Size matters to art

A smarter friend than I (at least as far as these things go) explained to me once about a fascinating aspect of  meta-physics. I don’t pretend to fully understand or be able to relay it accurately, but basically the principle is this -> things at a very large-scale have a different set of rules that govern them than things at a very small-scale. Both operate outside the laws of physics that govern our reality in the in-between scale we live in.

I realize this reflects  my views of art and the scale and scope of work dictates different types of critical approaches to it.

Some artists operate on a very large scale and the rules and expectations for them are different. Think media artists who use billboards or newspaper space. Think yes men. Think Bansky. When you see it, that makes it a success. This is not the usual rule of what it means to look at art.

Some artists work on a very, very tiny scale because their work is so personal it is “beyond critique”. You can’t really criticize it because it is not a foray in formal aesthetics – especially if it is referencing social justice issues or family history / childhood trauma.  If you attempt to critique, you’ll come across looking like an ass. Think performance art. Think old black and white family photos in a light box at an MFA grad show somewhere. Think accompanying essay that is really thick compared to the actual work it supports. Think academic. Think therapy.  Juries tend to pick this kind of work as it’s “safe” from criticism and besides, who wants to admit they don’t get something? Not artists sitting on a jury.

The vast majority of us operate in the middle-class of art production and this has one distinct law that does not really exist at the large or small scales – the ability to be bought and brought somewhere else.

Is that why you make work in this scale?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s