April 24, 2010

Making Meaning

Andy warhol eating a hamburger:

By creating a four minute video of himself eating a hamburger, Warhol - among many other things - transformed an act of ordinary stature into something quite extraordinary.  It's been suggested that Warhol was mocking his status as a celebrity artist, but perhaps he was just showing us that no matter how hard he tries, he will never be able to create something that is not valued.  He consumes a hamburger, we consume his art; he is "famous," we equate his work with value.

But just how much can the value of an object be pushed? And once value is increased, does it not become that much more desirable? Is "high" art really just "low" art with a mislabeled price tag, sold to an unsuspecting public?

Monica Narula of Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective explored just this topic in a 2006  installation where viewers encountered a stack of postcards in a museum quality display case in front of a large sign reading "please do not touch the art."  The ordinary, unassuming postcard transforms into an object of desire - accessible yet inaccessible all at once.
My point in all of this is that the making of meaning can be more important than meaning itself.  An object is only as beautiful as you are led to believe.


zMasquerade said...

Your post is inspiring.

Anonymous said...

this is also about the meeting of high and low. or maybe the high in the low? seeing the beauty in everyday objects

ie wataridori said...

I think you're mixing the art vs. not art debate with the high vs. low debate. I don't think high vs low is relevant to the post since Andy Warhol is essentially a pop star. Actually I think most post-WW2 artists, even Modernists, are "low art". You can tag them as "I like this" on Facebook, wear a shirt with their a picture of their face on it and put a poster of their work on your bedroom and nobody would find it weird.

Just said...

Hmm... if his fame makes everything he does art, does that mean Katie Price's books are literature? I hope not.

N_O_R_T_O_N said...

Thank you all for the comments. The intersection of high and low culture is especially interesting to me. I think we can all agree that Warhol, among other pop-artists, succeeded in challenging the definition and appropriate boundaries of "art."