(2018-11-04) Meow Wolf I Cant Believe Its Not Better

Meow Wolf: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better. Meow Wolf: House of Eternal Return was a fun house. A cacophonous assemblage of wild ideas loosely connected by a soft sci-fi narrative packaged for tidy consumption

I can say that I am in awe of the perseverance, planning, and craftsmanship that went into realizing Meow Wolf.

Despite this, I can’t believe it’s not better.

To arbitrate high and low art is not my intention here. I realize it’s all a matter of taste, or so the saying goes

For those of us who aren’t children, or under the influence of childlike wonder inducing substances, Meow Wolf falls short of expectations in a few ways.

It was made just for people like me: millennial professionals with delusions of the weird, a generation raised on Goosebumps and Goonies, Jumanji and The Last Starfighter before aging into Tim Burton, Hot Topic, and Invader Zim.

The colors, themes, even the sounds feel so customized to my demographic I could practically read the survey that seemed to have determined the creative direction

I like my art to serve something more than my consumerism or my base desire for familiarity and amusement.

Given the artistic DIY origins of Meow Wolf’s makers, I had expected more aesthetically diverse, narratively mysterious, and interactively engaging material. I had hoped to be transported into a state of awe

To be fair, I could have sprung for the Anomaly Tracker App for $4.99 but I wasn’t about to get sucked into small potatoes esoterica and augmented reality on my phone in an immersive art installation.

Unlike a Disney theme park ride, Meow Wolf sells itself up as an artistic experience and therefore I expected more than, what Amanda Hess in her September 2018 New York Times essay “The Existential Void of the Pop-Up ‘Experience’” calls “Instagram Museums,” a set of loosely collected photo opportunities with flattering lights and a backdrop of requisite oddity and artistry.

Hess bemoans that “the idea of “interacting” with the world is made so slickly transactional” in these marketing stunts posing as pop-up happenings that meaning and real experience are undermined and diminished.

The scrappy collective paved the way for this kind of work to receive support and they should be saluted for it. It isn’t the best we can do as makers of art or the best was can hope for as lovers of art. We should offer critiques to things like Meow Wolf, not to discourage their creation, but to raise the bar for what we want from art.

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