So this was a very real experience I had while in Florence visiting the wonderful Uffizi Gallery. See that wee purple heid in the centre there, that’s me.
It had been a while since visiting a major museum/gallery, especially one in such a tourist hotspot...
…BUT IS THIS HOW WE’RE DOING THIS NOW PEOPLE??
In between getting our corporate coffees, donuts and being feckin surgically attached by the eye baws to all things digital, do we not even have the time to stand for a few minutes, A FEW MINUTES, to experience a life-times dedication of someone else’s work, especially after we’ve paid the price of the gallery ticket, supposedly making the choice to BE THERE.
I was ANNOYED. And unnerved and ever so slightly freaked out. I find it slightly robbotish and A.I-ish (and not in a fun DATA from Star Trek kind of a way) to watch people in mass so disconnected to the real world and so absorbed in something that still feels alien to me.
I was doing a lot of drawing. I was doing a lot of looking. I like to read all the little stories and details of the paintings that interested me and because of this I notice things.
I noticed people taking the few minutes (well done) to take the photos of their faves and the description, then almost immediately walking away because I guess they can bathe in that experience later.
“But I thought they bought a ticket to the gallery for that day, to experience the work at that time” you say?
LISTEN STOOPID. What’s the point in that when you can take a photo, sling yourself up online, tagging yourself at the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, and experience everyone experiencing how cultured and travelled you are?
I noticed the floods of arms desperately raised above crowds of heads to take a photo from 6 feet away from the work, because God forbid you hang around to get a closer look, cos that takes time n’ that and you’ve got shit to do.
I noticed people getting annoyed at me because I was standing. Because I was standing looking at the work of Leonardo and Miccy Angles and the mentalist Caravaggio and my big purple bonce happened to be in the way of their photo taking. It’s weird cos, if you’re lucky enough to be able to use those dangly bits that hang off your hips you can walk left and right to position yourself better. Guess they didn’t think of that. Mind you, I was being rather bold, taking the time to admire work in a gallery. How rude of me.
And I noticed that it wasn’t enough for the artwork to hold its own meaning, its own beauty. I watched how visitors had to “add” to the work by putting themselves in the photo with the painting because God only knows, a 500 year old masterpiece by Michelangelo just sometimes isn’t enough.
I was one against about 50 twats at any one time who would rather experience the moment through the eye of their camera rather than through the eyes in their HEID.
And I GERRIT, I GERRIT!!! Not everyone is experiencing art in the same way I do, because it means something more to me than just a bunch of foosty looking tossers in a frame glamorising armour and lace.
And I get that want to share with those that can’t be there with you, but you can remember how you felt, you can remember the experience of being there, especially if you’re actively taking part. You’ll never forget that. And there is nothing more lovely than watching somebody getting carried away, re-living, re-telling their adventures.
My fear is that we’re diminishing the most basic of human experience, to the point where I don’t think we even realise. IT’S SPOOKY. Like, what’s with the way we read information? Scrolling through screeds of text at a mad speed, are we focused, do we even know what we’re looking for? And how the hell are we doing one job well when our focus seems split over so many tasks?
This digital age has upped the ante on the ol’ anxiety stakes and technically, our houses, our office spaces and our studios may have been prepared for it, but mentally, I don’t think we are. Most of the world is bullshit and confusion. But that glorious little percentage of experiences shared between friends and family or when it’s just you buried in a room of art materials and you’re painting, just painting is real. That’s what we have to work on, and it’s not found taking time panicking over how many followers you’ve not got on Instagram.
About 10 years ago I went through a year of counselling (CBT/Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) because I was kind of teetering on the edge of something that I didn’t like and I didn’t quite frankly know what to do. You’ve got to face facts that if what you’re doing at any one time isn’t working or getting the results you want, you’ve got to try something else, so I went to the docs and was referred!
But it’s feckin tough, it’s fecking tough working out in this ol’ life what’s best for you and I think what helps is having more “real-life” experiences, because it feels more and more that we’re indulging in an alternate virtual reality. I CANNAE HANDLE IT. Maybe I would feel different if I had like a million digital people following my art-ha! But I just have to do what makes me feel real and connected to what I do and standing in Florence drawing some of those awesome (“awesome” not as in, “you’re jumper is awesome today”) sculptural beauts, I couldn’t have felt more, quite literally, alive!
“SO WHAT’S YOUR POINT”
Yeah, I guess I’m just another twat trying to make sense of things.
And I guess, I would like folks to question why you do what you do, keep returning to that and focusing on it. Maybe we have to fight a little more at the urge of posting another beautiful sunset because that moment will soon be gone and wouldn’t we have been lucky just to have even been there.
(and by the way people if you need to speak to someone, do you know Universities and places of study often offer discounted rates or free counselling services as it’s often part of their training. YOU MUST SPEAK TO SOMEONE, YOU KNOW WHEN THINGS ARE NOT RIGHT IN THE OL HEAD AND HEART DEPARTMENT ) x