The Richness of Going Out

It’s really tempting to think we can get all the inspiration we need from books and internet. But just walking around outside provides a living window to the world impossible to experience any other way. So much more that’s unexpected is out there.

It’s partly why the experience of cinema is more than just a big screen. It’s some other place, and you don’t quite know what’s going to be around you. It’s also the difference between seeing images of sculpture or paintings and being in front of the real thing (say, Anselm Kiefer or Robert Motherwell or Louise Bourgeois). Those things fill our view. Even more so the world itself, just looking at changes on your block—or better, an entirely new block—jams a million impressions into your senses. It’s invaluable to artists.

The Littlest Adventures Come Back to Feed Your Imagination

Exploring and visiting new places is wonderful fuel for creative fires. Today, we spent some time in a completely new neighborhood, seeing what shops were around and what various apartment buildings looked like.

Coming back home, I was tired, but felt like I’d done some questing, and had new supplies and jewels of ideas to make stuff with.

Don’t discount a simple trip to a new neighborhood.

Joan Jonas’s Art Ecology Reflects the Ocean’s

Joan Jonas has an installation at Ocean Space, a new exhibition venue made to facilitate artists and scientists studying the oceans. It’s fascinating and eclectic. Jonas incorporates performance, sculpture, video, drawing, and painting into the work, which may not be fully finished till the end of its run in September.

She’s paralleling the natural ecology of the sea with a kind of ecology of artistic practice. Everything works together as a whole piece, no one element is meant to stand on its own. They feed and support each other.

Detecting From the Ending Backward

A popular trope about writing mysteries is that the author starts with the ending in mind and writing the plot back to the beginning. It’s probably not used universally, at least not any more, but there’s a bit of a corollary to other art practices.

If you have an end in mind, or a grand vision of some kind, it’s easier to start moving toward it. The hard part is when your execution doesn’t match the image in your head.

I find if I start with that kind of overall vision, I can’t stay too wedded to the original concept. It’s easy to become disappointed and discouraged by my abilities, or to realize the original ending wasn’t really that great to begin with.

The thing I’m making may be better off going on another direction, entirely. It’s mostly about creating the map as you simultaneously make the territory.

Knowing What You Do Is an Ongoing Process

The number of times someone asks “what do you do?” when I say I’m an artist varies over time, but it’s a frequent question. And I don’t often know what to say.

If you only do one thing, or only have done one kind of art, this might be easier. But most of us work with multiple media or disciplines. And few artists want to be put in a box, anyway. Yes, today you’re writing a book. But you used to make cartoons, or play keyboards, or make videos. What you’re doing now isn’t always the impression you want someone to go away with.

But there isn’t often an easy—or consistent—answer to the question. It might be because we are all in a state of becoming. We’re still figuring out what we do. You’re a painter. But what kind of painter? There are sub-sub-genres and myriad methods.

And this isn’t for the people who ask you The Question. But it almost doesn’t matter what you tell someone else. Your work is what matters, and as long as you’re making some, it’s part of the process of discovering and revealing itself back to you.

Expanding Your Creative Sources Helps Your Work

A quick but perennial trope of art making: look at as much as you can, read as much as you can listen to as much music as you can. The eclectic approach doesn’t just feed your soul and demeanor, it supports your work with multiple sources, like a well-planned essay.

With deadlines always approaching of various degree, the best defense against both writer’s block and well-worn creative paths is a continually growing list of other creators we admire. And whom we want to steal bits from.

Layers of Creative Existence

Few things are as satisfying as diving deeply into a realm of artistic experience you resonate with. Gaming, painting, books, film—there are depths beyond depths if you choose to explore beyond the surface experience of any art.

But, of course, it doesn’t change the raw experience any casual patron of the medium might have. It’s still the primary goal of any work of art to invoke some kind of reaction in the people who experience it. The filmgoer who watches The Green Book, say, shouldn’t be viewed as a lesser participant in the work than a scholar of cinema who understands layers of subtext and craft that went into the film’s creation. Most people don’t, after all. Every person deserves their personal experience without a requirement to study mechanics of creation or art beforehand, unless the thing is specifically designed for that purpose.

I think I mean to say that we can hope the deeper meaning behind our work is appreciated and understood by our audience. But a deep and personal connection, regardless of how studied the patron’s background, is the first and important thing in giving your work to the world.

Everything and Then Some

Games can give us new perspectives, always good for new ideas. The way we at things should be different than the typical.

I’ve always loved strange, artsy video games that mess with tropes or conventions. Everything, by David O’Reilly, is one of those. I’ve just begun, but it’s already my favorite game experience of the last several months.

The movement is odd, especially when you’re animals and objects. Flipping end-over-end to get around is a little jarring—disturbing, even. But that’s part of the charm.

Everything and Then Some

Games can give us new perspectives, always good for new ideas. The way we at things should be different than the typical.

I’ve always loved strange, artsy video games that mess with tropes or conventions. Everything, by David O’Reilly, is one of those. I’ve just begun, but it’s already my favorite game experience of the last several months.

The movement is odd, especially when you’re animals and objects. Flipping end-over-end to get around is a little jarring—disturbing, even. But that’s part of the charm.

Respect for Mark Hollis

Mark Hollis, front man and major songwriter for Talk Talk, died at 64 today Monday.

He was the driving force taking them from synth pop to post-rock to something else. All in the span of maybe 6 albums. Massive evolutions between each release. Brilliant songwriter and musician.

I bought Hollis’s solo album (1998) nearly a decade before I finally listened to it. I was waiting for the right moment, and I decided last fall that it was time. I was alone on a calm fall day, and I watched the sunset as I played it. It’s a very quiet, open record, the final evolution in his musical exploration.

Laughing Stock, Talk Talk’s final album, is not so different, but it’s more well known. Good work, Mark, all around.