There is a certain heady joy to owning an object of “art”. From records with artistic covers, haut fashion articles of clothing, art posters, furniture, fancy tea sets, a one of a kind guitar-the list goes on-the pleasure of living alongside a piece of art is undeniable.
So what makes a mass produced item capable of being as “special” as your favourite campfire song? Mass produced artful items are never meant to be art on their own, but vessels for the owner’s experience. Though we love the art aspect of it, our greatest desire is to interact and play with the item, from playing the CD the album art belongs to, to riding that bike that is a feat of engineering and design. Even though the item is mass produced, it is special to you.
Think about how you feel anticipating owning a piece of art. Getting your hands on a new album, article of clothing, archival quality print, well designed tool. “Art” is so much more than a “thing”-art can be a friend, art can be solace, art can be a relationship middleman.
Once you own the piece of “art”, there is an aspect of maintenance. “Art” becomes a thing to care for; an embodiment of the fragile emotion of wonder and painful longing. The “Art” is both there, a physical thing, and also a painful reminder of what isn’t there, mainly the impossibility of ever capturing the fleeting moment of the peak of surprise/wonder/joy. Owning it thus is a painful activity, characterized by this polarization of feeling. The piece of “art” therefore must be taken care of, constantly tended to retain the maximum amount of the special feeling. This is done by enshrining the item, constant reminders or touching of the object, and reminders to others of one’s ownership.
Think about that beautiful object you own or cover art from your favourite album. Do you cherish interacting with it? How much feeling do you put onto that object? Does looking at it automatically cause a reflexive emotion or memory to surface?