Is memorizing a form of art
…”Stephen Wiltshire, ma main man!”
Do the innate absolute criteria of fine art judge Stephen Wiltshire’s art, or is it only the jealousy of one private subjective ego?
Stephen Wiltshire became famous after appearing in some TV show where he presented his remarkable photographic memory abilities. First, I would like to honestly state, that I am truly empathic and happy for his success and have nothing in person against him. He really seems like a cute guy. What I am more concerned about is the definition of art in regards to Stepen Wiltshire’s abilities. I’ll break this down to art’s three basic components, as I perceive them.
The three aspects of fine art
Stephen Wiltshire’s art scales from basic sketching lessons to advanced architectural drawings at the most. Some of his works are no more than elementary car design sketches or urban views. No innovation of technique and no originality in the perception of reality and it’s translation to art. Just plain sketching you might see scattered abundantly around the internet.
Have you ever seen an architect or a car designer selling their sketches as works of art for prices ranging up to 13,000 pounds? I suppose not.
Plain urban views or different motive transportation. No depths of issues, no message, no meaning, no purpose; just some “pretty things” to gaze at.
Having evaluated the first two ingredients of fine art and concluded that they sum up to nothing in Stephen Wiltshire’s case, we are left with the most important one of all.
How does an artist approach a work of art? Well, I assume that there are numerous subtle nuances which define each and every artist of the past, present or future, but the basic grid is the same: you approach art with deep awareness.
What is the motive, the purpose, the essence, the meaning? What is it that which you want to say and what atmosphere will help you convey that message? How will you create that atmosphere and how will the compositional architecture, color scheme, shape formations, light, textures and perspectives influence the atmosphere you are trying to create?
The deeper the awareness the deeper the message will be and the more profound the essence is. So also, the more subtle the philosophy and the more complex the theoretical aspects behind the art work, that much more spiritual awareness and conscious self-awareness must be respectively present in order to realize that work of art.
Basic artistry, lack of Art
On the other hand, when all you want is to copy something from one place to another – with no emphasis on the technique and style, with no intent of purposeful content, with no awareness to the derivative criteria of creation – all you need is the hand-eye coordination awareness, hence the basic instinctual human consciousness.
So far as the context of art is concerned, there should be absolutely no meaning to whether the copying is from another picture using a translucent paper or directly from nature, or as in Stephen Wiltshire’s case using the memory as the copying source. I mean, does writing the theory of relativity from memory make you a math genius?
This is all assuming that he really does have a photographic memory, and that this whole thing is not some get-rich-quick plot by crude PR snakes and art-scam agents – “Let’s grease the world with that black autistic boy, Stephen Wiltshire…3 birds in one shot – he also knows how to draw, so even 4 birds – Great opportunity! Where is that shotgun?…” These things happened before in the art world. But, I’ll give him that at least – For argument’s sake, Stephen Wiltshire has a photographic memory.
…”So, you…you’re the Rain Man?”
Being Stephen Wiltshire an autistic-savant, automatically boosted the value of his art, simply because there has never been in the recorded history of art another one like him. People might have said to themselves: “Well, there is nothing unique about his art, in neither venue, but hey, he’s autistic and he remembers stuff… Oh hey, and it’s just like that guy in that movie… I mean, wow!”
The acquired talent of Stephen Wiltshire
Well-greased marketing also helped to obscure from the art establishment and the general public the fact that actually, so far as art and artistic standards are concerned, there is nothing here to make so much fuss about. Had any other non-autistic artist presented such art to any respected gallery or museum in the world, I think that he would have gotten the cold shoulder.
Plainly saying, in this day and age art is mostly a gimmick, which without the appropriate marketing will not see the light of day, not to mention fortune and fame.