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Cool Thoughts

**Image: Jim Beam - J.B. Turner Train by artist Jeff Koons. "The sculpture was created in 1986 as part of a Jeff Koons exhibition called "Luxury and Degradation." The notion, as Koons has explained it, was to "suggest how the idea of luxury, through abstraction, is used to induce a psychological state of degradation."[Slate] The 9.5 foot stainless steel train filled with Jim Beam Bourbon sold at Cristies Auction for $33.8 million in 2014.

“No, the thing to do is try to make a painting that will be alive in your own lifetime…after thirty or forty years the painting dies, loses its aura, its emanation, whatever you want to call it. And then it is either forgotten or else it enters into the purgatory of art history. But that’s all just luck.” – Marcell Duchamp

I have a problem that I have been thinking about.

This is a world where visual art is accessible simply by swiping the screen of my Samsung galaxy. By sliding awake the eye of my I-pad, by cracking open the pseudo book covers of my Lenovo laptop.

Art, or arts at least abound.

Not just art sucked through wires from museum walls and encyclopedia pages, but the entire range of art product. Amateur attempts craving praise, wild illustration and conceptual crazes. Some of it good, most of it not. An audience in every eye for a 3 second performance blinking across an I-product. Swipe, smile (albeit small), share. I saw what they were doing there and I want you to know, that I knew it too, possibly before you.

-but hey, don’t take this the wrong way. I too feel like you, drowning in a sea of what I see, and just like you I too pass it through with the whisper “Cool.”

I find it clever when Family Guy characters are transfigured into characters of Game of Thrones.

I appreciate the meticulous imitation of Beiber, or Beyonce repatriated from photography and represented as originality.

I enjoy the experience of understanding the idea behind a particularly political piece or ludicrous sculpture or series of images meant to drive home a point.

I get it.

The lawn chair affixed to the wall represents the relationship between a viewer and the art giving me the impression of participation when I am really only that; A viewer. I can get behind the idea. I see it. Its “cool” and I move on.

You see? It could not move me emotionally,

only mentally and that is the essence of “cool.”

Cool conveys an understanding--

What he did or was trying to do I can see too and that’s “cool.” Visual stimuli which engages intellectually without breaking through my barrier of passivity. I am not actually a participant. I must be told what I am supposed to see to get a minor mental rise out of me.

This cognitive landscape is made for “cool.”

I got it.

I like to get it.

The cerebral jist to scratch my itch. Images flash by with the swipe of an eye. Picture after picture follows finger across the screen and I am intrigued.

“That is funny what they did there.”

“I see it now”

And on to the next.

Article headlines have to appeal to my sense of real.

“Check out this touching X”

“Awestruck by Y, see what comes next”

Please explain, I am in the game - But thought games are not the same as art. Art isn’t just “cool.” You cannot engage with “cool.”

As if an intellectual exercise could be the thing to open my eyes.

No the art seeps in through the heart and sticks like a slug squashed under bare feet. You can’t wipe it away.

Participation is a stipulation of beauty. And where ideas demand definition, definition is derided by contradiction in the mystery of beauty.

Art has to appeal to a sense of beauty that you feel. It cannot be captured on a screen the size of a playing card and consumed while scrolling scattered stimuli.

It’s an experience just to get me by, but it would be a lie to try and pass it off as an experience actual; substantial.

I guess all I am trying to say is be careful what you are calling art.

“What is to be done about these literary people, who will never understand that painting is a craft and that the material side comes first? The ideas come afterwards, when the picture is finished.” – Renoir
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