Saturday, December 27, 2014

Rock breaks Scissors!

For many of my friends, the go to gift for me is a sketchbook. You know when they want to get me something, but something appropriate to our relationship - it's a sketchbook.

This used to be a crushing gift, internally crushing. Namely because I have been accumulating sketchbooks/visual diaries etc faster than I can fill them. It is pretty true to say that a visual diary usually takes me 1+ year to fill.

But since moving into a studio, I have just about filled a sketchbook this month alone. I am now looking at my stockpile and thinking I don't have enough.

This is a dramatic change in practice for me - I have never worked hard before, at least not on my art practice itself, and not in any structured and lasting way. It is true that I tend to blitz out my exhibitions, doing 11 hour days for a couple of weeks to churn out 30-40 pieces.

Why confess this? Because I don't really believe in hard work. I'm one of those 10,000 hour rule haters. I don't really believe in natural talent either. Which leaves what I do believe in -

I believe in vision. Vision may comply to the 10,000 hour rule for all I know. It's just that my theory is that vision is generated from just leading your fairly ordinary life. It is the product of observation and introspection. It is from these efforts that ideas are generated.

Then enter the old dichotomy - idea and execution. I saw via the miracle of youtube Larry David Aing Qs at the New Yorker Festival, somebody asked him 'idea or execution?' and he responded 'without the idea there's nothing to execute, so I'll have to go with idea on that one.' or near enough to it. I feel like I have seen plenty of stuff that was all execution, no idea.

And given how sporadic I've become at writing here, I would be surprised if I've never shared this long held opinion or not, but to me I dislike the 10,000 hour rule because it is risk-averse. It reduces success to hard work. 10,000 hours of deliberative practice. And when I say 'it reduces' the it is the risk averse readership, not Gladwell, not the book Outliers. It was a simple and appealing (for many) concept that could be latched onto while ignoring the rest.

I hold that art is such that nobody can say what it is or isn't. Anyone can identify as an artist and perhaps far more people should that don't. (Subway employees are 'sandwich artists' and you know , why the fuck not?) But I am Drucker's man through and through, skeptical of any new-ageish views of business. And if art is your business, then you the artist have one job - to create an audience. I see many people that have done their 10,000 hours in their given medium that don't create an audience.

Here's something I'm glad somebody just came out and said:

Look at the current contemporary art world: that is what happens when you cease to be meaningful to your audience, and it's not pretty no matter how much it convinces you it is.
 Though much of contemporary art could be criticized for it's lack of execution as well, that's the unpretty part. I don't see much contemporary art because I saw a lot in New York, and I am cured of any desire to see it again. So I guess I must concede that all execution is preferable to neither idea nor execution being present.

My direct experience though, is that people would rather see what you are trying to do than not see it at all. Also given how quickly you lose your own objectivity producing arts, people may think you succeeded in your execution - and if the idea gets across, then you did I guess. In theory installation art should be the most perfect medium for this, have a great idea chuck some objects in a room that represent it and anybody can be a great artist. The stumbling block for most installation art is having a great idea in the first place.

The other thing is encoding that idea into objects in a room, which when I think about it is an almost impossible way to communicate. How many times have you walked into a sitting room and by the lay out of the furniture said 'Oh my god there's trouble at the old mill!' I put my money on Lassie being able to communicate that sooner than installation.

Many artists, just don't need to create art to get their idea across. Stats tell me about 8 people on average see my posts, that's more than many audiences I've seen attend an exhibition, and in particular sit through an audio/visual installation.

Generally these people will look at the different coloured chairs lying on their sides and then turn to the artist statement on the wall to see if they can derive any meaning from it. The artists statements are often 10,000 words or more explaining convoluted high-brow concepts in convoluted ways.

Just ditch the actually piece and post your artist statement on a blog, like this. Link it to facebook you'll probably get 30 hits or so. The idea is the only part of any real interest, no matter how much it tries to convince us the actual installation is.

And if the idea is shit, then no great work is going to come out of it. Posting it as a blog entry rather than forking out rent for a gallary space to install something that costs people time and effort to come see, can help shake down to whether your idea is of any interest in the first place.

I think I've reached a stage where I know two things:

1.) I have more ideas I want to execute than I have time to execute them. I do not struggle for ideas or inspiration.
2.) I am curious as to how good I could be if I just did some work.

In other words, I'm working in a studio now because the ideas come effortlessly, it is as such time for me to dawdle a bit and actually practice the craft, because it can entertain me, challenge me. I can't relate to the aspirant who has secluded and shut themsleves away since they were 15-16 and practiced on end because that is safer than going out there and bleating out your ideas to be accepted or rejected.

No sir, I don't roll with the 'So-good-they-have-to-notice-you' crowd, largely because they don't.

No comments: