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Artlet -- The Wacky Art Of The Future. 2010
by Aristarkh Chernyshev and Alexei Shulgin
In the past few years we have been witnessing impetuous development of artlet - a trend in contemporary art that can be traced to early modernism and which is rapidly establishing itself in the international art scene.
Artlet is light art (name formed according to the same pattern as book-let - small book or star-let -- an aspiring actress) whose objects are created on reduced time and money budget (with the exception of Mega-artlet, see below). The main techniques to produce Artlet is recombination, mixing of the incompatible, placing objects in a paradoxical context. To produce artlet, ready-made objects or their replicas as well as figures of people and animals are used, the artist's interference should be minimal, production skills negligible. In case some degree of craftsmanship is required, it is provided by a hired hand. The important feature of artlet is that you can get a practically comprehensive idea of an object through its photo- or video representation. Besides artlet uses universal clear-to-all language of symbols which allows it to spread on the internet like measles from one blog to another. The most important point is that it should be wacky, zany or funny, but never boring.
Main artlet techniques
Take something small and magnify it considerably
Take a single object and multiply it
Take a large object and turn it upside down
To construct a recognizable object from the 'improper', paradoxical parts
Take two or more objects from incompatible contexts and combine them
Recombination - deconstructing the object and re-constructing it in a 'wrong' way
Artlet objects aim to bewilder and dazzle the viewer, or, as art critics like to say, 'make them see usual things in a completely new way'.
Roots of Artlet
Surrealism, Dadaism, advertising, MTV, 3D graphics, computer games, product design, Hollywood blockbusters, remix and cut-and-paste cultures.
Why Artlet Appeared
Industrial production killing craftsmanship, domination of media images, dramatic growth of consumer goods production. Focussing attention on designer products. Brands and trends. Advertisements presenting products as absolute values. Generations educated on mass culture actively using shocking images created by techniques similar to those of artlet.
A huge number of young artists -- art school graduates, now joined by legions of artist from China. Artlet gives them all an opportunity to express themselves under the conditions of a limited number of actual ideas 'in the air'.
Fast development of digital technologies, internet and social networks. Every internet user today can be a producer, editor, publisher and distributor of the content (in case of artlet -- their own works). Disintegration of mind peculiar of the modern human.
Disintegration of mind
This is the state of mind when the artist cannot create a unified comprehensive picture of the world or at least to build some local model with relative temporal stability. In the absence of a unified comprehensive picture of the world the human mind is fragmented which means inability to make assessments and take decisions. As a result, small details and their relations acquire utmost importance.
It is this state of mind that makes it possible to create and perceive Artlet.
Blogs are the main channel for artlet to spread. Proliferous, visually bright objects of artlet satisfy the need of internet-media for constant renewal of art content. It will be true to say that internet actually starts molding artlet -- more and more artists, whether they realize it or not, strive to create works that look good on internet sites.
This is expensive and wide-range artlet. Students cannot afford it, it is indulged in by the leading art names of today - Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Tony Matelli, Erwin Wurm, Chapman brothers and others.
Surrealism and Dadaism
Dadaism to a great extent was a reaction of artistic mind to the World War I and the destruction of the 'old' reality. Besides, that was the time when the new consumer society was being born. Thus absurd dada objects are the first fruit of 'mass man's' disintegration of mind.
Surrealism is defined as absurd combination of naturalistic images through collage and 'ready-made' technology, a definition which can be applied to artlet as well, the difference lies in motivations and historic and cultural contexts.
Surrealists were searching for freedom submerging in the subconsiousness, whereas artlet makers are simply trying to create a readable message in the absence of dominant discourse and globalized contexts.
Making artlet legitimate
Artlet is easily, though only partially, compatible with Relational Aesthetics concept by Nicolas Bourriaud. Artet is exhibited in large galleries and sometimes sold for quite decent sums of money. Artlet is something that is new, bright, long-awaited for and welcome after postmodernism.
Overproduction of art and its media images. Every day an enormous amount of art object are created by artlet techniques, each of those good in its own right. On the one hand this destroys the hierarchical system of art, on the other -- devalues the art object, eroding its quality criteria. One does not have to visit exhibitions any longer -- you can get the idea of the object by looking at its reproduction in a blog.
As the language of artlet is universal and clear to everyone, the reduction of the message depth is inevitable as well as shrinking of topic range.
The future of Artlet
Artlet will definitely develop, because it is understood by the masses and gets a positive response from them. Artlet methods allow to constantly create new original art objects; it also allows to keep a great number of artists employed. Artlet is affordable, it can be produced on a shoestring budget. Artlet is suitable for blogs and communication. It is easy to imagine artlet becoming a genre of internet culture existing in parallel to institutional art.
While Artlet will grow and get devalued and virtualized as a result, Mega-artlet will develop as part of art business and cultural tourism. Besides, as Artlet and Mega-artlet can be easily reproduced, this will 'activate' the kinds of art that cannot, that should be perceived 'here and now' in a physical space .
Should we or shouldn't we?
Positively yes, especially for young artists. Artlet is a contemporary universal lingo, a chance to be noticed. Artlet is a communicative space for artists and fans to speak and be heard without curators' arbitrariness. Arlet is your way to Mega-artlet or any other art.