The Art of Terror.
October 9, 2002 10:00 AM   Subscribe

The Art of Terror. Damien Hirst, one of Britain's most celebrated artists, told the BBC last month that the Sept. 11 attacks were "visually stunning" artworks and that the perpetrators "need congratulating." A stomach-turning account of how the art-dingbat world views the September 11 attacks.
posted by ZenMasterThis (61 comments total)
did you mean this instead?

"A stomach-turning account of how the art-dingbat world a single opinionated artist views the September 11 attacks."
posted by mathowie at 10:02 AM on October 9, 2002

3 artists, actually.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:04 AM on October 9, 2002

Haven't we like, so, like, talked about this already?
posted by agregoli at 10:05 AM on October 9, 2002

Oh no! Three people? It's a movement! (apologies to Arlo Guthrie)

Three people's opinions does not a representative viewpoint make.
posted by sigma7 at 10:06 AM on October 9, 2002

You could probably say that about a good 25% of what gets posted.

And three artists don't speak for the entire art world either.
posted by UnReality at 10:07 AM on October 9, 2002

Well, I can grant that the collapse of the towers was "visually stunning", but I'd tend to place the credit on the architects who designed as graceful a failure as possible.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:08 AM on October 9, 2002

I meant that you could say that 25% of what gets posted has been talked about before, obviously.
posted by UnReality at 10:08 AM on October 9, 2002

Read the original post: I was only making a statement about the more narrowly-defined "art-dingbat" world.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:09 AM on October 9, 2002

You were telling us how to think about the link. Please don't. It's rude.
posted by mediareport at 10:10 AM on October 9, 2002

The german composer Karlheinz Stockhausen made similar comments immediately afterward. He later apologized and qualified them. Yeah, people have weird viewpoints. Whoop-dee-doo.
posted by gsteff at 10:11 AM on October 9, 2002

Oh, come on. Lighten up people.

Damien Hirst is a dingbat extrodinaire and his dingbat views are representative of something about the ding-bat art world that keeps him in the papers.
posted by Pinwheel at 10:13 AM on October 9, 2002

I was only making a statement about the more narrowly-defined "art-dingbat" world.

Dude, you owe art-dingbats everywhere an apology.
posted by jonmc at 10:13 AM on October 9, 2002

Days before the one year anniversary, self-publicist and hackish hirst makes ott controversial comment only to retract it. Blimey. And stockhausen's was a bit of a different point of view, as i remember.
posted by robself at 10:15 AM on October 9, 2002

it seems to me to also be a comment on how dissociated, sadly enough, these artists are from visual experience. they're all from a long ways away from new york, and even though one guesses that hirst and stockh. spend a lot of time here, they obviously h ave a hard time equating the image with the reality. i'd bet that not a single artist from new york would EVER call it "visually stunning". and, i'd wager that if it was a block of the city of London that were gone, Hirst wouldn't say what he said eith e r. people from other places see the WTC in much the same way we see Gaza......tragedy, out there, somewhere. even more true for someone from New Zealand. the world is too big to be this small.
and it's not the "dingbat art world", it's just plain idiots. e
posted by alpha60 at 10:17 AM on October 9, 2002

I wouldn't describe art-dingbats as a "world." They're barely a community.
But really, this is a non-story. Will you next report on some socialist who thinks Stalin had it right?
posted by me3dia at 10:17 AM on October 9, 2002

Well, that does it.
I won't be buying any of Mr Hirst's Cows-sliced-and-submerged-in-formaldehyde pieces for my living room!
posted by 2sheets at 10:20 AM on October 9, 2002

i thought the article missed a simpler, if equally troubling, interpretation of the Three Dingbats' comments. sure, maybe they were "aestheticizing their politics" and "embracing violence and banality," but i thought they were expressing an opinion about the *representation* of the attacks in the media and the soon-to-be-indistinguishable collective unconscious, not about the killings themselves or even their political motive. i find it hard to believe that Damien Hirst, a man who slices up dead cows and encases them in plexiglas, would call mass murder successful art...but the *images* of the murders, i.e. the visual representations created in the course of the acts (the planes flying into the buildings, the collapsing plumes of rubble, etc.) do, arguably, have iconographic or aesthetic content. now before everyone flames my art history major self, let me say that this proposition should not obscure the *fact* and the tragedy of the events in question. for that reason, if i were any of these artists i would've just kept my big mouth shut because deconstructing people's pain is a tricky business.
posted by serafinapekkala at 10:22 AM on October 9, 2002

Stockhausen's site has a fairly extensive rebuttal to the charges that he was honoring the artwork of the terrorists.
posted by mediareport at 10:23 AM on October 9, 2002

One of the dingbat artists I know actually vomited on September 11. She would be dismayed at how you have lumped her in with this jackass.
posted by Fabulon7 at 10:25 AM on October 9, 2002

Damien Hirst makes a living by shocking people with his art and his attitudes. That's fine when you're cutting up barnyard animals and encasing them in blocks of plexiglass, or building crappy, overpriced theme restaurants in Notting Hill, but I think he's in grave danger of committing career suicide with those remarks, and he knows it, as evidenced by the apology he issued shortly after making them.

I intend to punish him severely by swearing never to buy another 5£ half-pint of lager from his pretentious Pharmacy bar...neener!
posted by MrBaliHai at 10:28 AM on October 9, 2002

bits from The Preface, from Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde.

The artist is the creator of beautiful things.

To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim.

The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.

They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium. No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.

No artist has ethical sympathies.

An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.

It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.

Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.
posted by the fire you left me at 10:28 AM on October 9, 2002

There's no way to say this without ticking people off, but objectively speaking the artist in question is right in saying the image of the planes hitting the World Trade Center was "visually stunning" and constitutes as art. However I disagree with his sentiment that those responsible should be congratulated. I love the street art that's all over downtown Dallas. Some of it is downright ..well, visually stunning, but if someone didn't get permission from the owner of that property to spraypaint his alley, it's still vandalism. It's still illegal and unethical to damage property.

The blood of my fellow Americans should never be used as an artistic medium. However, that's just what these bastard terrorists did. So they're not freedom fighters for their own cause. They're vandals. Criminals. Murderers. The fact they expressed their beliefs artistically is factual, but it's an afterthought.

This goes back to my tired argument about what constitutes art. What is art? It's expression. And these bozos flying planes into the World Trade Center WERE expressing themselves, so one can argue, rather successfully I might add, that what the terrorists did in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington was an artistic statement, as well as a geo-political one. The planes were paintbrushes. The modern American landscape was their canvas.

That very day, a plane flew OVER the White House, turned around and hit the Pentagon. It COULD have hit the White House. Maybe that was a screwup on the part of the guys in the plane. More probable though it was intended. That was a MESSAGE. They chose to hit the Pentagon, but made it clear they COULD have taken out the White House. Again, communication. Artistry. Expression.

Not pretty. But visually stunning, and it did get its message across.

Calling something art is not necessarily a compliment. I often find myself in arguments with people who think the definition for the word "art" has something to do with their personal opinion of what's good art. And it's not. If one believes in a supreme force in the universe, most everything in creation is an artistic expression of that force. However, while a flower's beautiful, a pig looks pretty ugly.

Art doesn't have to be liked by anyone to still be art.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:31 AM on October 9, 2002

uh oh.
posted by Fabulon7 at 10:31 AM on October 9, 2002

and to finish off oscar, '...All art is quite useless.' Bless him.
posted by robself at 10:32 AM on October 9, 2002

All this debate over what does and does not constitute art is nice, but me3dia is right: the original link is a non-story.
posted by UnReality at 10:35 AM on October 9, 2002

Thanks Serafina for summing up my feelings on the subject, but in a more precise way than I could ever have managed.

Hirst is always opening his mouth and blurting things out without too much thought, but however much rubbish is there he is still right when he says that "I think our visual language has been changed by what happened on September 11: an aeroplane becomes a weapon - and if they fly close to buildings people start panicking. Our visual language is constantly changing in this way and I think as an artist you're constantly on the lookout for things like that."

A friend of mine was flying on September 11th last, and said it was the weirdest feeling, sitting in a departure lounge surrounded by televisions all switched to CNN, showing THAT image over and over, just before you got on a plane. The image of the second plane as it is about to crash will be one of the definitve pictures of our generation.

Dammit, what Serrafina said, it was better.
posted by ciderwoman at 10:43 AM on October 9, 2002

Damien's apology.
posted by liam at 10:44 AM on October 9, 2002

I can't remember who said it, but truer words were never spoken:
Everything is art and everyone is an artist. All that is left to decide is whether or not the art is any good or the artists possessed of talent."
posted by Fabulon7 at 10:53 AM on October 9, 2002

While most of the story's readers would actually be tempted to do to Hirst what he usually does to his cows and sharks, the really interesting point, I think, is that it's very hard, even from a completely assholish and amoral point of view, consider that attacks "visually stunning", as Hirst is drunkenly trying to argue.

Even if you're so cold-blooded and black-hearted as not to care about the slaughter and the suffering, and you just brazenly consider the footage as a Hollywwod movie, well, it was not particularly interesting. A demolition job accomplished with planes.

A huge fireball, OK, but where's the "stunning part", if we really want to try and play art critic in front of the footage?

The Matrix accomplished much more that 9-11, visually, in a single scene, with a single helicopter smashing into a building (we can all check our DVD's for that).
So, Damien is not only a cynical prick, he's also artistically wrong -- as usual, I might add

The image of the second plane as it is about to crash will be one of the definitve pictures of our generation.
Sadly, you are assuming that there will be no other attacks of the same -- or bigger -- magnitude

The blood of my fellow Americans should never be used as an artistic medium
Of course it shouldn't.
I assume that you also mean that Afghan, Iraqi, whatever blood deserves the same respect, right?
posted by matteo at 10:55 AM on October 9, 2002

"I assume that you also mean that Afghan, Iraqi, whatever blood deserves the same respect, right?"

Of course, Matteo. That's not the question.

The point is blood shouldn't be used to express, but it HAS, and I fear it will continue to be so. Last night I saw a documentary on PBS about the Hood and the Bismark, two great battleships taken down in their prime early in World War Two. The documentary was about re-examining the historical accounts by actually going down into the ocean and attempting to find the sunken vessels over fifty years later, but what I took from that documentary was, why the hell do human beings keep trying to kill each other? What's the point? Yet the strategy of that battle, the precision of the men steering those ships and launching those weapons, as painful and inhumane as it was, it was also ART. Battle strategy is a form of art. Brinkmanship can be seen as art.

Fabulon's sentiment is on target. "Everything is art and everyone is an artist." It is I assume left to the individual as to what's good, but though something's bad, it can still be art. Watching an air show where a dozen great pilots fly in formation and perform amazing stunts in the air, that's art using airplanes which swells greatness in the hearts of those watching. That's the use of a plane to create art that's infinitely better than what those terrorists did.

Any bastard can blow up a building, but it takes a trained professional to know where to put the charges, how to take down a building that's been condemned in a safe, controlled, and yes breathtaking manner. If you have never actually seen a demolition crew, hired by a construction company, take down a building in a safe controlled manner, you haven't had an opportunity to truly see art in action. It's pretty damned impressive. The efforts and training of a team of people, their lives and their livelihood, focused into eight seconds of explosions and dust. Power can be used to destroy or create. Dirty the landscape with hate and blood, or clean it safely and make way for the future.

"..deconstructing people's pain" Ooh! VERY nice use of words, SerafinApekkala. That's kinda what it boils down to. We're so emotionally attached to the subject matter, some can't properly judge this objectively, and diss the people who can.

I don't see the difference between the terrorist's expression and the artistic forms of expression which have been spurned from that expression. Some of the cameras that were trained on the WTC that day were just handled by amateurs and some were professionals. A trained eye could tell which is which. Can we not call their efforts art? Photography is a form of art, even and especially if its capturing something breathtaking and heartwrenching as the impact of that plane into the tower.

During the Winter Olympics, a photographer captured this which to me is art. The efforts of those who put together the opening ceremonies, and carefully captured in the hearts of viewers around the world how we were all feeling, that's art.

Stepping away from Nine Eleven for a moment, the efforts of the Olympians reaching for the gold can be seen as art, and they were using their own bodies to express, just like a ballerina, or an ice skater for that matter. As well as the camera people who captured those moments of glory and sorrow. The images of those Olympians are expressions of art too.

I've seen a lot of documentaries and programs in the past year or so about Nine Eleven. Some of it was crap slapped together quickly to get it on television or on the radio fast and make a buck off of other people's suffering, but some of it really truly captured the emotion and reaction of a nation's people. Heck! Humanity! We can't call it art because of the subject matter?

Can we not call Nick Anderson's expression (originally published in The Louisville Courier-Journal) art?
posted by ZachsMind at 11:08 AM on October 9, 2002

Hirst has made a career out of glorifying death - the formaldehyde animals, severed cow's heads left to rot and grow maggots, butterflies released next to a canvas covered with emulsion so they can stick to it and die, a sculpture of a giant ashtray... I always found his work boring and predictable, designed to shock in the manner of so many "YBAs".

I'm going to make a picture out of elephant shit... Oh yeah, well I'm going to make a picture out of used condoms... Oh yeah, well I'm going to make a sculpture out of my own blood...

So what's the big deal that Hirst gets off on something horrific? What's horrific is the way Charles Saatchi has a stranglehold on the British art world and can foist these mediocrities on the public straight out of college, manipulating the artists as much as the public, and enriching himself in the process. Once an adman...
posted by fellorwaspushed at 11:09 AM on October 9, 2002

The blood of my fellow Americans should never be used as an artistic medium. However, that's just what these bastard terrorists did.

but it's not art if it wasn't intended to be art is it...? the terrorists meant to create fear and death, not art. the still images taken by journos and cameramen is what became photographic art. that's their art, not the terrorists'.

i mean my cat can purposely knock over my hand palette and when i pick it up it's made a pretty multicoloured smear on the the drop cloth... that's not art. right...? ...

damn, i could be making a fortune off of fools couldn't i...? here kitty, kitty, kitty...!

A huge fireball, OK, but where's the "stunning part"

you mean to say you weren't stunned by that...? i'm still a little wigged out. "visually stunning" doesn't mean it's pretty or attractive or a positive. i saw it, with my eyes, i was stunned. because of what it meant, because of the people and the act. movies are rarely stunning, breathtaking sometimes but it's all fake and explainable, not something i still ponder the wheres and whyfores of a year later.

nevertheless, that cow slicing guy is an idiot and the cows he uses better be "naturally fallen".
posted by t r a c y at 11:16 AM on October 9, 2002

#include <welcome_art_dingbat_overlords.h>
posted by tss at 12:09 PM on October 9, 2002

To my knowledge, nobody described Zapruder's movie as "art". But, and excuse me if I quote Walter Bejamin here, mechanical reproduction -- and the constant replaying of the footage -- can change the nature of the thing itself.

"visually stunning" doesn't mean it's pretty or attractive or a positive.

yes it does, for an art critic it does mean exactly that

Brinkmanship can be seen as art.

Zach, Palahniuk's take on the art of brinkmanship
posted by matteo at 12:17 PM on October 9, 2002

Everything is art and everyone is an artist.

i would has some intention of expression, i think, if not a "message" or a "point." That excludes, to me, anything created just to sell something: that's design. of course, art and design can overlap -- just visit the IKEA store in my hometown, Elizabeth NJ! /kidding.

A huge fireball, OK, but where's the "stunning part", if we really want to try and play art critic in front of the footage?

i'm with t r a c y, i was never more stunned in my life than watching those images replay again and again. i had never before felt my mind become completely blank with uncertainty and fear. now, i'd been listening to the initial reports on NPR and reading stuff online, so until a few hours later i didn't *see* any of the footage, and when i did, it truly stunned me, in a very "I'm about to be crushed by Godzilla and can't move a muscle" kind of way. and i purposely use a movie comparison because the horror of that day for me was encapsulated in the thought that continually ran through my mind, "This can't be happening, it's like a bad movie, reality has blurred [and become art?]." but maybe that's just me. all i know is, if Damien Hirst or Ed Ruscha or someone had *painted* a depiction of planes slamming into the World Trade Center and some art critic called it "visually stunning," we might how is the real thing any less so?

on preview: Zach, Palahniuk's take on the art of brinkmanship

um, is this the same Chuck Palahniuk who's featured in a Bacardi ad in my new issue of The New Yorker?
posted by serafinapekkala at 12:52 PM on October 9, 2002


I don't know about you, but I'm old enough (32) to remember the lamest ad ever, the Lou Reed / American Express abomination
Well, last night I listened to Waiting for my Man.
The song still kicks ass, AmEx ad or not
posted by matteo at 1:00 PM on October 9, 2002

All of this talk begs the question: why can't art be evil? I won't get into the "what is art?" morass except to suggest the crass - "stuff that people pay money to buy/watch or which ends up in museums and galleries." Maybe I'd also throw in the gratuitous "all creations, doings, happenings, shows, performances, ejaculations and excressences emitted by art students" (those who have gone into debt for at least $60,000 for their art degree).

But Sept. 11th? Art? My 100 year old Webster's say that "art" refers to, in the first meanings, "1) human ability to make things, creativeness 2) skill, 3) any specific skill, or it's application 4) creative work generally. Not bad for such a slippery word.

That definition is fundamentally constructive. Maybe our sense of what art is has changed in the last century. But I resist calling Sept 11 "art" for the same reason that I resist calling Hiroshima, Dresden, the Holocaust, or any other such atrocities "art".

Sept. 11th was clearly one of the most visually striking destructive acts of the century (and maybe the millenium). I can't get it out of my head. But I won't call acts of war "art". If you call them "art", then there isn't much evil and ugly in the war which isn't "art". You would have to call, for example, the act of a Palestinian suicide bomber blowing civilians, babies, children to random bloody bits "art". No thanks.

I did think, for the record, that it was a nice peice of ART when that guy dropped a dead cow filled with explosives onto an abandoned building, to blow it up. Performance art. Annie Sprinkle? Art too.
posted by troutfishing at 1:02 PM on October 9, 2002

At the risk of referencing another mefi bête noire, here's something from DeLillo's Mao II, (1991) - just substitute “novelist” for “artist”…

There's a curious knot that binds novelists and terrorists . . . Years ago I used to think it was possible for a novelist to alter the inner life of the culture. Now bomb-makers and gunmen have taken that territory. They make raids on human consciousness. What writers used to do . . . News of disaster is the only narrative people need. The darker the news, the grander the narrative....What terrorists gain, novelists lose. The degree to which they influence mass consciousness is the extent of our decline as shapers of sensibility and thought. . . . The more clearly we see terror, the less impact we feel from art.
posted by lilboo at 1:21 PM on October 9, 2002

do people remember david bowie's album 'outside' from 1995. a concept album w/a story. about a serial killer as artist. the concept was troubling but relevant to discussions of art at the time, what art is, can be, w/in the moral structures of our society. contrary to what some have said above, hirst knows exactly what he is talking about, and his apology is more of an explanation than an admission of 'guilt'. the issue is whether any concept can be outside the range of art. i would say no. but society has no responsibility to accept or propogate said art afterwards. but that does not mean that the art is not valid. and one more thing - art is not about consensus. three artists, even one artist, can be right . . . or at least true to the medium of artistic expression, even if their work/ideas revolt most people. remember, it is not about agreeing, but trying understand the unfamilar.
posted by buffalo at 1:24 PM on October 9, 2002

Pinwheel, have you ever considered that just because you don't find the work of an artist attractive or you don't understand a piece of work, it doesn't necessarily render the artist into a dingbat?
posted by Arqa at 1:24 PM on October 9, 2002

What Damien actually said was that the attack was "visually stunning" in that it was "devised visually", that is the attackers were aware that it would create spectacular imagery, demonically stunning publicity if you will. That seems unarguable to me. To compare it visually to a scene from The Matrix is to ignore how the element of reality affects our reaction to imagery.

He goes on to say:
So on one level they kind of need congratulating, which a lot of people shy away from, which is a very dangerous thing.

This is obviously a silly thing to say on the 9/11 anniversary, but he can't resist being an agent provocateur. Still, it's the artist's job to look at things from a different perspective and question taboos. Acknowledging the skill, as well as the evil, that went into envisaging the spectacular (literal sense) nature of the attack is worthwhile.

Damien Hirst makes a living by shocking people with his art and his attitudes.

True, and it's not the deepest motivation for art, but it is one with a long tradition and he does it with more visual elan than most, which is why folks line up at museums to see his stuff.
posted by liam at 1:29 PM on October 9, 2002

the fire you left me---thank you for putting some perspective into a thread that was inappropriately harsh and judgmental.

Now, as far as the comments made by the three "artists", I honestly don't see them as being that bad, save for the part about congratulating the 9/11 hijackers. It even surprises me that I feel that way, considering I so rarely understand modern "art", much less agree with the statements made by its creators. However, there is something compelling about the images showing the destruction of the twin towers. We have endless footage from that day, but which is the part that we have seen the most? Which is the part we most associate with that day? The images of the planes flying into the towers and the towers collapsing onto themselves are mesmerizing. Witnessing sudden, instant death has always been a fascination of ours--some of the most famous images we have are of that very thing. We even make movies depicting the destruction of our cities and landmarks through special effects. If someone labeled those movies "art", would we be outraged? Doubtful. Death is as meaningful to us as life. We already think of it as art, we just don't call it that.
posted by Zulujines at 1:29 PM on October 9, 2002

>"visually stunning" doesn't mean it's pretty or attractive or a positive.

>> yes it does, for an art critic it does mean exactly that

how can it, when art critics review art that is often quite ugly, when the purpose of that art is to not be "pretty", but to shock, stun, and force thought...? surely there are art critics who have looked at a work, been repelled by it, yet found it visually stunning. or do they all work from an official set of descriptives, each with it's own single, specific, set-in-stone meaning...? i've got to email an art critic or 2 and find out for myself, i'm really curious about this.
posted by t r a c y at 1:30 PM on October 9, 2002

Nice discussion! Silly article.

Until such time as these artists applaud the obliteration of Hiroshima in a wonderfully novel burst of light, or celebrate Hollywood for its beautifully choreographed violence, or embrace the American right to bear arms for its aesthetic potential...

Setting aside the fallacious argument, I can still name artists who have done all of these things. The writer really needs to get out more if he's going to write about contemporary art. As to the "what is art" question, my professional art-fag opinion is "anything with a price tag being sold as art in any venue or any object or action deemed free of price that is regarded as art by its creator and/or its consumers."

If someone feels the need to analyze these over-exposed pictures of the World Trade Center attack in terms of history, photography, or iconography, they're likely to fall into a common trap: the common interpretation of contemporary art as if it existed in a world without politics.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 1:36 PM on October 9, 2002

Aesthetics without ethics is emetically pathetic.
If someone labeled those movies "art", would we be outraged? No, it would be fiction.
posted by DenOfSizer at 1:40 PM on October 9, 2002

I've always considered it a particularly effective piece of theater- well choreographed and rehearsed, yet reliant on an element of improvisation as well. It took some time to recover from the shock and horror, but I eventually realized that I finally believed that performance could change the world...
posted by sticky nutz at 2:06 PM on October 9, 2002

t r a c y

suppose that I meet you somewhere and I tell you, "you're stunning"

do you take it as a compliment?
posted by matteo at 2:07 PM on October 9, 2002

"Art in its final degeneration exists to shock."
--George Orwell

"Careful, don't step in the art."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:19 PM on October 9, 2002

suppose that I meet you somewhere and I tell you, "you're stunning" do you take it as a compliment?

well, i am rather adorable in the flesh, but since when does the word stunning have only one meaning and only one attachment (ie: to his or her good looks)...? my query is do art critics all use that word with only one single meaning attached... is it truly an "industry standard" or does it just have shallow pop culture meaning (as a catch-phrase) that you can't assume every critic adheres to.

"Careful, don't step in the art."

i stepped in some art at the dog park last weekend... it was olfactorally stunning. (sorry, couldn't help meself)
posted by t r a c y at 2:29 PM on October 9, 2002

art is an explosive device that knows what you want before you do, is oak-panelled and operates on a quantum level.
posted by t r a c y at 2:56 PM on October 9, 2002

"Visually stunning", when applied to art, can imply "but lacking in some other qualities". Hurst conflated the term with "artistic", which is ill-advised, but not with "good art".
posted by liam at 4:25 PM on October 9, 2002

stun Pronunciation Key (stn)
tr.v. stunned, stun·ning, stuns
To daze or render senseless, by or as if by a blow.
To overwhelm or daze with a loud noise.
To stupefy, as with the emotional impact of an experience; astound. See Synonyms at daze.
American Heritage Dictionary 4th edition

This is an excellent description of how I felt when I turned on the TV that day. Sympathy for the act and the intent, in terms of human lives, is not something I agree with; acknowledging the tremendous impact of the image of planes hitting huge skyscrapers is something I can't refrain from.
posted by cortex at 4:39 PM on October 9, 2002

Sorry guys, but it was a spectacle conceived for its esthetic and symbolic effect. That's art. Even worse, it was a thousand times more effective than any other work of art has ever been. Art doesn't have to be nice. People have trouble with this idea, but there it is.
posted by Hildago at 7:44 PM on October 9, 2002

Did anyone else think of the horse in this movie upon viewing the cow sashimi?
posted by littlegirlblue at 8:23 PM on October 9, 2002

Yes. And, hey, I thought several of the bits (that most definitely included) were pretty visually stunning, too. Shame they're stuck inside such a dull, crap movie, though.
posted by cortex at 8:30 PM on October 9, 2002


Art, Lear-style.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:06 PM on October 9, 2002

"Visually stunning," is pretty appropriate. I mean, I was stunned. Watching that second plane hit, seeing what left my mother with occasion to say in horror, "Those are people falling," left me stunned (until the vomit and subsequent sobbing).

I don't think that art has to necessarily please the senses, but it has to stimulate them. I also believe that art becomes a thing more difficult to achieve the more jaded the world becomes. A universally good artist creates what lives in the admittedly fickle collective human psyche for years and years to come, whether it inspires pleasure, or anguish, or something other than apathy.

What happened then can be termed art, the perpetrators "good artists." But damn, what a genre to be a good artist in.

Amazingly enough, I can follow what Hirst was trying to say when he said that "on a level" they should be congratulated. If you focus on the one excruciatingly narrow-minded level where all good art should be praised.

Taking all levels into consideration, though? Fuck the one where they'd be praised for giving the world a series of images that are all but burned into our minds, one that millions of people are able to dredge up from memory at a moment's notice and still experience a twinge of horror, nausea or both. That thousands of people were killed nixes any possible appreciative artistic value.
posted by precocious at 9:10 PM on October 9, 2002

troutfishing: "That definition is fundamentally constructive. Maybe our sense of what art is has changed in the last century. But I resist calling Sept 11 'art' for the same reason that I resist calling Hiroshima, Dresden, the Holocaust, or any other such atrocities 'art'."

I acquiesce to troutfishing's wisdom. Art should be an act of creation. Not an act of destruction. The terrorists did express themselves in a ..creative way when they ran those planes into.. Merde. Calling their destructive act of desperation art is an insult to dadaism.

Dadaists at the turn of the 20th century would create massive works of art merely to destroy them before an audience. I know people who have 'damaged' property in downtown Dallas by spraypainting exquisite murals on alley walls. That's vandalism by the hand of artists, not 'art' at the hand of vandals. There are times when destruction can be viewed as art. Nine Eleven was not one of those times.

So though I hate to lose an argument, in this case I'll make an exception.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:32 PM on October 9, 2002

In that slamming airplanes into populated tall buildings is a guarantee of creating a shocking image, the concept qualities that are artistic.

To wit, enacting the concept would attract attention, shake people up, force them to question their ideas of truth and value -- just as all great (revolutionary?) works of art do.

That said, actually putting that concept into play -- to put brush to paper -- is not an artistic action. Not all artistic ideas merit creation.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:51 PM on October 9, 2002

Zachsmind - Thanks, although I might have written something totally different on a different day! Isn't everything art? I think the best "art" is unaltered natural objects, living things, scenery and so on. But humans consider art to be more related to themselves and their doings. Art can be anything, really. Some cultures worship death and find art in destruction. I like better when art is constructive. No mass murder, please. An exploding (already dead) cow here and there might be OK, though.

Glad I revisited this post one last time, so I could ask the (obvious?) what about hollywood disaster movies? Art? Were they art before 9-11, only to be demoted now to the merely "disturbing"? I think it's very likely that Al Qaeda got the idea itself from Hollywood. Why not? Life follows art follows life.
posted by troutfishing at 9:41 AM on October 10, 2002

« Older A nighttime menace or kids having fun?   |   Professor Barnhardts Journal Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments