“The Art World is the most phony, elitist clique of circle jerking pretentious twats there is”

RND/ to consider ‘The Art World’™ – via a tweet, Martin Creed’s “Work No. 227: The lights going on and off” [1] along with a paraphrased transcript of Brian Eno’s ironic 1995 Turner Prize [2] speech:

“”The Art World is the most phony, elitist clique of circle jerking pretentious twats there is”

Good evening. You’ll have to forgive me, I’ve got a technical problem with my voice. I hope you can hear me.

The Turner Prize is justly celebrated for raising all sorts of questions in the public mind about art, and its place in our public life. Unfortunately however, the intellectual climate surrounding the fine arts tends to so vaporous and self satisfied, that few of these questions are ever actually addressed, let alone answered.

Why is it that all of us here – presumably members of the arts community – probably know more about the currents of thought in contemporary science, than those in contemporary art? Why have the sciences yielded great explainers like Richard Dawkins and Stephen Gould, while the arts routinely produce some of the worst writing known to history?

Why has the contemporary art world been unable to articulate any kind of useable paradigm for what it’s doing now? I mean since Sir Kenneth Clark, what have we had?

I’m not saying that artists should explain their work, or that writers exist to explain it for them, but there could and should be a comprehensible public discussion about what art does for us, what is being learned from it, what it might enable us to do, or think or feel that we couldn’t before.

Most of the public scepticism of the arts is really an attempt to ask exactly those questions, and, instead of just priding ourselves on creating controversy by raising them, trying to answer a few might not be such a bad idea.

The sciences have risen to this challenge, and the book sales that those authors surely enjoy indicate a surprising public appetite for complex issues, the result of which has been a broadening social dialogue about the power and beauty and limits of science.

There’s been almost no equivalent in the arts. The making of new culture, which we do so well in England, is just about our only growth industry – aside from heritage, cream teas and land mines – but the lack of a clear connection between all that creative activity, and the mental life of the rest of society leaves the whole project poorly understood, poorly supported and poorly exploited. (In fact there was a cut for the Arts Council in the budget today I gather.)

But if we’re going to expect people to help fund the arts, whether through taxation or lotteries, then surely we owe them some attempt at an explanation of what value we think it might be for them. If I ever get a couple of minutes, I’ll have a go at doing that. [3]

And now I’m very pleased to announce the winner of the 1995 Turner Prize – no, you only get two minutes here, that’s the rule – I know they were still debating this [one assumes the winner of the prize, not the public value of art – Rob] late this afternoon – and the winner is.. that staggeringly talentless shit-shaman [4] Damien Hurst

Robert What on the concept of worth as it relates to ideas

Success is when the checks don’t bounce
– Ultra creepy pop ratist Andy Warhol

To consider the very concept of the ‘worth of ideas’ as philosophically dubious – based upon the false assumption that attaching price tags to everything is a good-thing for hairless, potentially intelligent and partially evolved space apes living on a large anonymous rock hurtling through the infinite biocosmic void.

Who the fuck wants to consider themselves ‘content creators’ – dim machines casually spewing and grinding out styrofoam packing peanuts?

Rather, all good ‘Researchers’ help deconstruct pithy intellectually stimulating, oddly humerus one off think pieces – bespoke thought experiments with dark clean edges that refresh the neural palate.

A Scenario: in which you – once again, simply for Something To Do – pretend to pretend you’re another Freelance Amateur Postmodern Internet Theorist regularly asked by imaginary friends and concerned strangers “How do you intend to earn enough to live from such.. content – what’s your Business Model?”

As self styled ‘ideas people’ who play with/in fuzzy notions, conceptual approximations and shifting fields of distributed artistic possibility, it’s often extremely challenge to define one’s role – what one is apparently selling.

When the easy-to-read sticky label of “Philosopher” seems too vague, and “Artist” far too idealistic – even “Cultural Critic” a little too predictable.

The default question imposed by society – “What do you do?” needs strict, clear definition – otherwise anyone could start being anything – or even consider question or even reject socioculturally defined role playing concepts like ‘identity’ or ‘job’ (wow, imagine that!)

In which you’ve already considered setting up an account for donations for your crappy anonymous site – but Paypal sucks, and large ugly yellow donate buttons often merely signal more effort ahead than is currently worth summoning.

You’re also still unconvinced about idea of patronage and crowd funding, since both are based on misunderstanding true interrelationships between people; that ideas do not belong to anybody, but are more neural lightning flashes in a distributed cloud matrix or noosphere.

Current models and cultural myths like ‘pay what you want’ or ‘pay what you can’, even ‘pay what you would like to be paid’ all share the same ideology – that of business; of willingly being embedded in a system of exchange which always non freely offers the very idea of ‘exchange or ‘worth’ as entirely natural™.

Yet there’s little that’s natural about ‘getting paid’ what you’re regularly told you think you want – money’ is often never as important as what’s often truly needed – understanding, help, simple human(e) compassion.

Even the loose talk of ‘giving credit where it’s due’ is often merely another strict cultural command – the subtle blackmailer’s threat to hand over one’s moral wallet in apparent free exchange for reciprocal public reaping of perceived reputational profits [insert link to Cory Doctorow’s site.]

Only fluid societal processes mistakenly defined as quantifiable things are ever ‘worth anything’. Yet as ever – at least so far there are still bills to pay – raw materials happily purchased from reputable vendors of quality wholesale goods at competitive market driven prices – within the digital economy of information.

Based on what some can afford, prices for all virtual conceptual art experiences on this site range from free to 60M ONO (all-in)

Queue intellectual non-copyright notice:

Perception of monetary value / human values of perception – the whole mere notion of ‘intellectual copyright’ seems an ugly joke too often perpetrated by the greedy and violently egotistical. (Ironically, it also indicates one has not ‘thought it through’ intellectualized enough.)

In which ideas and concepts seen at robertwhat.com automatically release / escape into the ‘libre public domain by default’, aka “No Copyright – No Licence – Maximum R&D.”

As a fellow artist or ‘Researcher’, do not wait for Robert what to tell you how to use any and all immaterials seen, sensed or conceptually imagined on this site.

No one person ‘invents’ anything; ideas and concepts do not spring fully complete from anyone’s forehead like Athena from Zeus, but rather seem inherently fuzzy and contested spaces – shared and distributed sociocultural practices.

Perhaps it’s not for artists to say if they automatically ‘deserve’ money or recognition from or via artistic ideas.

Feeling righteously defensive about one’s arbitrary thought-spew is aggressive and itself feels largely non artistic. Having said that of course, it would sure feel real nice to move into a proper house instead of living in this lousy, cold rented flat with thin walls and leaking radiators.

Talk of ‘getting one’s fair share’, talk of ‘credit where credit is due’ also often feels simply rude. Let us not reduce co-creative human endeavour to paltry commercial opportunity / complicity.

Ideas and concepts which might enhance lives, or help people’s viewworld in positive, alternative ways ‘belong’ to nobody but everyone.

It’s in this open spirit of art sharing and cooperation that this site, and everything here at robertwhat.com exists.

Play well! Signed, Freelance Internet Theorist Robert What

Example Reference Links

  1. Tate UK: Lights On and Off
  2. Stuckism: The Real Turner
  3. Hyperreal: Brian Eno interview
  4. Why Postmodern Art Is So Bad (With Sad Aesthetic-Relativist Background Drowning Music)
  5. Calculating The Hyperreal Financial Concept of “Worth”

// how to play big science

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