Questions to Ask after an Underwhelming Art Experience

Is this at 90% of being amazing and needs to be pushed/polished just a little or is it actually at 20% and there’s a ton more work?

If it’s a long way from being good, is the path to success clear or unclear?

If the extra work to make it good could be put in, does it then become uneconomical?

Do you think that this experience as it stands is sufficient for most audience members, and thus there’s no need to address your concerns?

If it’s underwhelming there’s 2 options:
1. It’s great but not for you
2. It’s not great for anyone
(#2 means it’s a failure for better or worse)

Could you salvage some parts of the experience into a more contained version that is higher quality?

Were your expectations harmfully different from what you experienced? If so, did these unhelpful expectations come from part of the intended preparation for the experience (e.g. marketing) or from yourself?

Is the essence of the experience (narrative, dynamic) still interesting despite the execution? Could this compelling core idea be implemented in a better way?

Is there a chance that your opinion could be influenced by an ‘off-night’ performance by any of the live actors or implementers?

Was there an arc (beginning, middle, and end) to your experience? Do you feel the experience could have been improved by the addition/sharpening of such?

Did you feel snubbed or irritated by the subject matter? Do you feel like the topic was irrelevant or impersonal to you? Is it possible that other individuals might agree/disagree?

Do you feel distances from the experience? Could it be made better by making you feel more involved?

What message/effect/phenomenon were they trying to convey? Could it be rephrased in a more effective and articulate way? How many versions do you think they have you considered?

Did you have fun doing what you did? Did you feel yourself come through in this work? Did you reach any new heights or cover new territory?

What mark were they trying to hit with their (desired?) audience? Does this relate to them well?

Perhaps something about comprehending the material – was it clear what the performance was trying to communicate? Was the plot / meaning / theme ever opaque in a way that seemed unintentional or didn’t add to the work?

Tied to the subject matter – is this a genre / medium that you particularly dislike?

– Please suggest additions –

Contributors: Joy, Randy, Patrick, Dat, Katy

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2 Responses to Questions to Ask after an Underwhelming Art Experience

  1. Dat Phan says:

    What message/effect/phenomenon were you trying to convey? Could it be rephrased in a more effective and articulate way? How many versions of this have you considered?

    Did you have fun doing what you did? Did you feel yourself come through in this work? Did you reach any new heights or cover new territory?

    What mark were you trying to hit in your audience? Does this relate to them well?

  2. How much of this was designed for validation, rather than experience?

    Has the value of this art-product been inflated through the use of secrecy, obfuscation, or alleged non-documentable phenomenon?

    Is the artist relying on the collective shame of the audience to pretend there was something to get?

    If the artist was engaging in Bourriardian Relational Aesthetics strategies, does the audience of people who go to art events in the modern world lack the ineffable quality they claim exists in art, and thus creates an ouroboric scenario where all participatory media is inherently disappointing?

    Was it mostly about having a thing to do, rather than a specific thing to do?

    Is this happening in something that’s more of a community center than an arts space?

    Is this about signaling in-group through monetary sacrifice?

    Is this about signaling in-group by saying things that don’t make sense mimetically?

    Is the target audience a meta-category, in that the performance is actually the art gallery, the concert hall, or even higher-functions like the city, rather than the individuals who actually go to the event or show?

    Does this live up to the ideal of eternal return, e. g. would you have spent that time this way if time was cyclical, or only if it was teleological? Why?

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