eight fifty-three AM. just at the edge between Working Day Responsible Grown-Up Regular Job Upstanding Citizen o'clock and the barren indecipherable dreamscape of morning. between the haves and the have-nots, something something something.
was always to have a sketchbook, a place where everything lived. not something that i set up, something public. "*SOCIAL*" is the word these days, i believe. but it turned into something else.
in my internal view of the world, it was more like setting up and doing my work where people would come by and see it. rather than hiding out in the woods i could ply my trade on a street corner where people could walk by, and just see what happens.
remember though, i'm talking about the internet. blogs and personal websites and even email newsletters are not enough. too walled, too hokey, too prescriptive even. there has to be some kind of active engagement. humans have conversations. we will converse wherever we find each other, the trick is in the finding. so my mission was to do the work, and talk, and do it in a public place. that's it. leave it where someone can find it. contribute to the wealth of human stories.
that's not how it went. things change. evolution is a word. instead of just sitting in a shared place and hanging up my art, other forces are at work. going to the internet does not escape human institutions, nor does it exclude you from cultural influence. capitalism is also a word, as is money. there's an exchange of goods and services going on, and in many cases the Internet is this thing we talk about like the california hills in 1849. there's gold in those hills..." "how can we mine our users' data?
so here we are. in 2015 in a social and connected world. or part of the world, really. at least the one that speaks the language set called "english" and is connected to a service called "Google" using some agreed-upon set of technologies and financial transactions. connecting to the internet means connecting to a very specific set of humans, and it leaves a lot of the humans of the planet earth out of the equation. (maybe more on this thought later.)
the question: how to survive as an artist (an adventure in any time period). my way of solving problems is to spend a lot of time thinking about things before developing a carefully calibrated set of tests to measure my perceptions. so i jumped onto a street corner of the internet as a way to see what would happen if i put my work out in a way that people would see it.
later, like two years ago, i found myself gaining many followers on here. there was a lot going on. i was pulling myself out of a long period of financial hardship, sacrifices and weird experiences and heartbreak and unconditional love. i was starting a job that would see me through for the foreseeable future. i was buying new clothes. i was thinking about moving to another city. i was talking to people. my street corner experiment paid off.
then the creeping greed came, along with a long inky fuzzy black void over all my creativity. i wanted more and there was enough vacuum to gobble up all the more as if it never existed. utter silence, just a resonating feeling in infinite uncertainty. i fished around in there for what "my work" had come to mean, what my art was about. i was looking for my masterpiece, like this idea that i am a journeyman and need to do something that says i have a deep understanding of my craft. so i dove into that reality.
and when my eyes opened in the morning i took my body to the office, wherever that was. beautiful giddy warm morning walks in sherman oaks, looking at mansions in the LA hills and brushed stickily by palm trees. or gritty frozen new york city winter nights pushing against the wind into an inky impossible night, a hushed squeezed pall on glossy streets and backlit steam. and then when i opened my eyes again i took my body to the office.
i never stopped thinking about what i was looking for. but somewhere in there i lost the idea about doing my work in a place where people could see it. i put my finger up, like someone talking on a cell phone, and demanded that you wait.
eventually if you stop coming to the street corner, the people who were hanging out disperse. things get quiet. connections fade. some bad things, silly or stupid things happen. words are said, decisions made. the show goes on. some characters stay, some leave. my simulacra sat like stone, watching from the margins. seeing what people were up to. watching the world change. wars and plagues came and went. some scientists unlocked god's door expecting to find Him and found He'd left a message instead: something quirky and frustrating like, "the princess is in another castle." the simulacra made notes and passed them on to me.
my street corner still has people passing by, but my work is faded like graffiti or some pasted shapes glued to a wall. it's still there, now far away and degraded. like a concert poster for a date long passed, vague echoes of sounds unheard or reconstructed. the story moved on. the denizens who passed that corner moved on. i moved on.
i find myself coming up for air. a snapping popping kind of feeling. that job i was starting back in those busy days a couple years ago, that contract is concluded. and with it gone i open my eyes and am not dragging my body somewhere. i'm letting my eyes and my body and my mind stay together for a while and reconnect.
and again, forever and ever, i'm unable to let the art thing go. i don't want to call myself an artist right now or maybe ever again, but i've spent two years fishing in the deep void and i've found many treasures. i think you will be interested to see them. i don't know how i'm going to share them with you just yet, but i'm working on it right now.
i'll let you know.