Changing Art, Changing Habits

Posted by Bill Mackey, Nov 09, 2011 0 comments

Bill Mackey

Bill Mackey

You just finished writing the notes to the meeting you attended, made a .pdf of it, and sent it off via email to all the necessary parties. You check your email; you see what band is playing tonight. You leave your office and get into your car. The A/C is going and the voice on the radio is giving you a good mix of the economy, culture, sports, and weather...

Imagine attending an event about the environment or economy or planning in your community. The group that sponsors the event sounds official and they speak with official language and they speak of official issues, but there is something amiss.

They appear to be in costume, you have never heard of their agency or department, and some of the questions on the survey they have handed you are just plain odd. You realize it is a mock organization putting on a mock event, but they are tackling very real issues in a different way – with some levity, less bureaucracy. You buy into their prank, reorient your perception, and participate.

You drive up to the ATM and insert your card, enter your PIN, and request cash. You receive your cash and receipt. You put the car in D and set off. You pass signs, billboards, curbs, buildings, houses, and bus stops. You should go to the store and grab some prepared food, but you are too lazy...

If there is no sponsorship or blatant tie to a commercial (or even institutional) entity, the project is more likely to be successful. While the intersection of art and comedy exists on a national level in a variety of intelligent and important forms of entertainment – on television, in magazines, at museums – these projects exist for consumption, they cannot function as a device that a community engages in, participates with, and creates something new.

Art projects at the local, non-commercial level do engage the community because they have the capacity to not be about consumption or representation of this or that entity that receives this or that funding from him or her; they are about the material presented.

You drive up to your house, into your garage. You get out of the A/C of your car and step into the A/C of your house. You check the mail. Netflix, State Farm, Capital One, American Express, Dandy Dime, and the New Yorker welcome you home...

Local art projects can be more effective if they present ideas from a perceived platform of neutrality. The author of the project should be fuzzy and blurry representing a variety of potential local actors--are they official? what professional organization are they part of? are they with the county or the city?

It should be difficult for the audience to make sense of the project at face value; the project should be an act of educated discovery. Very seldom, do local projects use this as a method for conveying information; they continually represent an agenda wrapped up in something serious, dire, urgent, or oppressed.

Unsuccessful projects have the author stand distant or shouting in our face, making fun of us. We are busy doing our jobs, driving in our cars, eating our overly processed food – and we feel helpless and we do not like it. What we need is someone to help us see something else, laugh with us about our current situation, and eventually help change our habits.

You sleep and dream. You wake up, you go to work, you meet with people and make decisions. You write notes during the meeting. You type up the notes, make a .pdf of them, and send them out via email to all the necessary parties...

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