Monday, March 24, 2008

Culture Individually Cloned

Jane Frank's Crags and Crevices

We are in a large storehouse filled with androids. They aren't supposed to be anything else, however. They are not trying to pass, like in SciFi movies. They are, actually, there to create your very own copy of an "original" Keating.

He's an abstract expressionist Oprah or one of them likes. One trip to her show, or somebody's, and he's so in demand he must hire the building of streams of stringers; machines to do up his color smears while you watch. Each creation takes five minutes, and that only because of the wait states while the robot pretends to consult its muse.

And so I hand one of the 'droids a canvas. Only, before, I take the brush and I smear it with yellow. A collaborative effort, I say; me and old Keating. I hear murmurs of protest behind a window. So disrespectful; unethical, even. Yes, very.

Niki J and I remove some Keatings from the gallery. You can do that. Just as you can buy the "works," you can take them down from the shelves. A pleasant couple in business dress approaches. I am hung for what to say, but Niki J isn't. She explains the boilerplate you have to use to protect your right to remove paintings from museums and those quaint little overpriced art shops.

They sigh, resigned. They accommodate us. Actually, they are very nice. We walk about with them throughout the art factory. They hear us and offer no argument. Why should they? There are some hundreds of robots turning out these masterpieces. More than twenty times the number we had removed were created out in the factory while we were in the act of taking them down from the gift shop.

I return for my Keating. Wait, what? The yellow is gone from my base coat. They have discarded my in-put. I have, once again, only what everyone else has, just a mass-produced robot-generated assemblyline muck-up.

It's culture, after all. That's the way it goes.