Long term followers of my blog know I’m not a huge fan of Maurizio Cattelan’s banana duct-taped to a wall stunt. Some might even say that I was one of its most outstanding critics [see: Is Maurizio Cattelan’s $120,000 Banana Brilliant Art or Bullshit on a Platter? and A Moment of Solipsism Triggered by Maurizio Cattelan’s Banana.] But one of the effects of Cattelan’s banana art is that it’s the second thing that may come to mind when one thinks of a banana and art, the first being the Warhol banana that was on the cover of the Velvet Underground’s debut album:
Neither the Cattelan piece, as an image, nor the Warhol silk screen are aesthetically of any inherent interest, but both were catapulted to iconic status because of exterior hype. It is difficult to disentangle what is aesthetically satisfying and what is merely familiar in the contemporary art audience’s minds, as generations have been engineered to believe in the paradigm that visual art serves the purpose of proposing ideas in linguistics. That said, curiously, my digitally taped banana looks good, while Cattelan’s actual banana doesn’t.
Lest anyone think I’m missing the point, I do realize that aesthetic indifference is a historical precedent going back to Duchamp’s “Fountain”, and is considered a perpetually significant criticism of the visual end of visual art.
If you want to understand contemporary/conceptual art, it is the art of coming up with the next gimmick.
That’s a bit harsh, but as someone with an MFA in the discipline, I’m pretty sure really a lot of conceptual art has a bullshit element to it. If you give up on conceptual art, as I have, and just try to do something like illustration, you have to give up the BS-crutch, which is the ability to talk anything into relevance. This is NOT to say all conceptual art is bullshit — I don’t think it is — but that there is definitely an overwhelming element of subjective and relative contextualizing to impart meaning on something that might otherwise seem both meaningless and visually uninteresting (ex., Duchamp’s Fountain or Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes].
Whether Cattelan’s infamous conceptual breakthrough was utter bullshit on a platter or not (I’m pretty sure it was], it has nevertheless become a pillar in the contemporary art institution. And so quite naturally, you might say inevitably, it popped up in my own consciousness to recreate Cattelan’s “sculpture” after I made a banana in Blender as a practice exercise.
It also occurred to me to animate the banana, so that the tape falls onto it and wraps around it. You can see this video on my Instagram, by clicking on the image below.
There’s something curious about my animation, which is that, even more than the still image, it has the scent of “contemporary art” about it, which I predicted it would. So, in addition to doing this as an exercise in a few technical aspects of Blender, I also wanted to test to see if one could make passable contemporary art (which is not the same thing as fine art) with it. You can.
There’s another weird thing, which is that — at least for me — if I look at the photo of Cattelan’s banana, and my digital recreation, I really have a hard time negotiating between my eyes and my brain which one is the super important work of contemporary art by a celebrity multi-millionaire artist, and which is the one by someone nobody’s ever heard of, and which has no monetary value at this point. The virtual reality threatens to appear in some ways more real than the photo (ex., the tape really sticks it to the wall, and the textured grit of the stucco helps cement it].
If you’re like me, well, I have this thing where I will learn that one thing is right — like the pronunciation of a word — and the other is wrong, but I won’t remember which is which. I’m gonna’ go with the one on the left being the super important work of art, and the one on the right being nothing by nobody with, and less than 30 likes on Instagram.
I do quite like it, and I have a heap more ideas for Blender projects I’m dying to do. Don’t worry, they are mostly not conceptual, unless I’m in a prankster mood. And remember that while pranking the art world is considered the mark of contemporary conceptual art, pranking contemporary conceptual art isn’t considered anything.
If you’re wondering how this image or animation punks Cattelan’s piece, you just need to come up with any ridiclous thing, as long as you can make it into a grammatically correct sentence (how does Milo Moire’s performance of dropping paint-filled eggs out of her vagina onto a canvas below critique Jackson Pollock?]. So, for example, while Cattelan only taped a banana to the wall once, my animation does it indefinitely, therefore he is upstaged.
Oh, right, it doesn’t need to be grammatically correct, just decipherable, and the more absurd the better.
For the record, I don’t consider my creation an important work of contemporary art, nor that which it is based on. I do think it’s good practice, and kinda’ cool.
Stay tuned for more serious work.
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