Keirartworks's Blog

hmmm. hmmm? Observations, actions and connection points through art.


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Door, Window, Kitchen

As if I know how to do that.  Of course I don’t.

As if not knowing how has any bearing whatsoever on the fact that I will do it, regardless.  Honestly, what utter nonsense.

I’m feeling rumpled.  It’s not a comfortable feeling, through not a dangerous one either – I wouldn’t classify this as a mental health issue, for example.  I believe it’s easily managed.

I just don’t want to manage it. Not at all.  I’d rather feel all the way rumpled.  Taste what this feeling might be suggesting to me that seems so unpalatable.  Taste then spit, if necessary.

I’ve been investigating examples of the applied philosophy of inclusion, mostly in higher education.  Treatises, exhortations for reform, sincere and accurate laments.  This has made me prickly.

Just now I’ve taken a short break to read about “Manifesto”, a video installation project by Munich-born artist Julian Rosefeldt which features Cate Blanchett playing 13 diverse characters. Each one spouts “a call to action without a care for consequence” (Guardian review), “about the need to wake up, tool up, use art to revolutionise humanity and humanity to revolutionise art”.  I’ve bought the movie since as an artist I’m fascinated by cultural action and reaction, by art and revolution, and it’s another, artistic interpretation of my reading focus.

I’ll watch it when I’m through the day’s tasks.  I’ll also watch more video installation made by Rosefeldt (lots to see on his website).  After, I’ll dip into DJ Elliot’s new book, Artistic Citizenship.  I’m thinking it will all piss me off, but hoping I might instead be surprised, and find humour.  It would be a welcome relief to find myself snorting with laughter.

Perverse.  Reverse.  Re-version, re-story.  Open and closed ‘forms’, i.e., classical baroque versus collaborative composition.  A spectrum of open and closed applies to everything we participate in, every choice we make.  Dapper Dan and Haute Couture; collaborate or conduct; don’t participate in the old toxic systems with their embedded, power-distorted rules, or cling to them in desperation; people or sheeple, dualism of all kinds, gender-based habitual thinking.

But, by god, if you’re a voice for inclusiveness, for open forms that invite collaboration, innovation, and creativity, that encourage voices that have not been heard to speak, make it relevant to us, all of us, right now.  If you see or hear something important that is not accessible to those of us that don’t read, that don’t ever enter galleries or concert halls, that struggle with poverty and have been dominated all of their lives (by white people, for example)…it’s your job to interpret.

I don’t give a damn if you don’t know how.  Figure it out.  Find a meaningful way to connect to people you can only imagine right now.  To people way way out of your comfort zone.  It’s not supposed to be comfortable.

There it is, that’s it – not a bad taste, just different.

I’m uncomfortable because this is my job, and I haven’t the faintest clue how to do it.  But I will figure it out.

Door = way through.  Window= view beyond yourself.  Kitchen = where people gather.

 

 


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Once upon a tone…

I’m having trouble reading.  A smorgasboard of fascinating printed material, practically glowing inside beautifully designed covers – right in front of me, and I can’t find the anchor point, the stillness that gives permission to dive in and engage, without great effort.

It’s not glasses – I replaced my old foggy set with two exceptionally clear and useful pair, gone the headaches.  It’s not disinterest – I couldn’t be more passionate about the material this Masters course and my own inquiries offer me, or hungrier to understand more deeply.

Not schedule, not lack of sleep, not poor health, not an ability to interpret and articulate, focus or retain but still a trouble I am increasingly aware of.

It’s my patience, my attention span.  Somehow in the past four years, I’ve become hooked into distraction.

YellowBell_April3

Point-of-view alters understanding.

I need to consciously choose to dig into a new concept now. Decide, again and again to make a practise of reading each paragraph two times (necessary, to understand the irrationality of the Pythagorean comma and it’s resulting philosophical effect on the holy trinity, and hence contemporary governance).  I take mental and written notes, then move on only when I feel the bell of understanding resonate in my bones and blood.  The next time I sit down with the same book, I review, repeat, wait for the bell, then move on.

One hundred hundred chews per mouthful.  If I don’t do this I reach the end of a chapter and all I can think about is …. whether Donald Trump represents for our times the black hole that is Pythagoras’ comma.

Bell_Yellow2Mar16

So.  Throw paint at something, and find the sanctuary of ‘Do.’, away from the beckoning screen, the humming pile of books.

Thank you, iPhone, thank you Macbook Pro.  This is the result of you and your entire ecosystem of marketed convenience.  Three years ago I did an art project called #selfie that required extensive online research into and active participation in social media that still has me connected to thousands of people I know only virtually. Two years ago I dived into the vast ocean of tweeters and texters by accepting a 4s into my life, and the result was the twisting of my thought processes, overloading of my senses with so much irrelevant data that my mind – my mind – needs remedial care, just so I can read.  A Book.

And yet, books are the better diet, I’m finding.  Lightly sprinkled with internet research, they are once more becoming the oatmeal of my day.  I have receptors for this information, still. Each time I insist, my attention span lengthens a little more.

bell_sept15_detail

The Tone of Our Times (2014, MIT), by Frances Dyson – the main course of my reading at the moment.  Dyson is connected to a community of Scientists and Artists (ISAST) who have some simple goals:

  1. To advocate, document and make known the work of artists, researchers and scholars developing the new ways that contemporary arts interact with science, technology and society.
  2. To create a forum and meeting places where artists, scientists and engineers can meet, exchange ideas, and, where appropriate, collaborate.
  3. To contribute, through the interaction of the arts and sciences, to the creation of the new culture that will be needed to transition to a sustainable planetary society.

Important book.  Sassy, even, to my reading ear, and very dense.  I’m on page seven of the intro and already I’ve needed to dig into terms and references online, like monochord … cosmology; techno-gnosis; doxa…

yellowbell_nov2015psd

A hundred hundred chews, and not too much at once.  Here are the first two points of Ed Boyden’s (also MIT) advice about “Managing brain resources in an age of complexity” (November 13, 2007)

When I applied for my faculty job at the MIT Media Lab, I had to write a teaching statement. One of the things I proposed was to teach a class called “How to Think,” which would focus on how to be creative, thoughtful, and powerful in a world where problems are extremely complex, targets are continuously moving, and our brains often seem like nodes of enormous networks that constantly reconfigure. In the process of thinking about this, I composed 10 rules, which I sometimes share with students. I’ve listed them here, followed by some practical advice on implementation.

1. Synthesize new ideas constantly. Never read passively. Annotate, model, think, and synthesize while you read, even when you’re reading what you conceive to be introductory stuff. That way, you will always aim towards understanding things at a resolution fine enough for you to be creative.

2. Learn how to learn (rapidly). One of the most important talents for the 21st century is the ability to learn almost anything instantly, so cultivate this talent. Be able to rapidly prototype ideas. Know how your brain works. (I often need a 20-minute power nap after loading a lot into my brain, followed by half a cup of coffee. Knowing how my brain operates enables me to use it well.)

So I change it up, the reading, and I don’t gorge myself.  I also have dessert waiting for me – a beautiful little book titled Once Upon a Time; A Short history of fairy tale, by Marina Warner (Oxford, 2014).

yellowbell_nov2015_bw

She begins, “Imagine the history of fairy tale as a map, like the Carte du Tendre, the ‘Map of Tenderness’, drawn by Parisian romancers to chart the peaks and sloughs of the heart’s affections….”

Ah, how I love a good map.  But first, a little paint throwing, and then half a cup of coffee outside in the long autumn sunlight.


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Yesterday a squirrel…

I got up from writing to answer the knocking at my front door, wondering if I’d have to speak federal election with someone I’d never met, or if my neighbour needed a hand.

ScarletRunners

There was no one there, save for a couple walking down the street.  When I looked down to the stoop I found a walnut, still wrapped in its green ball.  As I picked it up I saw a black squirrel staring at me from the driveway.

He looked so ready and willing and …waiting.  I rolled the walnut across and over the porch and down to the pavement to him.

He caught it, with a little squeak of … glee?  And rolled it under my car.

I looked at the couple, who’d stopped in their tracks – yes they saw that.

BackDeck_morningSun

For a moment all the bustle and think of Human was interrupted by the bustle and gather of Squirrel, and we played “Roll the Walnut”.

Smile.  Pause.

I closed the front door and got back to work.


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dry dry #Water

I’ve been dreaming poetic dreams of mycelium which is really thought connecting to thought through boundaries which are really just illusions.  I’ve been coiled and waiting like a pike in the hot weedy shallows, ready to spring at my duckling dinner.  Racing like a strong salmon through the lines and hooks that dangle my possible death, crawling like a crayfish over the rocks at lake’s edge, pulling shadow over my body against the diving gulls….

water1I’ve been floating like an embryo, building my body like the miracle it is.

number nine creek, taken at a family hike in spring 2011

number nine creek, taken at a family hike in spring 2011

Like fluid, this part of my #Water (working title) project has been, as I immerse myself in possibility.  What can be made of these paintings, installed in a room, with sound?  How can I build a visceral sense of connection and inclusion out of sound, light, and image?  How can I describe an ecosystem – more than describe – evoke?

waterRock

 

Water2

Re-re write my artist bio, tighten up my CV and struggle through the mud of my artist statement.  I fill out forms and check my grammar, punctuation, spelling.  I identify key points in my artistic approach and practise and do my best to describe to people I may never meet why my work is valuable.  I choose paintings from previous shows that I hope will illustrate … my merit.  I work out a budget that makes some kind of sense, re-write it without the extras, then pare it down a little more…

I notice a feeling of dehydration.

Mudbank_roots

Grant-writing uses an entirely different part of one’s brain than the bits trained in painting and music.

Morning-Glory-2015

 


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Vivaldi at August’s end

Summer grows into Autumn.

In two weeks I play cello for these, and for Gloria and the Oboe Concerto in F (more info here); it’s good to have such a soundtrack to live and work by.  Thank you, Vivaldi, for composing this music 300 years ago.

I listen to II mvt of the Oboe concerto as I take stock of my studio.  It’s in transition –  from the heat-wave quasi-prison it became in preparation for an artisan booth full of functional art pieces these past three weeks to the fully open creative space it will be for the next eleven.   Full production begins tomorrow for the first instalment of a multi-arts & performance show, #Water will ‘sneak peek’ for an evening Saturday November 14 in Massie Ontario.

It’s Clear the Boards time.

A photo taken early July, when I stretched the ten canvases that will make this first leg of the #Water show.

A photo taken early July, when I stretched the ten canvases that will make this first leg of the #Water show.

In these days, a flushing of old ideas and concepts; a quiet but detailed acknowledgement of the impact of events these past ten weeks; a clear light shone again upon the plans I made last spring for this September until June 2016 – in short, I need to allow my mind to change its shape.

To allow room for the grand mistakes that teach me more than any school or schedule ever could.  Room to make these impossibly subtle ideas manifest in paint, music and words.  I want to wrap my audience in soft understanding of the large and tiny things that affect the ecosystem that we are.  I want laughter to be a big part of the performance, in which we entertain each other, and challenge each other a little, so see and hear things slightly differently.

I want elegance out of mess, I want insight into muck, I want a way through to something unimagined.  I’ve some idea that what I can see in my mind is possible, but not really.  I know I’m going in with big blind spots, and this is more than a little terrifying.  I’m going in though, regardless, rich with gratitude and good collaborators.  I’ll tell that story here in the weeks leading to November 14.

What will I do with these paintings that water and gravity have already made play with? I've never worked in this kind of specific collaboration before. hmmmm. What will it be?

What will I do with these paintings that water and gravity have already made play with? I’ve never worked in this kind of specific collaboration before. hmmmm. What will it be?

Gig to play now.  I’ll be back here in eight hours, where the engine now purrs with promise.

and Vivaldi plays on….


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find a reason

I have two feet’s worth of projects to move from here to over there – from the possible to the more possible pile; to the surprisingly good pile, a few to the “well now I know that won’t work ever” pile.  They all have a best before date; some of which I know, others I’ve misread, so I pre-empt, and miss the mark…

factory windows

art factory windows

Every one of them is worthy of the best attention.  Unfortunately tonight, after 18 hours of steady steady…  for what feels like the past three months straight, I’m really really tired.  And there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.

Bofoto shot (https://www.facebook.com/the.bofoto) from the sold out & very successful Nirvana Unplugged, which happened 6 days ago...

Bofoto shot (https://www.facebook.com/the.bofoto) from the sold out & very successful Nirvana Unplugged, which happened 6 days ago…

Last night I sat in for the GBS’ principal cellist to sight read Dvorak (a last-minute surprise; I tanked), the night before I was melted by the Goldberg Variations played by Mark Fewer (vln), Steven Dann (vla), Richard Lester (vlc), which was like witnessing the reason the planet turns and the sun rises.  The night before that I tried again to reconfigure my brain to fit the frequency of the instruction manual for a BOSS900  digital THING which will allow me to write and share songs with my collaborators….

Me, my sister and our Grandfather Kennedy in Trafalgar square, London, 1968.  I'd like to say that things were simpler then, but I find I can't, really.  In a bizarre way this is comforting.  I wonder if anyone gets that.

Me, my sister and our Grandfather Kennedy in Trafalgar square, London, 1968. I’d like to say that things were simpler then, but I find I can’t, really. In a bizarre way this is comforting. I wonder if anyone gets that.

What’s my point?

I think it’s pretty simple.  I really am really tired, and I need real sleep.

Also that I love what I’m doing.