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But is it Art?

Fri Jul 8, 2011, 5:52 PM by techgnotic:icontechgnotic:
'Wall Of Gum' by techgnotic

Perhaps the eternally unanswerable question. But definitely something to chew on... When I first saw it, I was instantly captivated.

At first thought, what a brilliant example of modern pointillism! Has some unknown artist taken up the long abandoned banner of Georges Seurat and presented us with a new manifesto championing art as points of light illuminating our waking dreams?!

Gum Wall in Seattle
by Paul Balcerak

OK, I see now it’s not a painting at all, so my pointillism exuberance is dashed. It’s more likely one of those photo collages with thousands of small images being arranged to create a larger picture. That’s cool. So what’s the picture?

If I stare intently long enough, will it suddenly “emerge,” like the ones they sell on the Venice Beach Boardwalk?

OK... it’s gum.

Chewing Gum Wall
by Ricardo Martins

But, hold on.

It is definitely eye-catching.

And it has definitely held my attention and stirred my consciousness long enough to force the gears in my head to grind out some “answer” as to how I feel about it. And the brief cerebral adventure sparked by this “work” has brought a bit of fun, a flash of joy, into my heart. Why, I actually think it’s a fine example of performance art, even if only a few of the “artists” involved ever gave a moment’s thought as to where, for best aesthetic impact, they would stick their plug of gum. “Unconscious Group Performance Art (UGPA).”(!!!) An artwork years, perhaps decades, in the making!

In any case, it made me think and wonder. It made me feel (happy). So, it’s art to me, even if it’s just saliva-soaked vandalism to someone else. And isn’t that what the wonder of life and art is really all about?

I pose the question back onto you.

Is this art?

Btw, speaking of pointillism, here is a list of 10 deviants that have some wonderful examples of the artform in their galleries.

:iconwolffoxin: :iconkchan27: :iconpikajane: :iconsamuraijose: :iconmasterofpointillism: :icondoxie18: :iconarmandoartist: :iconscorpioshadow: :iconxlxbetoxlx: :iconletocallisto:

Since Posting My Thoughts on “The Wall of Gum”

A remarkable number of deviants have responded with their own observations on this “artwork,” pointing out elements for “consideration as art” that I hadn’t even thought of while recording my initial assessment. These included: the question of intention and/or purpose of the artist(s), the effects of time and weather on the piece, and even the architecture of the gummed-upon structure as fundamental to its essence. I hope that by reading these awesomely perspicacious first responses, posted below, more deviants will be encouraged to weigh in with your own unique insights. The Wall of Gum demands that attention must be paid!

Here is a small sampling of deviants who have already contributed mightily to the conversation in the thread below. Please share your thoughts with them regarding their opinions or provide us with a completely new take on the question, "but is it art?"

:iconmenollysagittaria: :iconfullmetalmono: :iconjackqajacqueline: :icontelephonicchicken: :iconlostatseaforever: :icondorianstretton: :iconsidequestpubs: :iconmattsykun: :iconjantuts: :iconniallcloud: :iconquargranger: :iconschatten-drache: :icongryphonsshadow: :iconeli-arsnexus: :icondozalt: :iconericforfriends: :iconartisticaviary: :iconsophiadragonmaster: :iconartandattitude: :iconleucisticraccoon: :iconcarlzors: :iconjeysie: :iconkaydeidrickphoto: :iconvoidqueenelishiva: :iconxadrea: :iconshedsimas: :iconkitsune100percent: :iconultradudepatric: :iconmidnightexigent: :iconiurypadilha: :iconsandpaperdaisy: :iconcreevesabudd: :iconnokari: :iconforgetdeny:

Add a Comment:
CascabelaDel92 Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2017
Art is defined by ourselves. It is subjective to our own eyes and feelings, if it makes you feel something it is deserved to be called art.
ThePyroPlatypus Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Everything is art. Everything can be art. Yet, nothingness is part of everything, is it not?
Salmacis123 Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2015  Hobbyist Writer

I guess it all depends on our definition of art. How do you qualify art?

  • By the amount of skill that is involved in producing it?
  • By the originality of its concept?
  • By the degree it reproduces or mimics reality?
  • By the amount of people that seemed touched or influenced by it?
  • By the way it relates to everything else?
  • By the way it stimulates our senses, especially ones aesthetic feelings? 
  • Yet another criterium?

Art is probably defined by a combination of some of these factors which can be more or less important depending on the individual. This would mean that our definition of art is always subjective and an that a absolute standard is impossible. What is possible is the “greatest possible consensus”. How greater the amount of people that agree that a certain work highly qualifies as art, the more it will “become” art, in that specific space and time frame. A later generation or a different society however may think the opposite. 

EmSeeAre Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2014
I don't see it as art, but whatever floats your boat. Anything can be called art if you are crazy enough.
missatomicbombs Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2014  Student General Artist
There was a banana hanging from a piece of tape on my art class's back door and this one kid called it art.
mjoycs Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I believe this is art. Art comes in many forms and can be expressed in many ways. If sticking up different materials in order to come up with a bigger picture is art (e.g. installation art), then for me, this is art.
AprilSilverWolf Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I suppose it could be art.
XTatsuX Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
In the literal sense of "Art is something performed by people in a multitude of ways in order to express themselves", then yes. Same way sculptures, music, and hair styles are "art".

In my personal opinion? No, it is not. Its a bunch of gum stuck to a wall with no sense of progression or feeling. Its just gross.
EuphoniousCacophony Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
I agree 100% with what you said. :)
Zaralyyth Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
I've got a nice picture of this. Shame I didn't know about the preexisting thread or anything ;P
Dragonfly22 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
SirCassie Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
If it provokes, thoughts, reactions, and emotion then yes, it's art. Not all will agree obviously but that doesn't mean this doesn't speak to someone else.

In simpler terms: Art is subjective. 
Telelia Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
... I'd stick my gum there
Avitus12 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I would call this decoration, it is artistic in a similar way that sports or abstract painting is art.
agilemind Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014
Not art! It is a natural phenomenon -> like the holes carved by woodpeckers or the trails and paths worn by animals across a landscape. It can be beautiful and/or thought provoking. Just because a human did it doesn't make it art.
Telelia Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
this makes so much sense XD
FIREBIRDC9 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I wouldn't class this as Art

Its just stemmed from a wall not being cleaned.

Someone has stuck gum there ,  then someone else has , etc etc.

Graffiti is Art  ,  is has to be planned and created by an individual.

This is just like fly Tipping ,  except with Gum!
B4LD3R Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
it's gross thinking this is made with something have been chewed and now it sticks there drying at the sun, if this is art, even dog's dung drying on the ground is somehow artistic :P
OphicusArts Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I agree with HectorAdame, besides, I personally contributed to this piece of art. While doing so, I felt a very profound sense of community art. ;-)
HectorAdame Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think what is or is not art is so dependent on the viewer that there may be as many answers to this question as people living on Earth today. So my question to you, people is this:

why bother with trying to define what art is or what it's not?
L-Dead-Stash Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm kinda surprised by the amount of deviants who think this isn't art.
I think it's a bit sad because people discredit it because of the medium... but well, to me art is just a way to express oneself. Some people express theirselves with abstract shapes/tools, it doesn't make their art less valuable. I think the question: "Is this art?" is really subjective.
But for me, it is. Possibly because I've also been used to see art everywhere and have a sense of self-depreciation.
Are those person over there smashing randomly on a piano by making hideous noises are making art? Damn they are! xD
Art is not simply beautiful to me. Sure, they are things that I don't consider to be art because I think they use over-use subjects and just repeat existing schemes, but here again, that may just be me on my bad day. There's always something added, even in a redrawn piece.
Same goes there, some gums on their own even have shapes so, want it or not, some people tried to express theirselves in a way.

Also, a message that emerge from something that wasn't supposed to be art at first, well, it's even more beautiful to me! It's a collective work.
Who knew that something so unsignificant could become as important as a small stroke of brush on a canvas?
No one! But here it is now.

In any case, I have to admit this piece arrise more questions than the usual ones. And that fact is enough to label it as Art for me. :)
Anime-Fantasy1 Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014
well... we call nature art. It happens all on its own. This wall began as someone getting rid of their gum. Others piled on. Eventually it became a thing. It was built on. It just sort of happened. It can be considered art. There doesn't need to be a single artist. It doesn't even need to hold a picture or message. I don't think it would be considered art if it was planned out from the start.  Something like this, where people just work together unknowingly is artistic within itself. It isn't the same as people tying up their bikes near each other because someone else did it. It is a collection of contributions made by people who thought it was interesting and worth adding to.  I guess I am saying the art lies with how it was made instead of how it looks.
BeautifulandBeastly Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I think that if a person simply put a piece of gum on a wall or underneath a table just because they had no other place to put it at the moment or were too lazy or simply wanted to discard it, then it definitely isn't art. 

But in the pictures and examples, I believe it is art. I can't say the exact reasons why the gum was put there but I doubt it was because the person had no other place to put it. For example, the flower was definitely not a one second decision made from laziness and/or convenience but rather a form of expression. 

A burst of color on an empty wall. Gum might not be a conventional/normally used medium but since when was art limited to a few ''conventional  mediums''? Art is subjective. Always has been and probably if not always will. 
joshthecartoonguy Featured By Owner Edited Dec 11, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
What most people asserting that, "This isn't art," would have to understand is that, generally, some of the most successful people on a site like deviantART would face a similar challenge to their own work in art school, where conceptual practices and non-traditional media are the norm.

Generally, I dislike the approach of presenting a work and asking, "Is it art?" because that tends to presuppose that it is not and in need of a defense. We generally don't present Rembrandt or any skillful, realistic fan art in a post with a title like that underneath it, because it's generally assumed that the skill level makes it art. Someone like an art professor who thinks "originality" is what defines good art and bad art or non art would probably not care about your skill level if your work was derivative.

The people who I've found most helpful are those who, whether they work abstractly, conceptually or realistically, are able to approach your work and talk about it reasonably without dumping on you just because it differs with their own output.

I think a much more helpful question to begin such a discussion is not, "Is it art?" But, "what is it?" Because we are less concerned with articulating some philosophy which may or may not relate to the work and more concerned with what we are looking at and why it was made.

On this basis, I would be able to look and and appreciate both a realistic digital fan art painted in Photoshop and a minimalist or conceptual piece that has nothing to do with traditional media. The purpose of looking at it shouldn't be to try to change the artist and make them feel inferior if they aren't working in a way I'm comfortable with. The purpose should be to understand why they are making what they are making and whether you can provide something helpful or constructive to them.

The best teachers I've had were those who saw it as their job to talk about what you made and push you into the direction you want to go, not make you feel like what you make is defined by a historical philosophical movement like the French academics, the modernists, the post modernists, etc. It's not that they were not knowledgable about past artists and philosophy, but that they didn't expect you to work only under one preferred paradigm of art making.

In short, study your art history, let what you learn inform your work, but don't turn into the guy who squashes what some one else has made without bothering to learn about it. That's a trap realists and avant-garde types can both fall into.
OphicusArts Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
law-ra Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
No, it's eye catching and attractive but it has no artistic value
sthinley Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Student General Artist
0DarkSoul0 Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014  Student General Artist
For me this isn't art anyhow. It's the same with the "Art" pictures in museums, which get sold for millions but are just made of a red and blue dot for example. And people who really put hours to days, weeks to months into their drawings get fewer attention. I mean, in what world do we live, when art is as easy as breathing? Art has something to do with technic, understanding of physiks, lighting etc. and surely imagination not just putting some colors on a white wall and calling it art. I hope you understand what I mean. 
Have a nice day :)
Mellie-Art Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Instead of focusing on the medium, I look more at how it's been used and what has been created. In one of these examples, the artist has made a flower, which is a creative use of the medium, so I'd say it is. And to those saying "it's just gum," well what is a pencil, paintbrush or even a computer? They are just bits of wood, plastic, metal and hair that have the potential to create a masterpiece like the Mona Lisa.
Personally, I wouldn't buy a piece of gum art, as it isn't really my thing, just as I wouldn't purchase anything by Pollock, because my artistic preference doesn't swing that way. That doesn't, however, make it any less art, in my opinion.
gnashingtrex Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014
I suggest it is art... Everything that defines us, tells us to others, shares a story. I honestly think it's art. Just like graffitti. I beleve that is an art form
Rhyn-Art Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014   General Artist
It's funny, many think that art should look how it should or be pretty and see something like this and rebel against it whilst the fine artists look at those who draw hyper-realistic art or commercial art as rubbish, you can't please everyone and Art indefinitely can be anything, a form of expression; there are those who hire people to construct their vision and there are those who copy other peoples art, some look strange and stupid whilst others look predictable and too palatable, there are different class in art, and most art on DeviantArt is not Fine art even though there are a few around, which gets more attention? the commercial ones, the ones that most understand 
NPAW Featured By Owner Edited Dec 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
 what if a load of graffiti artist's just painted a load of gum on a wall, like 1000 different graffiti artists painted 1 piece of gum each, would that be considered more artistic, or is it just because its a different medium or intentional that makes art, art??  O.o
StewartFoster Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Art is where you find it. The who doesn't matter.  
kokolucho Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
so this is why no one takes serious to artists.
firebird145 Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It is a collaboration of every citizen 
its colors are like looking into the night sky. its generations and generations of spit. 
its art.

Its also just gum and I wouldn't be surprised if someone caught an STD from falling into the wall.*Free Icon/Emote* Twilight Hairball Pusheen 
Fritsa-Wolf Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014  Student General Artist
Of course we are all subject to opinions but literally anything and everything can be an art form, should we ever use it in such a way. Just because one person cannot see the artistic side of something does not mean it isn't classified as art in another person's eyes. That is just the diverse thoughts we all have. Though the saying is overused, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" has always been a short and sweet answer I give to such a question. It is one reason why I do not condone or tolerate anyone saying one artist's work "isn't art" or "isn't good enough", simply because of what I have said above~
AGV120395 Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014
my points:

:bulletblack:if it's intentonal, yes

and so/or

:bulletblue:if it makes you feel anything, yes
purpleninfy Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
'A picture can mean a thousand words'

This can be applied to any kinds of Art, whether such CAN be deemed as art from the society 
But that's about it;

Art CAN be art if an individual considers it.
However some will have different viewpoints about the crossing line between a "Mess" and an "Art"
DanSyron Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014
anything can pass as art since art is an entirely subjective medium.  Sadly this can work to anythings advantage as well as disadvantage as nonsense can be passed off as art when it really isnt.

i guess it boils down to if there's deeper meaning with what is created either from the creator or the viewer.
miguemaru Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
IEnideI Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2014
Too much trash today is considered art.
SveenBrazil Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2014  Student Digital Artist
sad, but true
sthinley Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Student General Artist
IEnideI Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014
For me personal expression is not equal to art. Art is something more. Today art is underestimate.
guyhawkes Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I usually compare the making of art as creating your own nation. You might declare your 50 sq ft garden your own nation, but until it's recognized as a nation by other nations, it doesn't have any international influence. Same with art; everything can be called art, but unless it's recognized by an institution(museum, gallery, buyers), it doesn't have much influence. Or buying power. Marcel Duchamp famously took a urinal inside a gallery, and changed it's function to that of art. But without the timing and circumstances, it wouldn't have had much "weight" as art. 
cosmicbrat Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2014
Everything is Art..  There's even Art and cartoons in the smears of ketchup on your plate...

Wanna see some extreme Art..?  Make a cardboard cylinder about ten inches diameter by about as tall.. and fill it up with molten candle wax, and let it cool solid, then very carefully gently peal off the card without damaging the surface of the wax in any way, then study the textures, shapes, designs, in great depth, in dim soft lighting, or in bright sunlight..  You'll see a whole illustration of everything in your life, past, present, and future, if you study it deeply..

More weird Art.. Take extremely hot liquid candle wax, and dump it into a large tub of hot water..  The Art you get will "knock yer socks off"...

Try pouring molten silver in boiling water..  That'll be fun..  But please don't do it if you are accident prone, or always half asleep...

Pee in the snow..  That could be Art if you've got a good handle on it..  Let your girlfriend write your and her name in the snow with it, with a nice yellow heart outline around it...

Art is everywhere and is everything.. but for me, "a gummed up wall" isn't Art..  It's just a ridiculous nightmarish childish mess..  It could be compared to that farmer who drove his tractor and fully loaded field poop flinger machine into town a couple years ago, somewhere in the States, and splattered a ton of cow and pig dung all over the front of the government building early one Sunday..  Gum and liquid poop are not Art..

Wanna see some real "cosmic spiritual lava Art"..?   
That's as Art as it gets..  Sato must have been a very great person for the forces to do that..
I'm supposing you can see the great lion protecting the grave...
hockeymask Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2014
The photographic interpretation is definitely art.The photograph is the medium .The words that describe the gum wall may also be artistically relevant.Prose and poetry about the gum wall may also be "artistically creative ".There may be a thousand ways to interpret the gum wall - it all depends on the paradigm.Is it art in itself ?How long is a piece of string ?
Veanil Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I've seen it in person several times, I don't live too far away from Seattle to go up and visit it from time to time (Portland resident here).

To me, that wall is more of a way for someone to prove that they've been there, looked upon the wall, and contributed to this strange and unique mess that people seem to love contributing to. I've placed at least five or six pieces of gum on there myself, mainly because I was a little kid and I thought it would be fun.

And it was fun. I liked contributing to something huge. It's kind of a like a giant, chewed up metaphor.
aiko137 Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2014
While in Seattle, it is art, so appreciate it :D
SAVALISTE Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2014   Photographer
hmm interesting topic.. personally I just see rude and disgusting people Shrug
unless this is a designated area for people to create this with their gum and not just
people littering/vandalizing public property cause they're too lazy to find a trash can.
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