"Whut thuh Hell is That?" (Steve Martin)
$600,000 interactive steel sculpture dismantled after it reflects sunlight that burns hole in man's jacket: The 16-foot high artwork — made up of two silver hemispheres — was installed outside the Genesis Center for the Community of Wellness in Calgary, Canada, in 2012.
The "Community of Wellness", you say. A bit ironic.
I've been a painter all my life, on and off; even had a show once and sold stuff. But the modern art world leaves me cold, except maybe for this worrisome piece, which apparently leaves some people a bit too hot.
Calgary's "Wishing Well" was created by a company called "Living Lenses", which has "two to five collaborators per project". They call them "installations".
A substantial part of art is big business now; it's basically manufactured, tends to be gimmicky and costs a lot of money - but it's great for tourism. People on vacation need something to play with and take pictures of, even if it's just a blown-up version of a ball-bearing split in half that interacts with one's cell phone.
Have you ever noticed that some vacationers never look at anything with their own eyes, but through the lens of a camera, so they can show it to people when they get home? They don't really experience the thing; it's just something to prove they were there.
These are the same people, I suspect, who listen to the TV news, while dozing on the couch, and think they know what's going on in the world. It's dangerous to listen to TV when you're half-asleep; it has the same effect as hypnosis. And leaving the TV on all day for company is equally bad for you, because only your subconscious hears what's being said while you're consciously mulling over what to have for lunch.
An elderly neighbour of mine, on finding out that I don't own a TV, was shocked. "How do you keep from going crazy?" she asked. Fortunately, I didn't have to answer that because another neighbour chimed in with: "Some people read books." Which is true, but in too many cases, it's mostly pulp fiction. Anything to distract from the boredom of what we call life.
Some old people live as if they're in a waiting room, with old magazines and a TV to hasten the wait time. But I would go crazier than I am if I didn't spend my days learning and discerning.
When the war in Syria was at its height, one neighbour stated emphatically that Assad was killing his own people (just willy-nilly, for no reason at all?) and disagreed that a fair election had been held there. She said it was rigged. And that's when my lack of a TV was held against me. "You didn't see the video; I saw what's going on there." Well, what could I say? TV had spoken with a more authoritative voice than mine could ever be.
(By the way, if you'd like to learn more about what's happening in Syria and environs, visit this blog. The author, Penny, has been analyzing the news on this for years.)
The same people like Hillary because the media favour her and a woman couldn't possibly be a cold-blooded killer; they don't like Bernie Sanders because he's too old, makes no effort to charm, and the media predicted his failure anyway; they believe the Russians elected Trump; they don't know much about North Korea except its leader is ugly and fat, so therefore crazy and dangerous.
These are decent, well-meaning people, but they don't own their own minds. If they had a chance to visit Calgary, they would point their walkers in the direction of that huge ball-bearing and take a photo to look at when they got home - maybe after an exciting visit to the emergency room.
They might even love the idea of turning their TV into a work of art. Yessir, you too can "Adorn your wall with a beautiful framed canvas painting, then with the press of a button the painting rolls up to reveal your television. Pretty James Bond, right?"
It was once said that art imitates life; but if TV, hi-teck art "installations" and Hollywood are any indication, life actually imitates art. Thankfully, I can't help recalling Steve Martin's best moment when he did his "Whut thuh hell is that?" skit. The problem with the YouTube video is that the really best parts are omitted.
Near the end of the skit, he called out something like, "Hey you kids, get away from there" and then said, "Don't put your tongue on it." I will always, always, crack up when I think of that.
In our cold Canadian winters it's always been good advice for kids. But it would also have been excellent advice for the people who visited the Calgary installation.
Finally Martin says, "Oh well, take a picture of me with it anyway." Too funny; too real.
I must say, however, that Calgary is not completely without taste in art. See below: It's by William Hodd McElcheran, Stephen Avenue, Calgary, Alberta, Canada . Image found here.
Accept No Substitutes!
Age doesn't always bring wisdom, but I figure that, by the time you are (at least) 60, you ought to have realized that you can live any way you want to as long as you can handle the fallout.
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