First, Apple’s Get a Mac ads were voted among the best ads for 2006 according to The Wall Street Journal, and then Steve Jobs stole the show from CES (Consumer Electronic Show) with the iphone and Apple TV, holding in his hand the future of electronic convergence while Bill Gates just stood there at CES talking about it. Now micro-softies are really getting nervous and defensive (or at least more nervous and defensive than usual).
What they really need to do is relax, stop fighting (why can’t we just all get along?) and read the Stanford commencement speech given by Steve Jobs (highly recommended reading). It explains why Apple is always on the cutting edge of industrial, artistic (this is an art blog, so I had to find some way to get art in here… I even resorted to getting Eva to quickly paint this great Apple still life just for this blog! Now, don’t ever say that we did nothing for you.) and technological design. Once Bill Gates (before the messiah complex hit and he decided to resign as CEO of Microsoft and save the world) was posed with the question, what is your vision? He replied: “to see a personal computer on the desktop of every home.” Good one Mr. Bill, but hardly what one would say is visionary (it was kind of obvious that would happen).
Apple, on the other hand, seems to have no such simplistic vision. They innovate instead of follow. They reinvented the mp3 and now the smart phone. Their products are far more than technology, they become part of our lives, they even become our friends. (Yes, even minimalists need some kind of friendship.) They say that it was Steve Jobs who insisted that the Mac Plus have no fan as the noise took away from the beautiful design and user experience. (Turned out to be a lesson in form follows function as the solder joints would fracture. Of course, hard core minimalists were few and far between back then… come to think of it, we actually still are… I guess that makes us kind of minimal… you don’t have to read anything that appears in parenthesis by the way.) Of course they have had their other failures (the bright colored clamshell notebook with a handle was kind of embarrassing), but when something comes together, wow, it really comes together. Just like great art. (I know, I know, another very weak link to art… did I mention Eva’s great Apple still life… my goal in life is to write a whole article in parenthesis. That would make Penn Jillette proud.)
Of course the micro-softy masses always rely on the same old argument that if Macs are so good, then why do they have such a small market share. (Love that one, because then you have them right where you want them.) Based on that same logic, they should all be driving Honda Civics. Porsche has a very small market share. I guess then it is a failure as well. (Don’t get me wrong. Honda makes respectable cars that sell very well, but no one compares them to Porsches.) Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are both very rich men. Both companies are doing very well. Which one is bigger, richer, or sells more, is of no consequence. (At least to us peons who get excited about finding 25 cents on the street.) One has a rather simplistic vision that has already being accomplished and doesn’t seem to know what’s next (except of course to continue copying, ‘borrowing’ or buying other people’s ideas), while the other, continues to innovate.
Why are micro-softies so defensive? Relax amigo, we don’t really care if you choose to use inferior software on ugly hardware. No one is twisting your arm and forcing you to change. We are happy to keep quietly driving our Porsches and when we pass you by in your Honda, we will even give you a friendly smile. You see, we CAN all just get along. Stay original… Porsches are.
Andy Warhol reportedly once said: “It hurts when you go to school too long.” Now, obviously, if you are a heart surgeon or nuclear engineer, you may want to take Andy’s comment with a grain of salt. The point stands however that too much school becomes counter productive and can hurt or even crush creativity.
Take for example Steve Jobs, a college drop out who after touring India started the remarkably creative Apple Computers (think iPod), Pixar (think Toy Story), NeXT Computers (think cool black cubes for people who have way too much money), and who knows what is next. Now, where you ask, did a college drop out get the money needed to start a computing company? His partner (Steve Wosniak) sold his VW Bus (think hippy) and they used the money to build the first Apple computer (housed in a wooden apple box) in the garage of Jobs.
The current North American educational system (think boring) based on the British model of the omnipotent Professor babbling while an overcrowded classroom of peons try to figure out whats going to be on the final, stunts thinking and creativity. (Granted, this is a huge sweeping generalization, but hey this an art blog and artists are free to make sweeping brush-stroke like generalizations.)
So, kids, the point of this little exercise is: study a little, think allot, get an iPod and be free. If a couple of hippies could do it, then so can you. Stay original… be free.
What is art? How do you define it? These are difficult questions to answer and probably better left unanswered. Of course you know we are not going to let that stop us. Right? So, here is our take and hopefully it will get you thinking about YOUR OWN answers.
Andy Warhol showed us that art was inseparable from style. As Lou Reed and John Cale pointed out in the song, Style It Takes from the album, Songs For Drella (a good-by to Andy) where the average person saw simply a Brillo box, Andy saw art. Warhol had the style it took to dictate what art was (and is to this day). I heard once that Steve Jobs (Apple) had a BMW motorcycle in his living room as a piece of art.
Only now do I make the connection to an interesting acquaintance from my younger days. He was restoring an old 50′s American classic for the sole purpose of taking a road trip to California. From our brief conversation I remember so clearly how he was also looking for a unique piece of art to put in his old apartment in the Mission district. One carefully chosen piece of art, he said with real conviction, would be all that was needed to transform the mundane into something inspiring. Those seemingly inconsequential words briefly made in passing have not only stayed with me but have also inspired me down to this day.
It seems that Andy Warhol, Steve Jobs, and that (now very consequential) person from my youth, all followed the same creed; that style dictates art. In vain we keep trying to group and classify art of every sort into different styles, yet these styles continue expanding and defying such grouping. Why? Because there is always another artist who has the style it takes to dictate what is art or what art is. The avant-garde impressionists of more then a hundred years ago defined their own style just as Warhol defined pop art in the 60′s and 70′s.
Who are redesigning art today? Well, that is an easy question. Those who have the style it takes. For style + art = originality. In that case, the real question is not HOW do you define art, but rather how do YOU define art? Stay original… have the style it takes.
Wow, for minimalists we sure make a lot of noise. Search the web and you find all kinds of minimalists spouting off about the virtues of “less is more” and how “form follows function.” Why even big corporations are putting out minimalist adds in the big glossy rags.
So why, do you ask, do we need another blog on the subject? Because, we minimalists have nothing left in our houses and have driven off all our friends, so we have nothing else to do but extol the virtues of minimalism. No really, the real reason is because of something profound that happened to us recently.
We were talking to some twenty-something year old friends about minimalist music, art and design. (Actually that’s not really true, we were talking about something completely different, but we always look for ways to change the theme of any conversation to minimalist design.) Then I mentioned something about Andy Warhol. Well, when we saw the blank look of confusion on their faces, we realized that these poor under privileged girls had no idea of whom we were talking about. It was even worse then we initially thought.
We mentioned other names to see if any brain synapses were connecting: The Velvet Underground… nothing, American Music Club… zip, The Feelies… nope, Mies Van Der Rohe, Jennifer Sterling… oh my, this is bad, the Latin Playboys… nada. What do they teach in schools these days? Ok, we could see that we had our work cut out for us. So, how do you go about helping a couple of young impressionable minds to appreciate the virtues of minimalist design?
Hand bags. Yes, you read correctly, handbags and other women’s accessories. You see, I recently stumbled upon the website of designer Marc Jacobs, which is a beautiful presentation of minimalist web design, OK granted, too much Flash (no, not the glittery kind, go ask a computer nerd then come back…) but oh so very clean. (Also, not very functional, but who cares, he’s rich and famous.) We just happened to be at a coffee house in Paraguay called Havanna who have Wi-fi and even a couple Apple Macs (Hmm… do we see a connection forming here..) for customer use. As soon as I brought up the Marc Jacobs website, I could see the blank looks disappear followed by instant recognition, and a lot of shouting: “I love Marc Jacobs, they make such cool hand bags.” Mission accomplished.
The moral of the story is the following: minimalism is best appreciated through the simple things in life. Are not the simplest words the most meaningful and powerful: love, home, family, friends, and iPod. (Just kidding.) The point is: everyone is minimalist at heart; they just don’t know it yet. Perhaps there is too much clutter in their lives for them to see it. You see, that’s why we minimalists have to make so much noise. Stay original… be minimal.