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Byron Shire
May 12, 2021

Time for the ‘philistines’ to wake up to art

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Oliver Dunne ‘beseeches’ Council to give the Dong a stay of decommissioning. I hope they do not.  Oliver argues by analogy with other formerly reviled pieces of art, now revered, to give the Dong time for us ‘philistines’ to awake to its artistic worth.

He asserts its merit but fails to demonstrate it by any reference to the Dong’s attributes.

His argument is sentiment, not reason. The essence of the Dong’s failure is that a sculpture, a three-dimensional structure, could never capture the ‘negative space’ idea of the artist’s sketch. Oliver Dunn’s analogy with the Eiffel Tower is spurious. There the structure is the purpose.

 By contrast the idea with the Dong was that a silhouette image of the lighthouse would be magically created in empty space by a flight of birds. As an idea, as a sketch it is appealing, lovely. But (and it’s a big but) the unavoidable structure necessary to transpose the idea from two to three dimensions voids the idea. The negative, empty space in which the magical image would have floated is instead a clutter of unattractive, unavoidable structure. The artist should have realised this.

The whole episode is sad. It is doubly so that he has been reviled on anti-social media – and I would like to decommission that American poison.

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