Sunday, May 26, 2013

It's Not Art, It's Propaganda

On a recent drive to DC, my mind wondered into the realm of bumper stickers and how worded bumper stickers make me feel anxious, regardless of whether I agree with the statement or not, because they sum a belief or ideology into a few pithy words which make me feel like I need to pick a side. I started to think how nice it would be to have a bumper sticker that didn't have any words, that I could drive around in peace, and just enjoy the visual aspect of a bumper sticker without having to believe something, or be convinced of something, or know anything.

So, convinced I would never find anything that I liked if I looked or waited around for it to find me, I decided to make my own, and start a movement of peace through the proliferation of wordless bumper stickers. 

I decided to print the stickers in limited editions of five, in part because I wanted to have enough to share but not so many that I would be purchasing many more than I could ever find homes for without knowing if anyone else would want one. Here is my first design.
With my second design, I decided to play with turning my flag series into sticker form. In making it, I found it fascinating how much I liked some of the odd random shapes within it. I'm not a huge fan of the triangles, but I find those random angled four and five sided forms completely mesmerizing. Hopefully, others don't feel the same or I could be causing accidents all over the place (luckily, I can't see what is on my own truck as I drive around).  
With my third, I wanted to experiment with polka dots, which are always fun and joyful, but I decided to tone them down a bit with a few stripes.
I debated for quite a while about putting this last one on my truck because I ran out of space on my bumper and I thought it might be too much to have three, but then I decided that I liked it to much not to use it as well. In retrospect, I think three stickers on one truck is too chaotic, too crazy looking, but it is also true that I can accept this truth. 
Three Bumper Stickers in situ
It turned out that these are more popular than I thought they would be. I'm at the point that I need to design and print a fourth in order to maintain an adequate inventory, just in case there is a rush on them, or (as I fantasize) that strangers in parking lots start asking me how they too can get such cool bumper stickers.

One of the things I love about these is that I feel they say so much more than worded ones, and, at least for me, without the anxiety inducing text (but I wonder whether I'm creating anxiety for other people on the roads as they wonder what I'm trying to say, though, perhaps this a useful/good anxiety). I also see them as propaganda because I feel they promote a subversive ideology of non-ideology. In this way, I think of them as inverted ready-mades. Instead of taking non-art objects and making them art, as Marcel Duchamps did, by calling them art; I'm taking art objects and making them non-art by calling them propaganda. Which creates an existential question of whether they are art or not. If I make art and call it non-art, is it still art? Or, by making art and calling it propaganda, is the art the fact that I'm saying it isn't art? Or, regardless of whether I say it is art or not, if it is art in the eye of the beholder, does that make it art? I guess the ambiguity is what I like the best.

Addendum (June 11, 2013):
Here is my latest, all others have already been distributed.
Addendum (July 8, 2013):
Version five, this one is in editions of seven.

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