To clarify a few things. When I do my posts, I reference less that I actually read. Not that I am attempting plagiarism. But as it is a reflective assignment, I tend to familiarize myself with the practioner I am about to write about, through text and pictures of his works. This means I rarely pick things from another text and reference it specifically – instead I tend to reference where I have my knowledge from, and just let my mind work from there and how it relates to me. Whenever I feel I am touching upon something so specific that it is the point made by another media, rather than my perception of how it relates to me, I of course reference. But that is why confusion of my referencing in the bottom that might not appear in the text is highly irrational. And uncalled for.
Also I tend to pick practioners that I already have come across, as their works have had some sort of impact on me already. Oursler wasn’t – or at least he was a new acquaintance so to speak. Christo and Banksy I knew a bit about already, but my understanding deepened through researching them a bit more. I likely know more specifics than stated in the text, as I often base my reflection on how I perceive and feel about the practioner and his/her work. If you want to, you could even give me a quiz on each. But you shouldn’t. That would make us both look terrible. Me mostly.
Enough of that.
And now to something, completely different.
Yes. You guessed it. Monty Python. I realize that it is not a creative practioner as such. Neither was Christo and Jeanne-Claude, they were clearly 2 persons, rather than one. So I make up for it, by not counting them as the entire group, but just one. Otherwise I could probably do the entire cast, and claim that was my practioners.
I choose to play my Monty Python card as the “lame pick”. The one that are probably not that refined, a little bit of a crude choice, balancing on the edge of what is acceptable. Like going to twilight and writing how the meeting with Edward through the magic of the moving picture changed one profoundly, shook the innermost core of identity, and emerged one the other side reborn as a glittering vampire. I am sure if Monty Python were still active they would have made fun of twilight as well.
Why Monty Python? Well, for starters, they are odd. Which is probably what appeals to me. They really explored their genre. Secondly, I believe that through my consumption of Monty Python, I won’t have to rely too much on other sources of information.
I think for me, what really turned me on to Monty Python was the sort of slapstick humor, which was all I understood when I was a kid. Especially when you’re not speaking English. Reporting burglaries in high pitched and low pitched voices suddenly became interesting, despite not knowing the language. I was a Danish kid, by the way, English is not my native language. Quite common when you are born in Denmark, and raised by Danish parents. At least, I wasn’t surprised.
But this also emphasized a point about something being universally translatable. As an adult, I would probably not have found quite as much joy not understanding it, as I did as a kid. But nonetheless, certain things are universally funny, despite major barriers such as language and/or culture. Charles Chaplin is a good example. So is the old Disney cartoons, my nephew often likes them more than the new cartoons. I should note that my nephew is only 6 – not some 30 year old lay about. But this is part of what interests me – communicating in a universal language.
Later, I learned how to read. So I could read subtitles, and that turned out to be quite useful. It also enabled me to read other things, such as exit signs and milk cartons. Monty Python then started to make a whole more sense.
Yes. As a matter of fact it didn’t.*
Even though I suddenly understood what a piston engine was, I still had no idea what Mrs. Gorilla was doing with it. No wonder Mrs. Non-Gorilla was confused. But this also opened up for a whole other universe – a humor that was otherwise lost on me.
I once learned that Shakespeare’s plays often had to accommodate both the rich and the poor, so it was written so that certain elements appealed to each group, as often it wouldn’t be a common denominator. And that is, sort of, what I saw Monty Python did. Except, in the span might not have been just a great – but more a question of kid me and adult me, meaning that the target audience is much larger. You can easily accommodate families, if the show appeals to the children and on another level the adults. I’m still unsure if my parents liked it though. But I am sure some parents out there liked it for what it was. But again this communicating in a universal language, was suddenly sidelined with a very distinct separation of the audience. In this case, I am not entirely sure how well it was intended. I remember most of the lyrics for “every sperm is sacred”, and I am not sure it would have suited an English kid that well, or at least, it might have raised some questions.
In my later years, I think it occupied a sort of nostalgia. Me longing back to a time I wasn’t really a part of, as I chose to be born slightly later than my parents. Which is a good thing, given the complications it would otherwise have entailed. But it also made me curious of how something becomes such an icon that is still has such a strong fan base and becomes iconic, even for people like me who weren’t around when it happened. The world it was written in, is much different from the world I am watching it in today. The quality of the recording are questionable, and it’s barely 3D. But the whole feeling and entertainment, gives it sort of a feeling of “this is the way it is supposed to be” – like the quality of the media and the recordings create this whole universe or identity around it, that makes it much more enjoyable. I talk about this in my post about opera. How I feel that a certain genre has a certain connection to specific elements, or a certain look - and how I would like to familiarise myself with these trends or types, in order to be more adept, when I start working within a new field. I’d like to know the robes, what works, what doesn’t - and how it is supposed to come across. Knowing what is iconic for the genre or for specific pieces.
It raises 2 points, how do you make something iconic?
The other point relates to what I said earlier with the old Disney Cartoons. What is it that elevates it from being determined by the settings it is created it, and makes it transcend through the ages? Surely most modern will eventually be hopelessly outdated and no longer relevant, such as renaissance art may have lost some of its relevance to today’s situation and themes.
I think that there is an underlying language, that people can somehow relate to, or find amusement from. Not necessarily crude, but childish. How do I extract and use this, in my practice? I think it could also benefit to make something much more harmless, if everyone can find some sort of childish amusement in it. When the Mohammed drawings in 2005 had had such an element, maybe it wouldn’t have seemed quite as grave to those who we so gravely offended?
But it carries some obstacles. Obviously, some of the edge is lost, should we all try to create this crowd pleasing, so I’m not saying this is a solution that should be integrated into all art. I am just saying that the potential of having simple effects such as the use of a silly voice, can with a bit of skill, work on many levels. Even if you do not understand what they are saying. And I think that is something I could most likely use, maybe even as theme, in future creative endeavors. Maybe my focus shouldn’t always lie on a very complex construction, but rather look at the audience. Depending on the audience of course. But if I could look at the audience and recognise it, maybe even see myself, this would likely unveil some common denominators that would give my work a stronger appeal
* Okay, so this is a little quirky bonus element, working on sort of a Meta level, as I was talking about making sense, and that sentence clearly didn’t.
Python Homepage: Retreived 28/5-2013 from http://www.montypython.net/
Debate on how “Life of Brian” could be considered blasfemous, much in the line of the Muhammed Drawing issue, an issue which is raised 30 years before its time.