The following essay was originally written on 7 March 2010, in response to several questions posed by an acquaintance concerning my ahrt projects. I have revised it slightly since then.
ahrt – n. works of minimal creativity and insight, which signify nothing inherently and fly in the face of convention.1 One who practices ahrt is known as an arteest.2 Not to be confused with art.
In addition to the above definition, ahrt is an exploration on my part — the layman’s part — to determine by empirical means with minimal previous study, what others (both laymen and artists) will and will not seriously consider to be art. To accurately determine this, ahrt must be presented to others as art and be subsequently rejected or accepted. If others cannot distinguish art from ahrt, then all art is devalued as a result. If others can distinguish the two, ahrt is cast aside and true art is properly appreciated.
Art’s purpose is not to directly challenge the legitimacy of any existing art. Only the artist can truly know whether his works are art. Only the masses can truly determine whether a work is treated as art. An arteest knows that his works are not art, and endeavors to discover why the public considers certain things to be art. For this reason, it may be useful for the ahrt movement to include established artists.
My first two proper pieces of ahrt, Printer and Cone, were directly influenced by the ready-mades of Marcel Duchamp. Found art and ready-mades are indeed old hat, but it is an established convention that all art must be original, or at least innovative. Ahrt “flies in the face of convention” by definition, and therefore rejects the established rules of art, or relies upon them in ways which are not intended. As for Cone and Printer, they were both derived from Duchamp’s work, and they can be interpreted as homage, parody, or both.
For another example of what may be considered ahrt, I direct you to Images, the short film I created for my high school’s film festival in 2009. Some of the images in Images are interesting, and the editing is well-executed (if I may say so myself), but as a whole the film means nothing. Images won the award for best editing, the only award it was qualified to win. Members of the audience, however, thought that the subject matter was “deep.” There is no subject matter. One of my colleagues praised me for the numerous references to Lost I had inserted. These references do not exist. In the end, Images is both an homage to and a parody of David Lynch’s interesting — and often tedious — films.
On the subject of research, my knowledge of true art is minimal, a necessity for ahrt’s purposes as stated above. It is indeed true that many laymen will write off art they do not understand as “stupid or the result of heavy drug use.” But it is my hypothesis that many laymen also simply assume that there is something meaningful in works of art without discovering the meaning for themselves. Ahrt acts as a placebo in an experiment to explore the nature of art appreciation.
When it comes down to it, ahrt is simply a cheeky joke played by an ignorant arteest on an ignorant public, with the intent of revealing — and rectifying — such ignorance. In this way, ahrt really is a form of art.
1. The definition originally stated, “works of minimal effort and insight.” This phrase was revised to reflect the fact that considerable effort may be necessary to ensure that a work of ahrt is not somehow artistic.
2. As for the adjectival form of “ahrt,” both “ahrtistic” and “arteestic” are acceptable, but I prefer to use the former.