Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Brian Sherwin’s Thoughts Concerning Media Hyped Art

Brian Sherwin’s Thoughts Concerning Media Hyped Art
The media hype surrounding a work of art can be fascinating up until the point that fad becomes the status quo. I think with the art world today we see a lot of art that is only respected because of a landslide of press-- both legitimate and financially spurred. Warrant enough buzz and any news story is worth being in awe over, true? In that sense, the media-- specifically online media-- attempts to define what the public views as being of worth. Who are we to question the masses if Yahoo! News tells us that gold dust on vomit, titled ’Sprinkling of Fate’, is the most influential artwork of the year because the work conveys the losses endured in Iraq? I for one question it.

As far as I know there is no example of artwork involving gold dust and vomit-- and if there is I’m sure it is not titled ‘Sprinkling of Fate’. If I sprinkle gold dust on vomit in reaction to some foreign war nothing changes the fact that at the end of the day the work itself is gold dust on vomit-- something anyone could have came up with. The only value of the artwork, save for the price of the gold, is in the idea-- and I can’t help but think that said idea, if it were to be applied, can be conveyed in a more thoughtful manner instead of relying on the shock factor of the juxtaposition of two very different forms of matter.

With the right name attached to gold dust on vomit the work would be considered unquestionable genius and no doubt fetch a high price within the art market. I must ask, is that what art has become? Is the value of art today in a name, in a trend, in the ironic simplicity of hype-- fueled by those who wish to increase the marketability of their investment by hammering out media buzz? They always rely on hype in the end-- they rely on someone telling us why we should honor ‘Sprinkling of Fate’.

Art, in my opinion, should not be broken down to media driven hype or for mere profit-- art should not be a slave to investment. The art we come to know -- the art that defines us-- should stand on its own merit instead of being mastered by anyone with the financial reach to foster a half-baked accomplishment into a buzz fueled reality. Yet this money spurred cultivation of culture occurs at all times of day-- and not with just art.

If anything art should be an investment in culture. In my eyes there is more to who we are collectively than a dead fish in a tank, a visually mocked religion, or gold smeared in vomit-- or feces for that matter. That said, the same buzz worthy tricks appear to define who we are in the way it is driven by the media. If enough writing claims that a work of art is ground-breaking it does not matter what the public thinks-- that is where we are now in art.  Sadly, the sub-standard cult of shock rules the day and will most likely rule the art history books of tomorrow.

There is a way for us to take back art history from the media elite and fat wallet crafters of the mainstream art market. It is rather simple. All that we need to do is to voice our opinions about art and the impact that specific works have-- for better or worse-- on us as individuals. If you don't agree that so-and-so artist is the most influential artist living today as you have been told to think than by all means make your opinion known! I don't care if you express your opinion on Facebook or Twitter-- just make sure that you do!

Artwork-- especially by specific artists-- can be promoted virally online to the point that one automatically assumes that said art is groundbreaking based on hype alone. I’ve known people who can’t tell me why a specific work of art is meaningful other than the fact that they have read about it on several news sources. With that same concept in mind public criticism of art can spread virally and impact the way that art history is documented-- at least one can hope.

In closing, we should strive to test the opinions of those who try to define us as a people and as a collective culture. The best way to do that is to cut though the media art hype and make your opinion known. Show support to artists that you know of who don't have the financial backing that so few enjoy. Raise up a middle finger and release the most powerful weapon at your disposal-- your opinion. Make it known-- you can help to discover the greatest artists of tomorrow!

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin


  1. Couldn't agree with you more, Brian. When I see and hear the the conversation of people at a show opening all caught up in the hype of gold dust covered vomit being the latest and greatest, I just can't help but think of myself being caught in the middle of a Monty Python skit. We all need to stand up and if not raise a middle finger, then at least laugh out loud.

  2. I very much enjoyed your thoughts...excellent

  3. Great Post! People are insecure in their own opinions and rely on the media, art critics or whoever to tell them what is good art....ugh....same thing applies to fashion,et all.....

  4. Excellent Brian Sherwin, you are one of the few who know what it says and what he thinks, because the greed of money is corrupting the actual values, and there are many people who, not having the true information they believe the lie.

  5. Well said. This makes me think of Artspan's juried competitions, the results of which usually leave me shrugging my shoulders.