Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Artful Dodger

Portrait of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe by Joseph Karl Stieler
When something painful happens, do you immediately think you can make it worthwhile by transforming it into a great work of art that will make you famous? Do you find yourself using your iPhone to take pictures of your wife when she's in a rage, and fantasizing about the show you will be having at the International Center of Photography, instead of attempting to fathom the source of the complaint? Did you consider writing a poem or short story about it and even try to submit it to The New Yorker before finding out what was bothering her? Creative expression was usually thought to be the province of artists. The artist’s life may have been one of poverty and self-sacrifice, but it’s one saving grace was that everything became gris for the mill. While average people tended to find no pay off in pain, catastrophe was like striking gold for the artistic prospector. At the very least the enemy earned a diary entry. At the best, he catalyzed "Guernica" or For Whom the Bell Tolls. However, today the degree of separation that was always a lagniappe of the artistic personality is available to anyone. Literally anyone can imagine himself the Cartier-Bresson of his time with the help of his or her smart phone. Most smart phones also are capable of giving Italian neorealists like Rossellini a good run for their money. Employing the video component literally anyone can make their version of Rome, Open City (1945) whether they’re in Buffalo, Albuquerque or Kalamazoo. Say you’re a Werther and want to record your sufferings, just flip open your iPad. Let’s say reading this post is making your confront some aspect of yourself that’s painful. Let’s say at the very least that it’s irritating, blog about it or just, “post a comment.”

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