02 October 2007

Heraldry and Finding a Perfect Art

As Jane says, "Art these days needs to be either provocative or grotesque." I recently discovered that although I have the chops and patience, landscape painting is not for me. That was an easy one; deciding I was completely bored with approximating desert flora and fauna. Now I understand what Kyle was talking about when he didn't want to play jazz standards at resorts in Tucson. I'm good at it, but it just makes my butt itch. I'll still complete the painting and it is pretty good, I keep looking over at it.

I'm a victim of flights of fancy. Two weeks ago I concocted an idea to create an anonymous AI online that made random artworks. I'd program one of those open source AI programs to answer any art question on my website and then use random generators in Flash to create prints. Then the prints would start showing up on Ebay. Very "Mona Lisa Overdrive." Then the lawsuits would roll in when buyers realized it was a hoax and not an AI making the art...

My latest flight of fancy is heraldry. You know, the shields and coats of arms of knights of yore. When Europeans were all serfs to lords and some of us strapped on armor plating and needed to know who to hack up but we couldn't unless they had brightly colored shields of the enemy. A complex code of fields and colors and patterns arose that would define and anger you even more to hack them up or bludgeon them to death. "I just hate those black jacks on a yellow field so much. Those wheat laurels arched on each side... what arrogance! We obviously have the best wheat in all of the countryside!" The academia and expertise of our modern heraldic masters is something I wish not to mock. It is very nearly a science of symbolism.

Like my piers who will smear some paint and entitle it, "Quantum Mechanics: The Adventure of Young Quark Begins," much to the chagrin of physicists, I propose to trounce the discipline of heraldry, steal, twist, distort and appropriate it's symbols and create a completely new visual vocabulary. I'm a modern artist with an equally modern disregard for history. It's a rubbery medium ripe for exploitation. As cigar boxes exemplify, the genre can also be vaguely ornamental and include whole landscapes within.

As a concept, it's completely open ended. I can choose to decorate and rise up to the status of royalty in my design any humble subject I feel fit. "The Royal Academy of Electric Blenders," or, "The Mighty Oak Scrub," or, "The Knighted Ensemble of Combustion Engines," or the, "Descendants of King Squirrel." It's just not royalty I have to admonish. In fact imitation can take infinite forms in this concept. Laurels can become iPods, ribbony banners can become LED displays, steel helmet armor can become hockey goalie masks.

I'm especially attracted to the logo making aspect of the concept. Trained in marketing symbols, my pieces of art become complex logos. I love the idea as it brings my graphic life into my artistic life. It also is easily translated into paint as well as the graphic light boxes.

I'm well aware of the last design world year or two and the resurgence of these classical Edwardian forms. Coats of arms and the most abused "standing stag" motif. Most of this graphic use is not inventive and 2d "messes" of clip art. Really, it pretty much was a product of Adobe Illustrator creating the "Symbol" tool that lets you spray-paint vector "symbols" willy nilly.

I am, however, excited by the renewed use of these European symbols. There is some kind of sense that the future would appreciate these intricate antique "craft" forms when ultra modernism is turning us away from anything ornate. Well, I have my own theory of Freud, the rising power of the individual and the spartan, simplistic take on interior architecture. Basically, we are meant to fill it up ourselves. Doesn't mean your art needs to be bland and boring to match. It's just that architects are giving you room to breath rather than centuries past where they filled up all the space with moulding, cherubs, columns and decoration that defined and "oppressed" the individual. Only the very rich had perfectly decorated spaces.

Well, at this point, I'm all talk although I have done some work like this in the past. That's what blogs are for right? Playing with an idea n' shit and letting you all know what I'm thinking about. It's my next painting so we'll see what Tom does. We'll see if he gets bored with that too.

No comments: