Inspirational quotes are usually found everywhere, and when we are feeling low, they help to cheer us up, give new strength, and increase our determination. Such was the idea of Jenny Holzer as they installed Kind of Blue at the Art Museum of Fort Worth.
Kind of Blue, 2012
Jenny Holzer is known for her art relating to truisms. Her work has revolved around truisms and finding the artistic way to display them. Kind of blue is another such work that comprises of different aphorisms and truisms. It combines digital technology, reflections, and a very blue theme. The text-based art is what is Holzer’s specialty, and she works with it along with LED, Parking meters, and billboards.
Kind of Blue is an installation that has long lanes of blue lighted text, running through the galleries of the museum. The lanes run through the central gallery till they reach the glass door overlooking the pond. The artist tells that this installation is a representation of how her career has evolved over the years, and how distinguished her work has become. The text runs like a river through the clerestory gallery, and it just creates a very surreal image as it reaches that glass door and the writing reflects over the water. Some of these texts include GUNS MAKE WRONG RIGHT FAST and FEAR IS THE MOST ELEGANT WEAPON.
Kind of Blue is a retrospective work and Jenny Holzer’s one of the greatest hits. Holzer says that the pond outside the glass walls adds a playful yet brilliant finish to the whole installation. The interesting thing is that the LED is not plain and boring. What captures the audience’s attention is the fact that there is a “party mode” as well.
Along with the intriguing music playing in the installation, there is a party mode where the LEDs move fast or flash to add in an impression or special effect. This just isn’t really for fun; the speed and the mode have a profound impact on the viewer; the music plays a vital role as well. Another factor is that the LEDs are different in each of the seven galleries. The font, the size, and how the text is written varies greatly, which makes it more interesting.
The idea behind it
Holzer’s work has revolved around text and art. Her work is politically and socially charged, spreading messages that not generally get spoken out loud. Holzer has found language as the primary source of her expression. She mixes it with media to spread her message widely. She started by using print media and gradually went to more contemporary media. The central theme of Holzer’s work is the delivery of ideas in public spaces, so this installation was ideal in this regard.
Holzer gave the name to the building Kind of Blue because the building has a very surreal impact on the audience. Apart from the blue and dark color of the building, the color theme of the artwork creates an eerie aura that reaches to the dark and unmentionable spaces of our mind and shines light upon them. Various important social messages don’t usually impact us, but the themes and the aura make them impressionable. In this building, there is no escape.
You get to face the taboos of society and sit through our discomfort and aversion. We maintain complicity, and as those words run through the head of the viewer, many realize that these words discuss the societal issues that fail to get much attention. Some of the words also have a rejuvenating effect as they are motivational, and people find their way out of the depressing thoughts.
Jenny Holzer & LEDs
Jenny Holzer’s work is frank, heartening, cold, intense, and polemic. Holzer believes in observing people’s reactions from the shadows. She wanted to know what people thought of work. Jenny Holzer has talked about topics that spark debates and make us think critically. She has combined her political views and art in one and as years have passed the scope of her work has revolutionized. Holzer is more prominent in the areas of conceptual art and installation art. For Holzer, the message and medium are vital subjects.
Her use of LED directly targets public places. In her case, the LED usually gives us a piece of very personal information. She is also very site-specific, just as we see in Kind of Blue, where the dark themes, glass walls, and pond just hype the messages. Holzer also considers the audience: Her messages depend on the type of audience she is facing. She can be very flashy, but at the same time, she can be almost unnoticeable. Holzer is one of the very first artists to use Information Technology as a medium to display her political views.
Video: Kind of Blue, 2012
Kind of Blue is an impact beyond the walls. It is an unforgettable piece that gives you a tour of realities. The idea is that the message stays with you even after you leave the installation and then people can create an impression on the society.
One could wonder why Holzer named the place Kind of Blue apart from the color of the building. We could expect that she called it this way because blue depicts a certain kind of sadness that generates epiphany. We could also assume that the installation brings out the sad and depressing thoughts that reside in the dark corners of ourselves. It has that impact on the visitor. One faces their fears; it just rises and shines from then onwards.
Some people contradict this and call it no art. They argue that this is like a collection of motivational tweets and fortune cookie statements entered into an installation. However, they fail to understand that this is what Holzer’s work is about: Using language to create an impact. This art is not only about words, but it is also about how art, modern technology, and the right colors can impress upon the human brain.
All images: JP Barentine/Paul Kamuf for Jenny Holzer/jennyholzer.com & Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / SIAE, Roma unless otherwise noted.