Today I have something for you that has been around since man first started creating. After people started experimenting to find something different from other people the question was born, "yes, but is it art?" I have an article by Sandy Cosser that sheds some light on those artists who dare to be different as they put their work out there for the public to pass judgement on. The other really neat thing is that she mentions "The Duct Tape Guys" website that I mentioned in my "Wacky Links" area of my newsletter a few weeks ago.
"The essence of art is that it's a boundless arena for creative individuals to express themselves and their views on society. The term boundless means that there are no limits on what constitutes art. From a single line painted on a plain white canvas to a broken toilet on a pile of rubble, from purposefully grotesque sculptures made from scrap metal to funny caricatures, artists earn their living by breaking conventions and living so far out of the box, that they can't even see it anymore. Bearing this in mind, does it come as any surprise that the emergence of duct or packing tape has emerged as a new medium in art?
Ukrainian born Mark Khaisman is taking the art world by storm with his unique packing tape pieces that have already won him a host of awards, the latest being the World Trade Centre Memorial Competition, in 2003. Khaisman uses plexiglass as a base for the layered application of translucent packing tape. The pieces are hung in front of a light, which gives the work depth and the illusion of shadow, depending on the thickness of the tape. His creations capture the essence of his models to perfection, bringing them to life and flooding them with spirit.
A delightfully off-the-wall website, Ducttapeguys pays homage to the ingenious uses of duct tape, and praises the hallowed tape as the panacea for all problems. They are currently running a Duct Tape Poetry competition, offering a duct tape book or bumper sticker as choice prize incentives. They provide a poem by Jim, to serve as an example for all aspiring poets, from which the ending beautifully sums up the writer's feelings about the miracle tape, "Yet it saved NASA twice, Thanks duct tape - you're nice".
Other fascinating news items include their finalists in the Duck®brand duct tape Stuck at Prom® Scholarship Contest. A $6000 scholarship is awarded to the most creative use of duct tape in the design and creation of prom dresses and suits. The competition is taken very seriously, with some entrants spending years analysing duct tape fashion trends, collecting ideas and designing their outfits. There is also a piece on the Box Busters, who are old hands in the world of creative use of duct tape, and who made a duct tape pirate ship and now sail it on rivers in the US. On a slightly more alarming note, you can read about the aeroplane nose that was fixed with tape and flown from Washington to Texas!
Some artists don't wait for recognition by mainstream art galleries, and simply take their tape art to the streets. Mark Jenkins makes tape babies and attaches them in unusual public places, like on top of stop signs and within the arms of statues. He created the Storker Project, aimed to aid the furtherance of the tape people, or tapius maximus, as they are more correctly called. He also has works of nature, such as horses around poles and dogs barking at birds. His work is well worth a look. You can get as much enjoyment trying to spot the tape babies, as you will from appreciating their uniqueness.
Art is indeed limitless. The various forms are either loved or hated by art critics and lovers alike. The fact that some pieces are panned by critics doesn't deny their right to exist as art. Just as the fact that pieces are universally recognised as superb works of art, doesn't guarantee that they'll be well received by the public. Whatever the form or medium used, unconventional pieces will always beg the question: "But is it Art?"