ENC Syndrome - What it is
The letters E.N.C. stand for the Emperor's New Clothes. If you are unfamiliar with this timeless tale of symbolism over substance, click here to read the story. ENC Syndrome is a curious malady which aflicts certain members of the fine arts community, most of them professional art critics. Unfortunately this disease has spread to many practicing artists as well. Luckily, the initial symptoms of the disease are fairly easy to spot and easily avoided.
People who suffer from ENC Syndrome will shamelessly analyze the content of a piece of artwork when in fact it is devoid of any content whatsoever. Most of us have done this at some point in our lives. It happens whenever we are too eager to "read between the lines" in any artform, whether it be literature, painting, sculpture, or dance, etc. It happens when we read too much into things, whether it be a poem, a painting, a lyric, or even an akward glance or a simple hand gesture.
I've done it myself on countless occasions. But the condition only becomes chronic when one does it diliberately and without shame or remorse. For instance, have you ever handed a child a blank piece of paper and challenged them to find all of the barnyard animals included in the "picture" you've just handed them? (this is a common little practical joke where I come from). The object of this little charade is to see how long it takes the child to realize that the only way to see all of the cows in the middle of the blizzard is to use his or her imagination.
To the chagrin of hardworking artisans everywhere, some people still play these sorts of mind games with adults their own age. Even more distrubingly, some people are still looking for cows in snowstorms that don't even exist in the eye of the beholder, but only in the shared imagination of artisans and their audience. This is not to disparage the lack of imagination on behalf of the artists' audience, you understand, but rather to decry the laziness and lack of effort put forth by the artist to engage the imagination of said audience.
This is how we end up with blank white canvases hanging within the prestigious halls of art museums around the world (and yes, I can personally vouch for the existence of such canvases). It's as if the artist failed to bring any imagination to the table and left the audience to make of it what they will. If the audience fails to make a mockery of of such artwork, it can only be because the audience itself suffers from ENC Syndrome, cowed into admiring the emporer's new mantle for fear of being accused of crudity or lack of sophistication.
All works of art consist of Form and Content. If we wish to paint a completely abstract picture which focuses almost exclusively on Form and keeps Content to a minimum, let us do so without hesitaion, for such works are perfectly legitimate forms of artistic expression. But please, for all our sakes, let's stop trying to contemplate the "intellectual" or "social significance" of such works, lest prying eyes of innocence find us naked and bereft of credibility. If we create a work of art simply because we want it to look pretty, let us say so boldy and without shame, and let the audience judge for itself the worthiness of our efforts. Let's stop trying to deluge the public with high-brow theories of art to defend that which calls for no such defense.
Where I come from artists are not esteemed members of society. All too often artists publicly expose themselves as charlatians or dupes of thier own delusions. The audience always knows when you're pulling their leg, do you?
THIS MESSAGE WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY: Mr. Hook's campaign to stamp out ENC SYNDROME or SEES-COWS-IN-SNOWSTORMS DISORDER.
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