Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tales from the Drunk Side: The Artist Formerly Known as Amir Hafizi

There's been a lot of talk about art since forever. In Malaysia, where the practice of art-making has been there since the beginning, and yet the organised community-wide appreciation of it is still in its infancy, a lot of conmen want to jump out and say that their view of art is the only view.

Damn them to hell.

Damn them all to hell. There are millions of ways to view art.

To me, art is simply communication. It is a means to transmit, to broadcast, which is more varied than normal communication. It's like in traditional musicals, when words are no longer enough to express one's feelings, the characters break into song. You don't simply put songs wherever and hope for the best.

Is beauty art? No. But there can be beauty in communicating an idea or an emotion. A beautiful photo can be beautiful, without telling any story, idea or emotion and there is no art there. It's just an art FORM. Art has both content and form.

There is potential for art in communicating even anger or hatred, sadness or fear. A theatrical performance need not be funny.

Plus, the contents of the art are sometimes only conceived at the point when the viewer or audience or 'experiencer' sees it. Quantum physics. Schrodinger's cat.

I have observed that when crowds here go watch movies or the theatre, most want to demonstrate that they get the message, and it is easiest when the message induces laughter. They are deathly afraid of not 'getting it', some of them, which will reduce egoes to a 'lesser state'. Anything which involves more than one emotion or state of being - a more authentic and common experience in real life - troubles some people.

They are afraid of being wrong, I think. But there is no right or wrong. I have sat stoicly, enjoying a very funny movie without once laughing or smiling. I enjoyed it, thought it to be very funny indeed, but that doesn't mean I have to laugh. I can also not enjoy it. Or enjoy it in a different manner. You can be seriously sad while watching a comedy, or horrified, but still enjoy it. It's like Springtime For Hitler.

I watch some movies because they make me sad. Or rather, I use it to allow myself sadness. Or anger. Sometimes, hatred. Perhaps the simplest example are songs. I don't listen to just one type of songs. I find that limiting.

Some songs, I listen to because it makes me angry. Some, make me sad. Others, thoughtful. I find that certain video game songs stimulate connections in my brain to better achieve certain effects. I use songs to compell me to write, as it stimulates or promotes certain types of connections in the brain. And none of them are classical music, except for Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No 3, First Movement. Also a preference for the harpishcord. Did I spell that right? Who gives a shit?

A more complex act of art-making is when you do not communicate things - ideas, thoughts and emotions - directly, but set things up so audiences experience the message themselves. It's like Lemmings.

Alan Moore is a master at this. He doesn't point to a picture or a bunch of words and say, "Be sad." or "I am sad." He takes you on a journey, and you will feel and think many things. You really feel like Indiana Jones, and that he is a crypt or labyrinth designer. With class.

If Gaiman is a master of art as a form, with his ninja-writing skills of duplicating styles, Moore is a master of content. He knows just how to make you get it.

I believe I have done enough wanking for tonight. Am rather lugubrious at the moment, so I might regret writing this masturbatory article tomorrow. But I shall think about tomorrow later, for tomorrow is another day.