Today's Obsession: Bad Art

Blood on the Dancefloor portrait

Blood on the Dancefloor portrait from deviantArt member FlyingAntelopes

I just got back from a weekend in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, which scared the hell out of my Chicagoan eyes and mindset. If you watch the businesses go by from your rental car window, the entire economy seems predicated upon the spending of luxury money—but there’s no taste level to speak of. Nearly everything is just so-so in execution, and seems utterly disposable. Easily made. That set me to thinking about the difference between bad and naive work—and how hard it is to tell the difference by the tools used.

Here’s a couple of videos which illustrate my point perfectly.

My apologies to the band who made this first example, but this is an exhibition of some of the worst taste I’ve ever seen—and it’s made in the same disposable culture I just came from (specifically, Orlando). It’s a song called “Bewitched” by a couple of malnourished androgynes called “Blood on the Dancefloor.” The song itself is lyrically dull (and, in places, almost illiterate), musically thudding and uninventive, choreographically dunderheaded, and the costuming is like a fire sale at Hot Topic circa three years ago. It’s just horrifying that people are actually into crap like this.

Here’s a counter-example. This is a piece of CGI from a woman in Australia named Wendy who’s teaching herself to work in 3D. She has no idea how to use her tools, and is looking for new ways to make them operate with everything she uploads. Her work is technically horrible, but it’s fascinating, sometimes frightening, always a little insane, and a little funny.

The detail of the finishes in both examples are surprisingly good. If you’re not looking or listening closely, both pieces of work are perfectly acceptable in the arena of other pieces of instant art that we see on countless monitors, hear through countless speakers, every day. The difference, I think, is that the band is trying to be a particular thing they’ve seen already, and reaching for a bar set so low they can’t help but at least partially succeed. Wendy, on the other hand, isn’t trying to be anything, and is simply creating work to see what she can do—but her work, lacking expectation, shows us things we never would have otherwise seen.

6 thoughts on “Today's Obsession: Bad Art

  1. Pingback: Today’s Obsession: Whither Critique? — Imprint-The Online Community for Graphic Designers

  2. Jose

    I’m from Fort Lauderdale and it’s true that there is a lot of bad art floating around, but there’s also good ones too… you just have to look underneath the rocks to find ’em. My friends, colleagues, and I have been working on setting up our own art shows/events in hopes to improve the creative scene. Due to the lack of modern/innovative design I have created an art series entitled ‘For Art’s Sake’. The mission is to build  a stronger and better creative scene in South Florida. This cannot be done until the community is exposed to design and true innovation. The next time you’re in town I hope that you see some  or even large changes in the art community. And just maybe you will turn over one of those rocks and find something worth posting about.
    For more information on the For Art’s Sake art series:

  3. Art Director

    I couldn’t agree more with this article. I see this everyday, everywhere. From 10 bad pieces I see, 2 that are actually good. I know we (artists/supervisor to others) are supposed to encourage positive comments, and if there is nothing good to say about an artwork/design we should focus on the little positive… but I feel its healthy and actually very constructive to point out bad art/design pieces too.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, you are not alone, Patric!