Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Art of Illiterates

After Labor Day in Grand Rapids, MI the "next big thing" is ArtPrize. I've commented on it before. This usually gets me thinking about art qua art. (And saying hifalutin words like "qua.") My wife remarked at breakfast this morning that one of the profs (who teaches movie-making) repeated this quote: "Film should be looked at straight on, it is not the art of scholars but of illiterates."

I believe the point he was trying to make was that film naturally puts few demands on the viewer.

Keep in mind that illiterates are not necessarily stupid. There have been some very clever people who never get around to learning to read or write.

Film, by presenting brute imagery and sound to the consumer, is consumed without necessarily engaging the higher cognitive functions.

I suppose this means the screenwriter must strive to represent the mythic or iconic in her screenplay, because that is how it will be best consumed.

Conversely, the author of Russian novels realizes her readers have strong arms and great upper-body strength to lug around those long, heavy tomes. The author of Victorian novels realizes her readers have long attention spans. And the contemporary author expects her readers read at at least a sixth-grade level.

The gallery viewer of walls-sized canvases brings different expectations to the art than the comic book reader who sees virtually the same thing.

When you produce art, there's more than just "the medium is the message." Each medium brings a different audience.

The different audience brings different eyes and ears to the work depending upon their expectations. We all should work to understand our audience and work with their expectations as opposed to against them.

There is a time for the mathematics lecture that you can find in Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. And there's a time for breathless action scenes as you can find in Larry Correia's Monster Hunters International. Your job is to sense who is buying your books and produce the time they are expecting.

Apology: i fear you might draw the wrong conclusion from my choice of pictures from Roy Lichtenstein and Tony Abruzzo. Though I question the intelligence and common sense of those who spend big bucks to fill modern art galleries, I do NOT want to demean any comic book readers and intended no slight toward Mr. Abruzzo by juxtaposing his art with a derivative copy.

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