Friday, December 16, 2011

Cutting Edges of Art

Many claim to be on the cutting edge of just about everything. An email I received today promoting something as 'cutting edge' got me off on a cliche rant. Just how many years can something be on the cutting edge? When does the cutting edge become the blunted through overuse edge? If everything is on the cutting edge is it better to be elsewhere?

So as a service to all readers I show you two of the true cutting edges of art. These are two of the carving tools I use when cutting linocuts.

My dislike of this cliche is very old. I tend to forget about it until I see someone promoting something as cutting edge as I did today. It makes you wonder if people think when they speak. Do they have any idea what their words mean?

What drives me nuts about this particular cliche is that it uses a hackneyed term to describe something that the user wants to embellish with a sense of newness. Instead it instantly shows that it is old and hackneyed.

It's always dangerous to generalize. Nonetheless I'd say that the majority of artists I've known have a particular nose for truth and falsehood, for honesty versus hype. My guess is that most of them would not describe their work as cutting edge. They may quite honestly be trying to do something new, different, fresh, to breathe new life into old forms and structures, to find a fresher way of expressing something. But I doubt that they ever care about being on the cutting edge. Even if the term were not a cliche I don't think newness for the sake of newness if the goal of many artists, except for the ones maybe who don't pursue art for personal reasons but more for the cache that if offers in society, a cachet that is as often a bad cachet as it is a good one.

Still I'm sure that the cutting edge will always be with us, especially in the arts, as artists push the envelope, over the edge, breaking new boundaries in the wonderful world of cliches.

That said here is my newest linocut made with my cutting edge carving tools. This print was more successful on copier paper using a cheap ink. I mistakenly added a thinner to the ink when I switched to oil-based ink and printmaking paper. Most of the crisp edges are gone and over 20 prints on two types of paper never really got them back. So for now there is this one somewhat indistinct edition. In the coming days I'll try a different ink on good paper to see if I can get a sharper edition.

This is based on the watercolor of House Sparrows in our Winterberry from the last post.


Mike Woodcock said...

Cutting edge is so last year... Bleeding edge is what it's all about now

Ken Januski said...

Hi Mike,

Ahh. How could I forget bleeding edge? With this year almost over though I have to wonder what will surpass 'bleeding edge' as it becomes so last year..............

The cliches will always be with us I think so something new will surely appear.

Mike Woodcock said...

When you find yourself at the bleeding edge after the cutting edge, please don't post any photos, I may faint...