006-12-04 03:46 am (UTC)
I agree. I liked them all, but that one... I'm still laughing.

*adds to memories*
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[User Picture]From: drsprite
2006-12-04 02:50 pm (UTC)
very entertaining. and you're right, i do know those lyrics
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[User Picture]From: sashayaki
2006-12-04 03:03 pm (UTC)
XDD Here from Metaquotes. Oh, dear, this is beautiful...

I sent this to my dad, who's an artist and adjunct at a local college (and he despises modern art like this.) He said he'd have given you not only an A but a PhD for this. ;)
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[User Picture]From: smarterray
2006-12-04 10:27 pm (UTC)
i never liked wallace stevens' poetry
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[User Picture]From: evilsmoo
2006-12-31 08:46 pm (UTC)

borf

This is the LOL.
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-01-09 10:45 pm (UTC)

Thank you!

Thank you so much for this hilarious and somewhat ironic start to my day. It's brilliant!

Thanks again
FiKaLo
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[User Picture]From: ungor
2007-01-29 04:12 pm (UTC)

Grade?

I'm coming on this late, but very curious as to what grade this masterpiece earned. I mean, it was hilarious, but Fine Art People often don't have much of a sense of humor about such things.
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[User Picture]From: nedroidcomics
2007-01-29 05:22 pm (UTC)

Re: Grade?

You know, I really don't know. It was due on the last week of class, so I never actually got it back. I got an A- overall for the class, though, so it must not have been too bad.
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