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DAVID CARR-SMITH - IMPROVISATION / DESIGN / ART / KITSCH / CHANCE

KITSCH

 


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INDEX  
IMPROVISED-ARCH IN AMSTERDAM INDUSTRIAL SQUATS & COLLECTIVES

IMPROVISATION - PUBLIC & LEGAL - ALLOTMENTS  
IMPROVISED VILLAGES - WANDSWORTH / KEW BRIDGE
VERNACULAR & STYLE - BERDUN, HUESCA
TEMPORARY-ARCHITECTURE - FRANK'S CAFE / SOUTHWARK LIDO 
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA MASS-PRODUCTS & TASTE - LIV-RM
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA MASS-PRODUCTS & TASTE - HOUSE
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA PERSONAL-CHOICES 
ART - GOTHIC INTO RENAISSANCE INTO 20thC
ART - 20thC COLLAGE INTO MASS-MEDIA 
GRAFFITI INTO STREET-ART  
KITSCH
CHANCE & DESIGN

 

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KITSCH 

 

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INTRODUCTION   ... in process

.IN PROCESS

Kitsch results from the exploitation of a belief that a mere reference to a valued original: a unique object or species of object, can, for many people mediate and confer the value that its quotation merely refers to. That a mere image (even crudely rendered) can actually conveyance a value that has become synonymous with a original object or cultural style. That//As if a mass-subscribed-to mnemonic (expressed as a crass illustration) can successfully substantiate a value//an experiential connection with a past original; with its prestige, or its innate cost (eg: gold), its fame (for some unusual characteristic), or its outdated though still evocative (via stories, films, etc) 'romance', thrill, luxury, courage, success. That the characteristics of a mass-valued original may - though merely superficially evoked - be associated with the taste, education, wealth of the fake's owner. This surely constitutes a kind of fetish-belief.

 
Kitsch is a pretence of value beyond the actual (practical//functional; cultural; aesthetic; financial) value of a human-made object. An illusion of value provoked in the imagination/memory of the object's user/possessor/observer is evoked by added illustrational references ... a value which in fact is only in the mind of the observer, but inherently persuasive via the limitless assessment of a mass-endorsed meme. (Real value consists in the relief of energy and the multiplying of means enabled by a tool - a physical tool or an experiential tool - a means of doing or a means of perceiving ...experienced as 'a means of realizing').

This mental faculty - of projecting (onto an external object/phenomenon) what is in fact only in the imagination/memory, this amplification of hints conveyed by illustrated similarities, is exploited ironically (or experientially) by 'Post-Modern' designers; by non-scrupulous commercial-product manufacturers; by itinerant salespersons. 




1:  KITSCH-DESIGN   ... in process

 

Kitsch results from a failure to resolve the bizarre (nb: collé) design problem of combining//linking// reconciling a practical tool with a contextually-completely-different meaning - the latter appended to the former to raise the whole object's social status and value. The result is usually a puerile pretence that fails to resolve the subject/object//item as an experienceable whole (ie: as design/art). This attempt to prize-open the junction between//the identity of use and meaning is aimed at amplifying the latter to increase an item's (perceived) value.  Design is a mode of 'distillation' - an object designed for physical economy and functional efficacy is open to a type of sensational/rational analysis whose one aspect is pragmatic and the other aesthetic - its beauty and the satisfaction it affords via an appreciation of its forming and performing is the nearest a human originated object can be to an object that is purely natural. To require such a product to 'automatically' evoke fantasies of value which have no relevance to its pragmatic purpose, but which increase its (pragmatically irrelevant) commercial attractiveness is an almost universal aspect of selling. An unfortunate outcome is that it is often cheaper to dress a product in borrowed clothing than to seriously research its efficiency. Without basic education in design-analysis a culture such as Britain's is increasingly eroded by an infiltration of spurious uncritical values purveyed by unscrupulous manufacturers/sellers

Thus an illustration or quotation of something that has a value in mass-opinion is added to what otherwise is a practical-object - this has the dual purpose of enhancing 'value' and distracting attention from the now essentially-unresolved junction between the object's use and meaning. Incidentally, the only restraint on the accuracy of the 'purloined quotation' is its power of maximally-evoking the general-idea (meme) that represents the (usually never physically experienced) valued type or original. Indeed, the 'quotation//copy' is usually of an object-type (eg: 'Coach-Lamp'), not so often of a specific original (Michangelo's 'David' sculpture or 'The Leaning Tower of Pisa') - that may be too revealing of//provoke a sense of ludicrous 'difference' - and anyway we tend to want all our common objects-of-use to be also 'meaningful' - satisfying in the mental/cultural sense - to display (as far as possible: innate) attributes of status, wealth and connoisseurship.  

 

With regard to the latter type of 'practical' object there are difficulties: ///there is usually no unique example to copy; or more commonly too-many slightly differing 'unique-examples', which must be sieved for their most typical, most mnemonically-efficient features. Any type of practical object has features that typify/identify it in the mass-mind: those that most effectively evoke/label it as a memory///thus in the absence of a unique original (a maker/seller of it, and its subsequent buyer (retrospectively in their mind), must abstract the features that typify a class of objects - the meme of a group. Of course the most common feature of such a type//group is its practical function - however that is often 'taken for granted': remembered only in terms of the act of its using[?]; the features that can be 'named' relate to aesthetics and status: "We need a coach-lamp at the front door, I want one of those that reminds me of "The Old Curiosity Shop" (... which, in its turn, via affective context memories, diffuses in the mind (for instance) a glow of romantic glamour/desire). The 'mnemonic tags' that typify a functionally-similar group (eg: 'coach-lamps') are often ones that have been abstracted from the family-type by commerce - features that enable the most economical means of production relative to quantity, price, desirability, plus which represent the most desirable aesthetic/status-mnemonics associated with the object in mass-culture (as determined via 'Market Research'). If these chosen non-practical features seem successful 'selling points' they will be retained, or otherwise changed for alternatives. If a particular product type is widely needed other companies may try to capture sales by introducing as-yet unexploited (thus possibly 'exciting'//'novel') motifs.  

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WALL HERALDRY: PLASTIC FLINTLOCK PISTOL SCROLL-ATTACHED TO A FUNCTIONING THERMOMETER
(pic 1980) 


This illustrates the problem of dressing-up a small and boring-looking gadget (the thermometer) to increase its noticability, its attractiveness as a sales-item, and to make its mundane factory functionality fit for a mass-taste[1] living-room wall.

An absurd combination of 2 completely disconnected objects: a working thermometer and a plastic gun (one a functioning instrument the other a vulgar illustration). The 'ingenuity' displayed here is to make them a 'two-in-one' - but as their 'designer' didn't know how to credibly join them together the problem (innately unsolvable - at least without sarcasm) was fudged and its critics distracted by employing a staple of kitsch: Baroque curlicues serving as a sort of matrix or glue. This 'curlicue-matrix-stuff' is a useful 'filler' - when you cant think how to join disparate things this 'mere-motif' substance can fill the spaces with a mnemonic for luxury. In design terms this is 'getting away with it': no real solution (aesthetic/practical) is necessary, just fill the gaps with the squiggles of the enviable rich! 

This ridiculous object is kitsch because it performs its lazy conceits without any apparent awareness of its silly lies - without humour or irony. On the contrary, it seems its 'designer' believed that an ordinary usefully functioning thermometer acquired a necessary dignity by association with even an illustration of an antique flint-lock pistol (often desired as a wall ornament evocative of yesteryear's gentlemanly sports and courageous duels). 

NOTE [1]: Ref to: HOME - LIVING-ROOM

.    LeanTwr

"A PRESENTATION PRODUCT" - 18th BIRTHDAY KEY TO ADULTHOOD

(bought 1979)

A tawdry gift that embodies the fear of failing to use it because it offers no concept of what it promises.

Cultural molding

Stages of life

'Responsibility' (as fantasy)

An offering of 'the means of life-success' without any credit backing [...??]

CAR-PARK ENTRY & LAMP: "ANGLERS REACH" FLATS, GROVE RD., SURBITON, LONDON - (METAL & GLASS, BRICK, ETC)
(pic c. late-1970s)    
... in process

Kitsch design usually//often reveals a ludicrous disconnect between a mass-manufactured (kitsch) product (here the pretend 'old-fashioned' lamp) and its usage and/or design-context. Here the value-laden fantasy espoused//provoked by the kitsch lamp (: a 'welcome beacon' into a 'uniquely special' place) is ludicrously contradicted (not only by its slip-shod factory-design)  but by the insular skills of its installer. His response to the lamp's status as a 'lighthouse signal' is to raise it on a column, however his choice of brick seems to have been determined by his habitual craft. Though the narrowness of the column seems an appropriate response to the lamp's espousal of 'elegance', the attempt at elegant-slimness awkwardly contradicts the innate massiveness of brick-construction, which - especially when capped with an incompetently formed cement block - merely conveys the clumsiness of an inappropriate choice (possibly underpinned by reference to the ubiquitous brick posts of entrance gateways). Bricks are a 'secondary' structural material (their primary would be clay), they are not malleable and their dimensions and mode of structural usage determine the minimum size and shape of objects made from them. Metal (a primary material) could have been more appropriately formed into a functioning lamp-post (imagine brick pillars for road-lights!). The broken notice fronting (even seemingly 'introducing') this silly ensemble of cuteness-evoking objects is relatively practical but its message is (ironically) broken and only ludicrously suggestive.
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LEANING TOWER OF PISA - ELECTRIC LAMP - (ALABASTER, ETC)
(pic early 1980s)    


This is a common way of investing the extraordinary in the ordinary. In this case the Leaning Tower is miniaturised as a translucent alabaster tube housing an electric light fitting, and becomes a night lamp. A novelty that would be merely a nonsensical combination if this tower was not instantly recognisable as a thing that had become uniquely individual: 'the' stereotypical tower. Even without its 'magic' interior physical glow, the power of its original's uniqueness - 'unique in the whole world', sustains and continually generates a huge mental meaning-presence, a powerful mnemonic aura - here invested (via the ubiquitous presence of its original in cultural/mental space) in one of its uncountable progeny.  

This is the 'positive' power of kitsch - a mode of power akin to religion (especially of course religions that espouse 'symbolic' figuration) and still mentally active and overtly socially organising in superstition-raddled cultures.

NOTES:  

1. So ubiquitous is the 'Leaning-Tower-Of-Pisa' stereotype that even in a childrens factual-info book, based mainly on photos, its chosen picture is 'iconised'.  [Ref: PIC+NOTE

2. An encounter with the real tower strips away much of its mental aura. Only with its external reality suppressed can its mnemonic forms flourish.  [Ref: PIC+NOTE]
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AN ICE-CREAM PARLOR PAVEMENT WASTE-BIN (& SHOP-SIGN) - VASTO SEA-FRONT, CHIETI, ITALY
(pic #-2003)
 

An ice-cream sign outside an ice-cream shop ingeniously and rather disgustingly turns out to be a waste-bin, identified only by its mysterious black-bag scarf and a tiny tongue projecting from the pink scoop which doubles as its lid ... 

Cant think of 2 things at once?: why not use a waste-bin to advertise an ice-cream cornet? ... the (presumably unintended) idea conveyed here is that one may find under one's scoops of ice-cream that one's cornet is full of dirty litter.

A common aspect of kitsch is a destructive contradiction between a designed object's obviously intended emotional effect, and what it actually evokes when its unresolved conceptual lesions (inherent or in relation to its context) are noticed and realised!

This design looks so coyly charming and sweet it almost persuades one to slide ones tongue over the smooth scoops. However, in spite of its complacent air of self-congratulatory ingenuity, its mental effect is so repellent that only a most out-of-touch-with-reality fantasist could seriously dream its practicality, let alone invest in manufacturing, or in buying and commercially employing it.
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TEDDY TEA-SERVICE WITH (AMPUTEE) TEDDY TEA-POT - GIFT-SHOP, ISLEWORTH, MIDDLX..
(pic 1987) 
... in process

Another example of unresolved conceptual lesions, or (adult) unseeing stupidity. A charming little child's tea-service ... but there's something horribly wrong: the big-daddy teddy-pot salutes with an amputated arm, which serves as a spout (no not for blood stupid! - tea). Twee charm seems to have blinded the designer and the trader (and apparently deserves a high price: in 2017 money = £36.91).

"THE BEECHES" BANQUETING SUITE, A631 (ABOUT 3 MILES FROM ROTHERHAM), YORKS 
(pic c.late-1970s)


A cement-rendered shed-end with a small selection of stuck-on 'pretence' features: a classic pediment supported by Doric pillars, mounted on cement blocks ( a height adjustment?) and edged by classic urn 'planters'; bizarrely flanked by hugely wide, cheaply made, cursorily installed 'Queen Ann' bay windows; surmounted by a huge notice proclaiming "BANQUETING SUITE" - like a dictionary definition illustrated by the motifs beneath it.


Kitsch in its reliance on trite stereotypical motifs that it hopes will automatically evoke in potential customers a subliminal, ie uncritical fantasy of valued originals (or some glamorous media representation of them), and that this will effectively overrule in a potential diner's attention the cement shed and the low quality of its adornments, and rather endorse its cultural status (the door-case) and its social coziness (the festoon-curtained windows). 

(NB: These Classical and Queen Ann motifs were chosen for their individual efficacy, with no concern for their historical ambiguity.)

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FUNERAL DIRECTORS, BETHNAL GREEN RD (E end)., LONDON, E2 - c. 1990
(pic 09-1991)   


A more thoroughly integrated and 'respectable' version of the last. The same reliance on Classicism (its motifs and symmetry) to automatically evoke in the potential customer an attitude of 'scholarly' seriousness, respect, dignity, balance - and thus indirectly advertise these qualities as their own. 




2 KITSCH-LOCATION   ... in process

 

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CAFE & WEAPONS GALLERY CONJOIN: THE IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LAMBETH RD., LONDON, SE1 
(pic 03-1990)   


Lunch in the Cafe with a flower, soup, glass of wine and manners ... beyond the glass door a real horror: a submarine-launched nuclear tipped Polaris.

Sometimes there co-exist two cultural norms of such extreme difference they extinguish with their totally confrontive reality any common ground (such as humour) and thereby provoke a traumatic/schizoid condition of awareness (one that cannot be solved). This example represents an extreme of kitsch - an 'evil maximum'. 
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STREET-WINDOW - PRINCE ANDREW & SARAH FERGUSON WEDDING - SHOP WINDOW (PROBABLY THE ONE TO RIGHT OF CENTRE-ENTRANCE), SELFRIDGES, 400 OXFORD ST., LONDON, W1 
(pic 1986) 

Royalty is by now such a bizarre and baseless state - once dependent upon some version of predestination, of divine choice, absolutely undeflected by the wishes of individuals - that 'royals' are on the verge of becoming the ultimate kitsch 'celebs' - here (apparently) happy to be presented grinning out at us like a snap from everyone's family album, posing in what could be seen spatially as a view onto Selfridges' furniture department[1]; willing to participate in Selfridges' marketing publicity (or superbly untouched by//ignorant of such vulgarity), arranged in their own celebrity booth in one of twenty Oxford Street display windows, all designed to glamorize the merchandise of one of the world's biggest department stores on one of the worlds most famous shopping streets. 

'Royalty' is accelerating into kitsch. The tension between the mythical//mystical 'Royal' glamour still extant in the public mind and their apparent physical commonplaceness and social familiarity tends to reduce the former from a true transcendent dignity to an outdated kitsch absurdity. This is ludicrously enhanced when one reads the brass-plate, a seeming picture-title, beneath the window: "SMOKE EXTRACT BASEMENT" - a chance conjunction[2], but "it's just smoke and mirrors" seems appropriate to their circumstances, which indeed appear to have been given a cynical twist by a window-decor so frozen and funereal it seems prepared for a 'lying in state' of the pictured couple!

NOTES: 

1: Except the furniture is so absurdly lavish ornate and outdated they look like naughty kids performing selfies in a museum. 

2: This surely shows that Selfridges is unable to (or believes that the 'public' is unable to) notice small familiar (but ludicrous!) 'design-details'.

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DENTIST RECEPTION & WAITING-ROOM: NEAR KINGSTON-ON-THAMES, SURREY -  c.1980 
(pic 1981) 


The upgraded waiting area of a rather successful dental practice. One enters a minimal/practical vestibule and reception-office - then, having been as it were accepted as a bona fide patient, the scene abruptly changes into a kitsch pretence of the drawing room of a cultured (nb: the books and globe) and affluent Edwardian gentleman (nb: the unnecessarily massive and pricey furniture, which conveys dignified grandeur rather than comfort). 

Presumably this abrupt change of place and time is supposed to lull one into a fantasy-state/a dream: in which one enters a zone of professional competence and displaced time where the all too present reality of anxiety and pain cannot persist, is unsustainable. 

However its antique status is rather too obviously a kitsch illusion (literally a physical 'veneer' of mass-produced 'antique' illustration) which is all too likely to evince snobbery and vulgarity - the opposite of its intended signals.
Rodley Wharf

MILLENNIUM DOME "O2" (POST MILLENNIUM COMMERCIALISED), GREENWICH PENINSULA, LONDON, SE10 - INTERIOR: 'SHOPPING STREET' & 'VILLAGE SQUARE'

(paste-up 3-pics  9-09-2007)   ... in process

No town-planning here! A hi-tech enclosure with pretend Victorian furniture and fittings arranged in ways that prevent any but almost solitary social use (is this intentional - ie get them up on their feet shopping, or just lazy blind stupidity?). 

Dumping a few silly elaborations of stereotypical 'historical-sentimental' kitsch objects on oversized/under-used pavements as a substitute for actual social/design thinking is a typical simplistic stupid and lazy response of 'developers' to any part of a public plan not directly and obviously consigned to making money. Real design-thinking would exploit the potentials of this unprecedented volume of luminous enclosed space for innovation of new types of social arrangements and amenities that would attract visitors and consequent profit. 

LEEDS & LIVERPOOL CANAL (BRITISH WATERWAYS), RODLEY WHARF, CANAL RD., RODLEY, LEEDS, LS13
(pic 15-01-2009) 


A beautiful unspoiled location at the rural edge of busy urbanisation - now released from its Industrial Revolution bondage. This is a location that retains its 'naturalness' by its continuity with the whole view yet mildly focuses it via its added functionality - the whole scene is practical: nature and human - without edges, or framing, or 'centre-of-interest'. 

However, the official wielders of kitsch decided to advertise their aesthetic sensitivity and their duty of public-leisure-enhancement by completing its furnishing with something utterly crass [see next pic].
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LEEDS & LIVERPOOL CANAL (BRITISH WATERWAYS), RODLEY WHARF, CANAL RD., RODLEY, LEEDS, LS13
(pic 15-01-2009) 
    ... in process 

The spoiling of an unspoilt calm and pleasant location. It's apparently not enough to enjoy a portion of natural landscape made interesting by the addition of practical engineering.

This is a place where the canal - a specialised enabler of goods-transportation - becomes 
a nexus of interest and attention for external users and casual onlookers; a location 
where it interfaces with other functions and activities: the canal-boat basin and the 
consequent pausing of commercial boats, its quayside, the bulwarked vehicle crossing point, its fringing road - a gathering together of water, road, farm and township.


This is precisely the type of place that challenges the 'creativity' of power-endowed aesthetic-morons, who are stimulated to 'complete' it; crown it with 'artistic-features'; add a 'missing eye-catcher' - a "look at this!" ... and thus destroy precisely what makes it so appealing: the charm and relaxation of its totally unpretentious inevitability. It (and a thousand similar) should simply be protected from any 'improvements' ... and especially applications of such crass stupidity.

[These clueless posts were still there over 7 years later (and still unused - but anyway for what!?). Does this type of 'authority' (local-council or British Waterways) ever remove its mistakes). [Ref: Google Street-View - Apr 2016]

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GLASGOW SCHOOL OF ART: CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH - 1897~1909
(pic 15-09-2005)

As if the clutch of street signs and appliances (most to inform drivers yet conceived and positioned separately, their ensemble, let alone their relation to their background, completely undesigned - was, in the presence of such a grand original and authoritatively ordered building, not visual noise enough, some 'official body' has added two 'designed' elements: a ridiculous information column - 'well-designed', eye-catchingly blue against the tan stone, modernly minimal (though completely unneeded), placed intentionally yet in a 'non-position' - clashing/competing its irrelevant shape with Macintosh's tiny door (that scales the whole facade) and so close to the building that this view can never be without it (its as if art galleries paste their labels on the pictures!). Who are these custodians of great works who don't mind mutilating one's view of them, who, far from clearing, or minimising and re-siting the obscuring (but 'innocently' necessary) clutter around them, add their own eye-catchingly conceited and publically patronising non-necessary litter.
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GLASGOW SCHOOL OF ART: CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH - 1897~1909
(pic 15-09-2005)
   ... in process

The 'Mackintoshey' street-lamp: another council initiative?, styled as if 'Mac-styling' is only a suggestive 'novelty-shop'. These silly objects (4 of them) though confusingly randomly placed relative to the rhythms of the architecture, are (at this time - are now 2016 moved) set back as if modestly 'joining in' with the building's design!
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CHOPIN MONUMENT: LAZIENKI PARK, WARSAW, POLAND
(pic 09-1991)

Kitsch is pretence, it obscures reality. Lets hope the party of visiting children were brought here to be disillusioned, not to admire their country's most famous artist - he does not reside here. Here Chopin is memorialised as some sort of fairy-tale giant daemon in an inexplicable collaboration with an overwhelming and mysterious non-human energy - presumably a metaphor for the 'passion of inspiration' - depicted as a tumescent storm-challenged tree or colossal ejaculation (actually a muddled, phantasmagorically random, unconvincingly rendered, splurge!). 
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CHOPIN MONUMENT: LAZIENKI PARK, WARSAW, POLAND
(pic 09-1991)

LONDON-INSTITUTE:  BA ART & DESIGN GRADUATION CEREMONY - CENTRAL HALL, STORY'S GATE, WESTMINSTER, LONDON, SW1
(pic 1997) 

Such an occasion celebrates, not individual talent (art/design 'creativity': an ability to push at and open the limits of our own experience and our society's assumptions), but the communal aim of the BA Course itself: an administrative/bureaucratic 'object' that (like money) exists at a hierarchical level that subsumes individuals - a construct dependent for its structures and reality on mental, behavioral value-beliefs: its 'traditions' (its developmental history). It represents the 'negative' aspect of the work of creative-realising. Indeed (unless undertaken in the spirit of an ironic/sarcastic drama) it is precisely what is worked against in order to make the space to substantially finalise an unprecedented experience. This ceremony - as a reward for creative success - is an insulting inversion of what it purports to be rewarding. 

The setting of the ceremony emphasises the grandeur of the teachers and administrators, arrayed (like Tintoretto saints in Heaven) in a raised semicircle around the hall's Moloch-like organ. At the focus of vision (nearest 'the vanishing point') of the audience of mere spectators and potential 'Bachelors', these upper-ones are poised to witness and present a scroll of ratification of success (of 'Bachelorship') to each student-individual who mounts their steps and on their lower entry-level stage accepts the scroll. At that moment - the only moment (though one completely ordained) that individuality is acknowledged - each recipient becomes an ex-student, is transformed into a BA! (A ritual of transubstantiation, of transition into a 'Bachelorhood', a rite-of-passage: the first step-up of an 'Initiation'.)

The whole event is a ridiculous kitsch 'festival of pretence' - the opposite of achievement via personal work - a mish-mash of borrowings from stereotyped 'hallowed traditions' derived from outdated beliefs and their redundant public forms. Like developers' 'Georgian' plastic door-cases lending 'value-style' to their brick-box houses, it borrows defunct kitsch snobbery ceremonials of 'joy in exceeding the achievements of commonplace mass-humans', to impress the public and especially the paying parents who rate these institutions for their progeny and pockets.
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  Masterpiece

LONDON-INSTITUTE:  BA ART & DESIGN GRADUATION PHOTO - 1995
(pic 10-2002) 

To distinguish them as group-members within a common-crowd, all the graduating students (and participating staff members) at the ceremony wear a uniform that consists of a ludicrous 'morter-board': a (Medieval) flat head-board (presumably signalling their finished brain filling) and a (Medieval) robe: a gown draped with a 'hood' whose colour-coded ribbons have tediously complex significations: literacy and learning status, the institution that 'completed' them, etc.. During the ceremony [ref previous pic] this uniform visually renders them an identical mass. 

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"MASTERPIECE" ART FAIR: THE ROYAL HOSPITAL CHELSEA (S. GROUNDS), LONDON, SW3 - FACADE & ENTRY
(paste-up 2-pics 05-07-17)    ... in process 

Staged in the grounds of Christopher Wren's magnificently restrained and dignified hospital (a building that is indeed a "masterpiece") and hiding the best view of it from the Chelsea Embankment road, the "Masterpiece" art and antiques fair tent was fronted with a vast photographic pastiche of a small portion of Wren's windowed facades, endlessly repeated at a 'baby-like' 2/3 scale - a fatuous mockery of Wren's building and thus an insulting imputation//presumption regarding the cultural type and quality of the fair's 'posh' visitors and potential customers. 

If was a joke - i.e. poking fun at the monotonously common fakery of Classicism and its seemingly unassailable mass-popular association with dignity and power (eg: the favorite style of despots); superior education and culture; and in this case, having fun scaling its visitors to look like giants as they passed it by (see next pic) ... then fair game! 

Or was Classicism (a mass-mnemonic for cultural quality, reinforced in this case by location and direct visual-culling from the prestigious Wren buildings it eclipsed) intentionally chosen for this huge work of economically engineered kitsch, cynically intended ('on the cheap') to invoke in its visitors a snobbish sense of cultural and financial superiority and value-connoisseurship, and thus an appropriate costume for an outstandingly superior and expensive collection of art and craft 'Masterpieces' (many of which however were not Classical). 
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"MASTERPIECE" ART FAIR: THE ROYAL HOSPITAL CHELSEA (S. GROUNDS), LONDON, SW3 - FACADE (NEPTUNUS STRUCTURES) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwGPgeZLyj8
www.accessaa.co.uk/in-pictures-neptunus-at-masterpiece-london/

(pic 05-07-17)    ... in process 

Main facade = 14 hung-fabric panels, each depicting x4 win-bays of a x4-story facade; x3 more panels back the portico, the 2 outside ones each depict x2 window-bays, the non-windowed bays and the centre panel provide a plain brick backing for the entrance porch and doors. In addition the 'building' has a laid-back portion at each end - the right-hand faced with 2 panels, the left-hand with 8 panels.  
[Site pictures]
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"MASTERPIECE" ART FAIR: S. GROUNDS, THE ROYAL HOSPITAL CHELSEA, LONDON, SW3 - FACADE-ENTRY
(pic 05-07-17)
    ... in process 

The gigantically over-scaled 'Stripped-Classical' portico, whose portentous mass (judged by the bulk of its columns) and red-carpet-exclusivity-filter, must strike a reminder of filmic grandeur into the hearts of (let us hope) appropriately kitsch-sensitive visitors, is boxed-onto the flimsy-facade like a grossly oversize take-away-lunch box. ....  

To the right of the overwhelming portico, a final facade-panel ends the pretend-building with a bizarre 'fudge' - as the 'facade's 'end-bay' it visually cuts too short, an absurd seemingly 'magical' visual truncation which in fact concludes with an ugly 'wrap-around' corner that bends the final dormer window like an object about to topple off a shelf.
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3 :  KITSCH-ART AND ILLUSTRATION  

 

The first 2 examples depict the stereotypical features of some culturally-local 'paradise'; the 3rd (though it shares a flavor of their dreams) presents itself as the stereotypical talented arty-painting, not an 'origination' (which would exclude the taste/understanding of many punters) but a piece of work that typifies the most popular type of local Paris art: turn of the century Impressionist painting, but here performed with a 'passion and verve of inspiration' (actually a rapidity of technique learned via repetition) rather than attempting truth to sensation !

 

Examples 4 and 5 typify hypocritical effects of an 'art-market'.

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JIGSAW BOX-LID PICTURE: "THE SHADED WALK"

(pic 07-11-2002)   ... in process

Fantasies of Paradise are made of all the nicest most memorable physical (illustratable) features of Earth (as filtered via each particular culture's mass-taste 'software' - this version is 'antique Classical'). Obviously 'Paradise' excludes all the less pleasant features, obviously therefore one 'Paradise' does not suit all - for instance if there was a drug-taker slumped on the shaded bench with a needle in his arm, this 'Paradise' may be more complete for some, spoiled for others. Is this why illustrated Paradises always seem to be lacking something ... and if that something is a human being, would not that thinking/perceiving/judging presence  complicate and temporalize the stereotype to the point of chaos?
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FROM A NEWSPAPER-MAGAZINE AD FOR A "FINE PORCELAIN COLLECTOR PLATE" PRINTED WITH "THE PERIWINKLE TEA ROOMS" BY MARTY BELL 1988

(pic 07-11-2002) 

T
his painting is described on the seller's blurb as a "masterwork" by "Mrs. Bell" 1988. It depicts an infantile fantasy of a cozy nest, nestling somewhere in the English countryside - in "the forgotten gentle world of yesteryear" - eagerly waiting to serve tea to time-travelers! The plate on which this schmaltz icon is printed was made to profit from a culture steeped in kitsch.  

[For the full-page ad (pic+txt) click on the pic]
. Pretend Picasso

'ORIGINAL' PAINTING DISPLAYED FOR SALE IN THE PLACE DU TERTRE ARTIST-MARKET, MONTMARTRE, PARIS
(pic 1979) 


The public Art-Kitsch Market: 

Montmartre Place Du Tertre paintings are among the most intensively mechanically-practiced examples of European pretend-art paintings - the effusions of locations which have become tourist-culture's 'art = social-glamour' pilgrimage-destinations. This Montmartre version was a normal socialising location (cafe, cabaret, etc) for now famous artists from late 19C to early 20C who were subsequently identified with initiating the radical cultural cusp-transition mediated via "Impressionism" to "Cubism"/"Surrealism". As evidenced by the above painting, the location's popular art-mnemonic is "Impressionism" (the nascent 20C art-radicalisations are too difficult to easily stereotype). 

The apparent vitality of such a painting is only automaticity: skill-practiced along a narrow pathway of subject-matter plus mode of paint-handling, until the 'artist' becomes a slickness expert - manufacturing objects that depend for most of their perceived value (if any ... in the minds of ambulatory spectators) on vague memories of the manner of rendering visual sensation in 19C Impressionist Parisian street scenes; secondly on the (emphatically non-Impressionist) 'eye-catching' affect of subject-matter processed through Academic/Commercial visual-compositional conventions. Beyond all they lack curiosity - the opposite of art!  

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 David - Borderstone

PRETEND 'PICASSO': EBAY - $140 SUGGESTED BID
(pic 28-10-2017)  ... in process 

Modern marketing uses the web to broadcast pretend-art kitsch to a planetary audience of potential 'collectors': 

In this case both the for-sale work and the web-ad itself could be said to be attempting to create a context of suggested, rather than actual, authenticity, such as is brandished by many unjustifiably embellished-with-mental-mnemonic-value kitsch objects and events.

The web-page itself describes the above in terms that seem to slide around the edges of authentication! Even the common meaning of 'a painting' is rendered confusing in its text [below]. A sad irony is that this little "Pablo Picasso Painting"[1] displays some signs of painterly talent!


[Ref: web-page]
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"LARGE DAVID STATUE": 'BORDERSTONE' -  PRODUCT CODE: 22514; PAINTED IN ANTIQUE WHITE; HEIGHT: 120cm
(pic: Borderstone www site 13-11-2017)
    ... in process 

"Taking inspiration from Michelangelo, Borderstone have recreated this masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture in fine cast stone." [Ref: Borderstone website].

Compared to the original [next pic] this little garden statue depicts a well muscled, sexually over-endowed yob. (Its main existential purpose may be to enhance by contrast the exquisitely detailed poise of the original !)
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MICHELANGELO: DAVID - 1501~1504 - GALLERIA DELL'ACCADEMIA, FLORENCE
(pic: Jorg Bittner Unna [jbittner@web.de] 28-07-2016)
    ... in process 

AD IN NEWSPAPER-MAGAZINE - LITHOS BY ANTHONY BRANDT 
(pic 04-1972) 
  


Here a kitsch aspect of the 'art-market' is represented by sexually-exploitive 'soft-porn' - marketed as the work of "Britain's Modern Michelangelo"!

Though they have no value as 'art'[1] the imputation of 'kitsch' is not deserved by these slick, illustrational, physically skillful, mechanically standardised drawings, and there is nothing inherently dishonest in illustrating features of another's works (only in claiming them as ones own - something only his gallery can be directly accused of ... though one may surely presume acquiescence!).

What makes this kitsch are the ludicrous and un-substantiatable claims made for this 'Artist's' talent and 'World' status (including the invocation of Michelangelo as his precursor; the implication that he wields "the techniques of the Old Masters"; etc.) - it is thus the advertisment itself that is kitsch and which illustrates its deceitful aspect beloved of 'snake-oil salesmen'.

NOTE [1]: All the characteristics of these drawings are derivative, their skill learned from familiar visual-illustration techniques (indeed: derived in direct line of descent - via 19/20thC Academism - from visual/experiential discoveries of the Renaissance ... however not as the ad claims: thus bestowing quality ... rather denoting a tired exercise of historically familiar skills!); they convey no originality, no personal experiential discovery and are thus unable to claim the condition of 'art'.
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FOUNDATION ART & DESIGN COURSE, LONDON:     
1: PHOTO-BOOK OF STUDENTS' WORK  /  2: WITH 'OFFICIAL' CENSORSHIP ! 
(pic early 1987) 
... in process

Here the kitsch aspect of the 'art-market' is represented by 'what morality sells to school teachers'. This example is a Foundation Art Course photo-book of student works, made to present Course results to visiting school groups. When the time for visits approached, the image that was most indubitably a personal origination/an art work (as opposed to a skillful drawing) had been hidden under an inserted sheet of paper!
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4 :  KITSCH-RELIGION ... in process

 

Kitsch grows in non-ignorable plots of ignorance and avoidance: our origin and death
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BUCKFAST ABBEY, BUCKFASTLEIGH, DEVON, TQ11 0EE - (REBUILT 1880s)
(pic 1984)


A 19thC ugly kitsch rebuild of an ancient abbey, in an architecturally and structurally incompetent pretense of Medieval styles. 'Kitsch' because the innate beliefs, desires, stone-building-techniques that constituted 'Medieval' are past and cannot be recovered, and because this crude, muddled assemblage of stereotypical style-signs (which since the last genuine Gothic innovation have come to constitute the mass-culture mnemonic for "a Gothic sacred building") confront with their dis-honesty the continuous self-endorsement of the religion that uses them, that houses itself in them - its honesty, truth, revelations, its self-advertising status as the essence of being !

BUCKFAST ABBEY VISITOR CENTRE, BUCKFASTLEIGH, DEVON, TQ11 0EE - (VIEW FROM AN UPSTAIRS CAFE) 
(pic 1984)  

The ugliness of this typical 'modern' religion-location, is watched over by a stereotypical statue of the Virgin Mary, isolated on a flowery island oddly circled with seats which face away from her across a plane of asphalt. This ring of seats has attracted a squad of ice-cream eating quasi-military-uniformed boy-cubs.

A story: a figure that mediates and reflects projections of 'beautiful' emotions such as mercy, compassion, loving forgiveness, looks out towards magnificent free-living trees from her isolation in a location of crassly insensitive ugliness. If the pathos had been intentionally designed: a visual sermon, perhaps demonstrating the necessity of a search for redemption in this ugly sinful world, it might avoid an accusation of kitsch, however it's more likely this whole setup is simply an unseeing common-sense exercise in visitor facilities provision, ie: a cafe (from which this view was recorded), an ugly shed-shop (labelled - below its chimney - "Books & Religious Items"!), a vastness of asphalt with a peculiar dearth of seats (to accommodate crowds of mostly strolling/standing visitors), and (because this whole establishment is under the aegis of 'the divine') a small statue of the 'Mother of God' on a little flowery island. 

The apparently unnoticed contradiction between the values mediated by the religion's resident goddess and by the ugly crassness of her (and our) location - suggests that a goddess of beauty and goodness is a kitsch pretence of this mass-mnemonic 'religion', which has smugly left to Mary (or rather a Mary statue!) the job of transforming humanity's boorishness.
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COFFIN SHOP: 49 RUSHEY GREEN, LONDON, SE6
(pic c.2000)    ... in proces

Expensive disposable furniture faces the street. This should be a shocking dis-continuity - that throws into relief the presumed existence of this absurd world and all its bizarre human contradictions of natural rational factuality and connectedness. 

COFFIN SHOP: 49 RUSHEY GREEN, LONDON, SE6 - "LAST SUPPER" COFFIN
(pic 08-2000) 

A 'resting-place' for a dead person - a lifeless body needs cozy comfort and even 'a Last Supper with Jesus'. The whole thing is a stupid lie ("but you cant be certain can you"). It's to reassure the lovers and spectators (and to line the undertakers' pockets). 

From the outside it exudes comfort, a bed 'beyond our dreams of luxury' ... a magical dream space ('created' by a commercial-artist 'inspired' by the genius of Leonardo Da Vinci) in which my loved one can share in great company: Jesus and the apostles (shame about Judas). Placed on the cushy mattress (enlarge the picture) is a paper slip like an invitation: "LAST SUPPER", but do they really know who they're asking to the feast ... and when that suffocating lid closes over the body's face its picture will be sideways to the eyes!


'Doing ones best for the dead loved one'. Isn't it possible to think of some way of celebrating their enduring presence and disposing of their physical remainder, that is more personally satisfying and consoling than this horrific kitsch mockery of the fact of decomposition ... and its huge cost that is borne as an obligation of love! (note the writing on the wall beside it: "DISBURSEMENTS", and in the catalogue [next pic]: "Presented by: £2690-00" - both snobby, euphemistic and coyly discreet terms of ones obligation to the thoroughly commercial undertaker.)

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COFFIN SHOP: 49 RUSHEY GREEN, LONDON, SE6 - "LAST SUPPER" CATALOG 
(pic 10-2002)    ... in process

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.War-Memoria

EARTH GRAVE: EAST HAM CEMETERY, LONDON
(pic 1987) 

The opposite of the preceding corpse coddling! Probably this is a recently dug grave waiting for its stereotypical ceremonial adornments, meanwhile however - in this mere earth state there is no horrible contrast between a corpse and the marble purity of an 'eternal' monument*. The rough filling of earth covering the body shares its naturalness and provokes little contrast in ones mind between the dissolution of what is buried and the living nature of the earth itself. (The small muddle of abandoned offerings, seem in their dereliction to appropriately memoralise the physical and psychic remains of organic death.) 

* It's almost impossible to invent an appropriate grave-topping - one that truly satisfies the enigma of a person's disappearance, that solves the total ignorance and consequent reality-crisis for the still-living, that refuses to settle for regressing into kitsch illustrations of social/religious stereotypes. The cemeteries are crowded with bought monuments that surely exacerbate the unbearable mental/emotional conflict between the horrible (visualised) reality of the persistent corpse of a known person, hidden under some fatuous wish-fantasy expensively caved in 'everlasting' stone by a stranger or machine.

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WAR MEMORIAL: BROAD ST. (NEXT TO CHURCH), HARLESTON, NORFOLK
(pic 24-06-2017)
  ... in process

The kitsch pretence of war: the barefaced hypocrisy of presenting 'glory' and 'faithfulness' to the deceived, conscripted and slaughtered. Especially via this aesthetically bankrupt muddle of defunct symbols. 

To balance this kitsch tosh with a dose of sanity, here is a rare anti-war memorial: Saint Martin d'Estreaux.
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WAR MEMORIAL: BROAD ST. (NEXT TO CHURCH), HARLESTON, NORFOLK
(pic 02-01-2013)
  ... in process

 

 


5 :  CONTEXT DEGENERATION OBJECTIFIES KITSCH & FREES ITS MEANINGS:    ... in process

The example below shows a reassignment of kitsch via chance. 

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EX-PUB (WAS THE "RUTLAND ARMS") (WITH RE-CONNED FLATS ABOVE) - PERRY HILL, LONDON, SE6. 
(pic 1-10-2014)  
 ... in process

In this example the kitsch objects - the (plastic injection-moulded(?)) 'Regency-coach-lamps' are in a degenerated context that strips their intended prestige of credibility and leaves them (substance and meaning) stranded on the shore of present-objectiveness. Kitsch - the evocation of valued originals via quotation of their mass-filtered mnemonic attributes - is here in a context of chance-immediacy which no longer supports the 'reality' of the value it was intended to denote. This row of 'lamps' - still posturing their importance, are now ludicrously misplaced in their new context of 'rubbish' and chaotic real-time processes. They have now been revealed as a pathetic pretence, with no present value but as a focus of silly entertainment - reduced to (what in fact they always were) a row of peculiar tat. 

THE RESILIENCE OF KITSCH - ANOTHER STORY: in fact their new setting simply gives their residual 'meaning' (eg 'dignity') a new story-opportunity !

The kitsch lamps now act as theatrical initiators, evoking in their 'inappropriate' setting new fantasy stories. This ex-pub displays a brilliant mix of motives / styles / decisions / events. The kitsch 'dignity' of the idiotic plastic 'Regency-coach-lamps' appears to afford them the right to attempt to regulate with their (almost) regular spacing, the chaotic bouncing syncopated rhythms of the severely practical yellow barricades (plus their fluttering notices of intent) with the medallions of original dark-blue wall (unfaded under removed kitsch sign-boards of various 'Victorian' shapes) and embrace them all in a scheme of symmetry focussed on the pub's unique central feature: a sinister boarded entry set between a concrete ziggurat-stepped plinth and a surmounting moon-like white-plastic vent. This entire ensemble raised like a church on a forecourt pavement platform.

 

Relocated in this 'natural' context they are displayed simply as 'objects in a world of objects', as stripped of their original make-believe intentions as any archeological artifact, displayed in their 'now' setting like the object-fragments that exist as distinct 'signs of external accountability' in a Picasso 1914 collage.  

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INDEX   
IMPROVISED-ARCH IN AMSTERDAM INDUSTRIAL SQUATS & COLLECTIVES

IMPROVISATION - PUBLIC & LEGAL - ALLOTMENTS  
IMPROVISED VILLAGES - WANDSWORTH / KEW BRIDGE
VERNACULAR & STYLE - BERDUN, HUESCA
TEMPORARY-ARCHITECTURE - FRANK'S CAFE / SOUTHWARK LIDO 
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA MASS-PRODUCTS & TASTE - LIV-RM
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA MASS-PRODUCTS & TASTE - HOUSE
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA PERSONAL-CHOICES 

ART - GOTHIC INTO RENAISSANCE INTO 20thC
ART - 20thC COLLAGE INTO MASS-MEDIA 

GRAFFITI INTO STREET-ART  
KITSCH
CHANCE & DESIGN

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