Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Why Pop Art

While tidying up documents on a laptop, I came across a treatise I wrote in April 2010. I don't believe that it's been posted on this blog. And if it has been, time for a reminder and for those who don't "get it", an explanation.

Why Pop Art?

[Pop Art] is an involvement with what I think to be the most brazen and threatening characteristics of our culture, things we hate, but which are also powerful in their impingement on us. 
                                                                       Roy Lichtenstein, quoted in Art News, November 1963

Keyboards have been omnipresent in the standard QWERTY format since 1867 when Remington coined the name, typewriter. Prior to this, there were other inventions that helped people transcribe print at a quicker rate than hand-writing but nothing that worked so well as what Remington subsequently produced.

The essence of the typewriter is its amazing mechanical set-up of hundreds of parts working in symmetry, that is, until one’s hands press too many keys at once.This problem was solved, for the most part, with the invention of electric typewriters, and in particular, with the arrival of the IBM Selectric. The spinning metal ball upon which letters and numbers were in bas relief, never jammed.

Hail the 1980’s and computer keyboards. Hit the enter key, which used to be the return key, over and over again and we miraculously zoom forward to the year 2010 and keyboards are at a surplus. The QWERTY board is still king with scores of companies make boards that become obsolete as soon as a new colour, new touch or new ergonomic layout of the keys is marketed. Oblong plastic boards cram our landfill sites and will take another millennium to degrade. In most cities, our waste management companies will not accept computer peripherals.

For me, this recycling nightmare is an opportunity to take this common item and use it as a canvass or medium upon which to create. The board can be something I add to or take away from, something that is a measure of the art itself, or simply a vessel. The fronts with the keys as well as the backs, some looking like a typographical map of Mars, are able to be used. Boards can be drilled, melted and pummeled. They accept most media readily: spray paint, house paint, craft acrylic and hot glue, among a variety of other glues.

Perhaps the Quirky B’s should be referred to as P’Op Art since there are element of both Pop Art and Op Art given their ubiquity and their ready acceptance of row upon row of like objects as seen in Baubles or Trompe of the Eye.

If it ever comes that the installation art calls my muse and over-large keyboards start to litter courtyards and city squares, there is no doubt that they will be quickly accepted into the genre, Plop Art.