On the value of your opinion

My work explores the relationship between postmodern discourse and daytime TV. With influences as diverse as Munch and Frida Kahlo, new synergies are distilled from both explicit and implicit narratives. Ever since I was a pre-adolescent I have been fascinated by the traditional understanding of meaning. What starts out as hope soon becomes finessed into a manifesto of defeat, leaving only a sense of unreality and the inevitability of a new order. As wavering phenomena become frozen through frantic and undefined practice, the viewer is left with a statement of the darkness of our condition.

I’m an avid videogamer and an avid hobbyist ‘artist’. I like to express myself creatively and follow many pursuits to do this – writing, photography, occasionally picking up a paint brush. I don’t do any of them (except perhaps writing) at a professional level – but that doesn’t detract from their creative worth to me, and to anyone who views my work and gets something from it.

The dictionary definition of art is ‘The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination’.  You find a medium that speaks to you – something that stirs your soul and fires your passions, and you use it to express yourself – you mold your chosen medium, you bend it to your will and infuse it with your own message. You look at things other people have made, and you see their message – that little part of themselves that they’ve imprinted therein, and you see what fuels them. You see something you can relate to. You interpret it in your own unique way. Monet paints water lilies, his eyesight fading, a struggle to recreate what his eyes are failing to show him. I see a sad, desperate refusal to acknowledge that the painter is losing his sight; you see a peaceful, serene pond of lilies. Neither interpretation is incorrect. The power of an artist is to inspire emotions in others – to produce something that the public as a whole can relate to, can see or read or feel and take something away with them that lingers. The best kind of art is that which speaks for itself; which needs no explanation, no reason to exist. If you feel that you have to explain your work, if people look at what you’ve done and don’t understand, then you’ve created something that only has artistic integrity to yourself. If you’ve created something that others can clearly relate to and appreciate and yet you still feel the need to explain in great detail what you tried to accomplish, then you are either severely under-confident, or severely arrogant.

Conveying what techniques you used, where appropriate – your canvas, your pencil, your graphics card, your game engine – is enough. You need not regale upon us the subtle nuances of your own creative process unless it is presented clearly as your own interpretation. To tell the viewer what they are seeing in your work is both pretentious and patronising. You are devaluing your viewer’s opinion, dismissing their ability to form their own responses and assuming that your work is far too complex for the average person to be able to interpret without your assistance. You are not an artist – you are a charlatan. If you feel that your work needs a sizable paragraph of verbose, flowery prose to prop it up lest it fall over from the weight of its own vapidity, perhaps you are over-estimating the value of your work to begin with. If you feel that your work needs a detailed explanation of the nuances of its creative process and artistic message, then you are dismissing your audience as uncouth troglodytes, the “meek and easily bored” * ,  incapable of forming their own interpretations of your work without your masterful input, and that’s just plain obnoxious.

Don’t force your audience’s reaction. I assure you we’re quite capable of forming our own opinions and if your work is good enough to stand on its own without explanation or description, your audience will get something from it. There is nary a modest bone in your body if you guide your audience to your work and say ‘hey, let me explain to you what you’re seeing here’. I don’t like feeling that my opinion is of no worth when it is, in fact, of equal worth as anyone else’s.

http://www.ludographer.com/ – you take good videogame screenies. It’s a valid form of artistic expression and one I often employ myself. But your pompous presentation does a huge disservice to the community you’re representing here – some of us may be artists, but if we’re looking at your work, we’re probably gamers too. We don’t want to be made to feel that we’re unworthy of interpreting your message without a forceful guiding hand, and frankly, that’s a bit condescending of you. See http://deadendthrills.com – gorgeous videogame screenshots, posted as-is without any photo-manipulation – and the only supporting text is technical specs and mod lists. The art speaks for itself. We take our own interpretations and opinions from the images and DET is fine with that. You don’t need those horribly bombastic vessels of pomp and circumstance with each screenshot you post. You don’t need to impress upon us the merits of your artistic integrity by proving your technical grasp of photographic composition. All you need to do is present screenshots that provoke a reaction in the viewers. Viewers who are all, of course, completely capable of forming their own unique views. If your art is good enough, it will elicit emotional responses on its own without any padding you feel necessary to add. If it’s not good enough, then you’re just making fools of yourselves.

(I do like your screenshots, by the way, Ludogrpaher. But in my meek and easily bored opinion, your presentation stinks.)

* – actual quote from the Ludographer website – http://www.ludographer.com/about/ – “an image is an irony that not only speaks a thousand words, but will also (much to the dread of the meek and the easily bored) offers the chance for a thousand words to be spoken”

P.S. The bullshit accompanying the screenshot at the top of the post is from http://www.artybollocks.com . 🙂

  • leebee

    Although I agree that Art should speak for itself, and that everyone should be able to form their own opinions of what the artist is trying to portray and draw their own conclusions, I also think that sometimes, in order to fully understand a piece, it can help to have the work explained.

    • Yeah… you need to go to the site and read their descriptions. And read their ‘about’ page. ;p