Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Freedom from What?

I am often moody.  I think to myself what a tragedy it is that I have to be at work making lunch or teaching when I should really be working on my own paintings and drawings.  There is an egotistical aspect of this, but also a desperation to this thought process.  I always feel like I can work more, but then sometimes I get home from cooking and I have no desire to work.  I couldn't make myself work if I tried.  I assume that this is normal, as many of the people I talk to on a regular basis speak about the number of movies and television shows that they find entertaining.  I don't watch many of these, but I do stare at computer screens waiting for something awesome to happen.  I create blog posts waiting for someone to find my writing and say, "hey, this guy really has something going on."

I mention this all as a setting for the mentality that I entered when I started my latest piece.  I had just finished my proposal to the Step Up Program, which sounds amazing.  I think that when you finish a proposal that should probably feel hope that you might get to do that thing, but I have submitted and applied to so many different places in the past ten years, and while yes, I have had my number of successes, I have had a greater number of defeats.  I have also never been responded to on a bigger juried show.  In the past this has taken over moods for days, as I ponder what to do with myself, coming up with plans to make some dough off of my art, desperately finding some other means to post my work all over the internet, searching for that mode of living that is what I want.  However, when I turned in this last proposal, I did not feel any sense of desperation.  I did not feel any despair and most importantly, I didn't really mind that in another 18 hours I was going to be cooking in a commercial kitchen again.  ( usually here people constantly make statements about how "cooking is creative too" and "That's a way to get your creative juices going."  Thoughts like these are appreciated because it shows that other people do not want you to get down on yourself.  They care.  But at the same time, cooking is cooking and great for cooking sake.  My art is my art and I have no time to think about it while I am cooking.) I left the coffee shop where I had been putting the last bits of my proposal together, got some lunch and hit the record shop.  I went home and started to feel that sense that there was nothingness if I had nothing to prepare for and I had an epiphany.  I really wanted to make the piece that I proposed, but I didn't have a space large enough to do it in the manner that I had proposed.  Up until my second show in 2007 at the now defunct Gallery 070 on Vashon Island, I had reveled in making my own work, no matter what.  At that show, I made a bunch of really quick bird pieces and a lot of them sold.  It was not a huge payday as they were not terribly expensive, but I got it in my head, that that was the manner in which I was supposed to work.  You got to give the people what they want.  This mood continued through much of grad school and I'm clearly still feeling a bit of that poison today, but I think I am finally moving past it, because I fought through my moment of apathy and started my piece.  I've been working on it in and around work and feeling really confident about it.  The subject matter is finally something incredibly meaningful to me.  I have consistently been of the opinion that society attempts to make machines of its members.  Machines are efficient.  They work.  They are productive. Their thoughts are programmed. 

Now think about the majority of jobs you have had in your life.  What is stressed?  Efficiency.  Work.  Productivity.  How are these qualities achieved?  These attributes are achieved by staying focused on work, using the patterns that you are taught to use which make that work easier to achieve.  These attributes are achieved through good programming.  Our free time is spent in front of various modes of communication offering better lives through purchasing power, ensuring that we must remain well programmed so that we can continue to enjoy ourselves.  But, what is this enjoyment?  I think it is rather diversion from the idea that we are all living as machines.  Place a smart phone or a tablet in our hands and we can even let our thoughts conform and not just our actions.  (mind you, this is how I feel about technology and work for me.  I am aware that some people feel very differently and remain very positive and soulful while using technology and working in society.  Kudos.  It makes me dead.)

When I started working out this piece in my sketchbooks, I had no idea that it was a big thing, but it is. This may be my large glass.  I've realized that it is not freedom from my situation that I seek, but freedom from the way in which I perceive the structure of the relationships that create my situation.  The onus is on me.  I am making the machine that creates my work.  It is not as fictional as it first may sound.  I have let myself buy into the machine, despite the rebellious teenage anthems that I championed. 

And so, I am left with a desire to create this machine.  It is two dimensional.  People will ask me why it isn't a functioning 3-d object.  But it is mine and my romanticism is built around the novels of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne.  My dreams are not incredibly tangible but they are immensely elaborate.  Here are some shots from the beginning of The Magnificent Pensive Mark Maker Model No. 2.

I have finished a lot more on the panel which Cedric is sitting on, but haven't taken a good photo yet.  Soon.  If you made it all this way, thank you.  I care about you too.  Let's all work to free ourselves from our own Machines.


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