I’ve been working through some new ideas in my head and a new way of working. Since I keep referencing this with no background, I guess I could explain that a bit more…
The few months before returning to America consisted of frequently viewing many artworks and photographs in various museums and galleries, and then more in a following visit to New York City. I found that in relating the function of these works around me to my own work, it left me with little excitement for what was to come with my photography. I guess the idea that my interaction with others through my photographic work would always be an inevitably indirect encounter is what concerned me most. The excitement of seeing the original works of the masters that I thought I’d only read about in History books only heightened the pedestal that I’d already put them on. The idea of this pedestal beginning with such an indirect and disconnected interaction between artist and “viewer” made me less interested in creating work in a way so narrowly set for a potential experience with the work itself.
With that said, I considered the methods I’ve used so far, the intentions for my photography to function, and if I’d attained any of that. In retrospect, most of the photographic work I’ve done has simply been documenting my surroundings with differently focused themes that depend on my specific interests at the time. I’ve quickly realized that my photography does not carry a lot of what I hope an artwork can provide. I don’t regret any of this progress, or lack thereof, because it’s developed what I consider to be a healthy habit of self-critical thinking. I came to two general conclusions in what I hope for myself and my work to do: 1. create a positively influential awareness and 2. encourage a benevolent mentality within a community. I don’t think using the aesthetic language of documentary/art photography can communicate these ideas in the way I would like to. I’m open to any possibility involving these two concepts, but in order to understand what I’m missing I think I need to utilize a new approach.
Realizing my repetitive habit of subconsciously re-defining art to suit my current interests gave me an idea for a new way of working. Instead, I am simply re-defining art according to how I want it to function, and the concepts that fall into that definition I then consider art. So, I define art as something that creates a positively influential awareness and encourages a benevolent mentality within a community.
I’m now making work that involves the positive experience of congregation through direct interactions. I’m currently spending a lot of my time cooking dinners for people (about 2-3 dinners a week) in hopes that the ones involved will continue these shared experiences by cooking for others. I am also looking forward to working with Andrew McComb through collaborating and exploring other ways of positive interaction with others.
After speaking with people about these new ideas, it seems to be commonly assumed that one of the reasons for the work is to spite others’ endeavors in the visual arts. I don’t see these efforts as spiteful at all really, nor do I see myself abandoning my involvement in visual arts. I’m simply working in a new way that can hopefully connect to others in a way that my photographs can’t. I think it works oppositely, as well, in that my photographs can work in beneficial ways that this process cannot. This interactive way of working essentially removes most, if not all, wonder and imagination from the work’s interpretations; the piece is the experience, and the affect lies in the desired reflection and (hopefully contagious) positive motivations. These performance-oriented actions work simply through causality, contrasting the intention that my photographs serve as components to a story that is ultimately pieced together by each person’s imagination and opinion.
For now, my main focus lies in connecting with others through direct interaction, yet I’m still working out thoughts on the document and its place (or absence) in this work. Nevertheless, I’m excited.