Creating between the lines
Part of what I love about being an artist, is that I get to create my own structure and meaning both in my work and my daily life. When that structure no longer works for me, I look for and create another, for as long as that supports my freedom of expression. Without any kind of structure at all, I default into what I already know and then repeat. However, if I only create within pre-defined structures, my ability to evolve creatively is limited by the very fact that it is attached to a same set of rules and starting point. One ceases to be creative if one stays within repetition. That repetition may be a given way of thinking, doing, feeling or being. Without seeking inspiration and learning new forms of expression, an artist’s work tends to stagnate. But without any kind of routine, it is difficult to be productive, to maintain a discipline that can be developed into an art.
I have never been someone who has liked being told what to do. I am selective on who, what and when I choose to listen. Paradoxically, I love learning new things and seek out experts who are willing to teach me. I think it is this combination of single-mindedness and thirst for learning, that has never allowed me to stay stuck in any particular style or made me adhere to any particular creative technique. I bore easily and will naturally keep moving when I find myself uninspired or too constrained. The idea that there only be one way of doing or interpreting things depresses me. It misses the point in producing and observing art. It ceases to be creative if x can only equal y in any given equation… it is probably why I hated and could never make any sense of maths in school. Part of my choice in being an artist is that pursuit of what inspires, is original and authentic. I am drawn to art that makes you question further, that is not obvious and that personally interrogates. Some of my earlier work as a contemporary video and installation artist was characteristically peculiar. But I was then in my early 20s and peculiar is what I wanted to express and that was what “worked” because it was authentic to who I was at the time. I would feel silly, a fraud, and utterly bored by myself if I was to keep producing the same kind of work today.
Studying and learning classical rules of composition and structure over the last years fulfilled something that I felt was lacking in my creative process. It took a lot of practice to acquire those basic visual skills until they became inherent to the foundations of my work, self-confidence and personal credibility. Just as I would not want to repeat the creative process of my early 20s, and let only my personal musings be the source of my expression, I do not now want solely to work within those pre-defined structures and rules. My work becomes dry, lacks personality and becomes as repetitive as if I didn’t apply any rules at all if I work solely through calculated procedure.
If our time alive was endless, what would the meaning of our life be and how would it influence the way we use our time? Everything has a lifespan (see past blog for more on this subject) and this fact is one of the elements that keeps us evolving as individuals and as a race. Being aware that what we have isn’t endless brings meaning to all the steps along the way. We invented our self-imposed twenty-four-hour cyclical schedule out of necessity. This basis gives us sense and direction. It allows us to be aligned with the natural cycles of life. To be in some way contained within the vastness of our existence. Without the natural cycles of life, we would not be able to regenerate ourselves, to keep being creative.
Having a frame to work within, a format with which to play, a deadline, is partly what stimulates creativity because you have to continuously find new ways to express something new within the confines of a same or similar structure. Each decision and act you do along the way affects and brings meaning to both the creative process and the end result. Part of the art when working in this way, is to make the structure disappear and that what is left apparent, is your personal perspective and individuality. This is partly defined by time: either something flows or stops flowing, hence defining itself through its existence or its cessation to exist in time as we know and understand it. Without the imposed limits of some kind of intelligible structure, it would be hugely complicated to share any kind of experience that would have enough meaning for us to learn and evolve from… or indeed to leave any meaningful trace behind once our own lifespan has ended.