What do you think?
December 5, 2011 2:02 PM   Subscribe

Robin Waart is a Dutch artist whose work often involves isolating unexamined elements of narrative. 745 is a collection of all of the exclamation points from a single copy of the weekly 'Donald Duck' comic book. Part One is a book of 101 'Part One' pages from English-language books. Thinking in Pictures is an ongoing project to gather moments in film when a character says 'What do you think?' or 'What are you thinking?'
posted by shakespeherian (16 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
find . -name "*.srt" | xargs egrep -B 2 -H -i "what (do|are) you think(ing){0,1}"
posted by benzenedream at 2:25 PM on December 5, 2011 [4 favorites]

I would have to be a Rhodes Scholar to understand why someone would actually pay money for a piece of art like his "Part One". I suspect he did it only to produce "Part One, Edition Two" to make us all wonder why he didn't just do "Part Two".. and, his piece where he tore all the pages out of a book, crumpled them, and put them in a pile... I've known two year olds that are GREAT at that!

Artists mystify me.... they truly do.
posted by tomswift at 3:05 PM on December 5, 2011

I wish i could leap in to defend this guy from the omnipresent, "I'm proud I don't understand," crowd, but I'm finding most of this to be pretty weak, and not in interesting ways. Kinda the old gather-a-bunch-of-a-thing trick with some bad word play thrown in. It does seem like the kind of thing that could have elements lost in translation, though.
posted by cmoj at 3:17 PM on December 5, 2011

What strikes me as odd (or interesting) is that most of the time "what do you think" and "what are you thinking" are completely different questions, and I imagine you'd get more effect using the latter. Maybe it's a language issue; I don't know any Dutch but google translates both English phrases as "Wat denk je?"

And this one is just great.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 3:31 PM on December 5, 2011

I find this to be super interesting. MeFis, live with it.
posted by lipsum at 4:08 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is great; what do you think?
posted by infinite intimation at 6:08 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I’m not part of the "I'm proud I don't understand", but I think the problem with a lot of art is similar to the Republican party; No supporters are willing to call bullshit. There are very few people who will just say that something sucks. How can it all be good? 95% of responses are "I don’t get it, all art sucks, I guess I’m just too stupid, blah" or "I love this, I get it". Any response that isn’t one of those will be deemed one of those by someone else.

Maybe it’s not about "getting it", maybe it just isn’t very good. Subjectively, of course. Everything is. I’m not a fan of the "throw things in a pile" school of art. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a pile of sticks or blocks of wood in a museum/art space, way too many.
posted by bongo_x at 10:29 AM on December 6, 2011

I had a pretty great conversation with Bunny Ultramod a couple weeks ago over the biggest plate of nachos I've ever seen in a bar. He said something along the lines of: 'When it comes to contemporary art, a lot of people really relish the opportunity to be the bold voice who says that the emperor has no clothes. That's one of the strong and consistent elements of contemporary art. Whereas I say, "Yes, the emperor has no clothes, and that is one good-looking naked dude."'
posted by shakespeherian at 10:56 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

That sounds like the best possible My Dinner with Andre sequel. Someone please kickstarter that.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:11 AM on December 6, 2011

Seriously the portions at that place were out of control. Bunny's girlfriend ordered a small salad that came on a dinner place.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:52 AM on December 6, 2011

This is great; what do you think?

I hadn't run across that one and that is pretty great. Plus, it gives a lot of the other stuff an interesting reason for not being great. That one presents information. The history of the polaroid in polaroids is packed with nostalgia and interesting/telling design. Not many are nostalgic about or very interested in Part One pages or Freud and Jung written in building blocks with some pretentious and dubious connection to Finnegan's Wake.

Yes, obviously student work, but I'd leave that one out of my CV for sure.

I can sort of see how you'd think about the collection of the history of a particular (very particular) thing like the Part One pages would function in the same way, though, but very, very dryly. Like I said, maybe it's a concept lots in translation.
posted by cmoj at 12:00 PM on December 6, 2011

Not many are nostalgic about or very interested in Part One pages

Le sigh. I think that, for me, that's part of what's interesting about these. How often have you ever meaningfully looked at the page in a book that says 'Part One' and considered what information that conveys about what kind of book, what kind of narrative, what kind of author you're encountering? Have you ever noticed that some books use a numeral while others spell out the word 'one'? What's the aesthetic difference? What, if any, information about the books around them is carried over by these pages isolated from their original context? There are questions raised about culture, context, curation, narrative, observance, spectatorship, readership, audience, presentation, and countless other ideas invoked by this piece.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:16 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I haven't, and that's my point. I have no context within which to place anything I might feel like I glean from looking at only Part One pages, or any way to confirm it. Of course, this could carry over into talking about how anything the viewer gets from art falls into this realm, but people usually like to feel like they've been given something rather than they've just seen a shape in a cloud.

But, like I say, this is a pretty interesting way for the Part One pages to fail in comparison to the Polaroid polaroids. As an idea it leads to other ideas, but as a piece it's pretty boring. We can talk about this without having to look at it.
posted by cmoj at 2:28 PM on December 6, 2011

As an idea it leads to other ideas, but as a piece it's pretty boring.

I guess that my understanding of art is such that this sentence is a contradiction. I think that, quite often, a piece is an idea, or a suggestion, or a question, or a hint, done in an interesting or creative or curious or thought-provoking or beautiful or ugly way.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:31 PM on December 6, 2011

Sure, quite often it is, and that's what this one is. However, I don't think the physical piece can be ignored or glossed over if you're going to bother to have one and if you can get the same effect by telling someone that there's a collection of a whole bunch of Part One pages and asking what they think about that, then why not just do that? Though, I guess if you're some typesetting historian it cold be pretty interesting to look at. You don't need to be a photographer or industrial designer to look at the Polaroids, though.

It seems to me that what you're saying your understanding of art is means that a piece is only an idea. I don't think that's precisely what you mean to say because I think that's self-evidently false*... and makes for mediocre art when artists pretend it's not.

*Unless, of course, you make some art that is literally only an idea.
posted by cmoj at 2:56 PM on December 6, 2011

I said that a piece is an idea done in a certain way.

As to your first point, I'm not eliding the physical object: I think that the physical object's existence is what lends the idea weight. If the questions being asked by the piece revolve around overlooked or taken-for-granted or unconsciously-ignored pieces of the construction of narrative, what better way to draw attention to them than by gathering a bunch of them together and creating a book that is nothing but the page of the book that isn't typically considered a 'real' part of the book? In the artist's curatorial act, he is requesting that attention be paid, or asking why attention is not granted until a special presentation is created.

I don't think that the book is meant to be read, or looked at on a page-by-page basis in order from cover to cover, but I don't think that means that merely suggesting its existence is the same as the actual process of piecing it together and determining an order for the pages and binding it and printing it and distributing it.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:09 PM on December 6, 2011

« Older Sweet Mother of Lethbridge-Stewart!   |   Quantum realism mounts a charge. Prepare... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments