Thursday, October 1, 2020

Interview for College Project


You wrote that there is an ‘esoteric fractal’ quality of being within the pattern that is being made. What do you mean by that?

Fractals are deep and delightful- and powerful. Fractals are at the border between order and chaos- they are equations that yield unpredictable results for infinity. Some fractals are more intricate than others. One way I began connecting to fractals within my art was to approach working as a set of processes or motions that I kept repeating, and in particular ways. That is the subject of my most recent series on 'Coordinated Chaos' which are my most recent posts on IG and FB.

When I am caught up in a perspective, and for a while I was evolving through new ones frequently, I see the world and my experience through that lens. In this case, the idea of fractals had gotten hold of me. I was seeing myself as an equation that is responding to the world, creating the pattern that is me, which has a form, physical and conceptual that can't be fully known and predicted.

So I think in that quote I am saying that I am a fractal, inspired by a fractal, creating a fractal.

By extension, in the real world, people come together to create much larger than any single person's capacity. The largescale beach art is a metaphorical creating of the next level of the fractal that we ourselves are a part of making in myriad and singular ways, unable to fully comprehend, but can sense exists. Climate change is an example of this in action- it is the higher level of the fractal in which we are all woven together, too large to be comprehended in its totality, but glimpsed through the places where we can bring clarity through science.

You describe creating your art in a spiritual way – it flows through you and makes you feel energized – why is that? Can you explain this a bit more?

This is where my spirit drew me. I say 'spirit' to mean the force that animates my body and seems to be distinct from the other spirits around me but yet which is ultimately connected to all other spirits in some much deeper way. At a point in my life I made the conscious decision to follow the things that elevated my spirit and to move away from the things that dampened it. Movement, self-expression and later art all elevated me, as did eating right, choosing where I lived based on how it had me feel, choosing a partner who was a constant source of spirit elevation.

I was only able to maintain the energy for the artwork to have gotten to the place I am with it technically, artistically, and professionally because the act of engaging it- whether designing, planning or executing- brings me energy. Its fun! :-) Its challenging. It's impressive. I'm at the beach, barefoot!

Another side that this brings up is that the making of art is, at its core, a transmission of an experience and a process of the creator. While depth may be present at various levels in any particular artistic creation, the finished product is generally not the ultimate goal (unless it is a commission- that's another story!). The exploration of a process is the true instigator of the journey.

You mention using your dice guide when you want creativity or don’t have too much time. Have you had to use the dice often? Does it work?

Hmm, if I said that then I meant that I use them for workshops often- to give folks ideas if they are in need of inspiration. They are a great tool- offering structure but complete flexibility. A great creativity stretcher. I've made my own drawings based on it, but not one of my own on the beach.

On a different side, I *have* been using a random number generator - essentially a dice app on my iPad. My latest works in the 'coordinated chaos' series are guided by the output of the app. In the app I can quickly change the number to randomly select among. I might have 4 design elements possible in one design but only 2 in another. Or the possibilities might shift within an emerging piece depending on the evolving design.

What I love about the approach of using randomness to determine how a preselected set of design elements will interact is that the result is so much more interesting and 'real' feeling than I could make on my own (yet, perhaps...!). It has a warmth that, on the opposite spectrum, my mandalas tend not to have, particularly the ones that are 'perfect'.

I am coming to art from a background in science and tech. My degree is environmental studies. My path in the beach art began with art most akin to crop circles. It was through reverse designing some crop circles to study their creation- on paper- that I could see how I could use my sudden awareness of the beach as a canvas. All my art in the early years based in geometry. It was about getting everything pretty much perfectly. That was very stifling and didn't leave room for much creativity in the moment.

Then I uncovered ways to connect to patterns in nature in which I could work unhindered by schematics or prior consideration beyond, perhaps, what movement or process I would be repeating in the art-making. In these creations something new was emerging in that very moment that could never be duplicated (unlike the geometric ones which would look the same no matter where they were placed- the design anyway, even if the photo might be gorgeous!).

So my journey has been about, among many other things, moving away from perfection and precision and embracing the unknown potential of...the absurd and delightful unpredictability of life?...the revealing of one's self?...the spontaneity of life in motion.

It's an elusive goal, as my logic-oriented mind has a hard time initiating an artwork without a way determined before-hand of how I am approaching it. Each stroke becomes scrutinized and agonized over unless I am following a plan, however loose. Then each stroke is judged solely against the plan and envisioned result, and based on how real life is playing out I adjust the process in whatever ways. Sometimes this is to the benefit of an artwork, sometimes this becomes second guessing the plan and might throw things off ultimately. This tension came up in my most recent artwork. I was finding the emerging results of my process, based on randomness, to be dull and repetitive. My drawing I was basing my work on wasn't dull, so I now wonder if I was being overly critical. Might that, perhaps simple, design been totally adequate and maybe even great within the overall landscape? Well, I changed course and just did whatever came to me to do- organically- within a framework and parameters already laid out. I'm happy with the result! The lesson I'm learning is that if I have some structure to work within, I can invite my own internal spontaneity. I've come to this lesson before, now I am having a better languaging of the concept. I've done many artworks based on this concept.

I'm trying to figure out how to introduce 'jitter' in my moments in ways that can be random so that I can bring that in without needing to think about any particular stroke. In general people are repetitive in their actions. The expressive chaos of life is very hard to capture, and when it is, that feeling of life happening in the moment is transmitted. Connected to your first question, when doing these artworks,  repeating an action of some sort in an organic, responsive way,  there is a feeling of being within the fractal.

After all the effort that you’ve put in, do you not find it frustrating that your creation disappears? Is capturing your art in a photo enough of a permanent reminder?

The photo is a wrinkle in the 'its all about the experience' shpiel. If I didn't have my camera, or my drone, or it was raining, i wouldn't likely do the artwork. That tells me I want to have my work live on in some form. Definitely I want to document my creations to reflect upon and appreciate, but I also wish to share them. As for the physical creation, the accomplishment is sufficient. I feel no bond to them once I have completed a work.

Of course, I loved living across the street from a great beach. I would go out just to doodle, with no larger goals, which is generally now how it is when I live away from the beach, as has mostly been the case. Currently I live 3-4 hours from the beach :-(, so each outing has pressure to 'be worth it'.

What can be frustrating is not being able to complete a piece before the tide returns, especially when it was a challenging one and the conditions are perfect and the problem is me and my insufficient prior consideration of the design and its process. One of the downsides of not having closer access to beaches is that there is more pressure for a visit to yield amazing results. That deadens the sense of exploration and play. Makes things too serious. The coordinated chaos series has been a good offset to this- bringing in the experience of unfolding mystery.

In your video you mention that you’ve ‘left the stream’ and are now doing creative work that you really enjoy. What inspired you to make this change? Was it a hard decision to give up a secure, ‘regular’ job?

Security is an illusion.

Doing anything in life where 'security' is the decision-making influence will, I feel, lead to a constrained life. My decision to step away came when I was offered a permanent job for a position I had been temping for, being extended each month for 6 months. I hated every moment there, but the money was really good (for me at that time!). Some time prior the Enron scandal had happened.  In that there were retirees who had spent decades of service whose pensions were wiped out in the stock market. I decided that my experience in the moment was more important than my fear of the future (in this case a future in which I ended up in the gutter). This decision would later be crystallized into the perspective that guides my life of doing that which has my spirit shine more brightly. That is why I have a career in art and why my art is good- my spirit shines more brightly when I do it, and so it will invariably have high returns and be highly received. It's not just I who receive the benefit of this arrangement- you receive a bit of my spirit and the spirit that was running through me in seeing my work. As it is with any artist. And anyone who does anything when their spirit is elevated by the doing of the thing (even if they are bad at it! it may simply be a pleasure to be around their joy in what they are doing- or not! but at least you won't begrudge them for that)

As your work is temporary do you consider yourself an artist?

What is an artist? Someone who creates art? What is art? A self-expressive creation?  An aesthetic transmission from one person to another? I have tended to be uneasy with the title of artist for it implies that everyone else isn't, which isn't the case. My life work is awakening in others the interest and capacity for self-expression.

Anyhow, simply by creating one is an artist- at least you are 'the' artist of that particular creation. How long the art lasts, or even if anyone else sees it, is beside the point.

Who do you create your art for and why? Is it your own self-expression, is it an escape, is it for others i.e. commission work?

Commission work pays the bills.

I have been delighted that people from all backgrounds find wonder and appreciation in my work.

The real joy comes from when I am doing it for myself and I am out on the beach in the elements, perhaps alone, the sound of the waves....The joy comes from endless hours of meditative designing.  The joy comes from the satisfaction of an artwork successfully accomplished

Finally, do you think artists are born or made?

I have had a judgement that I am not an artist because my art expression has pretty well-defined boundaries. My vision of an artist is someone for whom all things they touch feel transformed, as though they can't help it. I think these people are born this way. I have several friends who I see as this way- the true artists- art as a way of being.

But all of us are expressive and wish for our spirit to be seen in the world- however that way is for that person. Artists abound all around us who might never be considered as such due to how the title is used currently.

A few years back I was working on a program series called "Capturing Impermanence". In it we filmed ephemeral artists making an artwork and interviewing them about their thoughts on impermanence. As I conceptualized that program, trying to define the parameters for inclusion, I came to realize that we are saturated with impermanent art: music performances, a fine meal, an boutique ice cream or chocolate, dance performances, and so forth. These people are artists- transmitting an aesthetic experience. Similarly there are endless people who are creating in an expressive way who we don't look at as artists. But I feel they meet the qualifications

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