Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I've always wondered where I draw the line on calling something art. When I go into a gallery I look and think about what someone was trying to do, the effort, the ideas. Some titles really make the work better, they give some context to a story that I'm unaware of. And sometimes it just explains to me what I'm looking at in the first place. "Oh, that's a girl in a tree playing with shoes... wait, what?" (don't bother trying to figure out what painting I'm thinking of, if it does exist I haven't seen it)

I like art in a lot of forms. Slam poetry, graffiti, paintings, murals, music, pottery and ceramics, stain glass, welded sculptures, classic marble carvings... I have a very broad definition of what I like.

In the past few years I've had the great chance to see a lot of really great art all around the world. But I think the things that have had the most impact on me where full room art installations.

The first was an installation by the artist Yayoi Kusama. There were a lot of her works on display at the time (2009, Wellington New Zealand) twisting red columns were really striking and I got to see some of her famous mirror balls. But there was one room they were only let a few people into at a time. It was completely black with tinny lights hanging from the ceiling. You stand on a platform in the middle of a room made of mirrors with the floor around you holding an inch or two of water. Light reflects off everywhere around you but not enough to see. It was amazing. A room that made me feel like I was suspended in space. I wanted to some how make my own room like that to live there. How can I make my whole house like this?!

The second time was a twisting maze of doors and rooms in the British Tate museum. This maze was so fantastic because of the detail that went into replicating a room. I got to feel like I had actually experienced something magical. Physical shock at finding myself in a place I had not expected to be. You enter through a room from the museum and wander through doors and corridors, backtracking and loosing yourself. And you find yourself back at the start. So you open the door... only instead of walking out into the gallery again you're in work room. The two rooms at opposite ends of the maze were almost identical. The only things that were different were the order of burned out light bulbs in the large scale christmas lights

In both of these works I got to loose myself in their idea, in one case literally. I think I can really appreciate the hours that go into a room installation. While a phrase or a brush stroke can be just as agonizingly long I can more tangibly understand the effort and mechanics of a large scale art work that has obviously taken days to dream and put together.

So I don't really know what is and isn't art to me. But I think a bit of what art is comes from stepping outside yourself and getting a fresh look at things. Disorienting yourself from your everyday. I spend so much of my life knowing exactly where I am that any chance to stop that for a moment is refreshingly new.

Edit: Found a link that has pictures of the first room installment

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