Influence: Art, Religion, Government, You

I had an idea to start a blog called “you are what you read,” and perhaps do book reviews and stuff like that.  I’m an avid reader and I have a few writing projects, and the idea of the content you consume (food or the written word or music, etc.) influencing who you are, what you think, how you act, what you believe, etc. is really interesting to me.

I did a quick google search to see if the domain was taking (it is) and who was using this brilliant phrase that I thought I came up with :p  I found a post on the rt:21 blog titled You Are What You Read that intrigued me.

It starts off with the question: “what are the ethical implications of using live animals in art?”

The post focuses on an artist in Nicaragua who supposedly tied a dog up and left it to starve… the “art” was watching the dog starve. Why?

According to hundreds of blogs and news articles circulating on the Internet, the artist intended for the dog to starve to death during the course of the exhibition. Vargas intended to raise awareness of the public’s hypocrisy by comparing what happened to this dog to a burglar named Natividad Canda Mayrena, who was mauled to death by two rottweilers in Costa Rica while the police and onlookers watched.

Interesting… and of course, beyond contraversial.

Apparently the dog didn’t starve… they fed it regularly.  This is where it gets really interesting.  The stories online, in news, etc. were all very critical and decried the outrage… without knowing or reporting the dog was not starving.

It seems the art was less about a dog and more about YOU and ME.

Exposición No 1 (the name of that work of art) is one component of a larger work of art called Eres lo que lees, which employs misinformation and manipulates mass media via the Internet.

I remember reading something from Chris Knudsen (I think) about Twitter, in the very early days… his concern was that something could get picked up and BELIEVED in a mob mentality manner, without any facts, basis, etc.  I tried to find it on his blog but I couldn’t… anyway, the point is, misinformation has the ability to manipulate what we think…. read on:

One of the aims of this project was to demonstrate the hypocrisy in real world and art world ethics. Take a dog off the streets and put it into a gallery and it becomes an ethical phenomenon, while stray dogs and most real human suffering are ignored or given minimal attention.

There are plenty of headlines TODAY that are getting front page news while real, bigger issues are getting minimal attention… 🙁  Read on:

This illustrates how easily we can be manipulated into believing what news outlets want us to. The title, “You Are What You Read,” illustrates this point very well. If one artist can manipulate over four million people around the world, imagine the ability that governments, corporations, and religious entities have to do the same.

That last sentence has stuck with me over the last week.  PR and marketing and information and misinformation… how powerful!  And many times, we’re just tools…. right?

You can read the original post that inspired this one right here.

2 thoughts on “Influence: Art, Religion, Government, You

  1. Darlene

    Wow! That’s a lot to take in at once. I absolutely believe what we view and read influences us. However, we have the choice to take it at face value, or look for the other reality/perception.
    Thanks, Jason. Good thought provoking stuff.

  2. Jason Post author

    it is a lot – more than I usually like to get into (because I’m a simple thinker, I think). I think many times we don’t make the choice you are talking about, we just react, or go into “mob mentality” mode, both of which can be dangerous. I think the artist achieved his objective…

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