Old Masters

Sophie was relieved that the It’s Mine! show was a success. Her first project at the old quarry could have gone wrong, with people turning their noses up at the local eyesore with a history of accidents, pollution, corruption, industrial action and financial trouble. Instead they welcomed its reopening as the return of an old friend, albeit a very artsy friend.

Rather than praise Sophie, her CEO said, “The show was good, but it didn’t bring any money into the village. My name was attached to the project. It would have been nice to have commercial success.”

“But the site was approved for community use only. It wasn’t meant to make a profit.” God, her CEO was a bitch. Why was she making a fuss for no reason?

“Well, we need to produce another show, this time to make money.”

Sophie began working on it right away. The last one had taken three months to arrange, and this one should be quicker.

The production process proved an uphill struggle though. She couldn’t get anybody interested in a second community event.

The notion of projecting images across the vast, bare spaces of an old quarry should excite people. It was hardly a run of the mill event. But the artists involved argued about the order of the work shown, copyright fees, and signing waivers.

The Director of Lucerne Arts council, Eric Yahoo, said, “We are artists, not used to success. Fame and adoration are difficult issues for people seeing themselves as outsiders. We are now seen as valuable members of the community, and what self-respecting artist wants that?”

Sophie called the art critic of the New City Sun. He said, “The Lucerne Set is now old news. The old quarry has been done before, and the public wants something new.”

Wasn’t an old thing a good thing? thought Sophie. Her grandma always said, “Old is gold”, but then again she did have self-interest.

But good things are timeless, like the world’s great stories that her grandma told her at bedtime. Myths like Osiris, Beowulf, Gilgamesh and Percival, classic novels like Ulysses, and ancient texts like Tao Te Ching and Bhagavad Gita. Yes they have all been “done before”, but you can do them again, and again, and again. What would the art critic say to those?

Such productions take time to arrange, and myths require scale. She would like to get digital projectors, each with an individual server, add high-end fibre-optic technology, and computer-controlled dynamic event lighting. The impressionistic evocations and intriguing relief effects would be enhanced by audio-punch and video-precision. That would all cost money. Right now she must work with what she had.

Eric Yahoo managed to source ten more slide projectors. One came with a carousel full of slides of Old Masters’ paintings.

Sophie sat with Albert, the old quarry’s manager, viewing the slides. They saw Leonardo’s virgins, Michelangelo’s nubile boys, Raphael’s coronations and weddings, Titian’s flaying and mauling, Bosch’s hell on earth, El Greco’s disrobing, Constable’s horses and carts, Turner’s mystical seascapes, and Blake’s heavenly visions.

Sophie and Albert looked at each other. He said, “Old is gold.”

The Old Masters show drew crowds daily, and most productions were sold out. The Old Masters were innovators, trying new colours, perspectives, textures and forms. They would have appreciated the latest technology. Their paintings’ multiple viewpoints, bright colours, sharp details, and superhuman scale made them seem hyper-real.

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