I got nothing but sillyness for y’all today, sorry. I’ve been working really hard lately, honestly! Which is probably why I’ve found this website, Is it Art or Fart?, so entertaining. It isn’t new or anything (though it’s new to me), but what is new is the fact that the makers of this irreverent yet actually pretty darn smart website have just published a book based on their project, which documents various phenomena they call ‘fart’:

“coincidental moments in everyday life that, when isolated and named by artist, bear uncanny resemblance to art seen in museums and galleries around the globe.”

A stack of records evokes a Dave Muller record painting, the residual matter torn from billboard paste-ups a Mark Bradford drawing, that sort of thing. Apparently, it’s fairly easy to find likenesses to Laura Owens’ work in the world art large.  I don’t get the sense that the people who run this website accept outside submissions, though it would be cool if they did because then there’d be even more fart for us to enjoy.

Is this Art? app

Not quite as clever in concept or execution, but still related to the general idea, is the website Is This Art? which has an accompanying iPhone app. The idea behind this site, which was co-produced by Deeplocal, the Mattress Factory, and NY art blogger C-Monster, is that you take a picture of something that you’re not sure is art but maybe actually is, then submit it and the app renders its verdict. It’s a lark, like so many apps are: funny for a few minutes–and the app is free so what the hell–but it runs via a Magic 8 ball-type interface that spits out one of a predetermined set of answers randomly, so that the same picture submitted twice will get two different answers. While fooling around with the app, I took an iPhone snapshot of this thrift store painting, which received the response ‘My mother would think this is crap, therefore THIS IS ART.’ A picture of my husband’s black crocs, which I suspected would receive an affirmative nod because it could, under certain conditions, be thought of as an update on Van Gogh’s 1887 A Pair of Shoes, received this feedback: ‘This piece is modernist after modernism without being post-modernist, therefore, THIS IS ART.’

I actually think the app might have been right about that one. If nothing else, I’m pretty sure it’s fart.

Vincent van Gogh. A Pair of Shoes. 1887.

C. Ise. A pair of Crocs. 2010.

Claudine Isé

Claudine Isé has worked in the field of contemporary art as a writer and curator for the past decade, and currently serves as the Editor of the Art21 Blog. Claudine regularly writes for Artforum.com and Chicago magazine, and has also worked as an art critic for the Los Angeles Times. Before moving to Chicago in 2008, she worked at the Wexner Center in Columbus, OH as associate curator of exhibitions, and at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles as assistant curator of contemporary art, where she curated a number of Hammer Projects. She has Ph.D. in Film, Literature and Culture from the University of Southern California.