I’m currently taking a break from writing my Early Medieval Art paper (sssssh! Don’t tell my teacher!). I’m currently writing about the Book of Kells. I already kind of started writing it, but just today, I figured out all the pieces to make this a topic I’m truly excited about: which is comparing the Book of Kells, a handmade work of beauty, to artist books, which I’m personally not a fan of because oftentimes, they seem to involve destroying books to make a piece of artwork.
As someone going into art conservation, I’m sure many of you can see why I think this poses a problem.
I recently heard about book arts from a fellow craftswoman at my current internship working with furniture restoration. I knew some of my more creative classmates in previous art classes did this, but I guess I never really grasped that people really treated it as an “art” like the kind you would see at museums or in textbooks. This bright young woman amusingly described her culture shock coming from England and learning about the more traditional book binding and coming to the states, taking a “book arts” class at one of the more prestigious art colleges here in the states, and then proceeding to be scandalized by what “book arts” actually meant.
Having said all this, I have seen really cool things done with this art medium, but the philosophy behind it is really saddening to me.
This philosophy being the “deconstruction” idea of art.
Given the kind of things I’ve seen in the past and am looking at for my research paper, a lot of these artworks seem like they didn’t take nearly as much time or care as an illuminated manuscript like the Book of Kells was. Heck, THAT book was never finished, and it still looks dazzling for its age. I’m willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that the various materials and adhesives used for a lot of contemporary artist books are probably a chemical nightmare as well. This meaning that I’m going to bet that certain medias are probably harmful to each other, which would speed up the degradation of the art piece.
This would be a real shame too, as this book art, which probably looks really cool, will just be gone after just a century if that. What’s even worse is that I’ve heard fellow art classmates say again and again that maybe some art is meant to be fleeting.
I suppose there’s something to be said about that. After all, a single rose has immense beauty, but withers and dies within a season…
…then again, human beings have the wealth, knowledge, and capacity to create art that lasts way longer than roses.
I can’t exactly say I blame artists 100% for thinking this way. I blame the Industrial Revolution. It really did jump start the speed and efficiency to create cheap products at the cost of quality and the environment. It seems that so many artists are busy, and create art quickly with this idea that art should be about “the message” and are discouraged from using techniques or trying to make their art beautiful. After all, if art is only pretty, then it’s “sublime” and therefore, not truly thought provoking in any way. That last sentence was sarcasm.
Having said all this, there is a fact that I cannot ignore: video game concept art, beautifully illustrated puzzles, animation, prints and posters created from Photoshop that are then mass produced again and again, and graphic novels. What do all of these genres have in common? They are all mass-produced.
A few days after launching this blog, I wrote a post basically poking fun at the snobbery that came with saying “Illustration isn’t art” when I’ve probably seen so many more illustrations that move and inspire me so much more on an artistic level than many abysmal contemporary paintings and sculptures that I’ve seen in the University and museums.
So, yes, mass produced art is problematic. The idea behind mass production makes creating original art a struggle, yet beautiful illustrative art grows so much because of mass production, but mass production is harmful to the environment no matter how much you try to make it more eco-friendly…
I give up! I’m going home to play Xbox… I mean finish my paper! Gah!