I am an explorer at heart, although most of my exploring has been passive, in my thoughts and not in the physical world. Today I went out into that world. I walked. I have not done this for a long while. Mainly, I would excuse myself on the argument that I was always working, tending to the pressures of daily life. I sometimes think the function of modern life is to get you to forget there’s something more out there. We are taught the value in any act must be specific and measurable, that anything that cannot be seen, touched, and described in provable terms is pure speculation and therefore not worth much. Why value the act of the musician as he draws a bow across his instrument when you can just as easily download a digital representation of the sound? Instantaneously, wham! There it is on your ipod, your computer, loaded permanently in your car. For 99 cents per download. And not worth much, when all it took was a single click on your mouse, the slightest pressure of your finger to decide, yes, that entertains me in this moment and maybe it will distract me when I’m using it for white noise to drown out the horns blaring and sirens singing into the night. I find this to be the most distressing aspect of our modern life – the idea that everything is being reduced to an experience consisting of seconds before our attention spans move on. There is no opportunity to savor. No chance to go walking out in the world.
I guess this is why I like the aboriginal idea of a
walkabout, and I have unabashedly corrupted it for my own artistic
purposes. I think – as an artist - I
must periodically go on a walkabout – getting back in touch with my “artist”
ancestors – before discovering one that resonates with truth. I recently read two disparate blog posts –
one from David Brickman, an exhibiting artist, art critic and curator based in
I have to laugh at that – in a black humor kind of way, seeing the “Salon de les Refuses” all over again in webpage after web image after photo bucket of art out there – my own included - and finding myself, in moments of irrationality, actually longing for the traditions of the Salon. Not that we don’t have that in the art community, in the form of powerful galleries, museums, arts organizations, and art historians. But we also have an art world that does not recognize itself anymore. Maybe it’s because there’s no longer a fabric woven together with strong ideological threads, but an unraveling kinetic sculpture pulled apart by a bored and easily distracted child. This could just be the effect of the internet. Or maybe not. It’s as if we no longer wish to walk out in the world, but prefer, instead, to isolate our days and request that the world come to us in the most impersonal method possible.
I am not courageous. At least I have not been for most of my life, preferring instead to hide from the embarrassment of my own opinions. On a good day I will think something brilliant and on another day I will see that someone else thought that same brilliant thought, too. That’s the way of it. But I have started walking out into the world. I have been finding the artistic ideologies that resonate and taking them back into my studio. I have decided that the function of the artist is not to satisfy the masses but to speak passionately to the few. It is an egotistically extravagant gesture, anyway, this creation of art, and we probably would stop doing it if we could. So I guess that realization should mean something. We should not squander our intention on the lowest possible denominator if we have no real choice about the need to create.