Harsh Critique

by | Oct 5, 2018 | Artwork #1: Score

Rules, restrictions, and aspirations are established.

Everyone is an artist and a judge.

All artists create a work of art.

All judges choose their favorite.

The artists or artist with the least support is no longer an artist and their work is destroyed.

Repeat until all artists are destroyed.

Artist Statement

With Harsh Critique I tried to create a score that could serve as an abstracted metaphor of the art world in addition to a real activity. While I have a great respect for slower, more methodical scores, for this score I wanted to focus on rapid creation and destruction.

For this piece I took inspiration from works such as BarSk’s DELETE, Conrad Shawcross’ Paradigm (Ode to the Difference Engine) and Jean Tinguely’s Homage to New York.  I love the idea of Auto-Destructive art generally, and especially appreciate the the wide variety of forms it takes. BarSk’s game jam event is all very sudden, sporadic, and immediate while Shawcross’ and Tinguely’s machines were very methodical in their destruction, Shawcross’ tying and untying string while collapsing under its own weight, and Tinguely’s machine lighting itself on fire seemingly urgently. One of my favorite parts of this project was seeing how people chose to destroy their works, with the ideas behind the method of destruction almost taking priority over the creation over the original work.

Overall I was extremely happy with the score upon completion. I loved how individual artistic styles and patterns emerged. I am very happy with how the idea of rejection and a lack of support reflects the destruction of an artist’s motivations, and I was also surprised with how well the score worked in practice, with the destruction alleviating a lot of the nervousness that would come with doing art in large groups, especially among those who don’t normally create at all. The destruction actually added an uplifting atmosphere and level of urgent excitement that I believe would be hard to recreate otherwise.


Students draw their artwork on the chalkboard.

A student constructs a tower out of paper.

The initial trial of the score was relatively unsuccessful but an important learning experience. Four of my classmates volunteered to be the artists and judges while everyone else looked on. This created an awkward power dynamic with them referencing me for how to interpret the score, with myself wanting to remain an onlooker but also obviously having an ideal intention of how it would run. I hope the idea that everyone is a judge an artist and is actively participating will solve this in the future though, as any decisions or suggestions by the group would reflect their own artistic community, mirroring that of a much broader and more abstract art world.

For the second trial we created art in 8 minute rounds, with the “losing” artist then choosing how to destroy their own creation. The agency of choosing for your own art proved extremely valuable, with people getting excited about how they were going to do it rather than discouraged by the destruction itself. I was very happy with how much the destruction was incorporated as a part of the process, with equal if not more thought being put into the methods. I also loved how even people who would never identify themselves as artistic developed their own styles and themes. Jalyn encorporated the Star Market ‘See What Makes Us Shine!” slogan from a receipt into her landscape painting for an uplifting piece. Julia’s multimedia pieces depicted food both in actuality and in her simplistic geometric recreations. Both of Jasmine’s pieces were extremely heartfelt and personal cards done expressively with sharpie and all of my pieces were multimedia utilizing trash that all were revealed with scissors.

Overall I would highly recommend recreating this score, although it might be worth shortening the rounds as they progress or limiting the rounds in some way as we found our three rounds to be almost too long. The affordances given by the destruction of the work were extremely valuable though, and created a much more lighthearted and collaborative experience with the actual destruction of everything.