Tuesday 9 October 2012

Yellowism: Or, Why I like Words.

Give the doughnut who defaced the Rothko some credit, he had me looking up his website. Give his website a little credit also, it had me thinking about the visual and conceptual arts. However, I quickly concluded that I like books more.

If you don’t know what I am blathering about, the other day a man called Vladimir Umanets wrote his name, the year and the phrase ‘a potential piece of yellowism’ on a painting in the Tate Modern. He claimed it was part of his movement ‘yellowism’.

Having read the yellowism manifesto on his website, I boiled it down to the following points.

  1. It’s all about experiencing the yellow in stuff. Though the colour yellow is a distraction from the pure abstractness of yellowness.
  2. It’s not art, it’s yellowism.
  3. Yellowism can only be experience in yellow chambers.
  4. It’s yellowist because it is.

I’d agree, mostly pretentious wankery of the first degree but I did find it interesting in how it revealed a big difference between books and art. 

In art the object itself is important. A print on the wall is not the same thing as a Van Goch. People come all around the world to see the art in the Tate Modern, including the Rothkos. Yellowism, as far as I can see, abstracts this further. Merely seeing something in a yellow chamber makes the object yellowist, so the act of putting a piece in a gallery and calling it art makes it art.

Books are different.

Even when I am visiting the British Library and seeing the manuscripts it is not like I am visiting the true version of a book of which the others are pale copies. As exciting as it is to be close to the version of the book closest to the author and as interesting as it is to see the author’s process through the draft. 

Whereas a piece of art consists of the paint and the canvas, a book does not consist of the ink and the paper, but the words.

It is impossible to deface the work of a novelist as the Rothko was defaced. Deface one copy of a novelist’s work and hundreds exist still. If book burner’s went burning, the chance of a copy surviving would be large but were the Rothko burnt, it would be no more. This is the joy of books and words, come the age of the e-book, and the words will still survive. 

Lastly, there could never be a yellowist movement for books and novelists. As long as writers concentrate on story or argument or point, those words could never become so self-reflexive as art. Not even a book like Tristram Shandy, which makes a virtue of curling into itself (and away) becomes something which is not quite itself. Similarly, as the object itself is not a huge issue and the seeing of it not a thing in itself, yellowism would be impossible.

Which is a relief.


  1. I came here by accident, but this was indeed good writing, my friend! Why aren't you famous yet?

    That said, I must confess I'm a painter. lol
    Happily married with the FTATFSPIVPTTUC.

    Oh, you don't know us then? It's the Fellowship of The Attempt at Translating Feelings and Sometimes Philosophy Into Visual Portraits Through The Use of Colours.

    In a way, I find it's easier to write because it's almost exactly like speaking. The ideas remain ideas. They are just recorded in a material thing to be transported. Right?
    And it's rather cool that they are immortal, that's true, but they are just recordings of thoughts, which also carry feelings.

    Words' art lies in the capability/talent of the people writing it to organise their thoughts, their arguments, in a steady style in a way that it would convince the reader of the feelings they are trying to present.

    Whereas in visual arts, the goal is to translate ideas, which are abstrac, into something concrete. Palpable.
    That's a true metamorphosis for the sake of Recording a feeling.

    Therefore, I think the target is the same. Meaning, it's all art, which in its true form is a portrait/recording of a feeling. Or feelings.

    In another way, Art it's simply Historical expression. What a certain person was thinking at this point in time and what was she/he dealing with?

    Which actually makes me think that art is only the developed sense of survival in humans which attempt to portrait their own minds, instead of spreading their genes like our ancestors.

    I believe we developed into beings who realised they have egos and because of that they want their egos/minds/thoughts to survive their death more than their genes. They still care about the genes too, but some care more about the ideas. Their ideas are their 'babies'.

    All artists want, you included, we all just want to be heard, one way or another.

    I wish I could write though. =D



    PS. I did not mean to sound patronising at any point by the way. Just humorous.

  2. Seemed to not have any trouble writing there.

    All good points though, I suppose writing and words do have a bacterial quality, that they want to spilt and spread and eventually mutate as much as they possibly can while a painting is a snapshot of an inner moment. It seems as good a distinction as any and more generous than the one i gave.

  3. Wordswordswords... Supposing that you had posted a painting of a basket of fruit, I believe that we (anon, myself, and you) would agree at the outset on the subject matter, and would instead discuss its' merits on a qualitative scale.

    But reading appeals to a much different part of us (I believe); such as - I had formed an opinion on the difference between words and visual art at the moment that I perceived that you were about to explore that difference... and anon brought yet another opinion...

    Long story short (much as I enjoy words, I am stingy with them) - It's not a Basket Of Fruit.