Sunday, March 14, 2010

Not clever and not funny


"Peter was really clear about it being an exact copy of the Hollywood sign because he wanted it to be a send-up. He and Richard epitomise creativity and innovation in this city and I'm going to go with their judgment."

Ms Prendergast defended the sign on Radio New Zealand this morning, saying it would be a great way to welcome visitors flying into the capital.

Jackson said he was "thrilled that Wellington Airport were paying tribute to the Kiwi craftsmen and women who created the movie magic that entertains all corners of our planet".

Wellington Airport chief executive Steve Fitzgerald said using anything other than a "tongue-in-cheek play" on the Hollywood sign did not make sense. "The idea of having a ... fun play on the most famous sign in the world has an instant recognition factor that anything else would struggle to match."


So that is why Kerry Prendergast is making Wellington so ugly: she is scared of creative people. It used to be that public art commissions were awarded to artists, but now creative people, the makers of monster movies and special effects, dictate public taste. I expect Sir Peter and Mr Taylor sit in their creative spaces of a night and chortle about what larks they will have, once Wellington Airport has a sign that sends up the Hollywood sign, by saying 'Wellywood.' Laugh and the world laughs with you, as they say.

Of course, Mr Taylor is not just an arbiter of taste. He and his Workshop are an artist themselves. They have produced the tripod sculpture in Courtenay Place, which is a terribly witty tribute to themselves. They also made that moving tribute to our chaps in Bomber Command, a masterpiece of the Franklin Mint Style, described thus: "a freestanding bronze sculpture of a Lancaster crew with a Lancaster coming out of the marble background." It cost a freestanding $100,000. For once, the old adage "a child of ten could do it" rings true: this is a work that is less than the sum of its parts, and those parts could be found in any small boy's toybox. Of course it had to be forced on to Auckland Museum by use of the mighty powers of sentiment and shame.

Speaking of a child of ten, the artist known as Weta is also responsible for the deeply moving Dyslexia Discovery Exhibit in Christchuch, which uses the simple trope of a near-naked girl to convey "Richard's empathy for those young people struggling with a learning disability." This is Art, you see. There is nothing smutty about it; those older people struggling with their obsessions should look away. And, being Art, it is made of bronze, although it may look like chocolate and remind you of those annoying Cabdbury advertisements: more Rolo than Rodin, as we Art Historians say.

You see, Richard and his Workshop are not just creative people, they are also successful people, who are in touch with the commonsense tastes of the common people. They realise that the business of Art is imitation. If you want a memorial to bombers, you will get bombers. If you want an instructional sculpture about reading difficulties, you will get "a young girl lying down, barefoot, reading a steel ribbon of words that float through the air, spilling from the pages of her book"

Being successful, creative people, they must congratulate themselves constantly, just like the people in the advertising industry. And the citizens of Wellington must look on their works and despair. They must bow before the mighty monster makers, and accept their monuments of whimsy. The creative people must be celebrated, for their industrious light and magic. Never mind that their latest work (a film called Avatar which apparently is an allegory of something or other - I have not seen it) was made possible by a $60 million taxbreak: there will be no monument to the unknown taxpayer.

Oh well, at least it is not a danger to flying like the ghastly Hook of Maui and Receding Waters, an ideation whose time has has come, and gone.

The ideation visualised above was created by the estimable Mr Christopher Banks, who the author hopes will not mind. You can ideate your own visualisations at the Wellywood Sign Generator.







8 comments:

Dave said...

I've been calling the movie in question Dances with Smurfs since having seen it described as such a few days ago, on the Internet. It actually sounds quite entertaining in a Big Dumb Movie sort of way, although not so much so that I can actually be bothered paying to see it.

Anonymous said...

You've missed one. Another proposed Taylor masterpiece:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/rugby-world-cup/3450374/Rugby-World-Cup-sculpture-unveiled

Anonymous said...

The best way for Jackson and company to pay tribute to the artisans would be to pay them better, and give them holiday pay. My nephew was one, and I was shocked to learn that he was stood down for the Christmas break without pay, simply because he was "on contract". Sure, his beautiful workmanship, acknowledged by name, is celebrated in luxury books like The Crafting of Narnia, but that didn't pay his family's bills. Perhaps all the craftspeople should demand royalties for the publication of their fine work in such books. When I look at that sign, I can only think of their exploitation.

Grace Dalley said...

The rugby sculpture reminds me a little of The Raft of the Medusa...

Russell Brown said...

Jackson and Taylor are certainly burning through the goodwill at the moment, aren't they?

But Paul, the girl in the dyslexia sculpture is not "near naked". She's wearing a normal dress like the one the young model wears in one of the pictures.

sPaZ said...

Sign generators are fun!

Bunch more on http://www.SignGenerator.org :)

stephen said...

But Paul, the girl in the dyslexia sculpture is not "near naked". She's wearing a normal dress like the one the young model wears in one of the pictures.

Yes, and would that the designers had somehow managed to make it NOT look like the lawn-rainshower scene in Lolita...

Paul said...

Quite. One of the tests of being able to do sculpture properly is the ability to make dress distinct from body. Another is to choose poses with a sense of decorum.