Thursday, August 27, 2015

think RED

On the American comedy show "Saturday Night Live," actor Dan Ackroyd once did a stand-up schtick as an ersatz salesman hawking "hotel and motel art."

This was art that had been "seen by millions" and therefore deserved to be purchased for placement above the living-room sofa. If so many people had seen it without complaint, it must in some sense be good and therefore worthy of purchase.

"Hotel and motel art" -- what a hoot. Hotel and motel art is the generally bad reproductions of great art hung in the tidy room a traveler might rent ... something to bring class or color or individuality or just a break in the monotony of a particular environment.

All sorts of 'good-taste' snarkiness can be applied (as Ackroyd did) to "hotel and motel" art, but the principle behind such wall hangings is probably well-met: It feels a bit human-er, if that's a word ... a little dash of color and evocation, even if you hate it.

The other day, I went to the doctor for one routine check-up or another. At first, I was ushered down a hallway that sported various bits of art. Got weighed and was led to an examining room where the tech assessed blood pressure and then told me the doctor "will be right in." It wasn't true, of course. It never is. The doctor is never "right in" from the patient's point of view. So I waited because that's what patients do and as I waited, I looked around the room that was perhaps 12x12 feet.

There weren't even any year-old magazines which doctors sometimes provide. There were various implements relevant to examination (a table, a basin, a computer, etc.) but no diagrams (specialists are sometimes big on discipline-specific diagrams) on the walls, which were painted in what I think of as the Early Flatline style ... mauve, a beige that was a bit browner than usual, and a soft, not-quite khaki green. It felt subdued and serious.

I could have used a little hotel and motel art. If color can transmit mood -- and I purely hate to hear "color specialists" go on about it -- then the mood imparted was geared towards calm and serious reflection ... almost solemnity. This was no-fooling around territory. No one expected to laugh. What the hell, it's life and death and patients take their own lives pretty seriously. Me too.

But then it grated and cloyed. Is there some reason that a dash or splash of RED could not be added? Look around your doctor's office. Look for RED. Red is the color of blood (and implied mortality, perhaps), but it also the color of life and living and dying is part of life, so let's be lively and perhaps laugh in the meantime. Easier said than done, you say? Yes, perhaps so ... but do the solemn, 'adult' colors have to be so insistent. Anyone, at any moment, can choke on a peach pit, but at least there was the sweet, lively nectar before the end.

RED ... hotel and motel art ... laughter.

The net effect -- to the extent that color can have a net effect -- is to impose and agree with and enhance the womb-gloom-tomb solemnity. Doctors are on hand to make things better or easier and yet the mausoleum effect speaks of nothing so much as ... read-'em-and-weep-you're-fucked.

Early Flatline ... the color combinations purely bubble with an unwillingness to speak of life.

Think RED.

1 comment:

  1. Next time you're there, bring some chalk with you. Create the art you want to see, annoy janitorial staff, make the doctor question your mental stability. Insert color here.