Change It Up Now and Then to Stay Loose

Specifically, I mean your style, whatever that is. We build styles by copying the artists we love, not directly and by specific example, but all at once, everything.

All the stuff you love about an artist should go into the mix, and if you can combine one or more in the same concept or even final piece, congrats! You’re making something new out of a remix.

The Galaxy Within and Beyond Ourselves, Linked Together

https://vimeo.com/296839168

Artist Rotraut Klein-Moquay explains how, among other wonderful connections and perspectives, we need to view our lives as part of the greater universe, and as large, as grand, and as long-lived as it is. Also that we should be careful about living a “good life,” meaning fully-realized.

Spend Some Time Watching the World Go By

I moved to Portland without a car. One of the things I wanted to do in this new place was to try to reassess my consumption and use of resources. Giving up driving—at least for a while—seemed like a good means to that end.

And it’s mostly been eye-opening. Not only have I been able to get around on public transit, I’ve been able to spend some time just looking around me as I move.

Hail Hilma af Klint, Pioneer Abstract Painter

Only now is the depth of her insight and discoveries widely known. She never exhibited her abstract work, pretending to the outside world she was working in a conventional way. This NY Times article covers the Guggenheim retrospective currently on display.

We should understand there’s likely lots of innovative and wondrous work out there, being done without acclaim or attention. Had af Klint not been encouraged to keep her brilliance secret, she might be known as the mother of abstract painting.

If You Don’t Feed the Fire, You Can Only Work by the Light of the Embers

That’s my attempt to be quotable. Without sassy characters spouting this stuff, we’re left with titles. This one should be the retort of Jen, the younger sister of a cynical, burned-out musician named Josh. Hm.

Hold on, let me just write down this pitch for a show.

What I’m talking about, though, is making sure you have enough fuel to burn. Never mind inspiration, you need stuff to steal from. As much art as you can handle stuffed in you so it mixes into a stew with all the other art you see and hear.

Go to galleries, web sites, shows, concerts, forums, colleges, museums, streaming TV, magazines, libraries.

And then? I don’t know how or why, but unless you’re trying yo be like one specific person, your things come out different. Art magic.

Stuff Acquired by the Whitney in the Past Year (It’s Rather a Lot)

Why the Whitney? There are plenty of other museums that bought stuff. Well, that’s certainly true, but it’s on my radar in general for a few particular qualities: 

  • It’s focused on American art (and as an American, that’s germane to my existence here)
  • It’s focused on contemporary art, with some attention given to the 20th century, but much on the 21st
  • It’s focused on exhibiting and exposing new and lesser known artists

Those are good reasons to keep an eye on what kind of work they’re interested in, and here’s a list of the 417 things they bought in the last year, with a photo for nearly every piece.

Looking through this will take some time, but I think it’s valuable for artists to have some idea of what the Whitney thinks is worth keeping.

Defying One’s Musical Expectations for Fun and (Non-Monetary) Profit With Strange Genres

That’s what I was listening to earlier this evening, after sampling tracks across the massive Merzbow catalog. I’m not very familiar with the noise music genre, but it’s pretty antagonistic. Not really what I would call music, really, but something like difficult listening? Or kind of terrifying listening. It’s what evil alien robots would put on for entertainment. There are ghosts of melody, and of rhythm, but the tracks keep frustrating attempts to pick stable patterns out. It’s overwhelming, but after a while, I got into it.

The other parts aren’t so confrontational, they seem more akin to the work of a musician I really like: Mick Harris, particularly his Lull moniker. Well, I like Lull and some other isolationist stuff a lot. But that moves glacially and is minimalist. This, especially the first track of Achromatic, is like chaos itself through a few distortion pedals.

But, again, I got into it. It’s a little like reverse meditation. Your discomfort becomes focus, because it pushes everything else out of its path.

If this were your “thing,” if this was what you purport to listen to casually and regularly, I’d raise an eyebrow. I’d miss too much of what I enjoy music for—melody, rhythm, repetition.

Defying your expectations and assumption is a way to break out of stagnation of any kind. Exploring insanely different things than you know is good, even if it’s uncomfortable at first. Everything worth experiencing has a non-zero amount of effort to acquire it.

Little Obsessions and Indulging Them Should Be No Big Deal

It seems like we get put down for carrying on a brief obsession with something, but it can be a reason to get familiar with something new or to experience something familiar with new eyes and ears.

My current is above, of course. The bass sound is gorgeously full, the slapback echo on the vocal is almost haunting, but still charming, and the melody and lyrics themselves are fun and earwormy. I hear something new almost ever re-listen, which is amazing. Now. How to apply this obsession to something I’m doing.