Tag Archives: neon light

You Have More Freedom than You Are Using (Analysis of Dan Attoe’s brilliant work)

"You have more freedom than you are using"

This week I was working on my own neon light artwork and came across this gem by artist Dan Attoe.  At first glance the foolish image of the topless, blow-up-doll-like young woman and snowflakes is so shocking that one is forced to continue searching to figure out just what on earth this lunatic looking woman with a few strands of hair is doing. Where is she and why are there snowflakes coming out of her open mouth, reminiscent of a blow up doll’s mouth that is unnaturally constantly open, (why blow-up dolls are so funny).  We then read the statement below her waist written in goofy adolescent style handwriting with the same feeling of Comic Sans: “You have more freedom than you’re using.”  This puts the viewer in an awkward position, where he is at once expected to get a joke and laugh or understand the work as if after a punchline, yet he is confused as to the meaning of this text and how it relates to the image, and if it is even meant to be funny, a work of art, or a silly sign made by an amateur artist for shits and giggle.   The woman seems to be freely running topless outside in the winter, yes those snowflakes are snowflakes, but could also double as sounds coming from her mouth as if singing.  Or is she trying to eat them?   Her arms are open to welcome what’s ahead, and more questions about what exactly she is saying or singing arise.  She is within her world, as there is nothing else indicating a more specific setting or time.  The piece seems to say “Hey you!  You have freedom and you aren’t using it; USE IT!”  An out of place remark that assumes, but in the end cannot be argued with for it is true for all.

A dialogue between three entities is uncovered when we realize the message does not apply solely to the viewer, but could be addressing the young lady, and the artist as well.  The artist chose to use neon light, which is a very sexy, attention-grabbing medium of communication, but at the same time numerous limitations, such as ability to render specific detail, utilize shade, various texture, and so on…  The most important limitation to this concept that the artist exploited is neon light’s inflexibility, (both literally and metaphorically), that is inadequate to portray a human being in motion dancing or running around in snowfall.  We can’t see her hair wave in the wind, or her mouth change shape, and we can’t hear her.  Neon’s inhuman quality and consumer related baggage make the whole work and statement impersonal.  The artist is giving himself advice.  Because we are only left to imagine the lower half of this sexy lady, it could be a lesson for her as well, like, “Hey! Did you ever think of liberating yourself from all your clothes and frolicking completely naked?  The work has a dreamlike quality, hovering against the wall, yet physically immobile.  The viewer can independently interpret the statement as it relates to his life.  Also her nipples are different colors giving the artwork just that little “Yeee-Ha!” of self-unaware wildness.  Bravo Dan Attoe!

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