I’ve spent most of my life alone. That’s not to say I’m a shut in. I find any excuse to go out in public and maybe have a chance encounter. What I mean by this is I don’t really have any close friends, and am not especially good at generally meeting people.
I spent a good amount of my college years at the bars, but most if the time it was just me and my book. I find this time stimulating and relaxing at the same time. There is an energy in a busy restaurant or bar that keeps me alert, focused. I feel it is a form of meditation, a skill that I seemed to have cultivated early in life.
When I was younger I used to sleep over at Nick’s house. He was and still is one of my closest friends. One of those people you could call and would bail you out of jail no questions asked. See, Nicks house as opposed to mine was a constant buzz. His mother was a foster mom who opened her home and her heart to any and all. The downside to that is there was constant noise and commotion. Especially early in the morning.
It was those mornings that I learned how to “drown out the noise”. I was a teenager then, and we all know teenagers like to sleep in. Most never wake before 10am, while the rest of the house has had breakfast, had a jog, and mowed the lawn by then. It was an imperative to kill the noise, me being a teenager and all. I don’t really know how I did it, but I did. I was able to somehow absorb the noise.
Throughout high school (at that point I went to Perkins not being able to drink and all) and into college I kept this practice of a spring the noise and funneling in into concentration. In college I studied not at the library, which was easily as loud and rambunctious, but at the bar. To this day I still go to a restaurant or bar to get my alone time. Its my way if alone time, but it’s better than drinking alone.
If you see me at a bar reading a book, feel few to say hey, but don’t be offended if I don’t carry a conversation. I’m meditating.
I have never been terribly attached to material things in my adult life, just a few things. My blankey, which used to belong to my uncle until I inherited it at age four and hope to pass on to my child someday. My first watch that I bought in high school for $400 because my father insisted that I get a watch seeing that I was late all the time. The watch didn’t have any numbers so I was late a few more times until I figured out how to read it. The cross stitch with my birthdate and weight my mother made for me when I was born. My first Tonka truck, a big red fire truck with and extending ladder and detachable front.
For me its been the intangible that is hard to let go of, especially the knowledge of the last time. I would like to think I have become more of an optimist in recent years, but I’ve always been a romantic. My outlook on life shaped through the many romantic comedies I choose to watch. Yes Yes, I am admitting that I LOVE romantic comedies. In romantic comedies life is predictable. Someone is in a disillusioned state, starts to achieve, hits an obstacle, overcomes obstacle, a slightly low point follows, then a happy ending. Its never the last time in a romantic comedy, there is eternal hope. One might say that denial is the essence of hope, I disagree.
Hope is something that keeps me going, it assures me that if something is important that it will come around again and an even more important time. I don’t believe that any of us truly backtracks in our lives. I had a very smart professor in college explain life’s timeline to me once. He said that time moves in only one direction, but its our experiences and history that circles around that straight line. Ok thats a little abstract, imagine a straight line. Now imagine a spiral around that line moving forward with the line, kind of like a spirograph. Time moves independent of the spiral, but our lives are on the spiral continually moving in and out of sync, and even overlapping. Using this theory of a life cycle makes me believe that events in life a destined to overlap, the hard part is letting go and allowing the events to overlap.
Life is built by experience, and because of that there is never truly a last time for anything. Each new experience builds on the last. Each new experience has by definition a part of the past. Look at the art world, each new piece has the full weight of every piece of art created before it. It is how we have built this civilization, each old experience giving way to the next. I used to believe that there were last times, but now I don’t. Remember every experience in your life and use it to build new ones.
Its the new year, we have just been through the holiday season where a lot of us took liberties to slothfully lay about. (don’t feel bad I did it too.) But now it’s the first blogoff of 2012, and lets face it we only have about 4 left before the world ends.
Anyway, what am I looking forward to in 2012? I am looking forward to this being the year digital died, music already died in 1959. Then Disco died (which really wasn’t music) in July 1979, then video killed the radio later that year in September 1979. Next to die, well its digital.
I look at what has been happening with a some of these technologies that have popped up to replace analogue entities, cd/digital downloads, ebooks, various ways to view works of art, polaroids ( anyone remember the magick of the polaroid??). Digital is really good at holding lots of data and being able to share everything very quickly. What it isn’t very good at is forcing someone to be in a place of reference of an experience. Though experiment… Think for a moment the last album you listened to on vinyl, do you remember where you were and how it made you felt?? Now think about the last thing you listened to on your iPod. Does it feel the same way? For me the process of sitting down and listening to music forces me to engage with the work, and give it meaning. It no longer becomes a simple consumable.
I am looking forward to 2012 and trying to find time for more analogue in my life, more meaningful experiences. Looking forward to meeting people for coffee, not talking on the phone/SMS; going to museums and spending time looking and interpreting art, not viewing pictures of art on the comp; buying physical books that if I want to read I must focus on the print and physically carry it around, not download it from the ether, where I got a discount, and hope to God that my privilege to read it doesn’t get revoked. (at least you have to pry a book from my cold dead hands.)
I am not really sure if I am a Gen-Y or Millennial generation. To be honest I don’t really care, but I am a twenty something, have a twitter, flickr, vimeo, mySpace, Facebook, etc account, my own blog, an iPhone 3gs, a MacBook Pro, and like indie music (only until it becomes popular and then I pretend not to like it because it is popular but really just listen to it as a guilty pleasure). By these measures I am sure I am one of the two generations.
I came across a site 80millionstrong.org and recently read an article in the New York Times (the paper edition, I know paper “what’s that?”) about many college students are forced to live the summer with their parents because of the lack of internships. I have been graced with the good fortune of always having at least one job working for my father, and I understand the economy has tanked in the last year or so. What I find vexing about the 80millionstrong.org project is that Millenials are expecting the government to bail them out with legislation.
I remember stories from my parents who both worked 60hrs a week while they were raising me and my Father was going to college. These stories are what I live my life by, working hard and doing things that just need to be done. I think most of us think today that all we need to to is go to high school, then go to college, then we will be able to land a good job, all the while in our educational journey doing as many internships and extra curricular activities as possible. I have always disagreed with this philosophy. Some of the best lessons I have had were not in an academic setting, I learned how to throw while delievering papers when I was 13, how to deal with the boss when working for my father, how to deal with stress line cooking on a $19,000 day at Buffalo Wild Wings, how to be humble shoveling pig shit for 6 months(not to mention a strong back). Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to be learned from going to college but it is not a way to a job nor should it be. Just because you have a degree in something doesn’t mean that you are qualified for a position in that field. You may have a degree but if you have never spent the time to really understand your motivation, talents, craft then you didn’t get an education.
I started college in 2003 as a Mathematics major. I had no idea what Mathematics majors did after school, nor did I care, I just new that I loved the pursuit of a greater understanding of our world through Mathematics and I would deal with what I did after I graduated. For some reason or another I lost the passion for Mathematics in the spring of 2006, but I found another Ceramics. Hindsight being 20/20 I understand why, Ceramics allowed me to use the abstractness of higher Mathematics in a more qualitative way. All the way through college I was always asked the question, “So, what are you going to do with a Math/Art degree?”. Initially when I was younger my answer was, “I don’t know” as I got older (I didn’t get out of undergraduate until I was 23) my answer became, “Anything I want”. This change comes from the way I started looking at my time in college. My time wasn’t just sit in a classroom and memorize things then regurgitate, rinse, repeat. My time was connecting with people around me, learning from them, learning how to manage my life, learning how to learn new things. It was being able to connect with theses people, having a thirst for learning/knowledge, and working my ass off that enabled me to have two or three jobs throughout college and beyond.
This project began as a joke. One night during the fall semester of 2008 me and a friend decided to keep the wristbands from going to the bars on our wrist for the entire semester. Well about a week in he quit, which just gave me more motivation to continue doing it. I would catch a lot of flak from people about it. For some reason I knew that there was something more in it, that something could be derived from it.
The semester came and went, I cut off the wristbands and didn’t think too much of it until I was approached by some friends of mine who were putting together a book of images and writing about change. It took me a while to figure out what I was going to do. I remembered that I had taken a picture of my wrist each day of the fall semester, and that by definition it changed depending on whether I went out, or where I was when I woke up.
The piece was built with Processing. I start with the first image and then slowly change it by grabbing pixels from the next image, and replacing the first image’s pixels with the second’s. I take snapshots in time at a constant interval to document the change.
We notice large changes in our lives, and when these large changes happen we tend to look for a root cause. Usually though there isn’t one single root cause of anything, it is all an accumulation of very small changes. In the piece I started with the beginning of my venture and the ending of my venture. There are two changes between them. The start has fewer wristbands and the wristbands are on my arm, opposed to the end where there are more wristbands and they are cut and lying on the table. If we were to look deeper we would realize that there are a large number of steps from A to B, and paying attention to those steps is critical to our understanding of ourselves and others. I think bottom line is that I want people to pay attention to the very small things that happen everyday, and understand that a lot of very small change is what inevitably forces the very big change.
This letter came across via email at the Miami University Art department. What it literally says is that a woman is looking for a student from the art department, that was able to do a photography wedding gig. What I read was that the woman was looking for less expensive way of getting her wedding photographed, hoping that a student would want to do this for less because it would help the student by being able to put it on their resume.
I agree that it is very important for these opportunities come across for students, but this also brings up a gray area; when does someone become a professional artist??? I’m not sure that there is a clear cut definition for this, but for me it was when I wanted to become a professional artist. The day I wanted to become a professional artist was the day I decided to. Even-though I was still in undergrad, I decided that I wanted to be taken seriously as an artist. So I did.
There are many times in school where we feel like we are just practicing for the “real” thing when we graduate. The real thing is practicing, each piece is an exercise in how we express ourselves. Each piece, if we deem it so, is a professional piece. Along with this, I recently gave a lecture on Social Media and the artist for upcoming graduating art majors. Most of them didn’t have a site, which meant that they didn’t have a way of making them professionals. Am I saying that you need a website to be professional? No, not really, I am saying that as someone in undergrad it helps define you as a serious practitioner and allows you to open your audience to more than just the people in you temporal location.
At the end of the day, you are only a professional as you take yourself. If you know you do quality work, charge that much for it. It takes a long time for an artist to cultivate the skills they need in order to do what they do, and no one usually pays them to learn theses things. Keeping that in mind always charge what YOU are worth, not just the specific job at hand.