Katie’s question about whether the wire versions of human frames or the actual people looking at them better represent the human form intrigues me. For a quite other form of art that approaches this problem, check out the recent video of students’ reactions to Wash. U.’s ranking as number four university in “Quality of Life.” The concept of the videocamera has pretty much made everybody, following Baudrillard‘s exaggeration of Jameson‘s “image world,” representations of themselves. Sincerity dies.
Does art, like Katie’s wire people, do the same thing? Might it have this kind of deleterious function, causing people to wear makeup and work out and keep their elbows off the table and, more harmfully, to project an insincere image of themselves, so that they can be like Michelangelo’s David or (if they’re weird) Matisse’s dancers?
Certainly, all our actions are planned and projected. Ok. But maybe certain art makes us too aware of that projection. We begin to have to represent the representation of ourselves—to project our projection. Does art make us deleteriously more conscious and remove us another step from whatever internal truth we’ve got??
Secondly, Katie is wrong about art being art as long as it works for somebody.
I think this bulletin board is artful. Full of bright colors juxtaposed with wood grain and stone, full of the symmetry of randomness, bottom heavy and tossed by the wind. And certainly there’s art that is random, that uses chance and more or less forgets the artist (e.g. the current Kemper art exhibit) but it is still declared by an artist as art. The definition of art (I propose) is that more than one person thinks it is artful. Art is a social contract. (My favorite kind is the (not-)art that only I appreciate—that’s kind of what I meant last year in a sort of controversial article when I said that maybe some stuff in nature is more beautiful than “art.”)
A few more notes concern mainly how typeface can make or break (mostly break) a design concept.
The juxtaposition of the archaic-looking gargoyles and trim with the really precisely cut and almost kitschy “DUNCKER HALL” type (in perhaps the Comic Sans of ALL CAPS classic-ish fonts) is another articulation (this time in inanimate objects) of the simulcra of which our world has begun to be composed. The thing almost pulls off its imitation of “old” and “historied,” but the tiny serifs on the ends of its “R” and “L”s betray its inauthenticity.
And, this banner sucks. It’s mostly the type. It gets the job done (i.e. you can read it), but in my opinion when as a designer you have a full color 25-foot long canvas to work with, you not only make a cool cut-out of a football player, but you take more than 60 seconds to choose the font that you use. I’m not good enough to know the name of that font, but I’m good enough to know that it’s goofy as hell—i.e. it’s bankrupt, converted by overuse into an image of itself, another function of Jameson’s image world, Baudrillard’s hyperreality.
It’s our duty as designers to find a font that is new and cool and does not succumb to self-representation. It’s our duty to, metaphorically and literally, avoid Comic Sans. (Remember how Cato declared at the end of every speech, “Carthage must be destroyed”? Maybe this should be my eternal battle call. “Comic Sans delenda est!”)
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