Miles Jaffe

Some of my earliest memories are of taking things apart, usually in such a way that they could not be put back together again. How things are put together – how they work – was a mystery that I had to unravel. As Arthur C. Clark said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” I wanted to learn the secret. 

Trying to discover how things work was eventually followed by trying to find out why things work – including human and social factors like behavior and economics. Using the rigorous analytical methods of my industrial design training I try to figure out why things don’t work. As such I’ve been called cynical, but only by those who lack the power of accurate observation. I prefer to think of myself as a sardonic optimist.

That some of my work is displayed upside down is a reflection of my world view. Art – long before the capital ‘A’ Art of the Renaissance – has been driven not by creative vision but by commerce and as such is a near-perfect reflection of society.

I blame Warhol (“Art is what you can get away with”) although he clearly wasn’t the first. Andy just took the anti-art of Dada to The Factory floor. Some artists find success by being the first to exploit some tiny previously unexplored niche; some find it by being outrageous in some way; others capitalize on marketing – for which being outrageous is a perfect vehicle. I do not consider this to be either art or success.

This becomes my point of departure. My work contemplates the relationship between artist, medium, and product – and thus the very nature of art itself. It is a parody of parodies, which makes it a tribute as well, with no small irony.


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