Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thinking About My Art

"1234 11th St. -The captain of a small unit in the frontier defnse forces..."
from Arcana, or, Fidning Context
Arhival Inkjet Print, 2007

One of the questions I've had the hardest time answering when I'm asked it about my art is, "Who are you making this for?" It's a question they plug at you to answer in undergrad - it's a form of getting you know know more about your own way of making art, if nothing else. It's a question I fought with in grad school where it was framed more precisely as a production model question — that a producer of stuff (you, the artist) would have a hard time delivering your product (your art/idea) if you didn't know what your market was (your ideal audience). It's a question that has been my downfall in my few brushes with success in a much more literally marketing question, in that when I had someone ready to fund my work, I wasn't able to convince them that I had a clear grasp of what my marketing trajectory should be - or who I even wanted to market the work to.

Possibly my toughest problem is that I do know who I am making my art for, just that I have a bastard of a time putting my word-fingers on it. My work has many seemingly contradictory ampules - high art/pop culture. analytical/lyric. personal/critical. fantastic/documentary. literary/visual. formal/fragmented. content/emotion. anxiety/elation. loneliness/completion.

Churning through the literary essays by M John Harrison in "Parietal Games" and both the implicit and more literally histories that emerge from the New Wave of science fiction contained in that volume, it got me to thinking. Thinking that, while not at the level of Harrison's "punitive" fantasy, nor the New Wave's more broad attempt to merge two places of art, sci-fi and literature, in many ways that liminal, ill-defined, anxious, fraught,  conflicted, interwoven, boundry-lands that lie between our dazzlingly subcultured, sub-specialized, sub-categories, daily lives lived in popular culture (our entertainment, our hobbies, our fandoms, our games, our online personas, our social media, our hyper-media-culture) and our life-long, deep-flowing, deeply-felt, often complex intellectual desires for the nourishment of, for lack of a better word, "high" culture (our broader community of the arts, of philosophy, feminism, anarchism, political thinking, sciences, the history of art, theories of the way culture evolves, the avant guard, art-as-challenge).

To make it simpler, my art is for anyone who has been on a date and you find that your date likes a genre of music you didn't even know existed. Or knows every genre of music. Or doesn't like music made before 1958 and after 1971. Or only likes classical. Or like karaoke. Or remembers, awkwardly, being in to punk in the '80s. Or a goth. Or. Or. Or. My art is for anyone that finds themselves out between worlds for one reason or another, from growing older, to education, to curiosity, to impatience, to desire, to personal tragedy, to wanderlust. My art is about how we communicate past the genre tags that seem to snow in the modern media world.

I'm not really comfortable making a singular allegiance to one cultural faction or another, so I inhabit these peripheries most of the time. I figure the least I can do is making the travels in these twilight lands a bit easier by building a few bridges, drawing a few maps, putting up a few signs in a few languages, and maybe even writing a travelog for you to read beside the fire along the way.

And maybe that sounds a bit nice... let's just say, I don't mind the bits of trickster-trouble and productive psychological conflict that happen when two places that both claim absolute knowledge have a path cut between them, and they only turn out to be down the block from each other.

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