I’m sick of Eye Candy

Even my own homemade recipes leave me with an unsettled stomach.  I used to get a thrill out of making some colorful lollipop of an image, but that stuff is for kids.  If you still crave candy, then you’re still a kid too.

Call it Decorative Art, or The Decorative Arts, it’s still the same old eye-candy.  In fact, Decorative Art isn’t really art at all —it’s decoration.  Pretty fractals may be nice to share and talk about and sell to the great mass of decorators out there looking for something nice to cover the living room wall or front entrance, but it’s only art in a broad, general, graphical sense.

Previously I’ve said that fractals aren’t very fertile subject matter by which to express deep thoughts or make bold political statements but I realize now that that’s letting fractal art off a little too easy.  Like a father speaking to a child who’s setting themself easy goals in life, I say, you can be more than that, you can be art, you can be anything a pixel can be.

But I know better than to give advice to someone who’s happy doing what they’re doing and hasn’t arrived at the point where they see things the way I do.  So to all those of you who aren’t happy with eye candy and occasionally get a deeper thrill out of artwork that is something else, that’s good.  And to those who find their stomach turns at the sight of a super sour gumball or a bright orange fruit chew, that’s even better.  It’s good to feel bad about bad things.  And eye candy is bad art.

Bad art?  Yes, I know there is a subjective factor to tastes in art and all that sort of argument that people often pull out to neutralize artistic criticism (except their own, of course), but graphic imagery that merely looks pretty and doesn’t engage the viewer’s thoughts in some deeper way hasn’t ever qualified as art in any serious circle of intelligent people before except in some trivial, functional way like the way a vase of flowers does in the front entryway in someone’s house.

That sort of thing is a Craft and those who make it are Craftsmen, not artists.  It’s perfectly respectable to be a craftsmen; there’s nothing derogatory about the label.  What’s not so respectable is when craftsmen want to call their fractal flower arrangements Art, and themselves, Artists.

It’s not that they aren’t good at what they do, or professionals, or anything else like that.  They’re good craftsmen, some of them are excellent craftsmen (craftspeople), and many are very professional and quite highly skilled in the technical aspects of their craft, but it’s just that what they produce has no other dimension to it than to be decorative –something pretty to look at.  But don’t call it art because that’s being pretentious, shows ignorance and trivializes what art is, and what art is all about.

And art is all about thoughts, feelings –mental action and reaction.  Maybe it’s possible to say something with flowers?  Not likely.  That’s why they’re such a popular decorative item, they’re just something pretty to make a room look nicer, like visual air freshener.

Fractal art isn’t eye candy or visual air freshener.  I guess I could give some sort of pep talk here or rallying cry for more art in fractal art, or lets all try to put more meaning in our fractal art, but really, if you’re happy with what you’re doing making eye candy then you’re not going to do anything like that.  People don’t make art because they’re told to, they make it because they’re sick of eye candy and don’t get a thrill from it anymore.  They make it because their gut tells them to.

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3 thoughts on “I’m sick of Eye Candy

  1. And art is all about thoughts, feelings — mental action and reaction.

    It seems to me that anything can be the genesis of thoughts and feelings. Likewise, there is probably nothing that hasn't left someone cold, without thought or feeling. Given that, how does one distinguish between eye candy and art? Or is the distinction purely a matter of context, what the viewer brings to that particular piece, time, and place?

  2. Hi there, first post for me.

    As I often find in your blog, this is an interesting read, but I would venture to say the exact reverse, that the 'eye candy' is actually the only thing that is intrinsic to the content, and therefore the thing that truly matters. Thoughts and feelings differ according to who's viewing the work, and what it reminds them of. Granted, that can be a great source of wonder and enjoyment. However, these feelings aren't intrinsic to the painting – the painting only *indirectly* fires off those feelings.

    So in truth, it's the patterns, subtlety of shades, use of colour, and indeed as you put it, the 'eye candy' that will stand the test of time, and for what the work should truly be rated for. Fractals have little of this 'meaning' thing, but they have the far deeper, more timeless/universal quality which doesn't have to rely on potentially fickle relations to someone's past experience.

    You surely still like some fractals too no? :)

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