Shock Jock Art

Diminuendo and Crescendo
in Blue
, Ellington
copyright, 2021
Molly Larson Cook
30 x 24, Acrylic on canvas

I ran across a phrase in the news this morning that hit a nail I’ve been aiming for right on the head.

Shock jock art.

I am not a shock jock artist. Nor do I aspire to be. But sometimes, I’ll admit, the big dollar numbers associated with the shock jock art world have a siren call. Apparently they have the same siren call for people who have never before thought of themselves as artists.

Before I jump into the deep end here, let me offer this caveat.

I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.

I get lost in every discussion or article about digital (shock jock) art, especially any that mention NFTs (non-fungible tokens). To me we are talking apples and oranges. Painting and technology. I’m good for about 30 seconds and then I’m either bored, exhausted or too confused to find my shoelaces. Or my paint.

I’m hardly a newbie to the art world, but in today’s art world, “that don’t make no never mind.” These days, pieces of the art world are way too new for me.

When I want to find something new to discuss about art, I’m likely to compare various acrylic paints or canvasses. I might even speak of artists themselves, and a computer might wander onto the scene now and then because don’t we all use computers for one thing or another like writing art posts?

What many of us don’t use computers for is painting. Or sculpting. Or other practices now commonly called “art.” And please don’t start bombarding me with the wonders of Artificial Intelligence. It’s either intelligence or it’s not, just the way sugar is either sugar or it’s something else like aspartame, so please don’t call it sugar.

In my Great Big Book of Life, art is art and there’s nothing artificial about it. And like so many things of value, the value rests in the work itself. In the creative spirit. If anybody with a computer can create “art” then the value changes. And a four-year-old might really be able to do it.

I’ll grant that it’s not just owning a computer, but knowing how to use it. And therein lies the question – when does digital art – shock jock art – stop being technology and begin being art?

For me, that happens the moment the programming and pursuit of money become more important than the creative spirit.

Yes, of course, we all want to make money with what we do, and every artist I know welcomes the sales that happen because in our culture money is not just a kind of affirmation, it’s necessary to keep body and soul alive. You know, shelter and food and clothes on our backs.

But for those of us who do art to satisfy our creative spirit, the knowledge that other people who limit their creative actions to “getting more money,” the whole thing becomes a laughable charade.

The image of someone with millions spending that on NFTs as art is very funny. I don’t envy the person who created that. Not for a million dollars.

In her essay “Art” in Critical Terms for Media Studies, Johanna Drucker wrote: “In the modern to contemporary period, the prevailing belief is that the distinctive identity of art derives from the unique ability of individual artists to give formal expression to imaginative thought.”

If the only imaginative thought happening is how can I make a million bucks with this, we’re back to apples and oranges.

And since, as poet Mary Oliver reminded us, we have only one wild and precious life, I know how I want to spend mine.

8 thoughts on “Shock Jock Art

  1. I may not get to the pleasure of digital art anytime soon, but as long as they’re happy and I’m happy, no problem…

    Thanks for the note…

  2. Good job sweetheart this is such a big farce it sounds more like a Ponzi scheme to me it certainly is not anything close to art. A person could also say the Golden Statue of trump by Zegan was also art, how much money can l throw away!

  3. Hey, I’ve never even HEARD of “shock jock art.” How would I have time to even RUN ACROSS IT — I’m still trying to learn the last 6 pages of the Chopin 4th Ballade. (Well, I can play them, but only “after a fashion.”)
    Speaking of art, I saw the to one of my new favorites, the Book of Joy, among the books in a cut on the right.

    Right now, I’m reading (again) ” Longing” by J.D. Landis, the story of Robert and Clara Schumann. Now there are two artists who one would have done well to know. WHY SHOULD ONE WANT TO SHOCK?
    Just play a little Schumann, and feel close to everything that right.
    (Listen to the Fantasie.)

  4. Your “it’s sugar or it’s something else” comment reminds me of what my brother did a couple decades back. He was associating with people who were into organic food and all and who were big on brown sugar because it was more natural and healthful. He tried to tell them about molasses and white sugar, but finally resorted to using food color to dye some sugar blue and some red. When they asked for brown sugar, he would say, holding out the sugar bowls, “I don’t have any but would you like some blue or red sugar?” I’m not sure what kind of reaction he got.

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