Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Four short stanzas about being feeling puzzled.

Four short stanzas about being feeling puzzled.

1. I love those vibrant periods of time when we realise how new everything can feel either after waking up before your alarm clock rings, after reading a book, or when you're visiting a city for the first time. It's a feeling as if you're looking for something, which is not to say you feel like you've lost anything, but it's as if you realise that people have left enough clues to make you realise that there's something there to discover. It could be above your head, around a corner, or somewhere buried deep in your own memories, even if it never really happened, even if you couldn't have possibly been there to witness it.

2. In some places in the world, there are people that make things but don't use any materials, but it does take up space. In this space other people feel like they have a stake in this place. They co-create rules and some people are known for showing up on time consistently, but even with varying degrees from creating to enjoying they all agree that it's theirs collectively. 

3. I want to be one of those people that will never feel like they're working. I don't think I believe in work, but then again I don't think I have figured out how to not worry about it, so that will take some work, some goals and some work. I think that there are times when I know working will do something for me, so I do that work, but the other kinds of work, the work that binds you to something monotonously detached, when you could be challenging yourself, fosters a despicable ennui.

4. Who am I making art for? Is it for the technicians whose expertise is legitimised by my curiosity of the possibilities within their studios? Is it for my friends who do me so many favors and offer so many gifts that I am trying in vain to pay them all back? Is it for myself who like all other artists, uses art to construct the kind of reality that helps me understand the world? Or is it for the people I'd like to meet, who see things that I myself didn't realise was within the work? Well, maybe that last one was for me as well.

I just finished reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, I liked the writing style a lot, and it has me thinking about how we deal with the unknown and sometimes embrace it and how writers have an interesting way of describing the powers that be. This was really interesting to read after Lanark, there's not a lot of similarities, but I do enjoy the fact that I had bad eczema when I was reading about dragonskin hide in Lanark and then after I hurt my shoulder which created a dull pain, while I was reading about Toru Okada having being stabbed in the shoulder.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Finally made a nice short artist statement! Thanks to someone requesting a succinct one!

Artist Statement: My work thrives on discovering the essence of a particular thing. I do this with paint, clay, light, people, sawdust, inks, expectations, and ideas because I’m interested in how to create momentum with a strict set of limitations. Some of these strategies include combining processes to exploit their innate properties or creating feedback loops in order to distill or reinforce a certain perspective. In my art practice I strive to have many opportunities to quench my curiosity and to even be forced to explore in different ways. Most recently I have created a drawing machine that traces the perimeter of a room, like a child’s Spiralgraph toy, where the folds of the design come back to itself. Sometimes the best work is the kind that doesn’t have a destination, we don’t know where it fits in, but it represents itself honestly.
"Drawing Machine Inspired by Ross Byers With Troubleshooting by Alan Keane", Wood, bike tire, cardboard, paper, electric toothbrushes, sawdust  - 2012
"Drawing Machine Inspired by Ross Byers With Troubleshooting by Alan Keane", Wood, bike tire, cardboard, paper, electric toothbrushes, sawdust  - 2012

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Writing vs. Visual Art

I have been reading a lot of quotes from different creative thinkers and I have realised something interesting about how writers talk about 'work' that is distinctly different from how visual artists talk about 'work'.

Writers tend to describe work as something that simply must be done, whereas visual artists tend describe work as a matter of context, i.e. this process is the real 'work' and the resulting object is simply a by-product. For the latter, these artists believe that good art is not necessarily born out of effort or a direct focus of chipping away at something, rather it's about a nuanced way of paying attention to when 'the work' reveals itself to the artist. Another MFA student Jay Mosher described his process as if there is a reservoir of ideas that will flow over in good time that will encourage him to take action. Another way to put this is that artists don't consider hard work as a given as much as 'work' is something that is to be framed appropriately by the artists in order to communicate their ideas, their idea of reality, to an audience.

During a time with John and Graham they were asking me about how I seemed to ascribe to a design sensibility of making art because I believed that a 'painter paints everyday' as I recall my past painting professor Alisa Henriquez say. And so if my new medium was conceptual work, I believed that I should be coming up with a different conceptual idea everyday.

And I actually followed through on this (and in some ways continue to do so), that to make my day calendar I attempted to write 10 good ideas every day for about three months. And for the most part, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. In the end now I'm looking for a places to put all of these ideas and sort them out. Some are good and made it into the day calendar and partly convinced me that I do in fact enjoy writing in whatever form, and some aren't necessarily bad, but they just don't seem pertinant to be made, not just not this moment, but not ever, by me. This is kindof leading to me talking about a project that I'm working on with Minka Stoyanova, that I'll keep a little hush hush because we are working on a grant together for that project.

So back to this difference about how creative individuals approach work, here are the quotes that have been floating around about work in general:

This is from writers:

"Make Good Work" - Neil Gaiman

"I’ve never worked a day in my life. I’ve never worked a day in my life. The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year. I want you to envy me, my joy. Get out of here tonight and say: ‘Am I being joyful?’ And if you’ve got a writer’s block, you can cure it this evening by stopping whatever you’re writing and doing something else. You picked the wrong subject." - Ray Bradbury

"We work to become, not to acquire" - Elbert Hubbard

"Creativity comes form trust, trust your instinct, and never hope more than you work" - Rita Mae Weems

Again, all of these quotes describe a belief in that work is inherently a good thing when paradoxically, it is 'good'.

And these are quotes discussing the idea of 'work ethic' in regards to the visual arts:

"As curator Helen Molesworth suggest in her written introduction, the craft of art-making functions within our economic system, where labor roles have changed dramatically since the second World War. "Hard work" is defined by context. The joke inherent in some of this exhibition is not jovial, but cynical. What does a viewer expect from an artist and a museum? What does an artist expect? Tom Friedman stared at a blank sheet of white paper for 1000 hours, and the product is simply that: a blank sheet of paper. The museum deems it worthwhile—the art is in the act itself." - Radar 7 review of "Work Ethic"

"If technology has a role in all this it is less to automate work out of existence than to open up new realms for re/creation. To some extent we may want to return to handicrafts, which William Morris considered a probable and desirable upshot of communist revolution. Art would be taken back from the snobs and collectors, abolished as a specialized department catering to an elite audience, and its qualities of beauty and creation restored to integral life from which they were stolen by work. It's a sobering thought that the grecian urns we write odes about and showcase in museums were used in their own time to store olive oil... ...The situationists — as represented by Vaneigem’s Revolution of Everyday Life and in the Situationist International Anthology — are so ruthlessly lucid as to be exhilarating, even if they never did quite square the endorsement of the rule of the workers’ councils with the abolition of work." - Abolition of Work

Imagine one thousand suns in the
sky at the same time.
Let them shine for one hour.
Then, let them gradually melt
into the sky.
Make one tunafish sandwich and eat.

1964 Spring
- Yoko Ono

I've heard that after Tracey Emin was collected by Saatchi that she began to write much more than she made physical work. I find myself realising that I don't mind writing when I don't know what to do, but I actually seem to despise some of the work that I make that comes out of boredom, which is different from the work that comes out of procrastination. Even the work that I force myself to make because I know that they are good ideas are better than the works I make when I am bored. Perhaps procrastination is a form of work that resides in doing something for oneself that is the antithesis of what one is 'supposed to be doing'. The work that I force myself to do tends to be more poetic and will have a conceptual statement pre-attached to it. The work I make out of boredom is perhaps what my mind considers the minimum amount of effort needed to create something that looks enough like Art, but it's passionless and driven by the speculation that someone will mistake it for hard work and thus it will provide an opportunity for a real challenge to be excited about.

I don't know where my interest in work has come from necessarily, but I feel like I am passionate about my own written words and the very little resources needed for these kinds of ideas. I think that this is leading to perhaps what my 'dissertation' will be about.

As a person, not just as an artist, what is my relationship to my work, is it holistic or safe?

Is it worth finding the best conditions in which people can enjoy their work, or is a fulfilling job actually a trap?

What is more work, creating a complex question or a complex answer?

Just as hard work does not necessarily make good work, does the idea of something being overworked mean that it will always be a loss since one cannot continue to work on it to make it better?

As the essay "The Abolition of Work" by Bob Black promotes turning work into play, but he also goes as far as describing life as game, which after listening to a Radiolab episode about how games have more to do with the excitement of rooting for the underdog and creating rules that result in innumerable possibilities, when the game ends, the bigger picture is feeling like one has led a good life. So without resulting to believing that life is a game, is our modern life possible without work (or perhaps money), or just life as we know it?

I also just have to say that I've never thought much about when the one or two times someone mentioned to me that God or something bestowed me with a gift and in order to do it justice, I simply needed to keep working, and to do a lot of it and the rest will sort itself out. I'm incredulous of any philosophy where the ends justify the means, especially when religious attitudes are involved but there does seem to be a truth in the idea that we are not simply betting on luck but we are actively put our energy into activities that are meant to produce momentum with unknowable outcomes. How does the idea of thinking that we are working hard translate into opportunities that result from working hard? Is it simply coincidence or does this identity of being a 'reliable hard worker' mentality become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

I think that's as much as I can muster for right now, to come up with a really good summarization is just too much work.

While looking up Ray Bradbury's quote, I also found this great one that reminds me of my own personal feelings that I actually enjoy having conviction with non-factual opinions with the hopes that at least someone could always prove me wrong in the future, and I'm ok with that.

"If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn."

Faber in Fahrenheit 451

So from that, for no good reason, while procrastinating writing this entry, I wrote a short silly rhyming poem based on that:

If you don't know
say so

because if you just go

and don't let anyone know

you won't just be slow from the get go

but you'll be going against the flow

you're actually putting on a show

as if you know

when you should've stopped and said no.


when it's time for everyone to grow

you will have nowhere to go

you will be your own foe

and you'll have to start all over

do not pass go 
(do not collect 200 dollars)