Thanks, Just Looking 

artisforthepeople.com

On these Pepsi-fueled insomniac midnights, I find myself returning to Art Is For the People, a confounding, flatfooted, and brilliant art project on the world's most pedestrian medium: the internet. AIFTP is a collection of colossally bad photographs and brilliantly lame no-tech ideas that may be the only thing saving me from freefalling into the abyss of my most recent post-post 9/11 despair--the weapons of mass distraction that, as Tom Moody put it, are out there just waiting to colonize our imaginations.

Did my eyes just open, or has America recently become the most vanilla, thinly veiled Christian theme park ever? I can hardly go to the movies anymore because watching The Twenty sends me into profound, lonely disgust. I hear people talk about American Idol but I can't relate to, much less root for, teenagers who listen to Bette Midler and Rod Stewart. A cultural anesthesia, propagated by unthinkably big media conglomerates, advertisers, our friendly governments and Steven Spielberg, has broken through the levee, and I everyday I feel like I've walked into the Superbowl halftime show.

I constantly wrestle with the question "what does art do," and I've never been satisfied with Dave Hickey's theory that it exists for people to chat about and form geeky cliques to bond over. Art's plenty good for that, but that can't be all. Hickey's theory doesn't account for the impact of art on the individual, for the solitary experience. I still maintain that the best art changes the way that we look at the world, but art that powerful doesn't come along every day, or even every month. So what about the chunks of life between those outlook-altering experiences? In the fallout shelter of my mind, art provides daily refuge from Kate Hudson and the People's Choice Awards.

So where does this website with the dumb photographs enter the story? It's low tech, and not million-dollar faux-low tech. It's some guy making goofy images that look like nothing else out there. There's no logo in the corner, not even a way to contact the creator. There's nothing to buy, no commercial breaks, no book club stickers on the jacket. All I'm required to do is laugh at the obviousness it presents me with or spend an entire shift rolling an image around in my head. That's it. And for that I am grateful. So very, very grateful.

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