Commercial Enterprise

When I’m not working for creative self-edification, I’m a bartender. Not particularly glamorous work, but there you go. On a recent barroom afternoon, the patrons and I, waiting for prescriptions at the pharmacy next door, waiting for luck to change on the video poker machine, and waiting for the clock to read “you’re-off-work-so-go-home-and-think-about-something-else…” All of us, staring at the televisions. The screen flashed grainy footage of incredibly risky behavior, involving various modes of high-octane transport, often with disastrous ends. We were watching a show called HOLY @#%*!, meant to prompt involuntary cringing, moaning and exclamations of “Holy Atsign-pound-percentage-astrix-exclamationpoint.” The patrons and I did all of these things obligingly, often and with good humor. Then, commercials. Fast-food company, insurance company, erectile dysfunction drug, TBA… Wait! What? TBA?
I don’t know why I was surprised. I guess the juxtaposition of TBA commercial (puzzling balloon magic) and footage of snowmobile wreck (grotesque breakage of front teeth) was, well… jarring.
It is somewhat apropos. Sure, experiencing “time based art” inspires uncommon modes of thought and new ways of looking at the world… But isn’t it also like watching a kid who wants to jump a dirt bike, higher, faster and with more awe inspiring flare than anyone? And sitting in the audience, isn’t there a little part of us waiting to see if they can actually pull it off, wondering if we’ll see them land face first with a mouth full of earth and rocks and broken teeth? Sometimes it makes us involuntarily cringe and moan. Sometimes, all we can say is, “Holy shit.”
It’s Time Based Art. It’s happening. It aint always purty, it can hurt like a bad landing, but it’s often a feat of wonder.
I’m ready.
posted by Patrick Alan Coleman
P.S.
I’m still trying to find out how TBA is similar to a re-run of Law and Order. I’ll figure it out.

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