David Thompson
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October 16, 2015

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Captain Nemo

The lights of Moscow underground.

There's more beauty in those photographs than in most of the "art" you post. I'd happily have any of those photographs on my wall.

TimT

Remember the Vaginal Knitting Artist? Well, she's backi, writing comments from internet detractors in period blood.

Chester Draws

While I'm sure our valiant knitting artist did actually get some trolls along, describing what she did as "#gross" and herself as "Internet whore" aren't trolling. That's plain disagreeing.

If any disagreement is seen as "Trolling" then to the thin-skinned everyone is basically a troll.

Inspired by the repetitive motifs of misogyny, violence, and disgust

The whole point of her "art" was to trigger disgust mechanisms in people. To then actively complain that it disgusts people is classic troll-like behaviour. She's the one setting out to offend people, who then complains they are offended.

TimT

I think the attention seeking was definitely there but I don't think the point of the original vaginal knitting was really to trigger disgust - though in many people it may have done so.

This project seems more amusing than the original one. it sounds a bit like something one of the more rakish of her girlfriends might have come up with after they got together and had a few bottles of plonk while commiserating about 'all that horrible internet hate you're getting'. Anyway. Conceptual art with the vagina as a medium for expression seems a very limited metier, the female equivalent of penis waving.

JuliaM

TimT:"...the female equivalent of penis waving"

Think what you could knit with those!

David

The whole point of her “art” was to trigger disgust mechanisms in people. To then actively complain that it disgusts people is classic troll-like behaviour.

Bingo. The irony is off the chart. What Ms Jenkins takes care not to mention is that the overwhelming majority of responses weren’t so much disgusted as mocking and dismissive. But being mocked as incompetent and pretentious doesn’t flatter her self-image as a provocative and radical person. As I said at the time,

Pulling wool out of whatever bodily orifice it’s been crammed into, especially wool that’s smeared with menstrual blood, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, or idea of a rich aesthetic experience. In much the same way that the audience for viewing used tampons and used toilet paper is somewhat niche and limited. But then I’m sure Ms Jenkins knew that before she began, and indeed was counting on it. For the talentless, transgression is the only card to play. It’s therefore unsurprising that mockery, bewilderment and mild repulsion are insufficient to prompt Ms Jenkins to rethink her artistic medium and life choices more generally. Clearly, she is impervious to mere public feedback and is happy to construe disdain as in fact an affirmation.

If an artist gauges their own success by something other than, say, aesthetic accomplishment and audience appreciation, that’s easy enough to do. And clearly it’s quite liberating for a certain type of person. And so, despite an audience reaction that was in the artist’s words, “for the most part, negative,” Ms Jenkins feels that her art has been somehow validated. Indeed, she has been validated. Her feminism has been validated. Everything about her is incredibly important and immensely validated. And she tells us this while insisting, “What I am not seeking through this work is external validation of myself.”

And so she went on to describe the general public as “outraged” and “afraid” – and then to describe herself as “brave” and “downright seditious.” In this, she followed the standard pattern of the terminally untalented. What’s interesting, though, is the number of editors and journalists – chiefly on the left - who bought into her self-flattering narrative, or pretended to, rather than being remotely critical or realistic – say, by acknowledging either Ms Jenkins’ changing and contradictory rationalisations or her laughable vanity.

TimT

Quite, Julia. Indeed, there's a long-running comedy act....

Joan

And why parents rarely want their children to be artists, part 15.

I like how the audience had to be told when to clap.

Rafi

Japanese company Triple W Japan has invented Dfree, a device that fits on your underwear and tracks your bowel movements... "This device predicts faecal excretion. The device goes on your stomach and uses ultrasonic waves to monitor your internal organs and sends the data to smartphones to be displayed," said Ryohei Ochiai, of Triple W Japan's Solution Development. However, the company is still working on alternative methods to secure the device to underwear, because many people are concerned that it may chafe their skin.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/13/us-pants-toilet-idUSKCN0S71U020151013

Nikw211

Meanwhile in Academia …

… a lecturer has had to resign from her position as Director of Studies after 12 years at the University of Bath for "slapping a police officer in the face after she was kicked off a Ryanair flight for being drunk on duty free Jack Daniels".

She was, almost predictably, a lecturer in Sociology.

David

Leah Wild… taught social theory courses

The intellectual world will be terribly impoverished.

sH2

Great Sowell quote.

David

Great Sowell quote.

The book from which it’s taken is strongly recommended.

JuliaM

Never mind vaginal knitting, there's MONEY in those things, apparently!

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/please-stop-trying-to-monetise-my-vagina-a6694911.html

"This £149 device, which you insert into your vagina, can be connected to a digital app that tells you how good your pelvic floor muscles are."

R. Sherman

The dead outnumber the living 14 to 1.

So, we're pretty much screwed when the Zombie Apocalypse arrives.

OT: Further to yesterday's entry and its penultimate sentence, I deployed the phrase "volcanic love muffin" in a conversation with my long-suffering spouse. She inquired, "Where did you come up with that?"

"From the internet."

Suffice it to say, I had some 'splainin to do."

David

Suffice it to say, I had some ‘splainin to do

No refunds. Credit note only.

Sam

"These new vagina emojis are the best."

http://feministing.com/2015/10/15/these-new-vagina-emojis-are-the-best/

R. Sherman

"These new vagina emojis are the best."

And that is synthesized with the injunction against objectifying women how, precisely?

Anna

Teenage boys drawing cocks = juvenile and stupid.
Grown women getting excited about vagina emojis = progressive feminism.

Bunny

Bloody hell Julia on the money about the vaginal knitting woman, now it would have been fantastic if she had actually been able to knit using her vagina.

jabrwok

So, we're pretty much screwed when the Zombie Apocalypse arrives.

Fortunately most are so rotted as to be harmless, and many of the rest are securely buried under significant amounts of dirt.

On the topic of objectifying vs. empowering wimminfolk: http://tinyurl.com/psk8j5w

dicentra

That H2O Sonata is highly derivative:

I hear music
Mighty fine music
The murmur of a morning breeze up there
The rattle of the milkman on the stair

Sure that's music
Mighty fine music
The singing of a sparrow in the sky
The perking of the coffee right near by

You can dance to the Gene Krupa version. I don't know what Bibiana's excuse is.

dicentra

The whole point of her “art” was to trigger disgust mechanisms in people. To then actively complain that it disgusts people is classic troll-like behaviour.

I call it the "Little-Sister Gambit," wherein Younger Sibling torments Older Sibling until Older Sibling retaliates, so Younger Sibling runs screaming to mommy, hoping to get Older Sibling in trouble for being such a brute to poor, little Younger Sibling.

Even when mom sees through the gambit, mom's frustration at being bothered Yet Again is often reward enow for Younger Sibling.

Guaranteeing many, many repeat performances.

mojo

Ok, I want a robot head. Made up to look like Mickey Mouse.

Parus major

The dead outnumber the living 14 to 1.

Homer's 'silent majority' later used by Richard Nixon to describe the American average voter (some humour intended there, I think).

DAn

I work in an environment where we deal with blood and other body fluids and even we understand that these things should either be inside the body or cleanly disposed of, both for health reasons and because people dont want to handle other peoples internal fluids. This is actually the behaviour of normal people, not misanthropy.

David

I call it the “Little-Sister Gambit,” wherein Younger Sibling torments Older Sibling until Older Sibling retaliates,

It was fascinating to watch Ms Jenkins and her supporters tie themselves in knots. The basic assumption seems to be: Whatever the public reaction to a really bad attempt at art, it has to be construed as an affirmation, regardless of evidence and basic logic. If people ignore you, it’s because they’re scared or disturbed by your daring and radicalism. If people mock your pretension and lack of discernible talent, they’re scared or disturbed by your daring and radicalism. However people respond, and even if they don’t, this is all because of how scary your work is and by extension how daring and radical you are.

Several Guardian readers offered variations of the following high-minded defence:

I haven’t evaluated your work closely enough to say it’s a great piece, but I want to express my sympathy: what horrifyingly ignorant responses you’ve received! The nature of these responses itself is reason enough to believe the work is certainly important.

And so an absurd and pretentious thing, subsequently rationalised in absurd and pretentious ways, is “certainly important” - artistically important - if enough people notice that it’s absurd and pretentious. In other words, our not being impressed by it is what makes it so impressive, so radical, so vital to the world.

Interesting theory.

TimT

That H2O Sonata is highly derivative....

Over half a century ago now, John Cage entertained American audiences on a game show by performing his composition 'Water Walk', involving such instruments as 'a bottle of wine', 'a watering can', 'a rubber duck' and 'a bath tub'.

Nikw211

The nature of these responses itself is reason enough to believe the work is certainly important.

O-o-o-o-oh that is so not the case.

By that Logic, the British National Party are the most important political organisation in the UK and Kim Kardashian is of greater significance than POTUS.

David

O-o-o-o-oh that is so not the case.

Meanwhile, Ms Jenkins ran through a list of improbable and contradictory justifications for her stunt, fishing for something, anything, that might sound plausible. Finally, after the fact, she settled on a claim that her vaginal knitting was about “forging a path of self-determination in the face of society’s expectations” and “withstanding all the negativity in the world.” In short, she’s managed to do something that other people – sorry, “society” - found pretentious and unattractive. And this is somehow a great achievement. For an artist.

Nikw211

Ms Jenkins ran through a list of improbable and contradictory justifications for her stunt, fishing for something, anything, that might sound plausible.

Rather depressingly, that Jenkins was seemingly unable to comprehend the purpose of what she was doing until after she had done it says as much if not more about the state of higher education and fine art as it does about this particular 'artist'.

As I've possibly mentioned before, I went to art school in the early 1990s where several times a week, students would display recent work for seminar discussion. So far, so normal you might think. However, a good proportion of the pieces on display were difficult to distinguish from someone celebrating their own exudations, a personal sexual fetish, sometimes both, in public.

One rather demure and terribly earnest student displayed a series of boxes nailed to the wall at eye-level underneath each of which was a hole which viewers were invited to crouch down in order to look up into. Each box revealed - Quelle surprise! a precisely detailed plaster model of her Jemima Puddleduck; another student paid a young male prostitute to sit on a wooden stool on a plinth, naked except for a pair of sparkly red hot pants (that was it); yet another student spent several years doing nothing - as far as a I could tell - other than having sex with his partner on large sheets of white paper while covered in charcoal after which viewers would then see the 'shadow' of knees, hands, tumescent penises etc.;

I mention these works in particular because these were the kinds of pieces to which the student-artist would invariably agree to completely contradictory comments about the work during the discussions. Typical responses to comments were "Oh, yes, that's what I meant it to be about.", "Yes, I think it does that, too.", "Yes, you can definitely read it that way too". Such responses would be made to directly opposing claims without any indication that the only logical conclusion that could be drawn from this was that the 'work' was meaningless and incoherent.

But that was the real lesson of art school for students in those days - that art work, such as it is, is of absolutely no importance catering as it does to petit bourgeois mores and validating the illusion of democratic engagement (or some such nonsense). The more meaningless and incoherent, the better because the real value of any work of art in the art school is how well it functions as a container for streams of politically Marxist critiques of Capitalism. The emptier the vessel, the more suitable a vehicle for 'Critical Theory'.

Hearing about Jenkins latest efforts and seeing Emma Sulkowicz's 'Carry that Weight' suggests art school hasn't changed one iota in the last two decades.

With it's deliberately vague allusions to modish theories such as Nietzsche's 'The Greatest Weight' but also pop cultural references (The Beatles song 'Carry that Weight' includes the lyrics: 'Boy, you're going to carry that weight / Carry that weight a long time' and 'I never give you my pillow / I only send you my invitations / And in the middle of the celebrations / I break down) while at the same time involving literally nothing more than a young woman carrying a $70 mattress around for no reason whatever, it has all the ingredients of extreme adolescent narcissism mixed with specious political argument that make it an art critic's dream.

David

that Jenkins was seemingly unable to comprehend the purpose of what she was doing until after she had done it says as much if not more about the state of higher education and fine art as it does about this particular ‘artist’.

As Franklin pointed out following Stef Elrick’s indignation at her ‘work’ being mocked, the favoured manoeuvre is quite shameless: “Once it [the piece of pseudo-art] garners any reaction whatsoever, then that is what the work is about.” And so the pseudo-artist can lay claim to any after-the-fact justification that someone else cobbles together, however contrived or implausible, and even if it bears no relationship to the original stated purpose, or flatly contradicts it.

And so the insult is compounded. We’re not only supposed to be satisfied by hackneyed and talentless noodling; we’re also expected to become sufficiently stupid and credulous to not notice the verbal hustle.

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