Or simply fresh out of ideas?
Discovered this wonderful new range of snack bread being sold in convenience stores over the weekend. The product name reads as follows:
たいしたもんじゃありませんがベーコンをのせて焼きました。 (Nothing special really, I just put some bacon on it and grilled it.)
It rather reminds me of advertising campaigns of yore where people would name their shop/business/product "untitled" or something equally unimaginative, tricked by lazy artists into believing that if they put just the right lack of any kind of effort into their marketing, it will somehow strike that magic artistic chord with the general public and be a huge success. Naturally, the philistines that make up the general public are a little too low brow to appreciate or understand such genius believing it to be "extremely stupid and unimaginative" - really a case of setting the bar too high on the part of the artist I guess. Still, this does not deter the average art student from insisting that the key to great art lies not in effort, imagination, composition and aesthetics, but in simply finding something people aren't expecting, dropping it on a canvas of sorts, and calling it "inspired."
So what motivates people to jump to such ridiculous conclusions, that merely picking some random word or drawing a picture of a clothes peg or something equally arbitrary somehow consitutes art? The answer is probably best summed up by the last two words of the last sentence - "constituting art." Rather a silly notion if you think about it, perpetuated no doubt by institutions granting prestigious awards to controversial art projects, that leads to every tabloid asking the big bold question "is a dead cow put on display art?" The anwer is very simple, and requires only the briefest check in the dictionary - Yes, duh! Actually, the little spider's web I scribbled in the corner of my note book during this morning's meeting, that's art too. So's the picture that goes with this article, and the layout of this page. All these things are most certainly without a doubt art, and the most amusing part is that my spider's web is in fact every bit "art" as a Monet or Picasso or Dali or that other guy who always gets confused with Monet. However, and this is important... while the works of the countless established artists that adorns galleries and rich people's toilets are what could be considered to be exceptionally good by most standards, my spider's web is unfortunately utter crap.
And that's really what it boils down to. Rather than debate whether something is or isn't "art," we should be reasoning "sure it's art in the broadest possible definition, but is it any good?" And my answer to the various organisations marketing themselves with unimaginative names such as "Untitled," students trying to pass off a shirt draped over the back of a chair or a pile of bricks as inspired, and even more established artists that put dead sliced up cows on display, is that your art sucks dudes!
Still, it's nice to know that in the case of the bacon bread, they put in enough effort to at least come up with a sentence, and as the whole "Untitled" idea never really took off here it could even be deemed original (ignoring Mujirushi of course). Still not gonna buy any though.
Update In response to the comment below, why indeed did I specifically exclude Mujirushi when it appears to be doing exactly what I described? The reason is that while on the surface, Mujirushi-ryohin (lit. "logo free goods") appears to be pushing thoughtlessness as artistic marketing, the underlying premise is that by virtue of being logo free, the consumer is able to pay a much lower price for a wide selection of high quality goods (though I think the low price aspect is somewhat lost in foreign outlets - you foreigners will pay a premium for anything that says "imported" on it won't you!) What makes Mujirushi particularly interesting though is the unique uniform look to the products - despite the supposed lack of any kind of design, it is still aesthetically appealing to a remarkably wide demograph. It would not surprise me if it cost a phenomenal amount of money to develop that look.
In short, Mujirushi is way more than a thoughtless gimmick pretending to be art, and that's why I excluded it.