“Life doesn't imitate art, it imitates bad television.” ― Woody Allen

 {View from the roof of the Met. What a beautiful, Indian Summer day}

Sunday we went to the Met. I really love the Met for its hushed elegance. As I have more opportunities to indulge in high-art experiences my awareness increases and I realize that I love paintings. My words may mean very little as I have no formal training or education in art or art history but here I'm just speaking of perceptions. I believe it's something in the creation process, the physical force of the hand moving the brush across the canvas, pushing the little mounds of color into form translates to a tangible motion still evidenced (sometimes hundreds of) years later. This is why paintings feel alive while photographs serve to encapsulate a past moment.

I find it bewildering then, that hoards of tourists run around the museum frantically to snap photos of anything by anyone with a name they (kind of?) recognize. Two snaps for each work. Click. Click. One for the work itself and one for its description plaque. Firstly, all van Gogh's are not created equally. Isn't the point of the museum to experience the museum? Look Up! For the tiny display view on the back of your camera is no way to connect! Is it the insatiable desire of humans to consume, obtain, to have that causes this manic, incessant snapping? I would think if you needed to have a specific work you love the best solution would be a high quality print. So it appears that it's not that you can't live without this image but that you're looking for a mediator between your physical person and the location/experience. As if you can take all of it home with you and experience it there, where you're comfortable in your computer chair, when you "have more time?" Why not just spend a few hours on google? Why go all the way to the Upper East Side of New York, then? Why must you see all of it? You can't convince me that seeing more things rapidly is a better experience than being startled by a few stand-out works. Because, ah, you miss so much (the entire point) of Picasso when you view it on a screen made up of flat pixels, no matter the resolution. The unabashed boldness is lost, compressed. You miss the neuroticism and obsession of the impressionists. And all of the theatrical drama of light and darkness which separates the good from the truly awesome.

I'll try to spare you some of my opinions on the audio tours but feel inclined to state here that I find those ridiculous also. There are plenty of resources to further study something that strikes you, but why must you have a recorded voice in your ear, mediating for the mind and the eye, telling you what is good and why you should like it? It's so simple: do you like it, or don't you? Please have the courage to make the choice. I think that audio can be interesting for artifacts, or say, historical places but I advocate saving your money, takeing what you like, and going on your way while leaving the rest.

And all this has got me thinking, about what it is we (I) want to take away from our experiences. Recently I've felt a void of a certain fervor for something, anything. I hate to use the word passion because I feel its one of those words that got over-played and has now lost its meaning, but I want desperately to feel that hot flush of drive toward something specific. And feel it intrinsically, unmediated, off-leash (if you will) where the reward for the action is the action itself. (Gah, and now you begin to see why I love Whitman.) I know I've always had more passive-aggressive tendencies, but am I really so passive? Do I have unrealistic expectations? Can I be critical of others' passivity, then? How much is the object of drive a choice and how much of it happens to find you through experiences and twists of fate? Am I growing out of my idealistic twenties when I once thought there was beauty in simplicity and everyone else's problem was that they had complicated it all too much (surely I knew it all)? I hope (and seek) this awkward time to be just the ground work for a real creative out lash.

I love good writing, I love dancing, choreography and live performance, I find cooking to be cathartic but it's been awhile since I've felt really empowered. I want my boots knocked off. 

What makes you feel empowered enough to look up?

1 comment:

Steph said...

I have read this post twice now. This is amazing writing. Thanks so much for sharing. This is exactly right - wow! Can't wait to go to a museum with this new outlook.

All the best!