Archive for November, 2011

Making the old new again.

Monday, November 21st, 2011

In one of the early episodes of Mad Men I watched, in horror, as Don Draper tossed all the rubbish from a family picnic into the surrounding countryside.

Betty and the children looked on but no one said a word.

Then I realised that this was the 1960s and littering hadn’t gained the social sigma that it has now.

This was way before Keep Australia Beautiful, Bin It and Do The Right Thing campaigns. Or whatever were the US equivalents.

Most old farts my age wouldn’t dream of leaving their Fanta bottles in the park or dropping a Four’N Twenty meat pie bag on the street.

It’s the same with the X-Gens, Y-Gens and Generation Text. They were either influenced by the earlier anti litter campaigns or have been brainwashed by their peers or parents.

So why is there so much crap in my local park?

I wonder if there is a new generation, one that never got the message. This generation comes from all walks of life and is made up of all ages and genders. But there is one thing they have in common and that is they have never been influenced by the early anti litter campaigns.

Why? Because they weren’t here when the campaigns ran.

There is an entire generation of immigrant Australians who just don’t know that it’s a social no-no to leave your Subway wrapper, Domino’s Pizza box or Red Bull can on the street.

I don’t blame them, just as I didn’t blame Don Draper, they just don’t know any better.

I think it’s about time to recycle some of our old anti litter ads again.

What is art?

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

MONA is a relatively new private art gallery and museum in Hobart, Tasmania.

Created by David Walsh who made his fortune from gambling.

Wikipedia describes him as: “A university drop-out and autodidact with mathematical skills. Walsh made his fortune by developing a technical gambling system used to bet on horse racing and other sports globally”.

However he would prefer you to read this piece from the gallery website:

“The locals have started calling him ‘Dave’ (‘Hey, that’s Dave Walsh. Dave! Oi, Dave!’) but in fact his mother named him Glenn. Then she found God and changed it to David. It is estimated that at least one woman has been turned off dating David when she found out his real name was Glenn. As a result (of ambivalent relationships with women? of his changing name? of God?) he decided to build a museum”.

MONA is an eclectic collection of old and new art; hence the name is an acronym for the Museum of Old and New Art.

Neolithic flints and Egyptian mummies are mixed with confronting video installations and puzzling art in all mediums. There is even a poo-generating machine titled ‘Cloaca Professional’ by Wim Delvoye, (Born 1965, Wervik, Belgium; lives and works in Ghent, Belgium).

What is almost as intriguing as the art is the use of computer technology.

Every visitor receives an iPod on entry; this is your gallery guide. There are no descriptions on the art work, so if you are interested in a piece you read about it, or listen to it, on the iPod.

This description gives you the usual stuff, like who did it and when but it also has other sections, like interview with the artists and a section called Art Wank. This is what you would normally read on a traditional gallery wall. Some also had Gonzo, a section, usually written by David Walsh that gives less intellectual and more introspective thoughts and comments on what you are viewing.

You can also cast your opinion on what you see as you travel through the exhibition. Rumor has it that David Walsh will remove any exhibit that becomes too popular.

There are things there that you just look at. I guess that’s the museum side and then there are a lot of other pieces that make you stop, scratch your head and think.

There is even a public toilet that literally let’s you see what you are doing.

But is that art? Certainly Wim Delvoye, (Born 1965, Wervik, Belgium; lives and works in Ghent, Belgium) thinks it is.


Symmetry and asymmetry.

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Winston Churchill had lopsided features, which may be a link to why he was such a successful leader of Britain during WW2.

Psychologists have discovered that people with asymmetrical features make the most effective leaders.

I wonder if the same theory might be applied to art in its historical context?

Throughout history the arts have lurched between the Classical and Romantic, or symmetry and asymmetry.

The most well known period was the Renaissance, a time of classical beauty and symmetry. This was then followed by the Baroque, a period of disturbance, mayhem and asymmetry.

This is best seen in Michelangelo’s two great works in the Sistine Chapel, Rome. The ceiling is calm and ordered, in the High Renaissance style, while the Last Judgment, in the Mannerist style, was much more chaotic. This was the pre curser to the Baroque period, where art and sculpture displayed more exuberance and exaggerated motion.

Advertising has also followed the same swings. In the 60s there was the Helmet Krone inspired VW campaign and in the 70s and 80s we had the classic British print campaigns like Sainsburys, Commercial Union and Stella Artois.

Then came the dark days of the mid 90s. This brought the off the wall and totally asymmetrical work out of Holland like the Hans Brinker Hotel work from KesselsKramer, Amsterdam. The advertising was so unusual that they even published a book titled; “The Worst Hotel in the World”

I wonder if, when times are tough, we don’t need the off the wall, asymmetric approach to selling?

After all there has never been a more confusing market place than now.

The stock market lurches between Bear and Bull and the politics waver between The Tea party and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The WWW has opened up the Pandora’s box, that’s new media, and know one knows where that will lead us.

Or perhaps we just need some talented creative directors with lopsided features?