Friday, July 23, 2010

I usually try to keep my blog posts confined to a single topic, but this one might be a bit of a free-form ramble.

One of the "resources" that I miss the very most from urban life is COMMUNITY. Now don't get me wrong.... there is a lot of "community" here in Taos, and by that I mean good people who are willing to help out in a pinch, or share a laugh at a barbecue or whatever. The kind of community that I miss is a group of like-minded individuals, with similar goals, aspirations, visions, and skills, and the inclination to hang out and shoot the shit about all that aforementioned stuff. What I am really saying here is that I miss hanging out with other mechanical/kinetic/metal artists.

There are many benefits that come with being part of a community of like-minded artists. Through casual communication, one finds out about possible exhibitions, shows, and other money-making opportunities. Being part of such a community can help in the birth of new ideas, not only through admiration of others' work, but also in opposition to it, or just through the exchange of ideas through conversation. And being part of such a community can also be of great benefit when actual help is required... like skilled help on a project, help moving something heavy, or help with a skill or sub-specialty that you do not possess.

In California, both during my time living in San Francisco and in Los Angeles, I was part of such communitites. There are various ways in which getting things accomplished artistically is immensely harder here in rural New Mexico, due to the lack of such a community. I do not want to come across as a complainer, but it is really quite frustrating to read about art projects (often Burning Man related) happening in Seattle or Oakland which are able to make use of ten or twenty skilled volunteers, when out here in Taos, we are lucky if we can rustle up one.

One resource I had consistent access to in California, which I desperately miss, is access to an artistically minded person with electronics skills. Electronics is one area of expertise that frequently comes into play in the kinds of artistic projects I would like to take on, but which I have never learned. Now of course one option is to learn it myself, but there really is something to be said for "division of labor". After all, it is one of the principles by which the ancient Sumerians were able to move from hunting and gathering to the first actual civilization! Plus, there is not even someone to teach me here! And there are no classes either (something else that one finds easily in cities these days).

Another resource missing here is easy access to money. This is a pretty big topic in and of itself, but it does tie in to the difficulties finding skilled help that one encounters in a place like this. It is my opinion that folks who live in cities generally tend to have actual jobs which often pay well enough that the basic needs of food and rent and utilities are taken care of. A person with such a job then finds that evenings and weekends are "free time", and if such a person has an artistic bent or a desire to "be a part" of something, then that person is an excellent candidate to become associated in some way with an art project or group of some sort. Here in poor Taos, most people are engaged in a near-constant struggle to make enough money to pay the rent and buy food. There is not much "free time." There are of course a certain number of people for whom their whole lives are "free time," but those are not the folks you want helping on your projects.

The foregoing theory is really just that - a theory. But it does conform very well to the realities that I have experienced living in the various places that I have.

-Slight shift of topics-

I have spent much of the last year in what I would refer to as an "artistic lull." I have had a hard time coming up with any sculptural idea that I thought was actually worth building.

As I have begun to slowly come out of this lull, a "lack of ideas" has gradually been replaced with a succession of ideas that seem at first glance to be "too ambitious."

But the reality is that they are only "too ambitious" because I lack either the money, or the electronics skill, to bring them to reality.

One concept that has struck a chord with me recently, and that I have seen written in a few places, is summed up in Paul Arden's book as this: Do not covet your ideas. Give away everything you know and more will come back to you.

This seems like a pretty weird idea, at first, because if you just share your ideas, someone else will steal them, right? Well maybe. But maybe not. Or maybe it doesn't matter. Or maybe, like Arden says, it's vital to get the ideas out, so that new ones can come in. Or maybe if you share your ideas through a blog, at least there is written evidence that they were your ideas first!!

Anyway, what I am getting at is that I have decided to begin to use this blog to describe some of my sculptural ideas (you remember, the ones that I do not have the money or electronics know-how to actually complete right now). Maybe by doing this, I will find someone who wants to fund one of them, or someone who wants to collaborate by contributing their electonics skills, or I will somehow encourage the flow of even more ideas, or something else good will happen! Who knows! Anyway, I've got nothing to lose.

While I have been thinking about all this mumbo-jumbo, I have been working on the Hand Of Man. It's getting a pretty major retrofit in time for the Mile High Music Festival in Denver in August. I think that I will post a write-up about that, along with some pictures, on the Hand blog.

I'll end with a quote from the Swans......

"I want power, because it feels good."

I have always loved that quote. Could there have been a Swans if there was not a Nietzsche first? I don't think so. I interpret that quote as having to do with self-actualization, rather than any kind of political or force-based power. Nietzsche's concept of "will to power", often misinterpreted as having something to do with force, really has to do with "becoming who you are." Suffice to say that an artist is much more likely to really fulfill the "will to power," as Nietzsche saw it, than a politician or a soldier ever would be.

I will start to talk about some of my as-yet unfulfiled art ideas in upcoming posts.

If you actually got this far, thanks for reading!

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