Literary Review: Patternotion - Life-changing Art, Art changing Lives, Ed. Alban Low
Patternotion - Life-changing Art, Art changing Lives
By way of a preamble before setting out here, I have to declare that some may perceive a 'conflict of interest' or 'vested interest,' in that I have been honoured with a 'blue plaque' on one of the inside pages of this book. For what reason, I know not. I have in no way participated in the compilation or editing or any other way or function in the publishing of this book and have absolutely no financial interest in it. Furthermore, I shall in no way let my inclusion among the 'blue plaques' influence this review. I hope this makes my position absolutely clear and absolves me of any possible 'accusation' of bias and any perceived 'conflict of interest' or 'vested interest.'
Patternotion was edited by artist Alban Low, and is published this month by the prestigious publishing house of Sampson Low Ltd., one of the oldest in the country with an interest in the arts. Its ambitious theme and aim is, broadly, the expression of 'Artistic Systems for Living.'
Sixty artists and authors were asked to submit a one-page work to 'reveal the secret blueprints of their lives. Get inside the heads of these creative system makers, learn from their endeavours and be inspired to make a change in your life,' according to the blurb.
I do have to confess here that 'modern art' and I don't always get along - I have for example no time at all for the kind of nonsense that tends to make a mockery of the Turner Prize these days, nor the kind of thing that the Tate Modern mostly tends to exhibit, nor am I much taken by much of the output of much of modern 'college kids,' and nor do I have much time for the argument that photography is art (it is a craft, but may be used in the service of art - who would deny Man Ray!), and terms like 'conceptual art' or 'installation' tend to set my alarm bells ringing very loudly indeed! And 'modern literature' often occupies a similar spot of 'affection' for me - but, I always love having my positions and pre-conceptions challenged. There is nothing like a challenge to keep the mind fresh. Thus, I was not only looking very much forward to Patternotion and its presumed challenges but indeed even fascinated by its very concept.
Somehow, the idea of 'Life-changing Art, Art changing Lives' as expressed by Patternotion's sub-title always did seem a bit over-ambitious, though the basic concept of 'Artistic Systems for Living' perhaps a little less so. Has this theme been adhered to and achieved by the various artists and authors, is the big question for me.
With sixty different artists and authors, it would perhaps have been asking a bit much to always expect so. And so the answer is clearly a mixed one for me, in part yes, in part no. Over all, this theme must have been an immense challenge for any artist or author. So if some strayed to a lesser or greater extent, this is hardly to their discredit, nor does it make them lesser artists in any way.
It would be impossible to comment on each individual work here with the sheer numbers involved, and it would be grossly unfair to comment on any particularly 'outstanding' or not so 'outstanding' work, hence my comments must and shall remain general.
On the whole, perhaps one major issue I have is a fairly large degree of over-reliance on photography in Patternotion. There is almost nothing among the photographic works that could not have been far more effectively expressed using, e.g., conventional paint media. (3D constructs and the like obviously excepted.) In other words, it is difficult to see the point of using photography.
However, that last comment not withstanding, generally Patternotion is a fascinating and stimulating compilation that furnishes plenty of food for thought, as it were. Perhaps it is not quite 'Life-changing Art, Art changing Lives,' but at the very least, Patternotion ought to get the reader/viewer thinking. A lot. Its seventy-two pages will take a long time to fully digest, which should make it one of the most stimulating seventy-two pages around, as well as enormous value for money.
Thus, I have had my preconceptions and positions on 'modern art' thoroughly challenged, and I cannot help but like this book. It still has me thinking! And that, perhaps more than anything, is its whole point.
Consequently, I can only give Patternotion my highest recommendations. Indeed, if you have but the slightest interest in art, and even if much of 'modern art' is perhaps not quite 'your thing,' Patternotion is something of a must have.
All rights reserved.