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.


Mizz K. Lulu said...

Nam June Paik is the reason I think people stay away from using televsion in many works of art. He sort of invented the idea of using the television as a medium in sculpture and used it as his schitck. Although I agree with you in that it should be more prominent in art. I think the reason people avoid it so much is that it is a topic that is scary to confront. Much in the way that identity in art is scary, many people have chosen the television as their identity by speaking for it rather than speaking for themselves.

Michael said...

It's an interesting Question you bring up.. I've placed tv's in a couple of pieces of my own. To create a feeling of ambiance or just an object to fill a room.

After reading your article I only found two pieces of mine with Televisions in them. While Tv is not the focus of the characters within the piece.. the whole composition in the link above does seem to revolve around the television.

Some reasons people may not use television too often is because art is a way to get AWAY from Tv and relish in your independent thoughts, with out carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders or being bombarded by what new products you should be owning. The television is static and noise, and you may not want to associate that when your expressing an a emotion or idea from your head onto paper (or whichever medium you may choose).

There may also be technical reasons TVs don't show up.. they are not the easiest things to draw. Like you mention in your statement, they effect the very room they are in with their powerful glow. This maybe an ambiance which is hard to observe considering when a TV IS on it grabs most of your attention. Your going to be more focussed on what is on the glowing box, rather then how the light falls around it.

Michael said... go_to_your_room2.gif The link was not cooperating!