Scott King, a graphic designer who is UAL Chair of Visual Communication, used his lecture to explore a script he is writing about ‘artspeak’ as a barrier to members of the public getting involved in art and as a means of protecting the business of art.
With the help and participation of David Hayles, a short story writer, volunteers, who were all from the MA Drawing course, read the different parts. Scott admitted these were somewhat caricatured but nonetheless illustrated various points of view that do exist among the art-loving but non-professionally-involved public.
The set-up was that an art critic had posted a critical review of a contemporary show on a newspaper website and the characters were below-the-line commentators brought to life. They were enraged not only by the initial review, which while being critical of the artist was also patronising to the viewer/reader and offered no substantive criticism of the system, but also by the critics further responses to their points. They decide to meet in real life to plan some sort of action, but two of them by chance bump into the artist in question and ‘take him in for questioning’.
We didn’t get as far as exploring the scene where they question the artists, his motives and intentions and his use of artspeak. But the scenes that were read generated some interesting questions:
- all the BTL commentators were unsympathetic characters, which presents a problem with audience engagement
- but in real life most BTL commentators are or come across as unsympathetic, which made Scott wonder if people actually slot themselves into these stereotypes although he saw some of his characters as having another side to them
- this might need to be brought out by opening up the script to show their real lives
- another way of looking at the characters is that they each have their own language and the play could be about all the languages on display and the potential for understanding/misunderstanding.