Things of Beauty (2015) by Dawn Ng
There have been so many dialogues on what defines art and what defines design, on when is art, art? And can art be designed?
When it is captioned? When it is at a gallery? When it’s beyond an average’s technical ability? When it look nice on the wall? Or when it has some deep lying message?
Take Dawn Ng’s ‘Things of Beauty’, a photographic installation series for example. It’s soothing and eye catching. It fits in any walls whoever’s home are. It’s market-able and sellable cause it’s easy to relate to even if you don’t read the artist statement or understand the message or any political resounding behind it if there’s any. I like it.
But now let’s take a step back into the real world. And if we were to see similiar visuals like ‘Things of Beauty’ in magazines in those independent magazines styled and shot, done and produced by stylist and photographers. Its output is art to designers or the publication world but is it art in the art world?
Take another example and look at Ezzam Raham’s ‘Here’s who I am, I am what you see’. Fossils and Flower sculptures were made from dry skins shredded from the artist’s feet, then enclosed by a bell glass jar and delicately placed on a marble top table setting, finished with the lights dimmed and mood set. So that is art. And if a similar set up is done by visual merchandiser or be seen at a window display. Most would call them designs that are designed.
It’s termed design if there’s a brief or that, there’s an issue raised or a gap to be filled. Art, probably, doesn’t necessary need to cater to be a solution for anything, or to cater to any briefs. Art, probably, has a message and a cause behind.
Who I Am, I Am What You See (2015) by Ezzam Raham
So, can art be designed? Or the answer is that obvious? It is but they avoid using words like design. They will probably be using—crafted, produced.
In today’s context, we see dual professions—artists who are or were designers. Take Heman Chong. He started his profession as a graphic designer but has moved on as a artist, curator and writer. See Hanson Ho who has almost to two decade of working as a graphic designer whom recently has his first solo art show.
But when do one actually enter the art world? When you are hand picked by curators to showcase in the museums or art galleries? What if you organised your own show in a rented venue—some call it independent, some call it D.I.Y. Does one enter the art world when they are being acknowledged by fellow artists or gets interviewed by art writers?
Questions being raised. Curiousity on a rise. Hope I can find a place for myself in this world.