Recently, i.e. today, I have once again visited a conundrum that has plagued me since the beginning of my artistic awakening- how do you represent experience in the more static forms of sculpture, painting, or drawing? My thoughts seem to travel two interrelated and similar tracks on this and both raise more questions than answers.
My first thought process:
I am trying to replicate, or at least accurately express, an experience through participating in the experience of creating which will then be interpreted through the experience of viewing the creation. This strikes me as similar to translating from one language to another so it can be read in a third. It seems that anything that may survive from the actual experience into the creation of the work is undermined by the shift into the more passive context of observation from that of participation or creation. In effect, what the observer sees relates more to their own individual past experiences than to any experience I may have been trying to capture.
The second line:
I blame this train of thought on reading freakin’ Jean-Paul Sartre and Virginia Woolf in high school - Watch what seeds you plant in fertile soil. They are both preoccupied with aesthetics, in particular when dealing with “lived” experience and the difference between imagination, creativity and perception. This thought process is based in a wider philosophical context wherein the world and our actions in it are interdependent, meaning that everything is dependent on others things in such a complex way that everything becomes subject to unseen effects and is not logically necessary- in other words, anything is possible depending… We make sense of experience in a discursive manner rather than an intuitive one, but this is a fragile way of operating as it depends upon the way we simplify and symbolize the complexity in order to function. When the natural complexity of life rears its head, or we look too hard at our symbols, our previous understanding can be cast adrift. How does this relate to my issue? Well, if we are unable to wholly experience anything, we are definitely going to experience problems expressing the fullness of an experience to someone who will not be able to fully experience our translation of the experience.
Look, I’m not sure what any of this means, but it has in the past driven me to create art that is more about creating a space where the observer/participant is encouraged to create their own “lived” experience of that space with minimal cues from me as to what that should be. This has often resulted in the bringing together of objects (made and found) and arranging them in such a way that they separate the space between them from that which is without. The participant in creating the interactions between the objects in effect creates a new work each time they shift their perception. The objects are not works alone or in a group, but only in their relationship to each other and the participant.
Maybe, today’s rumination is leading me back to this work and away from my one-off drawings, paintings, and sculptures.