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On Art and Poop

After reading about the finalists for the famed Turner Prize, whose recipient for 2012 will be named shortly  ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/dec/02/turner-prize-winner-announcement ), I became thoughtful on the nature of art and specifically upon the properties of that which we call "art." Paul Noble, the favorite to win this year, is well known for his "excremental city" Nobson, intensely designed drawings of a mythological city in which he uses fecal matter. I am not horrified by this, as some might be. In essence, i don't care about the medium so much as I care about the experience encountering the work. Does it change someone's opinion of the work to discover the nature of its properties? Would Lovecraft's Necronomicon be less awe inspiring as a tome if it was not human flesh that bound its pages? Or would we experience it differently? If a work in the field of Visual Arts is only interesting because it is real blood, or poop, or kitchen cleanser, is it relevant? If it is a work intended to stir us emotionally through our sense of sight, yet the focus seems to be on its properties appealing to us on an intellectual level, making us question WHY it is drawn in fecal matter, what does that mean? We spend our time asking "How do I interpret this?" as opposed to being emotionally affected by its beauty, or ugliness, or grandeur.

Taking it outside of the art world, do the properties of an item surpass the item itself? A friend of mine has a knife made out of a meteorite. Does that change the nature of the knife? What if it is actually not made out of a meteorite but he has been told that it is? Is it therefore diminished in some way, without his knowing? Outside of the financial value, does a diamond have more visual value than its indistinguishable fake counterpart? Ultimately, what Paul Noble's work asks us to answer is this: Is the IDEA of an item more important than the item itself?


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