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Up and away July 7, 2008

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kent couch over the Idaho desert

kent couch over the Idaho desert

There’s doing things just because you want to, and doing things for the sheer hell of it. Then there’s art. Somethings may on the surface of it look like random, brainless stunts, but occasionally there’s a little something – an attention to detail, a needless extra, a determination or finely crafted vision. This week saw the launch of ‘Man on Wire‘ – a documentary about a tightrope performance between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre. More than a random stunt, this was a 45 minute performance for the thousands of onlookers 1,500 feet below that was 30 years in the making. However, it was the successful balloon flight over the desert by Kent Couch that took my eye. Not for the sheer lunacy of it, but the uneccessary detail of the deckchair and the stunning chaotic cloud structure of the balloons themselves. It would have been so easy to just get white ones or bind them in a net or securely, but the sight of that multi-coloured cloud flying 200 miles over the desert… that’s FRED.

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The Truth is out there… January 5, 2008

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Should we believe everything we see? Of course not. Fantasy, the distortion of truth and pure fabrication are at the very heart of what makes art art (see rural rebellion post). On the other side of the spectrum there’s the power of the media and our assumption that what we are told has to be the truth. At least that’s what the media want us to believe. So what happens when that trust and honesty in the truth is invaded by artists?

In July 2007, Ztohoven, an artist group in the Czech Republic, tapped into a live broadcast on the state television station and inserted the image of a mushroom cloud in the landscape during a weather forecast. Ztohoven were subsequently  awarded the NG 333 art prize by the Czech National Gallery (a bit like the Turner Prize, with a similar prize fund) for the piece titled ‘Media Reality’. Nice to see art invasions being recognised as serious works somewhere at least. ”This piece—alongside all of the art the group Ztohoven is making – is crossing the border from art into something more social. The artists are trying to escape from the cage of art, and into real life. They would like to influence their own lives, and other people’s lives.”

However, the TV station is taking a rather dim view of it and the artists are facing court charges of “Broadcasting false information”. If proved guilty the artists could face several months in prison.

So just where are the acceptable boundaries of art and truth?  there used to be an adage of “of course it’s not real – it’s Art!”. But when art is constantly striving to challenge the concepts of what is and isn’t real, or even what is and isn’t art, nothing can ever be what it seems.

Stuff learnt since I started at FRED. September 28, 2006

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Bryan writes –

Since taking on this co-ordinating for FRED I’ve learnt a lot and thought it might make sense to pass some of it on:

  • You learn more by sitting on a selection panel for one day, than you would by doing a three day course in proposal writing.
  • Artists are generally serious about what they do, even if the work is light-hearted or even laugh out lout funny.
  • People do want to be involved and are basically quite generous. What they don’t want is surprises.
  • Unprofessional artists make it harder for everyone. This is especially true of people who let down people who have given their time or property over for no remuneration. Some of them even argu for a piece of work in their own organisations and end up feeling foolish for doing so. The next artist along will have a hard time convincing them that they are serious and reliable.
  • It’s easier to convince prospective hosts if you can show them what the work might look like. It’s what Photoshop’s for.
  • It’s amazing what you can achieve in a short space of time. FRED this year has been done at breakneck speed, but it willhappen and people will talk about it.
  • There’s always another phone call to make/email to send. And if you do make that call, it will lead to two more. This never ends.