Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bar Bets Are Dangerous.

The author, magnanimous in victory, with a friend (who I know prefer to remain forever anonymous), in the aftermath of settling a bar bet (I was sure Obama would win way before the primaries had even begun).

A couple weeks ago I made a bet (a bar bet) with my good friend Michelle Vaughan. Michelle is a painter, and she and I were talking about gallery shows, art theory, absolute freedom, arguing truth vs beauty - oh wait, no, we were talking about movies - and I made the off-hand observation that "movies are the art of our time." Michelle is an escapee of LA - and while I am one of those rare New Yorkers who loves LA (it is one of my favorite places), Michelle is not. She is very happy to have escaped a city that revolves around the industry of movie making and to have made a place for her self as a visual artist in a city that revolves around making art - and writing for magazines, and publishing books and a metric shit ton of other stuff, but there is no getting around that there is a greater density of galleries in this city than any other place on the planet (Irving Sandler recently put the count at upwards of 600). New York is an art town, but like everywhere else in the world, the art that New Yorkers consume most passionately are movie (just saying).

Michelle and I agreed to settle our bet on line, and the folks at Hyperallergic have generously agreed to judge the debate. Usually I try to add an element of absurdity and humiliation to my bar bets (loser has to wear a pink bunny outfit and sing "If I Only Had A Brain" at the bar of the winner's choice, for instance), but in this case because I chose to keep things simple and straight forward I stand to win big: loser makes dinner for the winner and the judges. I have an edge: Michelle and her husband are foodies; so I stand to win big. There is, however, an opportunity for humiliation here. My own interest in food is more theoretical - I have a mostly platonic relationship to food and drink. I like it, and I like talking about it, but I see no reason to keep it in my house or prepare it for myself. Michelle, set the terms of the bet, her intrest is, I think, morbid. She is looking forward to seeing if I am capable of prepare anything on my stove besides tarry black espresso (thank you Stumptown).

Michelle has fired the opening shot and made her case on her blog, which I encourage my readers to please check out. I will rebut her argument point by point, but first I will post my own ideas here on SWM. I think this is a fun way to discuss what we think is important about both art and our times. It cleaves art/life in a way that gets not only to the core issues I have started this blog to write about (film as object, modernity, the future of art), but also touches on two of the subjects that have been preoccupying me most recently, Art as Technology, and the question of greatness in art. As always I hope anyone with an opinion on any part of the discussion will comment, but especially on this one because I really am a terrible cook and Michelle really is a fantastic one. I need all the help I can get this week. 

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