From the Library of Congress Flickr
When I first began graduate school, exposure to what most of us call Conceptual Art (with a capital C) was a refreshing, lime-in-the-fish-for-freshness type of experience. I needed that exposure. I was stagnating and focused on the relationships between aesthetics and anti-aesthetics in the drawings I was making at the time. Let me come right out and say it, I was educated as a formalist.
Put simply, throughout grad school, I strived to supplant formalist production with conceptual cleverness. At the time, my thinking was rewarded over doing. Two years after finishing my MFA at the U of M and I’m reconsidering my position and wishing I could have made myself stick it out, formalist tendencies and all.
You see, there is a slight problem with rewarding thought over action, concept over production: if all you do is think, you never make anything. I have thought up amazing new projects in the last two years, only to have them whittled away by a new self-criticism, a new line of questioning: “is what I’m doing conceptually bankrupt?” Never mind if it is a visually compelling form of visual art, if there’s no research paper worthy topic behind it, I’ve learned it is a dead-end, not worth doing.
As valuable as introspection is, this is a sure-fire way to misery. Endless focus on being a clever, contemporary, conceptual artist leads to what my mother would call “Shit or get off the pot syndrome.”
So, I’m here, creatively constipated (for lack of a better term), wondering if I’ll ever make anything again. God knows I’ve already thought it.
A group of passengers with lifejackets aboard ‘Kungsholm’, undergoing life boat drill
I feel exactly like this. Hands tied, close to what I want, but unable to actually get there.
I’ll be honest. The adjustment from my trip back into everyday life has been an absolute bitch. Perhaps it is the weather or the consistent and undying jet-lag, but I am less than thrilled to be in Minneapolis.
More reflecting on airports. I may be in love with New Tokyo Airport Narita. If not in love, I definitely have a crush on the place. There is nothing really special about it. The terminals aren’t new, they weren’t designed by a current debutant star-architect like Rem Koolhaas. However, the place is captivating to a temporary-habitation freak like myself.
First, the airport is spotless. There is no trash. Anywhere. I think I found 1, solitary, stray leaf that someone dragged in. Less litter and more wabi-sabi in my opinion.
Everything is perfectly and meticulously organized. I think it might actually be impossible to be lost here.
The PA system plays the Beetles when the gate-agents are not profusely apologizing for being 10 minutes late in boarding the aircraft.
It is amazing.
There is something incredibly liberating about being stuck in an airport for 12 hours on your way home. I spent a grand total of 12 full hours waiting for a flight inside of Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Strange things happened to me there. I decided it was OK to pay $7 for half of a tuna salad sandwich. I also rekindled my love of being rootless, tied to no place, and being completely transitory. Thank you HCMC.
Last night I had cocktails with two new friends from the UK. The subject of gear laden photographers came up. What is it about photographers and the continual acquisition of new equipment? Actually, it isn’t even that. Why do almost all photographers continually reach for the most complicated tool, when they could do a better job with a streamlined, older, and almost always, less expensive camera, or lens, or lights or whatever?