This piece has grown during the writing, pushed ahead by the ambition of its title, only slightly modified by the insertion of the word “Notes…” I’m resisting the urge to break it up into my customary 1,500 words. I need to break that habit as much as we all need not to get too comfortable with the bite-sized nature of blog posts in general, a “rule” I’ve already stretched with my “average” post!
I’ve had this gestating inside me for a long time. Somehow it has surfaced now, with the catalyst of a post by Achille Mbembe, at the height of the “Dog Days” when we’re all distracted and feeling a bit lazy… So be it! I hope you’ll give it a look, and perhaps save it for later when crisper air brings renewed appetite. This may be as close to a “Manifesto” on Art as I come! So with some trepidation, here are,
“Notes on the Sources of Art”
I’ve created a new site for my painting. I’ve cross-posted a series of essays from this site to introduce to readers/viewers there. Now this post goes in the opposite direction.
In Stephens’ & Swan’s biography, deKooning,
(Milton) Resnick said,
“There’s a dimension that we don’t understand. In other words, if you have a landscape or an interior you have space. You can deal with it in terms of image or what-not. But you can’t really understand what paint is doing. Paint is doing something that you ask it to do in order to get the nose on somebody’s face. The paint also does something that isn’t the nose on the face. What it does is fascinating. It’s a new geography.”
I’ve had the kind of morning that drives me along. Checking in at the Dark Mountain site, still waiting to hear if they’ll be publishing a story I sent them, I was hit once again by the relevancy, the immediacy and a strong sense of connection I’ve felt towards Kingsnorth and Hines‘ project, their perspective and their goals with what I’ve been after for so long. I highly recommend watching the videos attached to both of their most recent posts. I was particularly struck by the conversation Dougald had with Vinay Gupta from the Hexayurt project. There’s a lot there. Gupta is an engineer, although very much what I used to wish for, a “tame” engineer, one able and willing to see past technology and look at wider frames of reference! This is something I’ll be covering in Fine Lines as we go along.
They went a long way towards placing where the Dark Mountain Project, and by association my efforts in a way that should make it easier for outsiders to comprehend. Hines took Gupta’s sense of having grown up with Science Fiction and his wondering if it was possible to characterize “Uncivilized” writing as a new form on that mold. He widened the perspective and posited that Science Fiction was a recent manifestation of the much older form of Myth. That Science Fiction was the “Myth of the Engineer, or of the Atomic Age” while what we need now is a Myth reflecting the limits of technology and where our cultural, social and human place is positioned where we place an emphasis on adaptation as opposed to utopian or apocalyptic fantasies. Looking for ways to imagine life as livable in a multitude of conditions.
The following is an address to be given at the first session of a class at a school that as far as I know does not yet exist. Nor do I know who the students might be, or their circumstances. What I do know is that I’d like to be there, at the front of that room, confronting their eager or timid faces, with the prospect of a long series of sessions to follow, and more after that.
As with anyone else, it’s dangerous for me to tie my sense of self to a single occupation or type of activity. I’ve trained as a painter, worked as a designer in disparate fields, and I’ve become a writer. While these activities have, to a certain extent been sequential, serial points of focus; they are all aspects of me, parts of me that I have no wish to permanently renounce while I pursue others. If there’s anything I’m happy to renounce it’s my previous reluctance to pursue them all in whatever avenues present themselves.
In that light, listen to what I would say to this inaugural class on that inaugural day…