Thursday, December 16, 2010

Talking about art is like dancing about architecture

I'm working on a new site, and have been thinking about different ways to present my work, and thinking about artist statements.  Even if you don't end up sharing it with anyone, the exercise of thinking and writing about it can be really helpful, bringing clarity to what you do, and where you want to go.

But do you really have to articulate what your work means?  Is this even possible with words?  As Steve Martin said, "talking about art is like dancing about architecture."

That said, I've been looking around at how other people talk about their work.  I am drawn to statements that sound like a normal person talking.  Like this one from House Hunter Todd Hido, via 20x200:

"People ask me how I find my pictures. I tell them I drive around. I drive and drive and I mostly don’t find anything that is interesting to me. But then, something calls out. Something that looks sort of off or maybe an empty space. Sometimes it’s a sad scene. I like that kind of stuff. So I take the photos and some are good. And I keep driving and looking and taking pictures."
Does this tell us what the work means?  Not really.  But do we have a deeper understanding of his work?  Sure.  So does this really count as an "artist statement?" 

Who cares?

It's frustrating to have to pick up a thesaurus to get through a really wordy, esoteric statement.  Getting caught up in layers of "artspeak" seems like a great way to alienate and exclude people from formulating their own ideas about the work. 

Emily Shur (amazing floating donut pic) wrote about this conundrum a while back:

"Why can't we just take pictures?  I always feel as though there's supposed to be some deeper meaning behind my pictures, a meaning other than 'Something inside me connected with what I saw in front of me, so I pulled out my camera and took a picture.'  That does not seem to fly as an artist statement.  Why, I'm not sure."   

Or as ninja master Garry Winogrand said, in fewer words:

"I photograph to see what the world looks like in photographs."

Enough said.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Daft Punk vs. Kanye

KCRW is my go to radio station.  The other day Jason Bentley talked with Joseph Kosinski, director of the new Tron movie about working with Daft Punk, who scored the entire film.  It's an interesting story about creative collaboration, and they play 5 or so tracks from the film too.  Listen here

During the interview, Kosinski mentioned a film that Daft Punk wrote and directed in 2006 called Electroma. So I cued it up tonight while working on promos.  The entire 70 minute film is here, which I found to be about 60 minutes too long.   But it's cool to see how two musicians that dress like robots would make a film:  In rural Utah, with a vintage Ferrari, and lots of extra robot helmets.

I made it to the end of Electroma, then jumped over to Kanye's site to see Runaway.  Lots of strange, expensive looking scenes, and plenty of Mr. West's music to keep things lively.  I did think the opening shot of Kanye sprinting down the road was especially beautiful.

In the end, both films are self-indulgent and silly.  But it doesn't matter.  These guys are musicians, not filmmakers.  More power to them for taking the leap and doing something new.   Although if I had to pick one film to shoot, I'd have to go with sad, exploding robots, hands down.