// new media class

Andy King — IAE_Haikus

Aura — Winter 2016

We’ve all seen them.

Those painfully long and obscure artwork descriptions with jargon such as ‘a priori’, ‘transversal’ and ‘nonspatial space’ that gaze back at us hollow and off-limits, making us doubt our own intelligence while we stand on aching feet in the cold, white space of an art gallery, employing the same analytic methodology to understand an artwork we’d frantically use to solve a maths problem or sudoku. The text exhumes authority, as does the space containing it, we trust it over our own mental faculties — it’s definitely me, not them. International Art English, as it has become known, has finally become its own literary genre, deserving its own shelf lodged between Fantasy and Science-Fiction. There are many theories as to why art descriptions have digressed into a jumble of jargon, contradictions and empty statements. Economist and author Don Thompson posits that artspeak is intentionally obscure and wordy in order to boost sales to millionaire art collectors who see art as an asset rather than an object to be cherished, and often purchase art on the phone without ever seeing the object described.

IAE_Haikus is a playful rebellion against this. The hierarchy is reversed — the description of the artwork becomes the artwork, the artwork becomes the description. Certain phrases from auction house catalogues such as Christie’s and Phillips were extracted and transformed into haiku-type verses, their most meaningless statements highlighted and exposed.