I used to ponder why those of us involved in some form of the arts became
engaged in what we did, in the first place. Some, I know, picked up Rock
guitar as a pathway to getting laid. Others took up photography
similar rewards. While noble, naturally, there are those who were inexplicably
drawn to a medium and engaged by it with the same uncontrollable
lust as the sex drive, itself. One simply has to approach the
piano. They get itchy when they dont. And a blank canvas is easily
the most taunting object known to the painter. Picking up an acoustic guitar
from the easy chair is a matter of compulsion, not obligation even
when theres no one else to hear it as an act of seduction. It is this
impulse that, perhaps, defines one as an artist more so than
even proficiency or virtuosity. Its an innate matter of desire, from
the start, from within. Competence is merely acquired. Though mastery is
often far more elusive
Whether it be a hankering or a more passionate yearning, the compulsion may
well best be illustrated with the written word term papers and other
obligatory manuscripts, aside. Even those without distributed outlets often
times write with no intended audience. They write, principally, for themselves.
And they often do so to simply process the world around them, as well as
their own thoughts or feelings. Its frequently forged in a desire to
make some sense of them any of them. Interestingly, the world
being processed is often left behind in the balance. The reward is in the
escape. And, as escapes go, its seemingly preferable to drugs and alcohol.
But the artist, if with regret, has often entertained all forms of flight
to the common destination
sometimes final. Escape, after all, can
have its perils.
For the artist, expression isnt merely a sidebar supplement to an America
permanently adhered to a mobile phone
with nothing particular to say.
The only thing the artist may share in common with the phone-freak is
pathological loneliness ... I take that back ... Cell phone fetishist are
far more lonely and afraid to be alone with
themselves, uncomfortable in their own skin, than the most
depressed and suicidal of artists. But I stereotype. The artist, that is.
People who run a days-worth of errands while in the perpetual state
of mobile are the most alone individuals on the planet, while
sadly taking great efforts to lend the opposite impression to all who surround
them. The artist doesnt have the time for such things and additionally
requires their alone time. Mobile Mary she has nothing in common
with the artist. She does not contemplate. She does not consider. She does
not reflect. She only seeks out her own kind. And Mobile Mary will never
be able to differentiate between living for the moment
and being lost
in a moment. The latter cant be distinguished and separated because
it simply doesnt exist for her.
Perhaps cruel, I know, to describe what defines an artist by drawing dour
comparisons to those who have a little less going on. But many people
are, in fact, two-dimensional cardboard cutouts while the artist
yes has more breadth. I know this sounds elitist. But it is,
among other things, what separates the artist from the far more omnipresent,
cubical existence often times found in the most generous and lavish,
open-space environments. For living large can still be accompanied and diminished
by thinking small.
Its been said that one mission of the artist is to articulate
for others what they, themselves, cant. But Im not so sure. The
creative mind often doesnt entertain others in the process and produces
primarily for its own personal enrichment or enlightenment. The prospective
audience becomes secondary. Adulation and recognition are merely a validation
to feed the attendant ego of the artist that which most creative people
possess in spades
and are often times crippled by. It nevertheless
isnt a component of actual creation. But in any event, it shouldnt
be the driving force for the artist. Its what essentially separates
the musician or composer
from the Pop Star even though the
two have managed to coexist and reside within the same entity. Sometimes.
For many with creative instincts, the process of creation is the only time
that the artist has some fleeting sense of control in a world they perceive
as being far beyond their tangible influence. For the photographer, as an
example, the look through the viewfinder is, for only a moment, their
under their control, deftly eliminating the superfluous
distractions that have otherwise cluttered and confused their existence.
And as the eye rears back away from the camera, the photographer is returned
to a randomized disorder of which they have no command. The actual engagement
of the shutter is almost incidental other than chronicling
moment. The same is true of all artists. The writer. The painter. The composer.
The dancer, even. Their moments are only more protracted.
Its additionally suggested that art whatever medium should
evoke an emotional response. It is, after all, the domain of the Right Brain.
That premise, of course, refers to the end client the
appreciator. But for the artist, is their output purely the offspring of
the emotional? Or can it, indeed, also be intellectual? As most of the arts
require acquired skills, theres certainly more involved in creation
than emotion and temperament. And even beyond the mechanics, perhaps there
can be -- to varying degrees -- an element of Left Brain function
is the process
writing and creating music, I do principally have an emotional connection
to the process and final result. But my involvement in the visual
arts has often come from a somewhat different place, I think. As I
pull back to view my images following their creation, I perceive something
of a trend ... Applying objectivity to subjectivity (Left Brain to Right
Brain), I see a fair amount of my visual work as calculated and analytical.
Not cold, mind you
but, in some way, intellectualized and
deliberated. Shapes, forms, placements. The kind of things that used to delight
one of my art instructors back in college. I, indeed, had imposed a rule
for myself: If an image contained more than three principal elements, I had
to justify the inclusion. More interestingly, I had never actually
articulated the rule to myself. Rather, as I began to analyze
my work over time, I came to realize that I had somehow imposed the rule
subconsciously. It often lives on to this day.
A great deal of this, I believe, is simply because so much of my visual work
is object oriented, often containing no human element within the frame. Perhaps
its because Im not so much of a photo essayist, but rather one
who expresses in terms of the photo-graphic. And when
I do shoot the human, its often times a set-up
where I can control the elements. Think studio, whether inside or out. For
me, most anything else is for the record. And Im
not saying that this is a good thing as a motif to be followed,
by any means. Rather, I mention it as one's own objective appraisal of output
that which I do recommend for all.
There are several examples where I, in fact, see Left Brain trickling
sometimes hemorrhaging into Right Brain. Even as I finalized the look
and feel of this very website in its current form I came
to describe it as Sophisticated Staid. Artsy, yet conservative
in presentation. Not clinical
but clean. Perhaps even
emotionless. Im not sure what this says about me, if anything at all.
Its likely just the desire to create an environment that doesnt
compete with actual content, much like a gallery frame and matte -- an art
form in itself. What I do know is that it pleases me. And that may
be arts ultimate realization ...
That shall close the intellectual discourse. As to the emotional if
explained and discussed it ceases to be emotional at all. For this,
youre on your own