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Friday, January 23, 2009

The Futurists - Art


The location


15th January 2009
Got to know this online group: The Singapore Futurist Society, in meetup.com. They also have a facebook presence. Click here. The Society is an informal and online one that meets once a week on Thursday at the Coffee Bean Cafe, in the Singapore Post building, Paya Lebar, Singapore.
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We have an interesting mix of eight intellectual-futurists from Norway, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, Britain, Germany and Singapore for this session. 
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The organiser is a German who has lived in Beijing for 25 years and speaks Mandarin. He is now living in Singapore and spends his time writing books. He gave me one of his books "Jame5" - a futuristic fiction novel. Click here
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The Norwegian participant is radio station broadcaster who happened to be passing by Singapore on her way to Sarawak. She recorded the whole session. As we will be discussing about the future of art in this session, we had an artist who is also a Masters of Fine Arts student from the La Salle College of Arts in Singapore. The rest of us are: web developers, real estate executives, students, photographers, communications specialists, info security specialists and entrepreneurs.
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Discussion:
What is 'art'?
Art is an expression. It is a question that demands a very broad answer, so perhaps it would be easier that we should ask ourselves, "What is not 'art'?"
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Can 'art' be 'accidental'?
No, it cannot be.
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Am I a piece of 'art'? (Pointing to myself.)
You are considered an 'art' if somebody presents you as an 'art'. (I supposed that includes a narcissist pointing to himself as an 'art'.)
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Then it is a perception then?
Yes, it is a perception and an expression of one's inner emotions.
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But 'art' must have  a frame (not necessarily a physical one, but one indicating where it starts and end).  Art need not be colourful. Traditional Chinese art, for instance, uses only black paint on white canvas or paper.
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How about public expressions? eg. Graffitti. Is that 'art'?
Some people don't consider that as 'art'. There are people who dwell in the elitism of art.
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In Norway, there are some graffittis that were sold to buyers. (How?)...by taking a photo snapshot of it. In Singapore, there are hardly any graffittis. We only have 'official graffitti' on walls sanctioned by the authorities.
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Must 'art' be expensive?
There is a story about a thief who came and stole a piece of painting, worth about $100,000, in an exhibition. He got caught. The artist then spoke to the thief and realised that he (the thief) really love and understand that piece of art and was so touched. So, against the likes of the artist's manager, he told the thief to keep what he stole. To the artist, his art is better kept in the hands of someone who appreciates it than someone who merely has the money to buy it.
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There is also a social experiment of a famous violinist who normally play to full house audience in concerts, with tickets going for about $300 a seat. One day, they decided to put him by the subway in New York to play with his prized violin worth $3 million, as a busker. Apparently, nobody recognised him as he was dressed ordinarily, and at the end of the day, he collected only about $30.
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About icons - 
John Lennon (being dead for a long time now) is featured and dubbed into advocating the One-Laptop-Per-Child initiative as a commercial. 
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This is said to be done with the agreement of Yoko Ono (his wife). This is unfair, because it is putting words into his mouth. 
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There are also other famous people who are being used for commercial reasons way after their death. Elvis Presley, the said King of Rock-and-Roll, is said the icon to be most used icon during and after his lifetime. There are numerous Elvis impersonators even today.
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Mao Tze Tung and Marilyn Monroe are icons that have been immortalised in famous paintings by artist Andy Warhol. In fact, you can now 'Warholised' yourself too, just like I did below. Click here if you want to do the same 
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Such use of icons are inevitable. But is there any harm in being used as an icon for morally upright purposes? The problem comes when icons get abused for immoral purposes.
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Icons are an image of the original. Is there any problem with that, particularly in the digital age, when digitally perfect copies can be easily made. Does a copy make any difference?
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How about digital art mixing? There are different 'fair use' copyrights that allow non-commercial mixing of digital art. Other copyright variants are emerging.
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Does language and culture influence 'art'?
Language itself cannot capture art completely. For that reason, some poets and writers invent new terminologies to work beyond the limits of the language. (I guess then over time, such new terminologies will work themselves into the mainstream vocabulary. Words like the Singlish 'kiasu' describes a behaviour better than the English 'afraid to lose'.)
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Culture also matters. For instance, the call for prayer means nothing to non-Muslims, but mean much if you are a Muslim. 
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Somehow, I can feel the acute difference between the call for prayer from the mosques in Singapore and that from Saudi Arabia. In the latter, the words reverberate and resonate with me, bringing me close to tears (in elation and liberation). I don't understand Arabic and am not a Muslim, but yet I feel the vibrations deep in me.
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At this point, our discussion officially ended. Some of us proceeded to the nearby durain stall in Geylang, so that we can give our Norwegian visitor a treat and an experience to take away with.
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At the streetside table amid the gentle evening breeze eating durains, I asked my friend Susan, the artist in the group, if it would have been easier if we have taken 'money' out of our discussion about art. She replied a flat 'no' to that, as art is now so interwined into the psyche of the artist, that it would not be meaningful and futile to discuss without.
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For our meeting next Thursday, we will be discussing about 'Transhumanism'.
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2 comments:

ikaz said...

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jupilier said...

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