This week I finally completed the paperwork for an impending school trip. It has been a fight to say the least. I went up to the big smoke to do a full trip recce and realised the horrifying facade that the school trip has become. Having done the things I needed to do I dropped into the Tate modern on my way passed the gargantuan, monolithic brick structure. It was horrible. Quite apart from the fact I thought the exhibitions, aside from a couple of notable pieces, were terrible, the entire place was full of school trips. Mostly sixth form art trips by the look of them. Students who you would think have a lot to gain and be interested in.You are wrong. These students didn't look like they could have given less of a monkeys if it was dipped in peanut butter and rolled in money.
These kids were dotting from room to room, notebook in hand occasionally jotting down a half-arsed attempt at imitation. I felt genuinely sorry for whichever teacher had done the acres of paperwork required for that trip to happen. The biggest problem? My scapegoat in all this? Camera phones.
There was a hideous amount of students who never looked at a piece of art in that gallery. All they did was take photos of them and then walk away, Despite my feelings of reticence at engaging with the art on show I appreciate that you have to give some pieces a little time to develop on you. Sculpture should be observed from a number of angles and, if possible, heights. Had I been that teacher I think I would have banned photographs of the works. This, however, would have been nigh on impossible. The ubiquitous nature of digital photography technology has reduced its impact. It has devalued its effectiveness. It has lost its nature as an artform and become just a poor-quality substitute for memory/actually paying attention.
These students forgave their opportunity to find something that they may have loved by reducing its gravitas to the size of a inch by inch-and-a-half blackberry (tm) screen. I think my dismay and amazement is best caught up in the following overheard conversation. I have attributed to the unknown female students names from plays. 10 points for naming the plays and the writer behind them:
(Two girls enter and see two others sat on the floor, sketching)
Laura: Oh, are you girls done?
Blanche: Nah, we were gonna go and sit in the cafe and drink hot chocolate innit.
Stella: Yeah we're bored.
Amanda: You do know we've only got like ten minutes left?
Blanche: Have we, Ah it's fine. I took a photo of something and will draw it from that with cake.
I didn't know whether to be wholly disheartened or applaud their ingenuity.