the world through the eyes of sweet melancholy. about the arts, science, and personal affairs.
8106 › Titles, part 1
home | admin | Log in | entries feed | about| downloads

Titles, part 1

Artworks of any kind do have titles. Titles to refer to. And we – as consumer – are very used to name specific kinds of work by a certain title, which most commonly the artist gave his own creation. That’s the usual way and we like it that way. But this trivial logical concept does not come without its flaws, but somehow mankind has grown blind to those flaws. And I want to pinpoint the negative effects of the usability of giving everything a title in the following text.

I totally understand the concept of wanting to make a piece of work easy to access by naming it, so that you can refer to this specific piece easily. It’s the most simple way to make someone else via text or speech communication understand what you are talking about. There is a painting of artist X and its title is Z. So when we speak of Z of X, everybody who knows about it will know what you are talking about. That’s what titles are for and most artists like to stress this product of usability thinking. I see it as some sort of costumer service.

But the downside effects of it are barely in sight of the common folk for obvious reasons. Titles are primary for the good of the viewer, listener, or whoever is experience a certain kind of art. But what about the other side of the road? What about the artist?

What most people don’t really see is that titles tell you something about the piece of work, which the piece won’t. Something additional. It sure is some sort of meta message, and this is the case with every arts, may it be paintings, photographs, songs, buildings, whatever. When you, for example, see an abstract painting with red and black spirals on it you instantly fetch the works title. May it be “My Downfall”. You instantly start to combine this information you did not get from the work itself with the work, and you conclude something like “Oh, so this symbolizes the artists depression and incompatibility of dealing with his social surroundings”, or something like that. With its title the artist gave the viewer a specific hint of the works meaning, and just think about how much of an impact the title was in this example! A greater impact than the picture itself! Is that the way it’s supposed to be? The title is more of importance than the piece of art itself. And we are used to this concept, hence many artists adapt to it and take advantage of this effect.

But does every artist want to point out about the meaning of his works in a such direct way? Of course not. Very often a piece of work does not want to be resolved at all! It wants to be anaylized in a hundred different ways. It may not even have a specific meaning, story or message. So it does not need a title – it doesn’t even WANT a title!

I can instantly think of so many artists who do not want their audience to solve the riddles of their works. And also of many artists who don’t transport an interpret-able meta message at all!

So what happens in those cases?

Many artists tend to give their creations a title nonetheless. Because “that’s the way it is”. “Everybody does it”. “I have to give my piece a title!”… and this is what I don’t like about titles.

Think of modern presentation forms, like art communities where people upload their photographs. Or you local MP3 collection with all its ID3-Tags. It does not even ACCEPT the none-existence of a title to a specific work! You can not upload a photo without a name. You can not find a song without a song title. You can not store a file which doesn’t have a file name!

Some artists who share my opinion do a work-around this phenomenon, like for example by not naming their artwork, but giving them a descriptive name. “Abstract no. 7”, “00000001.jpg”, “TGZ_#596”. These are also titles, but not of a naming character, but more of a ‘catalogising’. That is also what I like to do. But it does not fulfill the urge of naming everything I do in order to be able to hint to its meaning or make it easier to access and referable. I simply do this in order to make my works public, because I HAVE to enter something in the title card of… everything I upload. And many artists do the same. Usually artists who do not want to explain their audience about their works or do not have a work which does want to be explained.

Still this is bothering me, because I do not even want to give those describing titles. Because STILL people tend to combine the title with the meta of the artwork the title refers to! I hate this effect!

A more personal thing I dislike about titles is something even less people will agree with. Don’t take this personally in any way. It’s not really as important as it may sound.

I frequently stumble upon an unintended effect when browsing art: I spot some nice piece of work, excellently drawn, good coloring, brilliant shadows, idea-full theme. And then I read it’s title and with it something the artist himself saw in it’s own work. Or did want to express something about his work. Or alike. And I am instantly flattered by how stupid the artist is and how FLAT his art is! May it be a really stupid play of words or reference to a quite stupid movie, and just shows me how utterly stupid the artist is. I constantly have to combine what I learned from the artist and combine it with the piece of work (as everybody does). But in this case it makes the work look stupid, too. Because of this new learned reference. I just changed my point of view about it in an instance of a few seconds and suddenly I don’t see the beautiful coloring any more, nor the shadows or the idea-full theme. This time I dislike it, because it reminds me of how stupid people can be.

I know, this is caused by my high standards I have of arts of any kind, but that’s the way it is and I know many people think the same. I would even go so far of saying that nearly everybody does act the same way, but on a completely different scale and not necessarily consciously.

Thing is: the artist of NO art at all does want to have this effect occurring with his works. And who is to blame? Of course the fact that “artworks have to have titles”. Crap.

tags: , ,
last modified: 2010-Nov-29, 0:17:13
short link | perma link | comment feed

comments (0)

Leave a Reply

◀ newer post
older post ►