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  1. #1
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    The Irrelevance of Beauty

    Great piece in today's _Washington Post_ (more specifically about classical music, but relevant to visual artists as well)--

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...040401721.html
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  2. #2
    eddym's Avatar
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    Absolutely fascinating article!! Makes me understand why there's not much of a market for an unknown fine art photographer.
    Eddy McDonald
    www.fotoartes.com
    Eschew defenestration!

  3. #3

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    The results aren't really surprising given the circumstances and timing. It's also a matter of focus. Just as Bell was focused on his performance, his accidental audience had their own individual focuses that took priority.

  4. #4

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    David

    Thanks for the link. Makes me wonder what would happen if some of the leading modern photographers, whose images grace museums now, had to hang their work in subway stops instead.

    I can imagine a Jeff Wall lightbox in an airport concourse next to all the other lightboxes advertising vacations, cell phones, and computers. NO ONE would notice.

    Not that I think Jeff Wall's work can move people the way Joshua Bell can.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  5. #5
    David Brown's Avatar
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    Well, in all fairness to my fellow federal workers in DC, the overwhelming majority of the street musicians that play at DC Metro stops are just bloody awful! (In my experience...) That Bell should have been noticed because he was the exception may be true, but expectations are pretty low.

    I was amazed, for instance, when I was lucky to visit Munich a couple of years ago, at the level of musicianship of the many street players there. (mostly college student age) However, I think that the small, but constant, crowds that they drew were mostly tourists. This, also, would not be the case at L'Enfant Plaza.

    There is a slightly better level of music in San Francisco and New York, and the best I've heard has been in Boston. But nothing in the US is like Munich, or Rome, or London, or ...

    As for photography, I also know that both context and audience are important. Some people just want "pretty pictures", and no amount of "artistry" will be noticed.

  6. #6
    jstraw's Avatar
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    Interesting read.

    Maybe they could next try decorating an airport concourse with Jeff Wall's work and see if anyone responds to them out of context.
    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. In velit arcu, consequat at, interdum sit amet, consequat in, quam.

  7. #7
    jstraw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pinholemaster View Post
    David

    Thanks for the link. Makes me wonder what would happen if some of the leading modern photographers, whose images grace museums now, had to hang their work in subway stops instead.

    I can imagine a Jeff Wall lightbox in an airport concourse next to all the other lightboxes advertising vacations, cell phones, and computers. NO ONE would notice.

    Not that I think Jeff Wall's work can move people the way Joshua Bell can.

    I should have checked for posts between the time I read the link and made my post!

    I agree that competing with people's "hurries" is an issue here. Should done a lunch hour in a plaza or evening rush hour when people's hurryings are more discretionary.
    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. In velit arcu, consequat at, interdum sit amet, consequat in, quam.

  8. #8
    jovo's Avatar
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    It'd be interesting to know what would have happened if Bell had been identified as the virtuoso he is: mounted, matted, and framed if you will. As with the Kelly analogy, labels and context matter perhaps far more than we think they do. It's additionally disheartening to realize that Bell was ignored performing on an instrument of long recognized, traditional familiarity, and playing music that, though 'serious', is nonetheless also familiar. No wonder we're led around by our noses by critics and gallerists who tell us what matters in art, and who we should be looking at.

    Thanks, David, for the very interesting link
    John Voss

    My Blog

  9. #9
    Shmoo's Avatar
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    Thank you for the link, David. It's sad that we don't seem to think we have the time to stop and listen to a brilliant musician, or view a phenomenal piece of art, or even read a well-written piece of literature whereever it is. In this "hurry up" world of ours, we often let the label-givers and context-builders the say in what we listen to, look at, and read.
    Save the Earth. It's the only planet with chocolate.

  10. #10
    AZLF's Avatar
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    I detected more than a slight whiff of elitism in the article myself. There was no mention of the fact that had the reporters involved with this article been among the uninformed passing crowd they probably would have reacted about the same.

    But they did get one thing right. Or near right.

    Context is important.

    Americans are inundated with images and music. There have been countless photographs used for advertising which had they been introduced in the medium of the art exhibit would be proclaimed to be peerless examples of the photographic art. We are blasted 24/7 with music of every stripe including classical played faultlessly behind the words of the tv/radio ad. For our own protection we must narrow our visual and audio perceptions less we be struck dumb and motionless before our day has gone far.

    Had they put a sign behind Mr. Bell explaining that this world class musician was playing even for private reasons the people passing by would have had a clue that they were not being assaulted by yet one more attempt to implant a selling suggestion. Or bum some change.

    As a university trained musician who has played classical and can recognize expertise when I hear it I doubt I would have stopped myself.

    Why?

    Because I am not a big fan of the solo violin. I prefer at least a string quartet within the genre but in truth classical is not the style of music that most moves me. I respect classical music and the people who play it . I have a pretty good idea of what they have to do to play the music well. But it is not what rings my bell. Also the majority of street musicians I see and hear are not on the street as a sociological experiment. They are there because their previous actions have led them to the point that they must, "sing for their supper" as it were and I don't find the venue particularly appealing.

    And not everyone has an ear for music no matter what the type or quality of execution. I have a friend who is gifted in both speaking and writing. He loves what he does (he has his own weekly 4 hr radio program ) in which he has nationally known guests as well as solo editorial comment on the happenings of the day. He is tireless in his research for an interview and will schedule an interview with an author only after he has read the author's work. Not all radio hosts do as odd as it may seem.

    And he has an ear of tin. That's not to say he does not enjoy some forms of music. But he cannot distinguish a good player from a bad one nor whether the music is being played in tune or out.

    The article while interesting reeks with the condescension of of the self appointed elite. "Look what happens when you grace the banal existence of the base with an example of the sublime".

    Titter, titter.
    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=10716
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