Tuesday, August 10, 2010

art as game show

Time magazine this week describes a survivor type game show called "Work of Art" on Bravo in which contestants create art with one contestant being eliminated each week. A panel of curators judges the work and the winner gets $100,000 and an exhibit at the Brooklyn Art Museum. I guess it points out what art has become in today's culture. In Bali, it was said "We have no art... we do everything as well as we can." In the American culture, we have art because we have so little done with care and human attention, and even that has become pretentious.

Needless to say, it is a controversial series which no doubt makes the advertisers lots of money. After all, as one important critic observed, "It's art if the artist says its art." By the same logic, it is great TV if people watch it.

One critic scoffed, "Vacant television piddle."

In a world where art is often about the complexity of the idea behind it, the challenges on the program have taken heat for being too simplistic.
But what can one reasonably expect on TV? I am curious if the next reality series will involve skilled craftsmanship of the kind that one earns through years of workmanship and caring attention. It says something of the vacancy of art that it can be produced each week on cue and end up in the Brooklyn Art Museum.

Today, not to make any claims of art, I have fixed the leaking toilet, replaced fluorescent light bulbs in the shop, and begun installing magnetic catches in my small spice cabinets as shown in the photo above.


  1. They can't make a game show out of fine woodworking because the process simply takes too long, Requires too much space and tools that cannot be plugged in the commercials for mass markets.

    Other than PBS how could television ever document the full process of a fine cabinet or chair maker when in reality it stretches over years. Are people really going to watch how to make cabinet scrapers out of old saws on anything but Youtube?

    Explaining why they scrap wood box is one of your most valuable resources will never equal the joy of fishing just the right piece out of said box that you put in two years ago.

    You can see the difference between old growth, pre-colonial, timber with tight grains but understanding how it's stability and strength make some otherwise impossible jobs possible is a matter of experience.

    It's actually really hard to even comment on this in short, TV-land sentences.

    Thanks again.

  2. In one of the design challenge shows a couple weeks ago, one of the contestants shot himself in the thumb with a nail gun. I can't imagine a woodworking game show. No telling what kinds of injuries the unskilled contestants would gather through the course of 14 weeks. You could spend the whole 14 weeks working on a single piece, so not enough excitement to watch from week to week.

    Skill is like that.