The Arts They Are A Changin’.

David Hockney painting. Source: BBC

High winds hit our neighborhood last weekend, taking down a neighbor’s tree and our internet. I realize we got extremely lucky: many people in Nashville lost all power as a result of the storms, and I can’t imagine the double hit of having to stay home and losing power. Then again if the power goes out where are you gonna go? Whenever our power goes out we stay home and wait for it to come back on.

Anyway the loss of internet access was disconcerting because it took out our TV as well—or at least anything we didn’t have on DVD. We couldn’t get the local news, and when I’d try to check just the weather on my phone it was really slow to load without wifi. We were able to use one of our phones to set up a wifi hotspot to get some work done, but I took a vacation day Monday, and did a lot of reading. We get a weekend newspaper—an actual ink and paper edition, thrown into our driveway from a moving car, usually in the mornings, but occasionally in the afternoons, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It reminds me of the arcade game Paperboy—I’m old enough to remember video arcades. Most of the time I pull out the Arts section and a few others that interest me and recycle the rest, and yet I still end up with a backlog that sits by the couch patiently waiting for me to either get to it or recycle it too, although I figure whatever’s going on in the art world is still going to be relevant no matter when I get to it, unlike sports or politics, which keeps changing, and I did just read something about how the Hindenburg is on its way to New Jersey, which I’m sure will turn out okay, but that’s another story.

It was weird not having internet access, and no TV. Somehow it made me feel even more isolated than usual. But it was while catching up on the old news that I read about various artists and how they’re dealing with isolation. Museums around the world are closed now, and art shows are being cancelled. One of the artists was David Hockney, who said,

I am in Normandy, and we don’t have TV. I am in the middle of nature, which I prefer to the city. I must admit I had been planning this for the past year — I don’t like crowds. So for me, nothing has changed that much…But nobody can cancel the spring. Nature just goes on relentlessly, I am glad to say.

I figure that’s true for most artists—most have studios as part of their homes, and do most of their work alone anyway. Hockney caught my attention because in 2009 he started doing drawings on his iPhone, switching to an iPad in 2010. He’s even had exhibits of his iPad drawings, printed and enlarged, and he’s got a book—an actual ink and paper book—of the drawings coming out. And Hockney’s also known for working with the physicist Charles M. Falco on the idea that advances in art since the Renaissance had been helped by the invention of the camera obscura and other optical devices. Basically they’ve suggested artists like the Dutch masters used images projected onto the canvas as a guide.

At a time when I was missing some of the technology I’m so used to having, and that’s become so important, it was interesting to read about an artist who’s using technology, and who’s considered the influence of technology on art through the ages. Even the arts keep on changing.

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  1. mydangblog

    I think it must be the height of unfairness to lose power during a lockdown. Hopefully it wasn’t long enough for your food to spoil!

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Fortunately it wasn’t–the longest outage we had was just the wifi. The rest of the power stayed on so we didn’t have to worry about any food going bad or the heat being off. It’s been unseasonably cold this May. Oddly enough though our power did go out Wednesday afternoon, but it came back on after about half an hour.

  2. mydangblog

    So weird—I left a comment on this post but I don’t see it. Anyway, I said that it was a hard time for artists—I have a friend who’s a painter and 2 of the galleries who represent her have now closed for good. They just couldn’t survive. I asked her about virtual galleries and she said it’s just not the same as being able to stand in front of a piece and really experience it, which I thought was an interesting idea. Anyway, I hope you didn’t lose any food when your power went off—grocery shopping is such a pain these days!
    mydangblog recently posted…If You Build It…My Profile

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      There’s something funny with the way comments get stuck here and I can’t seem to fix it. I can approve them through WordPress but still have to log in and manually approve each one, so I’m sorry yours got lost in the process because your friend has a really good point. There is something special about standing in front of a painting, the real thing, that viewing it online just doesn’t capture. Every painting can only be as big as your screen when you’re seeing them online, and the subtle details of the brushstrokes–especially when the paint has been applied thickly–just doesn’t translate on a flat screen. The art critic Robert Hughes said that we’ve been putting pigment on surfaces for thousands of years. It speaks to us on a primal level.

  3. Ann Koplow

    Your blog just goes on relentlessly, I’m glad to say.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m glad your comments keep on coming even when the wifi is down.


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