There are a lot of swears in this piece of writing.
You've been warned.
I'm really fucking sorry
So, I'm writing this because I saw a post on Instagram from one of my friends who is now doing, or has recently completed a fine art degree. At the same establishment as myself I might add. It was two post-it notes, one above the other, and the top one said "DIALOGUE IS NOT INFORMATION". The lower one stating, "DIALOGUE IS CHARACTER". I took a screen shot and wrote a huge message to my friend, to which I annoyingly accidentally deleted!
In probably different words, and with definitely more punctuation, this is what it said…
Isn’t it funny that when you are at university you are pushed, not to question but to state. As a student it’s okay to talk utter bollocks about behemoth subjects (that you only read a fucking blurb about) as if you’re an expert in the field. Standing in front of a room full of people with a bloody sandwich tie and a shitty piece of carpet thread, stuck to some black tape while shit literally comes out of your face, and you lie like a child about what the objects before you really are. Don’t tell me it’s a representation of an 17th century dwelling belonging to a family of 7, who’s ancestors ghosts are intertwined into the fabric of that thread; and it’s made from material that’s the same colour as something that existed once at some point in that ENTIRE fucking century you twat. I bet the sandwich tie represents their hunger and need for A FUCKING SANDWICH. You pulled it off your shoe as you walked in you bell end. Oh but, it relates to the oppression of prophecy. Oh does it!… The piece of tape is keeping the Quaker ladies down is it. (Yes I looked something up and done 2 minutes of reading to make sure that it looks like I know what I’m actually taking about). And no one actually cares what you’ve (questionably) made, because it’s a piece of complete arse biscuit. This is a pencil… Have you seen one before?!
The worst thing is, you’re expected to take notes and possibly verify what they’ve said, agree and challenge notions and everyone fucking nods, and debates as if they have half a clue. Why can’t we just say, Terry that’s complete shit, like literally a piece of shit. You should have scraped it on the curb on your way in. It’s not even “challenging perceptions”. It’s a little child standing in a field, telling another child that what they have stuck to their finger tastes good… So the other child licks it and dies. There’s challenging perceptions and then there’s people who literally think they’re wizards. You do not control my eyes, and I’m telling you kindly sir; that that my dear, is a sandwich tie and a frayed carpet thread stuck to a piece of fucking electrical tape. The only skills you have displayed here, are that of bending over. To; A pull that piece of crap off of your shoe; and B to shove your head further up your own arse. Further to that you have clearly shown that you are very adept at winging it.
Now, this isn’t an actual story. It’s a point I’m beginning to make. But I will get to that at the end… Possibly.
Now, it’s not that you aren’t taught how to be an artist. But being an artist and creating art, aren’t the same thing. That’s neither here nor there at the moment.
I’m not sure about dialogue NOT being information, because surely everything that you perceive is information is it not? But I do understand the sentiment in context of its juxtaposition to the later statement of dialogue being character.
Being an artist, as taught by university, makes you many things if you do it correctly. It enables you to react and respond articulately and creatively (maybe not in my case based on the first few paragraphs). You will be able to digest, refuse, choke on, cough up or extravagantly shit out information in a variety of wonderful ways, and be able to tell people all about it. You’ll become weirdly interesting. And by weirdly interesting I mean that you’ll be at a party and at 1am when everyone is talking about a band they went to see last week, and you’ll find a way to reference the relationship between Honey Badgers and Honeyguide Birds; or feel the need to point out Freudian slips but without any innuendo… Which, trust me, isn’t funny! Weirdly interesting you become, and might I add, more intelligent. I know I hammered old Terry back there for only reading blurbs. You do have to read a lot of synopsis and opening paragraphs, because in all honesty, you have no real idea what the actual fuck you’re looking for. However you will follow through with some genuine research. Which is nice. What they don’t tell you when you enrol on a fine art degree (and yes, I did know it would be involved; become my life; that I would be spooning coffee granules into my pale unbothered face at 2am and living and breathing my new artist life. I was warned) is that it’s a very academic qualification.
And this is where my point begins being made. Are you excited? I have just chatted shit to you for what seems like all of time and it’s finally time to find out what the point of writing this is.
So here’s the thing. Well, it’s a question. A question posed by the statement that was made initially. Is art a thing, or is art now just an explanation of what something is? Is art the object, or is art the description, the debate, the dialogue? If that is the case, is this because art is being taught in mainstream university under the same tick box criteria as the rest of the education system? A system which validates a set of criteria and not necessarily a skill base. Rendering art, artistry and craftmanship, unrewarded and unimportant; and giving all the platinum, gold and silver prizes to underpinning, research and essentially chatting shit (or “BS” as my lecturer used to say). I don’t know. I’m not really here to answer questions, I’m asking them.
In some respects, I do agree that dialogue is character. It absolutely makes sense. Consider this. Terry and his sandwich tie (completely fictional by the way… Fictional but vital) are standing at the front of the room. Terry, his back arched, looking awkward; and the ensemble of crap from his shoe is dumped onto a plinth like a McDonalds bag thrown out of the window of a car along the A127. What are we thinking? Well, we are thinking wtf is he thinking right? He has to stand up straight, and convince us that what he has before him IS art. That’s right my friends, convince us! He has said nothing so far, and we know what is on that plinth. Is it art? You tell me.
So now we look at his relationship with his shit, I mean shit, shit, sorry… *cough* art!
He proudly presents his piece. Entitled, “Oppression of Profanity”. He tells us about it in marvellous detail, while pointing at tiny details and referencing them to his exhaustively researched subject. He looks excited about the concept. He answers every question as if he is actually an expert in 17th century living and the entire history of Yorkshire. We can see the relationship between what he has presented and what he is saying. It makes total undeniable sense. So now it’s art right?
How did that happen? Well, dialogue… Here’s the thing with dialogue. It’s not necessarily just the verbal or written words that constitute it. The juxtaposition of the objects in reference to one another, to Terry, and his body language toward, distance from, and interactions with those objects all form a dialogue. It’s that dialogue that helps him to convince us that this is indeed art, because it forms his character and persona in relation to it. Then follows the discussion. In which it enables us not so much to try to hear and understand what he is telling us, as information read from a page would be. Rather it is enabling us to decide whether or not he believes his own bullshit. His reactions to challenges, his choice responses, and again his relationship with that object all dictate his own confidence in the piece. So (back to the post-it’s) I do agree that dialogue is character, but it is also information. Although, I’m not sure what constitutes as art!
is almost finished his presentation, he is asked “Why the title?”
So Terry replies “Well it’s just shit isn’t it!”