Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Catching up

As advertised, I do not make regular entries here. I write constantly however and will attempt to find those older jottings worth sharing. For now an assessment of this moment and my current direction.

Still very transitional. Finished grad school and had a great summer at the Skowhegan school residency in Maine. Met many amazing artists and regularly see/speak/write many of them. The SVA crowd as well. As I am unattached in nearly every sense of the word, this wide ranging social network helps me maintain my equilibrium and momentum. They are also pretty good friends.

I start building out my new studio tomorrow-veneering a wall, painting the floor, etc. By the end of November I need to find a new home as well. The job hunt is thus far without results but I have to admit to barely being motivated. I am spending my days applying for grants/residencies/shows/registries, working on finally completing my web-site and generally trying to continue being a full-time artist. I make plans for new projects and process the video and imagery from the last year's work. It can be a little monotonous (since I am always in the apartment) but it feels pretty rewarding. I feel if I can keep putting as many irons in the fire as possible, something will happen. They can't all say no.

I also write quite a bit. About the work as well as my recent experiences. Working through many emotional issues of course. The divorce as well as women I've been involved with since then. For now I choose to remain alone, something I cannot remember ever doing. I feel the focus needs to be on me for now, on doing all the things I just mentioned and spending time with good friends and meeting new friends. New York has plenty to offer of course for seeing work, going to lectures and generally sucking up experiences and ideas. Have been reading and actually enjoying more art theory lately. Am I getting smarter or just learning how to approach those writings?

I should be nervous, with the economy looking seriously compromised and me being unemployed. But I feel like something will come along, that I should perhaps more actively seek it but that it will come. As Marilyn M likes to say, the world opens up for you and makes a place for you. Plus when everyone you know is pretty broke it doesn't seem all that bad. There is so much talk now of people learning to live more frugally, but these last few years has given me plenty of practice. I live pretty cheap and intend to keep doing so.

I also intend to keep being an artist first and foremost. It will be a challenge but I feel my timing is bad that its actually really good. There are few expectations so I am free to do whatever the fuck I want. It's scary but also exhilarating.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Solutions for A Stuck Vechicle: Alter Egos

One possible solution/adjustment for the Press Release project would be to use an alter ego or several alter egos. The following is a list of possible names and characteristics I imagine for each.

The alter ego names:

Cyrus McCormick or Mcmannus: an antiquated traditionalist, highly mannered and opinionated but a bit of a bore whose work places craft on at least equal footing with concepts

Sam Wilson: an everyman, simple and unadorned and unpretentious. his work might be a throwback to modernist issues with a predilection for Greenberg. While his work is not exactly beating a dead horse it is looking to reheat the juiciest and least rotten pieces of the corpse.

Cynthia Biggins: middle aged woman who uses her charms to her advantages but knows their usefulness will only lessen as she ages. the work a mixture of 90's identity politics merging (poorly) with community and relational aesthetic tactics.

Manny Greer: An early 30's ultra-hipster whose initially successful foray was at least 5 or 6 years ago. Suspects his moment may have passed and is quietly becoming desperate for something good to happen. The smell of desperation becomes more distinct with each passing season.

Another possible solution: add the original artist's last name to your own first name (Nicholas Antoni, Nicholas McCollum, Nicholas Nauman, etc)

Jigs as the Finished Work: Working Ideas

From necessity carpenters and sculptors build jigs to assist in the creation of their work. Such jigs have always fascinated and attracted me, whether they are simple blocks of wood cut to a certain shape and size or more intricate and complex affairs that defy understanding to the unitiated. Something about how aesthetics are not at all a concern for most jigs, how the issues of function dictate every decision in their creation. they are pure for that reason, uncorrupted and unaffected.

I am also fascinated by how jigs rarely give enough information to a viewer to extrapolate the appearance of the finished item. Sometimes that appearance is even obscured.

Some project ideas involving 'jigs':

build jigs that perform a function (or at least appear to do so) but do not show the items made. Make a series: start with a simple jig and repeat it, adding more complex additions with each step. The effect might be as if illustrating a step-by-step process. Consider teasing the viewer's imagination by also presenting raw materials, stacked and ready to be used in the jig. These materials should be specific enough to seem plausibly usable with the jigs but not so specific as to spell out HOW they are used. In providing the materials needed to use the the jig for its stated purpose, you are creating a public interactive workspace but one where I do not truly expect the viewer to actually make the work. It will remain perpetually unrealized. Is this a form of cynicism? Step by step images or a finished version might be provided as a guide or enticement for the viewer. But there should be vagueries and open-ended aspects that allow the viewer to interpret/misinterepret things.

Make a fairly complex looking jig, complete with hinges, straps, electronics, etc and presenting the jig as if it were a self-improvement device.

Things we could claim the jig can do:

"A scheduling conflict reducer/eliminator"

"A middle-age life-clarity device

"An allergy alleviator"

List problems of contemporary life and make a jig that claims to solve/eradicate each one. Some could solve multiple problems. Some possibilities: temperature instability, mercury remover, object shrinking device (enables storage in smaller spaces)

stereotype relief-masks traits considered stereotypical; gives others a different impression-worn as a necklace the device uses holograph and laser technology to reform your features into atypical and unusual forms. Simple set-up comes with 18 built in stereotypical settings and the ability to create custom settinngs from a menu of pre-determined choices

Could we somehow combine these ideas in subtle ways with the hidden utility box project?

Simply make a jig looking like it could be used to construct something (much like the utility boxes were objects that looked like they were designed and had a purpose) and attach the purpose through signage or other collateral material.

A Project for Polishing Ideas

I have written in notebooks and sketchbooks for years, mostly ideas for new projects accompanied by drawings and sketches. These books were never linear in their development, there was no narrative to follow. I would flip through old sketchbooks and see old ideas or doodles that would spark new associations. Those new blips would go down right next to the old. I thought of these as lexicons of ideas rather than diaries.

As I grow increasingly digitized in my handling of text, images and drawings, my writings shifted from physical spaces to electronic ones. It is easy to categorize and organize these files but I sometimes find the sheer quantity so overwhelming that I cannot find a path to where I want to be. Printing everything and making binders or pinning it all to the wall doesn't help. But it makes the ideas seem more tangible, with a greater presence.

As I am currently enrolled in an MFA program and am surrounded by a constant stream of people and ideas, I have for some time considered printing everything I write out and pinning it up on the hallway wall outside my studio. I would invite my peers to read these and offer me their input. However, my walls are always covered with something and there's something about putting all those private thoughts and emotions up on a wall that seemed a little too public an airing for my liking. A blog could, potentially, reach a much greater audience. But I am not so vain as to think it will be noticed by anyone except those I tell. In a way I feel I can safely post my thoughts and they will remain hidden and anonymous; they are hidden in plain sight.

What I hope to achieve here may be antithetical to the notion of blogging. I am not interested in reporting overly personal or private information. I will never be a religious poster who covers a beat and tries to give sharp tongued insights for the edutainment of my readers. I will not link to a thousand other blogs or read blogs any more than I already do, which is pretty seldom. I actually find bloggers who actively seek a public role to be problematic. I look to this project as a means to clarify my thoughts by working within a forum that (given its public nature) will focus my thinking. What that means and whether it comes to pass remains to be seen.