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.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Concrete Survey, Part 1

It's time for a report back on the ArtConcrete non-scientific survey, now that responses have slowed. This is how it breaks down for the first three questions.

83% of the respondents have actually made something artistic out of concrete (question 3), so this is obviously not a general-public sort of survey, but more a survey from those who know the material. People reported they made mostly sculptures, along with lots of other functional objects like bowls, birdbaths and even furniture and jewelry.

Speaking of jewelry (question 2), 66% said they thought concrete was an appropriate material for making jewelry. 6% said "no", and 29% said "maybe." Maybe? Surely this is a black and white issue. There were lots of interesting comments here:
  • "Wonder a bit about the long term wearability of concrete jewelry and how it holds up to skin oils, perfume, etc."
  • "Stretch the boundaries, why not."
  • "I am a jewelery maker who works in metals but cannot wait to try concrete... just a little scared about dropping it."
  • "I would have to see, touch, experience the piece, to decide fully whether it was what I would consider wearable art."
  • "Art is alchemy."
  • "If comfortable and more refined than a lot of outdoor sculpture."   
  • "In small scale other materials may work better. However, depends on the artist and what effect you're looking for."
  • "I've made some cast concrete (really heavy) large scale 'martyr' necklaces (completely unwearable, but funny)..."

Overall (question 1), 97% agreed concrete was an appropriate material for art, with only 3% saying maybe. Nobody said "not appropriate." About a third of the respondents added comments to this question, and some of them were really good:
  • "Any material - or non-material - is appropriate for art."
  • "Just look at how gorgeous Rachel Whiteread's sculptures are. The surface and the way it ages are beautiful." (Whiteread is the British sculptor who filled the inside of a house - about to be demolished - with concrete, then took the building away, exposing the volume of the spaces inside.)
  • "Beats pickled shark." Where did that come from?
  • "Have been experimenting with papercrete (recycled/shredded paper, concrete and bit of clay) working through head issues such as, is this a legitimate art material. Like the lighter weight, green reuse/recycle aspects."
  • "I love the fast results from Wet Concrete carving. I have also worked with armature and hve enjoyed that also."
  • "As a casting, laying-up, and carving material, it has superior qualities."
  • "I consider concrete appropriate material for art works as long as it's durable. Sometimes, I'm astounded by the beauty of concrete used in everyday, construction purposes. The other day... I came upon some very old concrete footings in the woods, probably to hold up a bridge... I guess I consider "appropriate" a bit of an understatement! It can be most desirous, in my mind."
  • "Emphatically yes. Ideal for the artist that has plenty of inspiration and little cash."
  • "Strong, cheap and convenient. Downsides are weight, lack of detail."
  • "Absolutely the most versatile medium going!"
I couldn't agree more. Those are the responses to the first three questions in the survey. I'll summarize the final three in the next blog post.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Art Concrete Survey

I have posted a survey about concrete as an art medium on Survey Monkey. It's nothing very scientific, but the results should be interesting. There are only six multiple choice questions, and room for comments if you want to leave them. I'll post the results back on this blog (and in Google Group's Art Concrete email discussion list) after a week or so.

1. Do you consider concrete an appropriate material for art works?