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

KITSCH & STEREOTYPES  

 


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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  
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA PERSONAL-CHOICES 

ART - GOTHIC INTO RENAISSANCE INTO 20thC
ART - 20thC COLLAGE INTO MASS-MEDIA 
GRAFFITI INTO STREET-ART  
KITSCH
DESIGN & CHANCE

 

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KITSCH & STEREOS    ... IN PROCESS

 

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INTRODUCTION   ... in process

[Written: from ####]

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Pretence - of value beyond the actual value of the kitsch (manufactured) object. An illusion of value provoked in the imagination/memory of the object's user/possessor/observer via sensory//illustrational references  ... a seeming actualisation and presence of a value - which in fact it is only in the mind of the observer.

This 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 (quotations of mnemonic stereotypes//= mass-mnemonic aspects of generally valued past objects//objects generally recognised to mediate values) is exploited ironically (or experientially) by 'Post-Modern' designers; by non-scrupulous commercial-product manufacturers; by itinerant salespersons.
 

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1:  KITSCH-DESIGN   ... in process

 

A puerile pretence - often a badly observed and badly made copy of something that has a mass-opinion value. The 'copy' is not usually of some specific original (unless the original is unique and famous eg: Michangelo's David statue or the Leaning Tower of Pisa - there aren't many of those around, especially in the mass-culture mind), and anyway we want our ordinary objects-of-use to also be 'beautiful', elegant, and to display attributes of status: wealth and connoisseurship. There are difficulties with the latter type of 'practical' object - there is usually no unique example to copy - however any type of practical object has features that typify//identify it in the mass-mind - its mnemonic features: those that evoke it in memory (in the absence of a unique original it must abstract the features that typify a class of objects - the meme of a group (of course the most common feature of such a group is its practical function - however that is often 'taken for granted'), what is named are the features that relate to aesthetics and status: "We need a coach-lamp at the  front door, I want one of those that looks like it adorned "Ye Old Curiosity Shoppe". The 'mnemonic tags' that typify a functionally-similar group (eg: 'coach-lamps') are often ones that have been abstracted from the family-group by commerce (that enable the most economical means of production relative to production quantity and price) and the most desirable aesthetic/status mnemonics associated with the object in mass-culture (as determined via 'Market Research') and if these chosen non-practical features seem successful 'selling points' they will be retained, or otherwise changed for others. If a particular product type is widely needed other companies may try to capture sales by introducing as-yet unexploited motifs.  

 

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 '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 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 limited 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 inappropriate choice (possibly underpinned by reference to the ubiquitous brick posts of entrance-gateways).     

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LEANING TOWER OF PISA - ELECTRIC LAMP - (ALABASTER, ETC)
(pic early 1980s)
    ... in process


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

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)    
... in process

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

 

FLINTLOCK PISTOL + THERMOMETER - (PLASTIC, ETC)
(pic 1980)    
... in process

The bizarre problem of combining into one object two 'quaintness'-evoking but completely functionally separate objects/tools (a flint-lock gun and a thermometer) is 'solved' by using a mass of swirly (evocative of historical hand-crafted unnecessary decorations // plus cloud evoking//wooly-thinking//usefully visually obscuring) ... slightly prompted perhaps by the trigger guard, the curved handle and the gun-barrel decoration.

The choice of these two tools: gun and thermometer

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STREET-WINDOW - PRINCE ANDREW & SARAH FERGUSON WEDDING - SHOP WINDOW, SELFRIDGES, 400 OXFORD ST., LONDON, W1 
(pic 1986)    ... in process

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


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 - see previous example) and thereby provoke a traumatic/schizoid condition of awareness (one that cannot be solved). This example represents an extreme of kitsch - its 'evil maximum'.

 

LONON-INSTITUTE_BA ART & DESIGN GRADUATION CEREMONY - IN CENTRAL HALL, STORY'S GATE, WESTMINSTER, LONDON, SW1
(pic 1997)  ... in process

Such an occasion, that visually renders all successful students as an identical mass, celebrates, not individual talent (art/design 'creativity': an ability to push at and open the limits of their own experience and their society's 'norms') but the communal aim of the BA Course itself: an administrative/bureaucratic 'object' that exists at a hierarchical level that subsumes individuals (and is a construct dependent for its structures and 'reality' on mental, behavioral, value-beliefs ... its 'traditions' (its developmental history) ... representing everything that is part of the 'negative' aspect of the work of creative-realising: that which is worked against in order to make the space to substantially finalise an unprecedented 'object'. In terms of 'creativity' it is that which (unless undertaken in the spirit of an ironic/sarcastic drama) obstructs the experience of initiating/innovating/realising. This ceremony - as a reward for creative success - is an insulting inversion of that which it purports to be rewarding, it is precisely what any such work treats as 'that aspect of the working process which one works against', the aspect that obstructs my working efforts to realise! 

This mode of celebration, (like the developer's Georgian' plastic door-case lending 'value-style' to their brick-box home) borrows defunct kitsch snobbery ceremonials of 'joy in exceeding the 
achievements of commonplace mass-humans'. 

Ludicrously, all students wear a 'morter-board', a (Medieval) flat head-board (presumably signalling their finished//completed brain filling) and, to distinguish them in the common-crowd, are robed in a (Medieval) gown draped with a 'hood' whose colour-coded ribbons have tediously complex significations: their literacy and learning status, the institution that 'completed' them, etc. 

The setting of the ceremony emphasises the grandeur of their 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, and at that moment (the only moment - though one completely ordained - that an individuality is acknowledged) thus becomes an ex-student, a BA! (via a ritual of transubstantiation, of transition into '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' issuing//arising//derived from outdated beliefs and their redundant public forms.
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LONON-INSTITUTE_BA ART & DESIGN GRADUATION PHOTO (1995), LONDON, SW1
(pic 10-2002)  ... in process

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



-----------------MOVE TO NXT PIC ? : 
Indeed the somewhat awkward sheepish postures/expressions of some Art Lecturers in the queue, waiting to enter the hall on this occasion in 1997 - exhibited their sense (aware or not), not only of diminishment before those who here were (at last!) showing their institutional power, but embarrassment in participating and tacitly supporting this//a kitsch demo of the opposite of the working values they subscribed to and presumably taught, and the dignified postures of those with admin-power (who had come-into-their-own at last on this occasion) displayed their self-regarding satisfaction at their final victory.

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3 :  KITSCH-ART   

 

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FOUNDATION ART & DESIGN COURSE , LONDON: STUDENT'S WORK PHOTOS & CENSORSHIP BEFORE SCHOOL-VISIT !
(pic early 1987)  ... in process

 

 

 

4 :  KITSCH-RELIGION    ... in process

 


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 - of 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)    ... in process

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 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: an illustrated 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), a shop (labelled "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 its pretty little island. This apparently unnoticed contradiction of the values mediated by the religion's resident goddess and by the ugly crassness of her (and our) location - proves that a goddess of beauty and goodness is the kitsch pretence of a 'familiar', mass-mnemonic 'religion', smugly leaving 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 process

Coffins face the street ... this should be a shocking dis-continuity!
... disposable furniture 
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COFFIN SHOP: 49 RUSHEY GREEN, LONDON, SE6 - "LAST SUPPER" COFFIN
(pic 08-2000)    ... in process

A 'resting-place' for a dead person - a lifeless body needs cozy comfort and even 'a Last Supper with Jesus' ... slapped-down on and sideways to its face. 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). Lying on the cushy mattress is a paper slip, like an invitation: "LAST SUPPER" (enlarge the pic - look - do they know what they're saying!). It exudes comfort, a bed 'beyond our dreams of luxury' ... and a suffocating lid closing over ones face ... but No! its a magical dream space ('created' by a commercial-artist 'inspired' by Leonardo Da Vinci) which my loved one can share with great company (except for Judas) the apostles and Jesus. 

Its not facing up to facts and real ignorance. Choosing as a habitation for the corpse what is the opposite of perhaps the most obvious of ones fears of death - a decomposing body. 'Doing ones best for the dead loved one' ... isn't it possible to think of some way of celebrating their living 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! (NB: the notice beside it: "DISBURSEMENTS" and in the catalogue [next pic]: "Presented by: 2690-00" - both euphemistic and coyly discreet terms of obligation to the commercial undertaker.)

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

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5 :  KITSCH    ... in process

 


 

 

 

6 :  KITSCH    ... in process

 

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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 
 
"HOME" - MY LOCATION VIA PERSONAL-CHOICES 

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

GRAFFITI INTO STREET-ART  
KITSCH
DESIGN & CHANCE

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