Review of an Untitled Masterpiece
I beg you
It's only once in a great while that one bears witness to a piece that has in it such a depth of character, such a nuanced outlook on the world, and such a history of honouring its forebearers that one looks at it, and they understand, that this is what the world needs most right now. Indulging in art is indulging in your heritage, and honouring what came before you as not only a matter of history, but as a matter of respect to those who came before you, and understanding just what it took for the world to be shaped the way it is now. Art isn't worthless, and anybody who says so is ignorant of the way the world was shaped. Indeed, art is the world. It represented it, it made the world, and it is what we may all rely on even at the end of days.
No other piece more better captures this sentiment than this untitled piece by one Miss Butler, who not only expresses within her work the entirety of the American culture, but provides such an effective contrast from the way that the world is, as compared to the way the world was, that few other pieces of media may compete with it for the sheer scope, the sheer impact, of what it sets out to do. Its crude scribblings are only enhanced by the brilliance of the lettering and the composition, where each stroke is deliberate, and yet raw and unfiltered, creating a piece that all who lays eyes on is not only able to see the piece from their worldview, but from the worldview of everybody else that they have the privilege to understand. It is a work for everyone and everybody - and it is, miraculously, uncommercialised because of these traits.
To go on further with introductions would only damage the impact that the work has on the viewer. It is one that must be learned about to fully appreciate its magnitude, its size and scope, that it has in representing the world. Please, without further ado, let's dive right in with this short little review about a very great work of art.
The Construction of Symbolism
The brilliance behind Jasper Jone's piece, Three Flags, is not that it a technically skilled piece of artwork repeated thrice. It's brilliance comes from the artwork being the most banal and recognisable piece of symbolism known to the world, the United States flag, and being repeated twice. In some sense it says nothing at all, because its familiarity, repeated three times for no good reaosn, comes before anything that can be said about the piece. For hundreds of millions of people, it's the flag they are forced to pledge allegiance to. It is intimately familiar, unaltered, and with nothing within the piece satiricising or even provoking some discussion about the flag. It's simply a symbol for an optical illusion.
And yet, though the familiarity of the symbol is so universal, the viewer cannot help but apply their own biases into the piece. For many countrymen, the United States flag is a symbol of oppression, the standard of what not to be, and the flag which ravaged the land of millions of innocent people all across the world for no other reason that imperial domination, but historical and in the present. To others, it is the symbol they live their life by, where all that is good in the world is American, where they may indulge in a culture that they built from the ground-up and has specifically created to be as different, and much more transient, than the rest of the world, fulfilling a paranoid isolationism which contradicts itself by showing up in almost every other culture.
If you were not aware of the United States flag, and all it stands for, then you would not feel a thing for this image, much like somebody who is unaware of modern Japanese history would feel nothing for their flag, representing the same paranoid isolationism, while still with oppressive and imperialistic aims. It would be just another decontextualised flag, vaguely familar in its construction, though with none of the connotations or symbolism that beget the flag. Although it has been stated that the artist does not mean to imbue any of his works with the symbolism provided by the flags he draws with, it is still there, and so it does us no good to simply ignore it. Death of the author and all that.
I bring this up because the very same scenario is present here: the berries in the untitled piece are banal. They are unremarkable figures utilised less for their inherent symbolism, but because the artist needed an archetype that assists the audience in discussing the piece. When an audience member looks at the work, and they see such exotic names as "Pitaya" and "Graviola" - names which are foreign to the vast majority of people - they think absolutely nothing of it. Whereas the flag example was chosen because the flag had been so overexposed to so many people that it became meaningless, the opposite situation is here: the berries are so underexposed as to become meaningless. One is imbued with the curse of knowledge. The other is blessed with ignorance.
But the artist does an excellent thing here, in order to contrast with the immediate foreignness of the work. What the artist has done, cleverly, though a bit blatantly if you ask me, is take the foreign, unremarkable, and crudly-drawn pieces of art, and apply the names of famous United States presidents to them. Every United States Citizen is familiar with these names - even foreigners have some recollection of them. They invoke imagery unlike any other names, arouse more passion, more opinion, than any other. They are the most famous, and most influential, presidents to have ever graced the land. And in a time where the nation is more divided than it has been within the half-century, this is an especially powerful technique.
Pitaya Obama. Acai Washington. Acerola Lincoln. John F. Graviola Kennedy. And Franklin Goji Berry Roosevelt. Every single one of these names means something to somebody, even bastardardised from their original form with the banality of fruit, because they are simply that powerful. Who would have thought that in 2008, it would have taken so long for a black American to become the President? And before him, who would have predicted the outstanding success of Roosevelt? The death of Kennedy? The founding of a nation and the rejoining of it as carried by Washington and Lincoln? They are but names. But the names are so evocative, so full of history, that they trudge through whatever piece they carry.
They dominate the piece. They do not need representation within it for the audience to understand their sheer weight, their sheer importance, because the names are their sole representation. Even the satiricisation of these berry presidents by not having them look, by any means, like their supposed namesakes, is secondary to the history of the names that grace the mark of this page. When the artist crudely draws a top hat on Acerola Lincoln, giving up after it, realising the impact of what she has already created, then it shows that not even the creator of a piece can grasp the sheer brilliance of it.
With just a few words the piece imbues within it all the symbolism it ever needed to. And when the piece is further carried by the visual arts that grace it... then it is exceptional.
The Construction of the Berry Presidents
How are the presidents made? Are they being satiricised, implying that even in a nonsensical format, all you need is a label or a name to bring some imagery to the work? Or are they being honoured, giving them kindly faces, so that even for those few who are unaware of their legacy, they may be honoured as kindly individuals. It is a mark of a great art piece to mean so much to so many different people, and I am proud to have the knowledge to share many interpretations of this work with you. To be educated to the point to live the life of not just myself, but for all other perspectives I have learned about, is an honour. I really mean it.
The Berry Presidents are childish in their construction - and we must remember that "childish" should never be seen as a bad word, so long as the work is good. They are simple, and they are appealing, with the discipline as applied by a woman of experience onto the work, unlike that of a bored scrub crudely creating something with no intent for it to become some grand work of art that would go unnoticed by everybody except for the most vapid individual who thinks their opinion is either so important or is so drenched in piss that they overreach the doodles for the sake of having something to do because focusing on real art is too far off his platter to deal with.
I have noted before that their construction have nothing to do with their names, as their names carry the piece. It is also important to note that the presidents are also disconnected with the berries that they are supposedly representing. There is nothing linguistic, cultural, or shapely in their similarities, as they are completely arbitrary berries for the presidents to be associated with. They all have the same face, the same feet, the same materials, and same connected theme: they are berries, but it does not matter that they are berries. What matters is that they are simply represented, and in doing so, provide an awkward disconnect between the force of their names and the non-force of their appearance. Awkward in a good way - art is obliged to make the audience feel new things.
The thousand-yard stare as provided by all the berries exist to make the audience uncomfortable. Are they perhaps looking at us, or looking at something far off into the distance? Are the position of their faces in any way relevant to the position of their heads? I don't want to call it forced perspective, as that would be a malignment of a completely different term. I will say that it forces the audience to notice the berries, and look them in the eye more so than if they were faceless. It humanises the berries, and this is important. If the berries were generically anthro, or had they not had any human traits at all, it would have been a missed connection between the names and the appearances. I talk about the names a lot. They are important names.
It takes a special type of talent to create characters in one fell swoop, but this is what has happened here - lest there be a billion different presidents behind that page which we do not see. The artist has clearly developed her form to the point where she only needs to create a first draft of a work for it to have the desired impact - and though my eyes may be failing, I cannot find evidence of any eraser marks, so you may smite me if you happen to find some. Nevertheless, it is apparent that the artist did not need to do much editing at all of the work, providing a cleanliness and confidence that is so rare to see in the visual arts. Too often are pieces subject to the editing table, hacking off all its purity until it is genericised enough to be shipped off to an audience and sold. This piece avoids that by applying one of the greatest principles of art: first thought, best thought.
This ties into the childish comment before. It is not childish in that it is immature - and you have not known the full extent of immature cringe until you have been in the company of young boys, who enjoy the hottest memes and the dab and so on and so forth until such memes are as well and truly dead as rage comics. It is childish in that it is unrefined brilliance, having both the experience necessary to bring to light ideas that would have otherwise gone unnoticed forever, and the understanding that the obligation of the artist is not to be perfect, but to promote ideas, in any form, that allow them to spread. What the artist has done here is allow ideas to spread. And it's not perfect. But it's good. It's really good. And it's an inspiration.
I do not enjoy looking too deep into things. It is the obligation of the art to provide the audience with discussion, rather than force the audience to grasp points out of the ether. As is the case with this piece, though I have said a lot, I have not pulled anything out of my arse. I looked at the piece, and I came to conclusions. The piece afforded me the opportunity to think about it, and I took like like a dog takes the opportunity to run, jump, and hunt. There is nothing here that a reasonable individual cannot come to terms with, and I am a reasonable individual, and so I understand that you will be, too. Though you may not have the fair intelligence to come to the same conclusions as me, I assure you that, given some time, and some expertise, you will have the privileges to know as I know, too.
It is absolutely sublime from start to finish, and there is nothing that I could have done in my limited capacity in order to improve it. It is my privilege to experience as a human being, and provides more than enough justifications for anybody, even the least educated and least interested degenerate in the world, to go out there and become somebody who may share ideas that are so exceptional, so unfiltered in its contradictions of both being masterfully subtle, and yet having the force of a bullet train ramming into a warehouse full of dynamite, that I cannot help but look at it in awe. There is nothing that I can say or do that could ever bring to light more than what has already been brought by my eyes on this occasion, and I believe that I will die before I ever have the honour of experiencing an event like this again.
...is she gone? Oh, brilliant.
You can probably tell the work isn't as amazing as I set it out to be, based on my audience's excellent pattern recongition that even in works that I really, really like, I always have a ton of complaints regarding them, for the grim hope that we come to some theoretically perfect piece of media that will blow absolutely everything out of the water. Unfortunately, there is no completely perfect piece of media, only media that is perfect-in-their-own-world, like what Katawa Shoujo is to the deconstructionist visual novel, or Quake for the fast-paced first-person shooter, and they too have niggles that must be assassinated.
If there was a point to this entire triad (and I do have one), it's that a critic can talk about a thing for thousands of words and still not say anything about it - a parody of critics who take themselves too seriously by applying extraordinary symbolism, techniques, and other misapplications of the arts far beyond what exists in the art itself. While it's true that the author doesn't have a say in their work the instant it's considered "finished", as opposed to being perpetually pumped with updates like an open-source Roguelike indie game, or whatever Valve is putting in to addict even more teenagers, the art itself is still there, and we must make criticisms that are sensible given what exists, and what is being said with the intention of improving both the work in question, and all other works, and not just talking for the sake of it.
It was a doodle (direct link) (archive) (compressed link on my blog under fair use) (link to something unrelated) (link to this very blog) made at a smoothie shop that she posted, and after using my brilliant charms to woo her, she recommended I review the thing after I brought up my blog. Sadly one does not dump a boyfriend of many years because some random Internet asshole starts talking about the proper way to cook scrambled eggs, which is why Jamie Oliver is still a virgin (note to Mr. Oliver: please don't sue me for my unsubstantiated claims about your virginity. it's just a prank bro). Little did she know that I take everything seriously, which is why I was kicked off a Hotline Miami sequel, because everybody said "it was just a passion project". Bitch, do you want this thing made or not? I'm the only person in this entire team who knows what the hell they're doing, the only person with the time and the conviction who is able to organise this team into the greatest that the games industry has ever known, and you're kicking me out because you don't like me? Suck a fat shotgun you degenerate pieces of ass.
Hotline Miami 128 will be released in stores this Christmas. And by "this Christmas", I mean in Hell.
Historically unpopular - Froghand.
Today's page was updated on 2016-12-10 and created on 2016-12-10!
They told me to leave LITERALLY within two hours of joining.