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While hurtling down a YouTube rabbit hole of those William Wegman films where he fondles his bored dogs, I accidentally clicked on a random recommended video. Let me tell you: this shitty little cartoon changed my life.
It had the shittiest animation I’ve ever seen (and I grew up watching He-Man). I stared in horror as YouTube auto-played a procession of increasingly shitty cartoons with increasingly shitty 3D animation. All these pseudo-educational ChuChu TV and Little Baby Bum videos are just worn-out nursery rhymes with awful production values, but they have tens of millions of views.
Can you imagine how much ad revenue these reprehensible cartoons rake in?
The paradigm my MFA advisor always repeats is “art is subordinate to ideas,” so here’s my idea: getting that level of attention for something so objectively shitty is the new modern art. My revised statement of purpose is to half-assedly explore multimedia art while making fuckstacks of money off of targeted ads from the following breakthrough video ideas:
What Just Came Out of My Mouth?
I put paint in my mouth and pretend to vomit across a canvas: blugrrrrgh!! I grab my stomach and thrash around as the children in the audience clap and cheer. The children shout out which direction I should aim the spew and howl in delight as I wretch this way and that. A stop-motion Jackson Pollock figure rates my finished pieces on a scale from Yves Klein (shitty little finger painting) to Mark Rothko (big shitty blocks).
Plop Plop, Poop Poop
This video will feature repurposed footage from my video art class opus “Rain Falling on Wet Ground,” which consisted of 30 unbroken minutes of exactly what the title promises. I’ve recorded a soundtrack that includes noises children find funny like “plop,” “poop”, and “pee-pee” to mimic the plinking sound of rain smacking damp earth. I screened a rough cut of this for my nephews and they absolutely lost it (they really love when it goes “poop”.) I think this might be my masterpiece.
Uncle Andy’s 15 Minutes of F(r)ame
I take one frame from 21,600 different YouTube videos of typical child-hypnotizing fodder—adults playing with children’s toys, a piece of fruit with a disturbing human face—and string together a 15-minute montage of hyperkinetic bliss. A disaffected Warhol avatar sits in the corner of the screen mumbling and scoffing. This piece will rewire children’s brain chemistry to only be able to find pleasure in life by watching it again because nothing else will offer that mind-altering high—such is the power of this piece.
This is a Kusama-inspired mixed media piece where I shine a light into a glass prism and spin it around to make trippy multicolored refractions. Children will stare at the kaleidoscopic dance of light and make mindful observations like, “It’s everything and nothing at the same time,” and “butts make farts and farts make stink”.
Ai Weiwei, You Weiwei
A follow-the-leader program. I make “sculptures” of stacked chairs and stools I’ve salvaged from dumpsters, encouraging kids to do the same with everything they can find around the house. If their sculpture topples over, they have to yell “Jenga!” and smash a vase, urn or other precious family heirloom atop the pile. Parents will hate this show, but that’s the price you pay for being avant-garde.
Whose Butt is That?
Nothing but close-ups of animal haunches. A sock puppet with a squeaky voice asks, “Whose butt is that?,” then giggles and makes fart noises. Provocative, no? As an interactive piece, children can use laser pointers and flashlights to highlight specific areas of each butt, making this my most immersive work to date (I’ll do this one in VR if I can get a cracked version of the Adobe software my girlfriend uses in her video classes and find a film studies student who for some reason has good 360° videos of butts).
Technical acuity, clear conceptual direction, finding your artistic self through individual research? Fuck that shit. Everybody on social media complains about their MFA program (“I had to unlearn everything I learned in my program to become a real artist, boo hoo”), and I’m like, why pay to suffer through all that hard work when you’ll likely never see a return on that investment? I’m sure it’s more fulfilling to make tons of cash from shittily made videos, even if they make you feel numb inside. After I make my first million off these YouTube shows, maybe I’ll finally have enough free time to start painting again.
Favorite recent-ish international films: Atlantics, Burning, I’m No Longer Here, The Disciple, A Sun, Happy as Lazzaro
Favorite books I’ve read in 2021 so far: Upamanyu Chatterjee – English, August; Leah Hampton – Fuckface; Denis Johnson – Train Dreams; James M. Cain – The Postman Always Rings Twice; Tété-Michel Kpomassie – An African in Greenland; Michael McDowell – The Elementals; The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington
Favorite albums of 2021 so far: FACS – Present Tense; tUnE-yArDs – Sketchy; Shame – Drunk Tank Pink; black midi – Cavalcade; Viagra Boys – Welfare Jazz; Danny Elfman – Big Mess; The Armed – Ultrapop