Thursday, May 6, 2010

A friend said today she thought that artists always hated their own work.
I'm not sure what the general feeling is.. Personally, I love what I'm doing but am always deeply disappointed with the results. There are always lots of little things that when you look at a work you've just completed, you wish you had done differently, or sometimes you just don't know whether it's doing what you want it to do or not, and you resent it just for the sheer possibility that it might be letting you down.
Professor Bustamante asked me today to explain my place project in a few sentences, which is a scary request. Words and art are by nature, um, non-transferrable. It's like when you translate a poem, and not only do the words no longer rhyme or alliterate or match the rhythm, the words don't even mean the same things. They have different shades of meaning, different little nuances and contextual associations. To translate an idea that honestly I can't hold in my mind all at once from one form of communication to another . . . it's a real mindfuck.
But it's also a great exercise, and it's a necessary thing to do. It's maybe one of the things that gets you to the next more successful work.
And of course, the work is about place. But it's place as seen through the lens of my personal themes and interests and quirks and so on.
One thing that I realized very early on in the conceptualization of this work is that I was working in a sort of roundabout, subtractive way. It was like, I was taking a place away, and showing how place still remains. I take away my home, and aspects of home come up everywhere and the compromised circumstances cause me to be even more confined to a small area. I take the two dimensional drawing off its place on a wall, and I become its wall instead. The table it rests on as I read or eat becomes its wall. Everything is its gallery.
I tried to bring art with me into my life, tried to make it real, tried to make it do actual things. I tried to pull this virtual thing, this data, that is a drawing out of its virtual world and thereby make it into a drawing in the real world. You no longer just look at the pen marks, or even the pen marks plus the paper they're on. You look at that ink and paper getting hit by light, being surrounded by trees, being pinched between my fingers and bent by wind and pierced by string (Yet, in doing so, I created a photography piece in which the drawing had retreated even farther into the virtual). But still it's a drawing first and foremost. I didn't want to make it into a hat or a t-shirt. I didn't want to subject it to some sort of torture or unnatural process. I wanted it to continue to act as a drawing, and retain those characteristics and that . . . personality.
I just find it unsettling how art takes place in this imaginary place, as if it were all hollywood or something. It's something you do when you're not doing your real life stuff, and it's something that interrupts that real life stuff. When I was a kid, like most artists, I wanted to draw comic books. And I realize now that the reason I thought I wanted that is because I had this addiction to day dreaming about being other people, super or fanciful or just cooler. And drawing was a way to fulfill a need to actually experience these personas a little further. And I remember this almost painful desire for them to do more than just stand flat on the page. I wanted them to be posed in different ways. I wanted to be able to make toys of them. I wanted for them to be animated. I wanted to make them real and for them to matter and for it to matter that I was drawing them and for it to have meant something that I spent all that time drawing them, for it to have earned me experience points, to use video game lingo.
And of course, the drawings didn't do anything or matter or amount to something. And as I grew older, I began to realize that nothing "does anything" or matters or counts for anything greater, at least not any more so than those drawings of made up heroes and the fantasies that went along with them.
In a very real way, you could say I just spent three days pretending to be Placeman. And I still have this wish for it to have somehow less absurd than . . . the universe as a whole. I think we all want that. I think we all want to create order and meaning, and to be able to feel as if the meaning we created isn't abitrary or just pretend. And maybe that even relates to the concept of place in the most abstract that's-quite-a-stretch way possible. But I guess it relates to every conceivable concept, and is at the root of the whole meaning of "concept", trying to make sense out of an existence that is, for all intents and purposes, completely devoid of sense.
And sometimes it feels like having to do complex math in your head in order to sustain some sort of Dungeons and Dragons style spell. Like, I'm conjuring up this conceptual placeness for myself and I'm doing the same drawing or taking the same photo over and over again to sustain what I've done. And now I've stopped. And I wonder how long the spell will last, how long I can hold the structure of it in my head. I wish I could continue to be push myself like this indefinitely, doing without sleep or leisure activities. I want to take art as seriously as humanly possible. I'm in an engineering school. Students are spending every waking hour studying chemistry and math and mechanics. But art should be so much harder, because it's impossible to make anything that functions as well as the simplest of mechanisms. People should be saying "Fuck, I'm glad I'm not an art major. Those guys are crazy!" because of how impossibly difficult art is.
. . . Gotta go to the senior exhibition.

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