What is art?

by Micky Siamendes

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I have run into this question many times in my life. And I haven’t found a universally valid answer to it yet. I have been to exhibitions that made me go “wow, that’s amazing!” and I have seen others (like gallons of spilled stinky motoroil on the floor) that made me and probably always will make me go “WTF?!” Same thing when it comes to music – there are musicians that really get me and I consider them fantastic artists and others that make me wanna plug my ears and run away screaming. I have seen movies that touched me deeply and others that just made me shrug and wonder what they really are about although they have been showered with awards.

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In German there is a saying: “Kunst kommt von können.” Basically it means that the word “art” derives from the word for “being capable of doing something, having the skills to do something”, the German word origin actually is like that. Some “operas” I have seen truly made me wonder what other capability than splashing some paint on a canvas or triggering the camera release the artist would have. And I am sure that there are a lot of so called “artists” out there who just have a good laugh at the people standing in awe in front of their works that they actually didn’t put any artistic thought or effort into at all.

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US artist Cynthia Albritton “Plaster Caster” with a plaster cast of Jimi Hendrix’ penis. Her exhibition “Penis Dimension” with 25 penis exhibits has been discussed quite controversal (uhm really wondering why?)

 

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45-year-old Mike Drake has been doing something bizarre in the name of art for over a decade – he’s been collecting all his fingernail clippings, stuffing them in paperweights, and selling them for $300 to $500 a piece! (Yuck, seriously?!)

 

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Like many other animal lovers, Dutch artist Bart Jansen found it hard to part with his pet cat, Orville, after he was hit by a car. So he decided to turn the dead feline into a unique piece of artwork called the Orvillecopter. (Alright, call the guys with the straitjacket!)

 

Yep, some things will definitely just make me flip the bird forever! Even if the artist’s name is Joseph Beuys and the “masterpieces” are worth millions:

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Is this art or can it be removed?

 

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The cleaning staff removed this art installation in an Italian museum, thinking it was leftovers of a heavy party night.

 

On the other hand I am also sure that many artists have an approach that is just only entirely different from mine. A different way of thinking, a different way of looking at things, a different way of perception, a different way of expressing themselves. What seems to be easy to achieve for me may be a huge effort or great achievement for others. Some skills I have that seem to be just part of me or natural to me, others would love to have them (so I’ve been told) or they have to work hard to achieve them. Some things I look at as ordinary and uninspiring to other’s may be special enough to use them for an artwork.

The definition of art is something personal I think. What someone considers art is determined by their own capabilities, by their taste, by their sense of aesthetics and beauty, by their education, maybe even by their dreams, wishes, desires. Art like beauty for me is in the eye of the beholder.

So is art on Furillen. When I scroll through the Flickr group site and look at all the pictures and movies there, there are some that capture my eye instantly and others that make me think “yeah well, ok, another snapshot”. But I also have noticed that I change my way of looking at works once I get to know the people behind them.

So basically I think the main thing is to keep an open mind for everything ranging outside our usual horizon, and that goes for about anything in life. We don’t need to like it all but we should just give things the space they deserve.

Reminds me of the saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” which surely has some truth in it.

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So – let’s keep the magic of Furillen alive and encourage and inspire each other! And I sure hope that “Bar Café Fabriken” will be a place where a lot of magic happens.

 

 

yellow room

In yesterday’s post I promised changes to some of the hotel rooms at Furillen – they make great minimalist sets for Furillen’s many visiting photographers.

Rather than arranging every set by myself, from time to time I am going to invite guest decorators to make their own designs. My old friend Laura was first to take up the challenge, and I really like what she came up with.

Besides the stunning splash of colour, Laura’s room is a delightful combination of the domestic …

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… the abstract …

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… and the whimsical …

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So do pay a visit to the sim and see what you can do with this room – or simply spend some time there, it has a wonderful atmosphere.

Talking of which, may I suggest that you put 9 April 2016 down in your diary as an important Furillen date …

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… something new is coming to the sim …

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… something I think might be …

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Want to know what it is?

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Well I would love to.

But I’m way over my gif limit for one day.

Happy Mondays to all!

The Kingfisher

the kingfisher

The Kingfisher perches. He studies.

Escaped from the jeweller’s opium
X-rays the river’s toppling
Tangle of glooms.

Now he’s vanished—into vibrations.
A sudden electric wire, jarred rigid,
Snaps—with a blue flare.

He has left his needle buried in your ear.

Oafish oaks, kneeling, bend over
Dragging with their reflections
For the sunken stones. The Kingfisher
Erupts through the mirror, beak full of ingots,

And is away—cutting the one straight line
Of the raggle-taggle tumbledown river
With a diamond—

Leaves a rainbow splinter sticking in your eye.

Through him, God, whizzing in the sun,
Glimpses the angler.

Through him, God
Marries a pit
Of fishy mire.

And look! He’s
—gone again.
Spark, sapphire, refracted
From beyond water
Shivering the spine of the river.

Ted Hughes

watch for me after dinner

Walter Benjamin once said that the contents of a dream experienced while sleeping on a full stomach are an ‘expression’ of the meal you just consumed.

I would like to know what SaveMe Oh ate on Sunday. When – as promised – she returned to Furillen for a second consecutive evening, she gave us what I can only describe as a nightmare.

https://flic.kr/p/CXsN1m

As a performer, what SaveMe Oh does is extremely simple.

‘What I do is invade spaces and start to perform … nothing more nothing less’.

As on the previous evening, she transformed Furillen. This is art as process and spectacle; a collective experience, and extraordinarily immersive.

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This was not a repeat performance; indeed it was not even similar to what we saw the evening before. Personally, I found this show even richer and more thought-provoking than the first.

What I saw on Saturday was a spectacular show of light, movement and colour. It was about scale and impact. It was out of this world.

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What I saw on Sunday was about – if not necessarily of – our world.

https://flic.kr/p/Dmu8Hc

On Sunday, SaveMe Oh wrapped her audience tightly inside walls of television screens. It felt more intimate and intense – more suffocating – than the night before …

https://flic.kr/p/DsRXAE

… from this artist who likes to speak of prisons …

https://flic.kr/p/CXsMRU

In substance, too, the performance was on a human scale. From the myriad faces on the screens we started out with and the headless keyboard player …

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Who needs a head ?

… we saw lines of commuters …

What are we in the queue for ?

… a centaur on repeat, above an eternally suffering man …

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… a nightmarish, syringe-wielding nurse …

They will mute your mind as well

… and endless screaming.

https://flic.kr/p/DSDxN5

This felt – and looked – like art as social theory.

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These figures were set against a background that was surreal and disturbing …

https://flic.kr/p/CXzo8M

… a dark tunnel that seemed to go on forever …

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… a corridor that reminded me of Foucault’s remark about prisons resembling hospitals that resemble schools …

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… and a series of giant syringes …

https://flic.kr/p/DUY9Zt

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At the end of it all, she burned.

Auto-da-fé

 

SaveMe Oh at Furillen

[2016/02/06 12:12] Serene Footman: hello
[2016/02/06 12:12] SaveMe Oh: hello
[2016/02/06 12:13] Serene Footman: i haven’t banned you, i’d like to see what you wanted to do
[2016/02/06 12:13] Serene Footman: so you are welcome
[2016/02/06 12:13] SaveMe Oh: thanlk you
[2016/02/06 12:13] SaveMe Oh: What I was actually doing was improvising on the landscape and the stream
[2016/02/06 12:14] SaveMe Oh: I liked it myself
[2016/02/06 12:14] Serene Footman: well forgive me for panicking when i saw the scale of what you were – presumably – wearing
[2016/02/06 12:14] SaveMe Oh: relax, It could have been much bigger
[2016/02/06 12:14] Serene Footman: haha
[2016/02/06 12:15] Serene Footman: anyway. we’re open
[2016/02/06 12:15] Serene Footman: help yourself
[2016/02/06 12:15] SaveMe Oh: I will, you are just in time, I almost deleted the lm
[2016/02/06 12:15] Serene Footman: i am happy to have a philosophical debate about freedom with you
[2016/02/06 12:15] Serene Footman: and ownership
[2016/02/06 12:16] Serene Footman: and the politics of access
[2016/02/06 12:16] SaveMe Oh: we have all our SL for that
[2016/02/06 12:16] Serene Footman: yes, but you seem to want to engage
[2016/02/06 12:16] Serene Footman: i am more than happy to engage with you
[2016/02/06 12:16] SaveMe Oh: works the quickest
[2016/02/06 12:16] Serene Footman: but you need to be open to debate
[2016/02/06 12:16] Serene Footman: and to counter argument
[2016/02/06 12:16] Serene Footman: it works both ways
[2016/02/06 12:16] SaveMe Oh: I am an artist, not a politician
[2016/02/06 12:17] SaveMe Oh: and I love drama
[2016/02/06 12:17] Serene Footman: that is a false distinction and i think you know it
[2016/02/06 12:17] SaveMe Oh: as an artist I have to love drama, as a guy with a wallet you might have other priorities
[2016/02/06 12:18] Serene Footman: not sure the guy with a wallet line works – cheap argument
[2016/02/06 12:18] Serene Footman: unless you want to tell me that you never ever use money
[2016/02/06 12:18] Serene Footman: it’s also bullshit
[2016/02/06 12:18] SaveMe Oh: advantage of being an artist is that I can switch between cheap and expensive arguments
[2016/02/06 12:19] Serene Footman: anyway, i want to see this
[2016/02/06 12:19] Serene Footman: oh you haven’t a clue who i am, i haven’t a clue who you are
[2016/02/06 12:19] Serene Footman: so let’s cut out the personal stuff
[2016/02/06 12:19] SaveMe Oh: let me introduce myself, I am the best virtual artist of SL

[2016/02/06 14:09] Serene Footman: this is awesome – i never saw you before
[2016/02/06 14:10] SaveMe Oh: dont hide under a stone again

Saving Oh

I had not heard of SaveMe Oh before she came to Furillen.

SaveMe Oh at Furillen

By the time she left, after three and a half hours of the most immersive and engaging art I have ever seen in Second Life, I was in awe.

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And I felt privileged.

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It was that good.

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I tell this story partly against myself; it speaks of my ignorance, and possibly – as SaveMe Oh, might argue – of my arrogance, too.

I’ll take both criticisms.

But the main reason I am telling the story in this way – and my reason for quoting the dialogue above – is because, as a subsequent review of the history of this artist’s work has shown me, the context in which her art is performed matters a great deal to what she does.

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It was not a good start. Engrossed in solving the latest issues with video on the sim, I saw what looked like a griefer kicking off. I ejected her twice.

She called me a dictator. With a fat wallet.

Maybe I’ll send her a card next week.

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So I asked a friend whether she had heard of an avatar by the name of SaveMe Oh.

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Two minutes later, I asked the artist to come back and perform. With immense grace and wit – as the dialogue cited above demonstrates – she did so.

What followed was an astonishingly vivid performance, almost visceral at times, which seemed uncannily well suited to Furillen.

https://flic.kr/p/DQAMEw

The sim’s music stream played a full part in the spectacle, as SaveMe Oh acknowledged. Indeed, she seemed to be responding to the music in the way her performance ebbed and flowed.

Saveme Oh Show Live @Furillen

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There were moments of sheer spectacle …

SaveMe Oh at Furillen

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… incredible colour …

Saveme Oh Live Show @Furillen *6

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… unceasing movement …

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… great humour …

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https://flic.kr/p/DGhLTm

… and – to my eyes, at least – intense melancholy.

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I should have known who SaveMe Oh was.

But I am pleased that I did not.

I don’t see myself as a dictator …

… but this was art in situ – on someone else’s terms.

And that – in Second Life, as in first life – is important.

It was an experience I will never forget.

art at Furillen

This weekend sees Furillen’s first ‘art show’ – an exhibit of portraits that were made by Moon Edenbaum.

People of Furillen. Moon edenbaum

They were taken at the sim itself, in the same room using the same set.

read more here please: https://furillen.org/2016/01/22/shooting-the-shooters/

As you will see, this gives them a thematic unity that is rather powerful … and, when displayed as we will be displaying them, absorbing and meditative.

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For obvious reasons, these pictures have a connection with Furillen, and as I said before, displaying them at the sim reminds me of what Walter Benjamin said about the authenticity of an artwork and its connection with the location – the space and context – in which it was produced.

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Moon’s portraits have another – and, I think, deeper – connection with Furillen. They echo its minimalist style in their simplicity and repetition.

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We wanted this to be immersive. So please, if you can, listen to the music stream when you look these portraits. Moon chose this music. I think it fits very well, enhancing what you see in these pictures, and how you look at them.

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Neither of us is claiming to be doing anything astonishingly original here. We just wanted to do something simple, and well.

https://flic.kr/p/CxzNeM

A straightforward, no bullshit, art show.

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For this very reason, I really like Moon’s pictures.

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He usually posts them on his flickr stream in groups of three. They are always portraits that have an impact, a rawness and an honesty, that I appreciate.

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It isn’t easy to ‘catch’ an avatar in a way that distills personality, life and spirit.

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Moon is one of a few people in Second Life who can do this.

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I also love his treatment of colour.

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So, please, come along if you can – we’ll be showing ‘shoot the shooters’ to a few small groups at various times during the weekend. At these times the sim may have to close, so that those we invited can get in.

The first time is today (Saturday 30 January) at 8pm CET – which translates as 11am in Second Life Time (SLT).

The second time is also today, at 11pm CET – or 2pm in SLT.

The third time is tomorrow (Sunday 31 January) at 3pm CET – or 6am SLT.

Outside those times, starting as soon as the first show has ended, the sim is open as usual – and the show will roll on, so everyone who wants to can see it.

Moon will be posting the series on Flickr as soon as the show is over. I will take it down very early on Monday morning, European time.

Thankyou for your attention. I hope to see you there.

 

shoot the shooters

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The German cultural theorist, Walter Benjamin, once wrote:

Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.

He believed that an indispensable part of the authenticity and meaning of an artwork was its connection to the location in which it was originally produced.

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Even in a virtual space such as Second Life, we can still develop attachments to place and location. I have learned this at Furillen. It is a sim that has come to mean quite a lot to some of the regular visitors.

Coming back

One of the most striking aspects of Furillen is the art produced there. The images – and videos – that have emerged from the sim have been displayed on its flickr stream, and in this blog. It is a remarkable testimony to the creativity and imagination of visitors.

Furillion

Partly with Benjamin’s thoughts about authenticity in mind, the logical next step is to put some of this art on display at the sim itself. This has already happened with the competition winner, which is on show in the hotel reception.

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And now …

… Furillen will host its first exhibition.

Next weekend, 30-31 January 2016, I will be showing series of portraits by a fine Second Life photographer, Moon Edenbaum.

moon exhibit

These striking portraits are of eminent Second Life photographers. They were all taken at Furillen, in the same room, using the same set.

We will be displaying these works in a way that draws them right inside the Furillen setting. I won’t say any more about this; you will just have to come and see for yourself.

This exhibition will be quite special – and not only because it is Furillen’s first. It will be a social event that celebrates Second Life art through portraits of the artists themselves, displayed in the very setting in which they were produced – with as many of those artists present as we can manage.

Moon has been making portraits at Furillen for quite some weeks now, posting them in series of three. For those of you who are not familiar with his flickr stream, here are some examples of his outstanding work.

new years day

humble study

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We hope you can find the time to witness, and participate in, Furillen’s first art event.