“If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?”
In our film, we observe the unobservable: the journey in a mind moments before an artist makes a painting- the instant of volition, inspiration, isolation and reflection- all pouring into a “reality” that becomes a work of art.
However, in BAD ART, we break the vacuum of the artist studio, and interface it with the demands of the world when five people arrive in search of validation and meaning. The door of the studio becomes a superposition: the observation of the visitors, forcing an outcome of definition.
There has been an article printed describing a paradigm-shifting work of art, and the visitors want it. If they define the piece of art by their own standards, it will change them and complete them, a hope as mercurial and elusive as The Holy Grail. Yet, much like Scripture, they’re having a hard time getting a literal definition out of allegory. The search for meaning from a Rorschach test- each perception as valid a projection as the rest- but just as useless in their ultimate goal of consumption. If they can’t identify it, they can’t have it, and words seem both to be allies and adversaries on their own journey of definition. So, “Bad Art” follows their projections and subjective judgments about “good” and “bad” - staked against one another, as they debate which work must hold the ultimate truth.
Our visitors are defined by their own definitions, and ultimately their perception of what bad art is. But what is “bad?” The age old question being, how we define something- an object, as empirically bad or good. Is it its context, it’s relevance, it’s ability to reflect a culture or inspire it? Is it its resonance with our body, or it’s alignment with our values or with the entropy of the universe— or simply it’s ability to mirror the viewer’s perception of themselves, confirming doubts, allowing them to feel like their decisions are correct, their path one of purpose. Is it the obligation of a work of art to answer these questions or ignore them?
Without perimeters, and boundaries, you can continuously pull back the lens of definition, change the framework, and what is bad becomes good for one reason, and what is good becomes bad. Why has human kind offered, with all the effort of linguistics for millennia, these two, commonly used binary definitions of the subjective. And now, in a culture that re-appropriates its own language, redefines itself continuously, where do these boundaries sit? And what is truly bad?
Perhaps one could argue that the moral obligation of art, based on the framework of human history, is to point the way towards a world we could live in, a potential reality. To shed a light upon overlooked, unrepresented and marginalized voices, to use art as a memory device that lets history not repeat itself. Yet how does one make work, aligned with this progress while under the restrictions it requires to be a creative voice in this day and age. Ultimately, it requires a subjective judgement from someone in a place of power. Someone with the authority to say this is “good” or “bad”- this is aligned with something “I” feel is of value to history. Because, the consensus shifts- what is good today, may be bad tomorrow. So despite this preamble, BAD ART is a film that tackles the objective, from multiple sides of art simultaneously. We live in times where preconceived notions of gender and equality are being redefined— BAD ART mirrors this process of redefinition. It takes preconceived notions about authorship and identity from the old paradigm and brings them to light in the socially awakened framework we live in today.
If the information age has given us one gift, it is that the subjective opinion of one no longer reigns as an objective fact. Making truth debatable: a double edged sword. When revisiting truths held as standards in the 16th century we laugh, and again, in the 18th, 19th— history over and over correcting itself, the voices of many, defining realities thought to be subjective interpretations of truth in years past. The “salon de refuse” becoming the most important artists of the 20th century, Quantum physics disrupting the rules of Newton’s physics. Science changes, as does art, so why don’t our definitions of bad and good? BAD ART is a reflection and redefinition of the past. It is an amendment to the overlooked. It aims to take the oppressive theories, the stranglehold on critical discourse, and explore it at a molecular level. Starting with a simple question: “ If you never can take authorship over your creations, are they still worth creating?”
Our film looks at how a “post-truth” era could occur, and debates the veracity of past scions of objectivity. But rather than being revisionist, it looks forward, addressing the challenges of a new truth supposedly democratized by the internet. We live in a world where there is a groundswell of new standards and an overturning of social and cultural ideas that now seem outdated and absurd in retrospect, yet the new standards change faster by the day, creating a fluid reinvention of “reality”— one which we have come to expect to change without examining the bedrock of “truth”.
BAD ART, an allegory, is one woman’s journey against definition, against gatekeepers, against standards built on falsities and against an “objectivity” which is not reflective of truth itself. The title depicts subjective definition, now almost humorous in its simplicity. But we use these judgements daily, working our way through our lives, in a binary fashion, defining that which is impossible to define.
Zio Ziegler & Tania Raymonde