Often, I’ve wondered if my skittishness with regard to staying with specific projects implies of level of dilettantism that I’d rather not have to attribute to myself. I mean, between pastel and other 2D drawing media, Second Life, art installations, and – now – photography, I seem to be just cycling through whatever catches my interest.But then, I read my own artist’s statement and remember why I wrote it.
I’m not interested in “working in pastel”. Nor does the live digital art playground hold my particular interest for its own sake.
Rather, as my artist statement indicates, Im interested in the fabric of life itself and the myriad of ways it can both manifest itself and be explored. And by “fabric of life”, I mean specifically “people”: Who they are, what the word “self” means in an age where day to day reality itself has become functionally abstract, and the difference between automation and soul in terms of what it means to be alive.
Lest my unusually flowery and overly descriptive language put you off, you should be aware of two things. First, I’m sitting in Reagan National airport for the next two hours and really have nothing better to do. Secondly, and probably more pertinently, this entry had a distinct, concrete moment of birth in my head.
Last week (let’s call it Tuesday for the sake of detail), I was looking at my recent flood of photographs and noticed that the ones I – and others on flickr – seemed to consider the most interesting and mature were of people. Portraits, specifically, were what comes to mind when looking at them.
Funny – I hadn’t consciously intended to do that. I don’t look around and try to grab “people”; I photograph whatever seems to be an interesting or off perspective of wherever I am at the time. And I do get the rest of the world – objects, landscapes, flora, fauna, etc. But (at least to me) they lack that special something that makes them live. I try and look for the times when the body, environment, and mind are in sync – the moments when the soul is looking out of the eyes instead of inside. For most people, those moments are only brief and I like to capture them when I think I see them.
More interesting, still, is that that is (as Ive said elsewhere) where my 2D drawing focus is most of the time. It’s what Im drawn to. Ive even tried to trick myself out of drawing people – and it doesn’t work. The other material is passable, but only just so
Well, you might ask (if youve made it this far) – what about Second Life? That’s about as soulless as you can get! Maybe so, but virtual words force us to take apart and examine, piece by piece, what “existing” as a human consists of and means. We’ve always assumed, in a secular sense, that location and presence and appearance are all properties of existence. We cant be “here” unless “here” is “somewhere”. So what of ourselves when we’re not “here”, but somewhere without physical properties? With the phone, the web, and even online text chat we’ve managed to avoid that question by virtue of not having a replacement “there” from which to reference ourselves. In those cases, we’re very much on either side of the line.
On the other hand, in virtual worlds, we’re dead smack in the middle and it fascinates me. What I think it will force us to do is to rethink some of the core concepts which have ruled our philosophies and ways of life since time began. I don’t think of this in terms of high level abstractions, but core one – almost at the meta linguistic level of human thought. We, as a species, may begin to think (at a root level) in terms more formally (from an engineering perspective) in harmony with the reality of the world around us and not be limited to those abstractions we’ve evolved by way of input from our 5 senses.
In all cases, though, it’s about people, life, and their contribution to “real” – regardless of medium