I suppose I’m on the journey of the hermit again.
I’ve read many articles about social media, selling your work, blah blah blah. I don’t like any of it. What am I looking for? Does what I look for exist (I’d say no)? Where am I going with all this? Can I just keep going in my own idiosyncratic way (yes)? Do I have to have an end “goal,” or is art a spiritual journey for me where that spiritual aspect cannot be distracted with all The Usual?
The fact is, what I love to do most – non-commercial, experimental moving images – has no real concrete place, neither in the market, nor in the minds of most people. It exists for sure, in a world that can probably be characterized as being as small and well, as weird as an antiquarian society. But this rarified environment is not where I want my work to be stuck in. I’m not interested in even trying to become a big known quantity in that rarified castle. Frankly, I have always found environments which are too narrowly focused to be stifling. I always run away from them.
Breathing freely for me has always meant being in a diverse and therefore, vibrant environment. Each party interacts with the other, there is an exchange, and new ideas come out of that. How is having your work typecast foster that? It doesn’t. It puts you and your work in a cultural ghetto. Because it’s easier – “they” tell you – to get it seen (bought) that way.
It is difficult to form such diverse groups, in fact. As in many areas of society, birds of a feather stick together. And in the U.S., the dollar is King. Commerce is IT.
I am lucky in that in my current job, I’ve been recently given the opportunity to contribute in an artistic way, my own way, to a dialogue which is beneficial for the public good. At the same time, my work is anonymous, part of the crowd. The focus of my work is the larger message, not ME, as the artist of it. When everything on the internet and all these networks are all about talk about, sell YOU, I get to make work which is focused on the message that my work effectively delivers. This is above commerce, above celebrity, and therefore above what all these other art promotion/sales vehicles made by other people are doing. Being anonymous allows the work to deliver the message without all the stuff which is such a status thing in the U.S.
I still take photos almost daily out of habit. I share very few of them now. I’m adjusting to my decision to stop the endless posting to social networks, where these networks reap the benefit of my steady engagement, to let me breathe. Let me breathe so I can do my work in the sphere of just doing my work, with no thought of any other reason for doing it, except that I need to. And that is has nothing to do with $$$$$ or fame.
6 thoughts on “Still Wandering”
I think I finally understand where you’re coming from. I was raised by a film buff (intellectual snob and proud of it). He wouldn’t watch “just anything” like I do because he didn’t classify and sort — segregate — films like I do inside my head, i.e. there’s films just for fun and there’s art. It’s ingrained because of my father’s bias. He used to say: “If everybody likes it, there’s probably something wrong with it.” That’s just the way I grew up, opposite most people. My father probably wished he lived in the Village or San Francisco’s North Beach in the 1950s. When he told me I couldn’t grow up and be a beatnik because they’d be gone by then, I cried.
Oh I know a bit about that kind of thinking first hand, believe me. It’s impossible to change ways of doing things without offering a totally different solution which attracts people away from the usual. Those who rise to power fight to stay in power, and they are so focused on keeping their place that they won’t change their formula for getting there – few, few people have the courage and confidence to step down of their own will and let someone else have a go at a new solution if what’s worked for them doesn’t work for everyone. And geez once there’s a leader, there’s always people content to put their brains aside and follow so they don’t have the make their own solutions – God forbid! I’ve seen these dynamics play out in every possible scenario, including the so-called “free” world of art. It’s so human and so disappointing at the same time. In my head I envision an environment where people are curious and willing to explore without pre-conceived notions about what could be, invent on the spot, contribute in an egalitarian way – but the world just isn’t like that when operating in “normal” mode, which is the mode that most people prefer to be in, auto-pilot, same as it ever was. I’m an idealist but it’s difficult to reconcile that with the reality that the environment I envision thriving in is rare, fragile when confronted with the auto-pilot mode, and unlikely to occur when I’m looking for it to. Sigh…
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I found out during early research of my new feature in pre-production that the human species evolved split down the middle (i.e. 50/50) between conservative and liberal brains. There’s apparently a good reason in nature for us to disagree.
That’s mind-boggling. I’ll retreat to my sanctuary now…
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Very interesting perspective.
As a so-called outsider artist, I do not believed that either I or the experimental, etc. film community have ghettoized or marginalized me and my work. One of the most hurtful things anyone ever said to me was said to marginalize me as a theater artist. I was nonunion and extremely active as a solo performer and frequent producer in “small theater.”
My friend had had a brief career in professional (i.e. Equity/Equity approved) theater; and she told me that what I was doing was “community theater.” Ouch. Really ouch – until I realized that if I was in the union I would have to seek permission from the union to perform and workshop plays in the very vibrant, exciting, groundbreaking venues of the community of which I was a part.
If not for my community, I likely never could have worked enough to develop both my acting and dramatic writing chops. My theater community didn’t marginalize me – snobbery and short-sightedness tried to.
I think that segregating film into “experimental” and showing it separated from what is known as “real” film, i.e. narrative film, has definitely ghettoized it tho – made it something you experience only if you stumble into it accidentally, particularly as a member of the general public. This narrows the view that this kind of film is ALSO film, that short formats are as legitimate as feature length formats (how MANY experimental filmmakers I have known eventually do feature-length films not just as a challenge, but because it is the generally approved format for any film shown in any regular film venue – it’s THE standard). If I had the wherewithal, I would do screenings the way they used to do them back in the old days before tv – features and shorts shown side by side, and as part of a program where there is a perceivable relationship between the two. As it is, the huge gap between the two continues in the mind of anyone who programs AND most importantly, in the mind of the public, who remains aware of these kinds of films only if they can afford to attend film festivals, if they are a film student, film historian with a specialty in these kinds of films, museum-goer who happens to attend some special program shown just once, or a PBS viewer. This shouldn’t be the case. Know what I mean?… Either way, I feel that there is no place for it to go outside of the small circles it already inhabits. I think that’s a real pity, since they have a lot to offer in terms of feeling, the human experience, and pondering it in an intuitive way.
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