Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Rantings of a Luddite philistine

I recently asked Mrs. Gerbil (who has a much better grasp of such things than I) whether performance artists need a cognizant audience. For example, if a performance artist sat at a bus stop in downtown Berkeley and just stared suspiciously at passers-by, I doubt anyone would realize it was performance art.

Put another way: Can you do performance art for the plain old art's sake?

Mrs. Gerbil said that performance art relies on the relationship between the artist and the audience. The audience at least has to know that something out of the ordinary is occurring--and that it's occurring on purpose. Downtown Berkeley is full of people who stare suspiciously at passers-by. Therefore, unless the bus stop performance artist squirted soda water at people wearing red sweaters and just stared at everyone else, it's not a very effective performance.

I don't understand performance art. I think it's very strange, although I also think it's an excellent punch line.

Who's there?
Performance artist.
Performance artist who?
Performance artist.
Performance artist who?
Performance artist.
Screw you! Go away!
Performance artist performance artist performance artist PERFORMANCE ARTIST...

The real question, however, is this:

If tree falls on a performance artist in the woods and no one's around to watch, is it still performance art?

In other news, I got a new cell phone last week. The last time I got a new phone, I had to convince the Verizon guy that I did not want a camera phone. Our conversation went something like this:

VG: So how come you don't want a camera phone?
Me: Because I don't need my phone to take pictures. That's why I have a camera.
VG: But you could use your phone to take pictures.
Me: All I want to do with my phone is make and receive calls. I don't need to take pictures with it, I don't need to surf the web, I don't need to send text messages with it.
VG: But if you had a camera phone, then when I called you, you could see a picture of me on your phone and know that I was calling you!
Me: Um, I program in people's names. Because I can read.

This time around, the Verizon guy didn't give me a hard time about not wanting a camera phone. Our conversation, however, was pretty amusing:

VG: So what do you want your phone to do?
Me: Make and receive calls.
VG: That's it?
Me: Yes. That is it. I don't even care about text messaging.
VG: You don't use text messaging????
Me: No. I figure, if someone needs to tell me something, they can call me. If I'm not there, they can leave me a message.
VG: But text messaging is cool!
Me: I turned off text messaging a few years ago because it cost me money to receive messages like "I'm bored." If people are bored, they can call me and tell me about it.
VG: Uh, yeah. I guess you have a point there.

When Mrs. Gerbil found out that I didn't have text messaging, back when we were still living apart, she said, "Oh, that must be why I sent you all those text messages and you never replied!" Which leaves me to wonder:

If a performance artist doesn't know that I don't have text messaging, is it performance art if he tries to text me that a tree is about to fall on him?

1 comment:

Lea said...

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