Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Where are the televisions?
I’ve always felt the absence of TV’s in today’s art. People still paint traditional landscapes, nice pictures of trees and water, but what Americans do with the bulk of their time is watch TV. The absence of TVs in art seems like evidence of the extent of denial. When people talk, it’s about TV shows, their favorites on American Idol, the last episode of a popular drama. Most homes have multiple TVs, yet the interiors in art are thoughtful figures by windows, through doors, flanked by mirrors. It’s never seemed true to modern life. Past attempts to use it as a class project had limited success. Tom Symond’s piece showed me how to incorporate it as an assignment because TV is not bound by the traditional brightness constancy of reflected light. Tom brought this piece to show me in progress and it faithfully obeyed the rules, all the light on the screen diminishing with distance, the reflected light on the figure in the foreground, the strongest light in the piece. When I said, the TV has to be brighter, is on a scale of its own, he said, “No way” . He’d learned the lessons of brightness constancy well. And I learned that this was the opportunity to re-engage my students with TV as subject matter. After all, the world of projected light is pervasive, not just TV’s and computer screens. When I shut off the lights in my studio in the evening four little LCD,s are still glowing. Our attention is drawn to light sources, and is even more attracted to sources of movement. When a TV is on in the room even if you’re not interested in what’s on, if you’re focused on a conversation with a friend, it will periodically drag attention to its screen by the flurry of urgent motion. Let me know what you think about TV’s in art and why there isn’t more of it.