2021: Art in Process: Making a U-Turn

Art in process. Well it certainly has been that. A couple of posts back I discussed letting the process lead…haha, and how you have to be brave to do that, yada yada yada.

Well, my process has taken a complete U-Turn. I’ve been happily blogging and vlogging away about making an experimental film while at my residency at RM Gallery and at the same time letting the process lead me. However, unknowingly I had already decided the outcome… an experimental film. So, while I was letting the process ‘go with the flow’ I had already put ‘a stake in the ground’ so to speak by saying the outcome will be an experimental film. (How is that letting the process lead)???

I guess I didn’t really think about the outcome being defined by the process, only the content of the mode chosen. So, woke up this morning and my process led project must have been talking this through with my unconscious as the project is no longer an experimental film… I know? What the!

Putting this into context, I was trying to fit the characters into a linear timeline, I had been struggling on this for a week or two, how to transition from one to the next. I had started thinking about the edit and how this would, or could work. But now I’ve realised, that the characters can’t be on the same screen.

So, what I now have is an audio-visual INSTALLATION.

You might ask, “what’s the difference between an experimental film and an installation?”… and all I can say is, (with a sigh), … so many things. Yep they are so different.

I was chuffed working towards my experimental film. I was thinking about editing it, sound editing it, exporting it to a nice small movie file and then sending this piece off to experimental film festivals. That would be where the work would be viewed. It would be simple – or at least more simple than the idea I have now.

But the process has spoken. And it makes complete sense.

Whenever I make an audio-visual work, regardless of it being narrative, documentary, experimental or even installation, and regardless of the way in which it is experienced, for example on a big screen, TV, small screen or in a gallery, I create a world. And in the logic of this particular world the characters never meet. They can’t meet. They are the same person from nature, but all five have been nurtured very differently and from that nurture constructed their-self and how they represent themselves in the world. They, for a better explanation, are on parallel worlds. And for that reason the characters need to physically have their own screens. Well it makes sense to me.

Making a U-Turn is hard to do. Not only having to admit that you are heading the wrong way – but to share with everyone else as well. I mean in one way, it’s no big deal, it is my project and people will take into consideration the ups, downs and turns a creative project can have. But for myself, it seems to be more difficult this time. I mean I wanted to make a experimental film, it was – maybe is, caught up in my own identity as a ‘filmmaker’…

But I’ve had to let that go, I know this U-Turn is in the best interests of the project and that has to come first. My pride can take the back seat. Ha ha.

Let me know about your U-Turns.

Juby

What if breath was my buffer

Hi Everyone, I hope you are all well. I’m making great progress with the experimental film and creative project. Pretty happy with where I’m at. I haven’t started shooting footage, however I’m busy testing the camera and location hunting.

Today I’d like to share some prose. I wrote this a couple of weeks ago when I was feeling very overwhelmed and reading it over made me feel lighter – so this is for anyone out there needing to breathe.

Read a couple times through – like a mantra. For me the words ‘wish’ allowed me to think on things differently.

I wish my head was not so clouded.
I wish my thoughts were clear and light,
Like crystal water seeping through my system.
I wish I walked with ease - a slight smile on my face,
And a hum of a tune behind my lips.

My feet moved across the earth in a dance.

I wish my shoulders carried no weight, time seemed filled with possibilities and potential,
And I enjoyed filling this time with purpose.
But this purpose was not a striving, or an obligation.
This purpose was simple, carefree, easy.

Every moment had magic and I stayed in that moment, never thinking ahead or behind, never worried or concerned, just breathing in fresh, light life. 

Usually I buffer with screen-time or sleeping. I wish I could buffer with lightness.
What if light and life was what I turned to.
Image from the Hamilton Gardens, Kirikiriroa, Aotearoa New Zealand.

Hope you all have a good week. Catch you next time xx.

2021 – Art in Process: Leading the Blind

If I were blind I’d rather have another blind person leading me around because they know what I’m dealing with and they’re experiencing the same things. 

Augusten Burroughs

Been a while since I wrote a post, so a bit of a catch-up needed. I started my residency at RM Gallery a couple of weeks ago. My experimental film idea is making huge leaps and bounds now that I have more time to put into it. The space itself is peaceful to work in and the city vibe outside the door keeps my interests up.

At the same time though life has been particularly stressful. Not the art making – but everything else. And I think that is why I haven’t posted a lot. I did a YouTube clip about mental health and creativity, which I will link here. This kinda sums up how I’ve been. Very up and down, and just taking one day at a time.

What I want to briefly discuss in this weeks post is ‘process-led creativity.’ The process of this particular project has led the work and is leading the work. I did not, have not, and still do not know the exact outcome, instead I’m letting the process take me into the unknown.

Every creative project is different, every creative journey unique. I usually make work where I do know the outcome, for example; I am writing a web series, or I am painting a landscape… So letting the process lead is extremely challenging. When I began I looked towards nature to find and create the structure of the work, and somehow that process led me into ‘nurture’ – as in nurture vs nature, which I would have never imagined. So the content and themes are much more about nurture, and if it does finish as an experimental film, the viewer may never guess that nature had a part, so my creativity around being inspired by nature to create structure is somewhat hidden.

But, if we think of buildings, foundations and footings probably aren’t the first things you think about. I’ve spent time looking at patterns in nature to be inspired to create a structure but then moved onto thinking about nurture for the content. It seems understandable, but I didn’t know this when I started.

I would say not to be afraid to take this approach, but be prepared for radical shifts to happen. You will probably have a starting point but then allow the process to lead. You will get to the end – just not one you imagined at the beginning.

It’s a bit like writing a novel without chapter planning. It’s not for everyone – but it’s a hell-of-a-ride.

Catch you next time xx

2021 Art in Process: Having Faith

What is it to have faith? Faith is about believing in something you can’t prove. I can’t prove that when I start a creative project I’m going to see it through, that I’m going to create something I’m proud of, or that I’m going to have success.

When a writer starts a novel, when a musician starts a song, when a sculptor starts a new project there is no way of knowing what the results will be. But they start anyway.

Yep. It’s frightening even terrifying at times and without faith in the process creatives may not make a start at all.

When I started to prepare for my upcoming residency at RM Gallery I only had a vague idea of a starting point – no idea how the process would go let alone the outcome. And it is nerve racking, part of me is constantly criticising the process and sabotaging my faith in my ability. And, that’s absolutely normal.

Creativity isn’t always easy, and it’s not always fun. I love being a creative but sometimes it’s just bloody hard work, and most of that is inner-work for me, combatting fears and overcoming my own insecurities. But, with all that I have faith in the process.

Faith isn’t completely blind. This is where we need to remember the things we have done before. Even though they may not be the same, the process may differ, the creative project may be completely different, we have accomplished things before. We’ve done stuff!! When in doubt try to take your mind back and remember that thing you did… at the time you also didn’t think you could do it, or didn’t know how your were going to do it – but you did it! You did that thing! Whatever it was, you did it! So faith in the process is not completely blind.

Below is a recent Vlog I did, where I comment on my process and admit that I don’t know exactly where this project is taking me – but that’s OK, as I believe in the process.

Remember to keep going. Have faith. You can do it.

Catch you next time xx

2021 Art in Process: Is it too late?

Is it too late? Am I too old? Am I too young? Do I know enough about this topic? Do I have enough experience? Am I too jaded? What will people think? What will my family think? I can’t start something new now! How do I start? There are already so many people doing it. There’s so many talented people out there. No one would care about it. People will think it’s stupid…

And on and on it goes. You know what I’m talking about.

What the hell! Really? Stop it! How on earth can you let creativity be part of your life if you are starting on this note?

It’s not too late. Your not too young or too old. And experience comes with doing, so if you want it, you have to do it. You are your best friend, you are your own ally. Creativity isn’t for those ‘arty’ ones, it’s for everyone.

I’ve been creating stuff… songs, poetry, films for over 2 decades for myself and professionally and I still have all those insecure thoughts. I still get nervous and doubt myself, we all do, it’s not just you. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t. But those people who can get past the thoughts and push through are the ones that achieve some sort of creative progress.

I went to an abstract painting class for the first time – this is not great art, it’s me making creative progress.

Thoughts really get in the way. But they’re just thoughts. Yep, just thoughts. Say it 10 times. They’re just thoughts.

Ask yourself, what is the worse thing that could happen if I take that pottery class, or learn photoshop skills online? You could find that it’s not for you, OR you could find some joy.

I’ve gone through the creative process a few times now, and if something is nerve racking I’m probably on the right path. Creativity isn’t cookie cutter, it’s part exploration part expression; it opens us up to see the world differently. It gives us confidence to fail and succeed- both as important as the other.

So don’t believe those thoughts of yours because they’re just thoughts.

Catch you next time xx.

2021 Art in Process: Validation

Hello everyone, I hope you are all well. I’ve been thinking a lot about validation recently and because of this thought it would be a good time to write about it. I’ve been thinking about it because I’ve realised that even though I paint, and write poetry I am very unsure of myself in these areas because I have had little or no training, and I’ve never been involved professionally in them.

At the moment, if you have been reading the ‘Art in Process’ posts, you will know that I’m working towards a residency at RM Gallery where I will be making an experimental film. The process of making this film has been hugely challenging, however I find myself confident even when I’m unsure about this new method of ‘making’. I think this is mainly due to the fact that I’ve been involved in creating moving image for quite some time both commercially and artistically. I feel like I don’t need validation to continue on, I’m confident in the process and confident in myself when it comes to this type of creativity.

So, does experience and training validate creativity? Good question.

Validation stems from the term ‘valid’. The original French ‘valide’ was to do with the law – having something legally binding. However the Latin term ‘validus’ seems more likely to be what I’m getting at; ‘validus’ means strong, powerful, active. The Proto-Indio-European root word is ‘wal’: to be strong, “sufficiently to be supported by facts or authority, well-grounded.”

There is a lot here to unpack, especially when creativity and the act of an individual creating is completely personal. I love this quote:

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique.”

Martha Graham

Could the validation then be OF and FROM ourselves. OF expresses the relationship between artist and work. ‘The work OF you’. FROM expresses that you are the source. If we are unique as Graham suggests then the validation is supported by the fact – the work is ‘OF and FROM us’. We can be strong, powerful and active knowing that only we could ever make this exact piece. Our validation is already in the work.

So, even though we may not have experience or training – validation is already part of our uniqueness – and we can’t take our uniqueness out of our creativity.

Hope you have a great week. Catch you next time xx

2021 Art in process: Just continue on.

Can’t believe it’s the start of May already. I’ve got six weeks until I begin at RM Gallery, so I need to press on. It’s been a very busy week, and I didn’t get a lot of research accomplished but I will continue on.

One thing I have been doing is re-watching films from early avant-garde filmmakers. It’s interesting to see the development of film following the great art-movements of the early 20th century like; Dadaism, Surrealism, German Expressionism and such. I’ve never enjoyed the aesthetic of Surrealism in the plastic arts, but now find myself caught up in these 1920 and 30’s films, especially Un Chien Andalou (1929) by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali. There is a looseness to the work, which I’m intrigued by. Marcel Ducamp’s film Everyday (1929), which I cited in What the heck am I doing, has more of a structuralist approach – very tightly edited, extremely controlled, but Un Chien Andalou allows for more abstraction in association between each image in a sequence.

I’ve never worked this way myself – but might try experimenting with this in editing. Not sure. But I want to push myself and this to me would feel very uncomfortable – so that must be a good thing.

I want to also look at the Russian filmmakers again, especially Sergei Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov, Lev Kuleshov and Vsevolod Pudovkin. Eisenstein, of course well known for developing the montage. I’m not sure I see these filmmakers as avant-garde probably more experimental if I have to come up with a label. However, their use of montage is intriguing and I know it did influence the Surrealists at the time.

The only other thing I’ve been doing towards the research is pondering. Yep, pondering. Especially on the development of the ‘event’ in my last post. I had a good conversation with a friend about how the narrative should develop technically. For example, if I’m developing the idea of a spiral narrative form inspired by a shell the camera could constantly be moving in a spiral formation. So another layer to ponder on. And of course sound! How to develop sound is something I also need to think about – so pondering is important.

That’s all from me. I’m just continuing on. I didn’t get done what I thought I would, but sometimes life has other plans and gets in the way of our creative intensions.

I hope you all have a great week. Let me know about your own creative endeavours.

Catch you next time xx.

2021 Art in Process: The Pinecone

Out of all the natural objects I’ve collected, I didn’t think the pinecone was going to be the pivot-point for this research. In last week’s blog I put up a photo and a drawing of a pinecone, and the two main ideas that come from brainstorming around this shape was ‘vacancy’ and ‘layers’. Then I decided to reduce the pinecone into an abstract drawing, then into a more diagrammatical image. I just allowed myself to mull on these images, without rushing.

This is hard to do. Just being and thinking is hard to do.

In this mode of ‘mulling’ I come up with an approach to narrative that I don’t think I would have thought of without this reflective process. Which gives me some confidence in the work. It is difficult to push ahead, especially without knowledge of where the project is heading. I guess this comes from judging what I have done before and projecting that into the future. What I mean is that if I haven’t done something before, I can’t judge it on my past work. So the lack of knowledge or lack of known pathways can cause discomfort. But I have to push through.

So, the pinecone. Who knew?

I thought the research would be based around the spiral in the shell, or the speckles in a river stone. I wasn’t going to even use a pinecone, it was a random decision on my part. And, I wonder if because the shell and the stone already have connotations of narrative to me in their make-up they are in a way loaded in the research. But this pinecone I’d never intended to use, so my thoughts were a lot more free to roam and question how this object could inspire narrative or narrative structure.

Original sketch of the pinecone
First adaptation of the shape
Diagrammatic render with brainstorm

The words I initially used to describe the sketch of the pinecone, ‘vacancy’ and ‘layers’ have not been developed. Rather the idea of an ‘event’ presented itself. How to develop that further, will be the work of this coming week. But I’m quietly confident I can work with this idea. It certainly has potential for narrative or non-narrative exploration depending on how I develop it further.

The ‘event’ could seem very similar to the ’cause and effect’ approach of conventional narrative filmmaking, however, I believe the concept of the ‘event’ can strike a deeper philosophical meaning.

So, where to from here?

First I will analyse the term ‘event’ starting with the etymology and then look at any writers or artists that have used or been inspired by the term.

I’ll leave it there for this week. Catch you next time xx.

Oh… before I forget – I wanted to say I’ve posted my very first Vlog. So if you want to see me chatting about this research click here.

2021 Art in Process: What the Heck am I doing?

This post is going to go over what the heck I’m doing, how I got to this point, and how I’m jumping into process no-matter if I don’t actually know what the final outcome will look like.

I’ve written in my posts over this year that I’m working towards an art residency that begins in the middle of June and runs till the end of July at RM Gallery in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

An arts residency is difficult to qualify in terms of: what it is or what is expected from the gallery, as galleries will have very different processes and expectations. I applied last year for this residency, as I had already exhibited at RM and found that there was mutual understandings around art and community – so I wanted to engage with them again. In my application I discussed how my main practice is moving-image and my interest in exploring different approaches to ‘making’. Instead of fitting content to the usual commercially driven narrative structures, my intention was to take objects of nature: for example, a shell or a feather, and analyse these objects structurally and then use that information to influence how story or theme unfold. Luckily the gallery was interested in my application and they are very open to what outcomes forge out of my research and creative practice.

So, now I’m 8 weeks out from the residency. The residency consists of a working space to create work and has wifi, a kitchen, a wet area and quite a lot of tools and resources for art-practice.

Going back – I’ve been making moving-image for a long while now. I’ve worked in television, film, corporate video, social media content, even done a wedding or two, and now I teach it. However, lately my main interest in moving-image has taken a turn towards art film, avant-garde film, experimental film, poetical film and DIY filmmaking. This interest started quite some time ago, however at the time I was still engaging with the commercial industry as well. It’s only in the last couple of years that I have committed to an arts-practice approach to my moving-image making.

Since January I’ve been slowly researching my idea, which looks like reading, viewing, drawing and taking notes. And I’m at the “What the heck am I doing?” stage. I’m asking myself that a lot. And if you are also engaging in a creative process and feel a bit lost in it all – it’s OK. It’s actually part of the process. There’s always this moment, many moments when self doubt kicks in, even confusion or a feeling that the idea and project is sh*t. But this is where you push on, keep moving, even if you don’t know exactly where you are headed.

The latest object I’ve been working with is a pinecone. (So difficult to draw). The main aspect of the pinecone that I’m interested in structurally is ‘layers’. There is so much you can do with layers, I jotted down a few ideas but I think I need to think about layers more, before I go into the next stage. So for this week, I want to look at the idea of layers conceptually, and what it means for storytelling in moving-image. I have some ideas.

I just re-watched Marcel Duchamp’s Anemic Cinema (1926), where he is super inspired by Dadaism and reduced form to shape and movement. I’m really interested in this type of graphic reduction, and my intention for this week is to play with reducing the ideas of ‘layers’ into a diagrammatic image – this will be a 2D drawing, but will allow myself to think-and-play further on the concept of ‘layers’. Actually Duchamp’s Everyday (1929) is very much a layering of plot and character to create form and intensify the theme of modernity at work. If you haven’t seen it, it is worth a watch.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I don’t know where I’m going or what the final outcome will look and sound like. But that’s perfectly OK. I know I’m gaining momentum and I just have to trust myself in this process.

If you are in the middle of a creative process, let me know down below how you are going…..