by carl wilson

'Bad,' Meet 'Crap':
Can 'Crime-Against-Humanity Art' Be Far Behind?

Through a link on the aforementioned Faking It blog, I've discovered Crap Art, the manifesto of a movement invented by a Pittsburgh-based computer-science PhD and musician named Tom 7. Its outline reminds me right away of Toronto's own controversial Bad Bands, though there's certainly a contrast in tone. (I don't think the computer folks are quite as familiar with the history of avant manifestos.) I think the most intriguing point in the Crapifesto is this one: "3. The creation of art is more important than its consumption. Therefore, aesthetics (except in the biased eye/ear of the creator) are overrated as a judgment of the worth of art." It sounds ridiculous on its face - what does "important" mean there? - but a lot of the more intriguing emerging art now (and for a while) has played around with that question: If making art is more rewarding than hearing/looking-at/reading/etc.'ing it (a debatable point but certainly a tenable stance), what forms would minimize the consumption side and distribute the production process? You can name your own instances. Although I'm not convinced that putting a shitty album on the web every day is a good example.

| Posted by zoilus on Saturday, April 07 at 9:52 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (15)



I agree. I guess casual references to suffering are more offensive when they are specific, or closer to home (so to speak). I.e. not just 'torture', but specifically something that is going on right now in Iraq and elsewhere. In Italy we have a saying: "do not talk about rope in the hanged man's home".

Posted by Michelangelo on April 13, 2007 4:33 PM



I realized that potential criticism after I made my little joke, when it seemed too late to change it. Which may be a sign that I was too rigid about the *generalized* use of "torture" as a description for music, but the case I was mainly criticizing was music-torture jokes being made about circumstances in which music literally was being used as torture, eg Iraq. I stand by that point, so I'll agree the heading of this post wasn't in the best taste.

Posted by zoilus on April 13, 2007 1:44 AM



Hi Carl, a little while ago you were complaining about the offhand use of the word torture in describing music (which I thought excessive). How is 'Crime-Against-Humanity Art' better?

Posted by Michelangelo on April 11, 2007 10:15 PM



have you heard of any of my bands?

Posted by david b on April 10, 2007 10:40 PM



If these artists truly believe their own ideas, why not take the next step and not make their art public at all? That might work out nicely for everybody.

Posted by malstain on April 10, 2007 3:35 PM



What forms would minimize the consumption side and distribute the production process? Pretty much any that remain available during a power outage. If there was no electricity then there would be many gaps left in the absence of electronic media that your creativity and mine would readily fill. Otherwise, there would be little to do but read Kafka by candlelight.

Posted by Scott Thomson on April 10, 2007 12:14 AM



I'm not sure about how they deem a thing elitist- after all, I'm pretty sure a sense of elitism led me to enjoying bad bands as more intellectually satisfying than the reverential-referential gong show that passes itself off as "crafted pop music" these days. Lately, I've been thinking about increased and more pointed elitism, to the degree that it's even difficult to find oneself being credited as an elitist. I think that would rid us of sub-par elitist art, and fulfill us with earned elitist art. To the new elitism!

Posted by Matt Collins on April 9, 2007 11:38 PM



Your last sentence clears it up, carl. I certainly put my own satisfaction before the benefit of society.

(However, as it turns out - striving for personal happiness ultimately benefits society. The perfect example: this blog. You do it for love AND people love to read it).

Also, it should be noted that I mean "everyone should play in a band" in the most general sense - play pick up baseball, write a book, accomplish things.

I have slightly different views from john about the organisation of activities though - the problem with playing in a band is the perception that you need organization (or in the language of your post, the problem with playing music is the perception that you need to be in a band). Would more people form bands if house shows were the accepted mainstream rather than bars/clubs? How many small time bands think that they NEED to hire Fanatic to mail out their cds? Would more people play music if bands never recorded 'demo tapes' and took 'press photos'? The organization amd supposed need for professionalism is intimidating and its elimination would result in the utopian pinic described above.

Fundamentally, people derive happiness from accomplishment but the measure of accomplishment in music has become highly specialized and distorted to the point were even the simplest step of trying it out for fun has become unattainable.

but maybe that's just what a fool believes...

Posted by david b on April 9, 2007 10:14 PM



"I'd rather stick a pen in my urethra than watch a bunch of indie kids wail on kazoos at The Boat, let alone pay for it."

With that sentence, Mike W, you have created art. And it was my pleasure to consume it.

Posted by KS on April 9, 2007 7:49 PM



"The creation of art is more important than its consumption."

The bogey word there is "consumption," which has less of a faintly-Marxist sting when you replace it with the phrase "people who give a rat's ass."

I'd rather stick a pen in my urethra than watch a bunch of indie kids wail on kazoos at The Boat, let alone pay for it.

Also: who has manifestos anymore? Guh.

Posted by Mike W on April 9, 2007 4:34 PM



I question the dichotomy between individual satisfaction and social value. Playing music -- or sports -- helps one understand and appreciate music -- or sports. I personally think everybody should play music AND sports -- or, at least, *try* them -- but not everybody should be in a band or on an organized team. Institutions such as bands and organized leagues create their own anxieties that aren't necessary for the engagement with the social/cultural practice (to use a term that encompasses music and sport).

Everybody should draw too. I'm a terrible draughtsperson, but I still draw. I'm a lousy athlete too, but I love taking my cuts on the softball field or rolling that ball at the alley. And I used to love basketball but my pick-up game dissolved years ago.

There's no hierarchy between creating and consuming either. We're all -- or almost all -- consumers first.

The BEST softball game I know is the annual barbecue of my wife's company. She works for a housing/homeless nonprofit with many housing and shelter programs, and one Saturday every August, all of the residents are invited to go play with staff and families together. There will be a dozen people in the outfield. People too broken-down to run the bases can still bat and have somebody's kid run the bases for them. It's totally (if artificially, and momentarily) utopian.

There should be music like that too.

Long live the Portsmouth Sinfonia!

Posted by john on April 9, 2007 4:33 PM



Just to be all obvious about it: It's the same as saying "Writing is more important than reading." With the implication that we'd all be better off if everybody wrote their own crappy novel rather than if everybody read Dostoevsky and Kafka and Dickens. There are cases to be made on both sides (and the either-or is extreme) but it's not a given. In fact, most people would reflexively land on the other side, I think.

Your position is enjoyably absolutist, but I don't think everybody should play in a band; in fact, I don't want to, myself, these days, as I've got too much else to do. I do tend to think everybody should partake regularly in some kind of creative activity. But then again, lots of people would say everyone should partake in sports, too (or instead), and I don't do that.

Again, is "important" here about individual satisfaction/growth or about what's valuable societally/culturally?

Posted by zoilus on April 9, 2007 2:38 PM



i guess it's not really the larger point of the post, but how can say the making/listening question is debatable?
i believe everyone should play in a band - what are the arguments against?

Posted by david b on April 8, 2007 7:34 PM



Yeah, I have. And sure it is. And so?

Posted by zoilus on April 8, 2007 3:03 PM



carl, have you ever played in a band? it's the best thing in the world.

Posted by david b on April 8, 2007 2:18 AM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson