I caught sight of something on Digg today that brought me back in time to college and all the bullshit that so called artists come up with. Looking through the stories this morning I happened to see a story on what information is really in a barcode. I’m not all that interested in barcodes, I know the basics of their design, so I skipped over it. That is, until I saw what website it was directing people to. It was barcodeart.com. That site is owned by Scott Blake.
I went to school with Scott. He was in several of my classes. He is a tool.
Technically, there’s nothing “wrong” with Scott. His only problem is that he jumped into the world of conceptual art with both feet and is drowning in his own bullshit. You see, people who can’t make real art (purest would call this retinal art, aka: art you can see – painting, photograph, sculpture, etc) often make up reasons why their conceptual art is actual art AND reasons why you don’t get it. Most of the time these people believe that the “art is the process” by which they created their crap. Marcel Duchamp would be a perfect example of this. For those of you who didn’t take Modern Art History 101, Duchamp is world famous for taking a common urinal, putting it upside down on a pedestal and declaring it art. The idea and the subsequent movement were based apon ideas of absurdity and anti-art. The concept was that something was “art” because the “artist” declared it so and that anything could potentially be art. It was a conceptual evolution of the idea that “beauty (and art) is in the eye of the beholder”.
It’s also complete BS. Alas, my opinion on the matter is not the prevailing one of academia. Art professors creamed their pants over things like this and continue to do so to this day. I like to call this shit out when I see it.
Scott fits perfectly into this category. His “art” takes a basic element and a basic concept of how to execute that element and stops there. The “meaning” behind pieces of art like this are justified only by the artist themselves. “I have created this, and thus it must be art”. Scott takes it one step further, removing the process almost entirely, except for some cheap inkjet prints. You can see this in action if you watch one of the interviews he’s done, as posted on his own website (press – tv and radio – tech tv interview). In it, there are quite a few statements that will let you into the mind of someone who simply doesn’t get art.
“Elvis, I feel like I know him, I read about him in the papers. But what do I really know of him? I know his music. And what is his music? His music is just a bunch of binary data encoded onto a CD.”
That’s right Scott, that’s what Elvis was thinking when he recorded music. That one day his art would be nothing to you but binary data. I’m sure he wasn’t concerned about making anything SOUND GOOD! If that’s what you think about “musical art”, I’ve got a nice CD full of very artistic white noise for you to buy.
“I like all my portraits to be standardized, so that they all look the same.”
Announcer – “It took Blake 6 months to automate Photoshop down to one button. A portrait that once took him four days, now takes him just four minutes.”
I’ll repeat that for those of you who didn’t catch it. He created a Photoshop action… wait for it… to do his art for him. That’s right, his painstakingly created art involves running a script and hitting print. Way to go Scott. You’ve rocked the art world.
Actually, I shouldn’t be so hard on Scott, I’m actually very jealous of his amazing skills. I wanted to be just like him so badly that I went online and found “Easy Mosaic Maker” for $19.99. Now I can be awesome, just like him. But shhhhh, don’t tell anyone, I think I’m actually better than him. My “art” program can do things in color, and he just does things in black and white. I rule!
Seriously though, my main problem with this tool box was always his attitude. In every class I had with him he’d either complete an assignment late, not at all, or completely incorrectly and then use his “artistic license” to explain it away. He was at SCAD on a portfolio scholarship and apparently that meant his shit didn’t stink. As a final project in Modern Art and the Web, he created a cardboard box with a TV in it. On the TV was a video loop of the person in the box. You hit a button and the screen went blank. That was it. According to Scott you were “killing your own self image” in some sort of act of bohemian suicide. I called it TURNING OFF THE FUCKING TV.
I called him out on it several times but unfortunately for every great conceptual artist, there are at least a dozen people trying to suck their wang to appear hip and artsy. Retarded art lesbians who moisten their loins over anything anti-establishment or purple headed multipierced hippies who think anyone who disagrees with them is either stupid or “the man”.
The end result is that people like Scott do these singular art project and then fade into obscurity as the fade dies out. Then, 20 years from now, when they’ve worked their way to “Head Barista” at the local coffee hole, we get to hear all about how no one “gets” their art any more and it’s the world that’s changed and that no one appreciates good art anymore. It’s not that we don’t appreciate good art Scott, it’s that you never made any. Now hurry the fuck up with my double Macchiato.
This reminds me a lot of that New Media Art class we took with that red headed british lady. I hated that class.
You’re very welcome. Welcome to my site. It might not be quite as famous as your’s, but it keeps me warm at night. Feel free to respond, I don’t censor the comments here. I spoke honestly about my thoughts on your art. You’re more than welcome to try and explain your art and your method.
You sound very bitter! I’m sorry that whatever school you went to didn’t work for you, but to shit on a whole movement of art while boosting your own ego sounds a bit bitter. Maybe if you were really nice to Scott he would give you some tips. By the way, have you told him your feelings, or are you just posting irrelevant insults.
Some things have no ‘product’, they are not for your understanding, and are just to be experienced. They give you something more than an end result, but also require you as a viewer to participate. This is a sad result of the TV mentality, where you are being told what to think, and how to understand. Far easier to be manipulated by the media, and whoever controls it.
But here we are.
You maybe a very bright person, but I doubt that your ‘art’ (although, I tend to think this is a business project on you part) has any substance. I would be looking at a thing called alienation if I were you, you seem to be alienated from people and things around you – it might be therapy as well as art.
I wish you all the best of luck, and hope you get all you deserve.
Oh good, Scotty’s friends have come out to play.
First off, bitter? Nah, most people consider me to be angry, sarcastic and witty. Never bitter.
The school that DID in fact work out for me is the same prestigious institute where our good friend Scott matriculated, so I’d be careful what you said about SCAD.
As far as working out is concerned, I work professionally in the field in which I received my degree. Not to many people can say that. I’d say it’s working out just fine.
Maybe if I was nicer to Scott you’d never have found this website, so… maybe it’s for the best that I’m not. How else would we be having this lovely conversation?
As for the irrelevant insults, this is what my page is all about baby. You’ve stumbled across my personal sounding board. I write things here to get them off my chest. 99% of my posts are in fact nothing but irrelevant insults. Some times I rail on a movie that sucked. Some times I’m complaining about corporate culture (which you and I seem to share similar opinions on). Yesterday it happened to be about art that I don’t particularly enjoy. Welcome to the internet.
I’m fully versed in things that have no product and are all about the experience thank you very much. I just don’t happen to agree that this is one of those things. I’ve been to many modern art exhibits, I’ve seen some pretty out there stuff. I personally believe that Scott has attempted to make people think there is something more to his art than little black and white lines printed on paper. There is no “experience” outside of the visual. It doesn’t sing, dance, express emotion, tell me anything or make me feel any certain way. By definition, if I’m having an “experience”, I should feel something. Barcodes don’t make me “feel” anything.
As for TV mentality, you and I are on the same page. I would extend the definition to include products, music, movies, clothes and all sorts of other corporate trendy things. I’m not “told” to do anything by any corporate master. Neither do I believe that art should simply be “pretty”. Art should be an expression of the artists feelings and emotions, captured in a medium that best describes it and enhances it. What expression is Scott trying to convey with barcode mosaics? That he’s finally mastered Photoshop? Sorry, I need something more.
I am a bright person, thank you for realizing that.
My “art” has nothing to do with any business project, or even this website if that is in fact what you were inferring. My art is photography. I take pictures for a living. My work that I do 9-5, M-F pays the bills so that I can relax and take pictures for personal satisfaction on the weekends. I make a living, use my talents, and I’m quite proud of my work. So, I wouldn’t go “doubting that my art has any substance” unless you’ve personally seen it. That, makes you as self righteous as I am. The difference is that I know I’m a jerk.
As for alienation, I’m more surrounded by people I love and care about than at any other time in my life. I’m not alienated from anything, especially my opinions.
I’m an opinionated SOB, I won’t lie to you. I created this website to rant and rave, and have done so effectively for going on 5 years now. I’m old school hatin’ baby! I used to fill up countless Moleskine notebooks with doodles and rants. Now I do that here.
That only thing I did was dump on art I didn’t like. That’s something that fellow artists have been doing to each other since the dawn of time. Modernists hated Impressionists, Surrealists hated the Modernists, Post-Modernists hated Pop-Art and so on until the end of time.
I’ve told you my opinions, now I’d like to hear yours. WHY do YOU like barcode art? Why? I want to know why you are moved on a deep personal level. What does it do to your artistic soul? That’s the one thing I’ve yet to hear. If you can tell me why you like it, then you have validated it as art. If you can’t, well, maybe it’s just little black and white lines on paper.
I think I remember you from Celina Jeffery’s New Media class. Did you make the video montage with movie clips from Top Gun, Brave Heart, and Armageddon? If not, what did you turn in for the final project?
My TV box was a bit absurd. I asked people to “shoot” themselves in the head with toy gun while the live video monitor recorded their face. The trigger was wired to a flash bulb and simple bang sound effect. Most people did something I wasn’t expecting, they aimed the gun at TV and shot themselves on screen, like Duck Hunt.
I like what you wrote in your blog about me (because it is about me). I even put a link at the top of my website and also in my publications section next to the New York Times article, ABC World New Tonight video, and FHM Magazine.
Scott, I love it, that’s fantastic. I’m glad you’re taking my little rant appropriately. I should be taken with a grain of salt and in very small doses. I’ve taken out the part about you being a fuck head seeing as how you’re being a very good sport.
I was in that New Media class, but alas I wasn’t the one to make that video montage. I don’t rightly remember what I turned in as a final project. It was absurd as well, that I can promise you. I wasn’t very impressed with that class and tried to put very little effort towards it. Jason, any clue what I did in that class?
Again, thanks for being a good sport. It’s not often someone I make fun of actually stops by and says hi. Now, if only we could get Tom Cruise, Rosie and the President in here, we’d really have some fun.
I’m still curious though… what, beyond the visual, do you hope your pieces convey? I’d love to hear it from the artist himself. I’m not saying I’ll like it, some things simply aren’t my cup of tea, but I’m curious none the less.
*Article edited to reflect comments*
Oh, and completely and totally as a side note, I do in fact like your beer koozie. I have a coffee mug along the same lines.
The only thing I remember about that class is that I probably shouldn’t have taken it. Not really my thing; it was just what I thought was a good way of getting out of taking 20th century. Lectures by bad powerpoint and artist like Chris Burden (I’m not sure that’s the right spelling) just well..aren’t my thing. As far as your project…..ummmm….nope I don’t remember. I just remember both of us turning in a project that was completely not in line with the project specifications and I felt dumb.
Chris Burden, the guy that had his friend shoot him? Yeah, not my thing either. His most recent work involves making photogravures of old Erector set blueprints. While I’m not big on recycling other people work, he did actually build one or two giant Erector set bridges of his own, which are kind of interesting.
lol. Wasn’t that the class where I spent the majority of the time hacking the computer labs weak ass copy of Novell for Windows? Gotta love how they locked everything down except for the command prompt. Ha!
I know its late but I’ve just got here.
What kind of photography do you do? Im intrigued by the fact that you call your photography art – or is it “art” ? There are those (aka me) who might argue that photgraphy is not ‘real’ art…Yeah you’re choosing what to shoot but the camera does all the work, and the result is merely an exact record of something that already exists, its a reproduction. A photograph is only “art” and not documentary if the artist intends or ‘declares’ it to be so.
There are others (also me) who might argue that art is anything that presents the world in an interesting and unique way, in which case a photograph may be art, but so may Blake’s digital barcode thingees…
Yes, I know Im very boring and objective, but someone’s gotta be.
Anyway, you’ve got me hooked with your ranting and raving, Im gonna go check out your other posts.
And by the way, I stubled across this site because I was researching for an artwork Im working on…….Im using barcodes….
You bring up some good questions.
My photography? Professionally I do everything from commercial products to portraits to weddings to graphic design. In my personal time I prefer landscapes (urban or natural) and a bit of off-beat portraiture (think CD cover kinda stuff).
First, I don’t consider my professional work art, I consider it artistic. I believe the two aren’t mutually exclusive. I’ll give an example. The design of a cereal box. A graphic designer chose the colors, the layout, the fonts, probably designed the characters on it, etc. I doubt they would consider it art. However, that designer used their artistic skill in designing it. Thus I would consider it artistic, but not art.
So, to answer your first question, no, my professional work is not art. It is however, very artistic.
As for whether photography (for example, my personal work) can be considered art in the finer sense, I believe it is. That is a debate that has raged since the invention of the camera. If someone takes a picture it doesn’t make it art simply because it came from a camera. There are choices involved. What to shoot, what angle to shoot at, what subject to focus on, etc. Then, a whole second set of more technical choices: what lens to use, what format to shoot, what film if you’re shooting film, what paper to print on, etc. Yes, we are choosing what to shoot, but the camera is hardly doing all the work. Nor is the result merely an exact record of the world in front of the lens. What you and I see through our eyes is hardly ever comparable to the real world. The Grand Canyon would be a perfect example of this. If you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon, you know that taking a picture of it hardly captures its grandure. However, with artistic knowledge and a soulful understanding of the elements of light, angles, etc, you can offer viewers of your photo a glimpse into the world you saw when you took the picture. Ansel Adams, although a bit cliché these days, was great at this. Technically, he was taking pictures of rocks and trees. But artistically, he was capturing grand vistas with such power and awe that the world is thrown into perspective through his lens. He captured the beauty of nature and is definitely a grand master of art.
Photographs are not a replacement for reality. They’re simply another medium, like paint or clay, to show and express a scene, an emotion, thought, or whatever the artist intends. There are certainly photographs that are documentary and there are certainly photographs that are emotional. It really becomes an “eye of the beholder” argument at that point.
Personally, and this is just my opinion, I believe that art is created by the combination of craft, process, artistic vision and purpose. Sometimes one or more of those things are lacking, but generally, I find art that I enjoy has those qualities. Someone thought about what they were doing or were inspired by something, selected a method to accomplish the goals of realizing that thought/inspiration, was an active participant in said method, and shares the final product with purpose and reason. That could be as simple as: A painter has an idea. Picks up his paints. Paints his idea. Shows the world.
When one or more of those elements are missing completely is when I begin to question the artistic nature of a piece. For example, I could hit print screen right now and print this entire page. If I exhibited that, I would be showing art that I feel has a lack of method. If I built a small house out of popsicle sticks, poorly, and exhibited that, I would consider that a lack of craft. If I walked out to the dumpster down the street and picked up the first thing I saw, and exhibited that, I would consider that a lack of vision. You can probably see where I stand on this.
I don’t need things to simply be “pretty”. I don’t need things to be deep and intellectual. I don’t even need things to make sense. I do ENJOY a healthy combination of those or similar elements in art. What I like to see is the EFFORT put forth by an artist. I may or may not like a piece in particular, but if I can see the effort that went into something, I can respect it as art regardless of my personal feelings towards it. This was one of my main arguments when we’re talking about Scott’s art. I couldn’t see the effort is having a photoshop action layout an entire piece. I also can’t see the effort in making a 9/11 flipbook, but we’ll save that for another time.
There in lies the debate. I can debate all day what I personally consider art. You can, likewise, equally justify your thoughts on art. We’re both right. Art is something that people can have opinions on, like, dislike, etc. It is completely and totally impossible to quantify art as a thing without debating personal taste. It is. Something is not art because it’s art. Something is art because you or I think it is art. People far more interesting than me have tried to explain what art is, on it’s own, and failed horribly. Artists have debated for centuries. The truth is is that no one can define it, we simply know good or bad when we see it. In the end, it comes full circle back to personal opinion.
Thank you for stopping by. If you’re interested in more “ranting and raving”, just pull up the category view under “aggravation”, I’m sure there’s a few gems in there. Or ask Nagle, I’m sure he has a few favorites.
Best of luck with your art. I hope it has both aesthetic quality and artistic purpose.
Wow, you’re really good at debating.