Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Concrete Survey, Part 2

These are the last half of the results of the concrete as an art material survey I did last week.

In  question 4, we asked about concrete's main strengths. Low cost was the most popular choice, with appearance and durability coming in close behind.

Concrete's main weakness was seen as its weight — and by a wide margin. I had put "weight" as a choice in the survey in both both strengths and weaknesses questions, so it was no surprise that weight was the least popular in the strengths section. The public's perception of concrete as cheap building material put it as the second biggest weakness of concrete. Permeability to moisture and susceptibility to frost were tied for third place as weaknesses.

There were lots of comments for both these questions.
  • "It is what it is," wrote one person.
  • Someone else asked: "By 'shock value' I assume you mean you can make it look like another medium?! Yes, I love it when I hear observers look questioningly as if to ask: what IS this material..." No, actually I meant shock value in that we think of it often as a building material but it can still be beautiful in its own right. I don't actually want my concrete to look like something else. I might paint it bright red, but you would still know it was painted concrete. "It is what it is." In the "strengths" question, I should have put a choice that said: "Quiet presence."
  • Someone else commented: "People are strange in their perceptions of value, they can be put off by the use of concrete through thinking of it as "cheap" instead of recognising the skill it takes to transform a pile of sand and minerals into a work of art."
  • "Any weaknesses are a reflection of the artist, not the material."
Which sculptural medium appears to be the most valuable to you? That was the last question in the survey. Bronze 36%. Concrete and stone, both 26%. Steel and wood, a distant fifth and sixth place. People seemed reluctant to answer this last question, judging by some of the comments:
  • "The medium is not the source of the value. Rather the value comes from the artist's vision and skill expressed through content."
  • "Each has it's own life and are equally valuable."
  • "I don't value one over the other, they all have strengths and weaknesses."
  • "Purely because of the cost of using it as a medium."
  • "Hard question...any medium that the artist has pushed to the limit. I like to be surprised by what was done with any medium where the envelope has been pushed."
Thanks to everyone who participated in this survey.

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