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

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.

The Sweetness of Sharing

Often glorious finds come my way because others have shared what they are reading, watching, or engaging with. So, this post is all about sharing things I have found.

Firstly, I want to share a video from KarenBritChick. Her YouTube channel is about fashion and she does this amazing series called What everyone is wearing in New York. I love the street vibe and the way she discusses personal style. I especially like the fact that the videos are quite long, so I can settle in and really enjoy the New York vibe. But the video I want to share today is something quite different. Due to what is happening globally I think this is the perfect introduction to her: My experience with racism/What is it like to be Black?

I listen to Russell Brand (occasionally), I like how he approaches very difficult subjects with curiosity. He also has a podcast, Under the Skin, but I think this is a good introduction to him, and it’s not too long: What I’ve Learned This Week

There’s a couple of other Youtubers I want to share with you.

Firstly, Yoga with Adriene, there is so much I can say about this channel, but it’s best just to go there and try something yourself. Here are a couple of favorites. Yoga for Courage: This practice is full-on, but it reminds me to have faith in myself and my body.  Moon Practice: Very gentle practice for those days when you need more peace than challenges.

This one is quite different, Kutovakika, who inspires creativity through her ingenious self-styled photography. She shares a step by step approach with both cameras and phone-cameras, so you can follow along. Mostly she uses everyday items, which means you don’t need all the equipment. She also has some knitting tutorials, which I have yet to check out. Also, I love looking at her Instagram page: @kutovakika

For something quite different, here is an interactive documentary by Mariette Sluyter titled, Bread. This documentary is so sweet, I just love the women talking about their cultures and how they have brought modes of being (and baking) into their new Canadian country.  

Because I’m into creating film and love moving image, this one is just a must. Art of the Title. This website explores the creation of title making for films. The range is so diverse, and they incorporate who made the titles and sometimes, what went into their design.

I looooovvveee Nordic Noir television shows. So, doing some of my own research around how this type of noir developed I came across this podcast, titled appropriately: Nordic Noir. This is not a series to listen to, but a historic view of the development of this genre in this particular region in the world.

This post is short and sweet, and I hope you find something in these shares.

Catch you next week xx.

Review, Reflect, Refocus

This blog is about revisiting my New Year Resolutions for 2020, taking stock, re-planning and re-focusing. Yep the year hasn’t turned out as planed but there’s only one way out of it – and that’s into it.

Reflecting on my goals I can see that some of them are now out of my control and cannot be achieved. However, there are still several I can accomplish if I refocus and put energy and time into them.

To begin with, looking at all my goals and plans for 2020 was a little bit of a downer.

My daughter and I were planning a trip to Greece and I had other adventures planned, also the interactive-experimental documentary, At The Horizon, which I have mentioned changed. Because of New Zealand’s lock-down the gallery that was to host the exhibition had to push a lot of the projects back to 2021. I wrote about this creative project in Process: A mixture of creativity and chaos – Part 1.

I’m blessed, I haven’t lost my job and I have my health and family, so these aren’t major issues. But I feel like the beginning of June is a perfect time to review, reflect and refocus.

So where to go from here?

I can’t push all projects or goals back. Some are just no longer practical in this changed world. Yes, they may happen, in a year or two, but for my own mental health and creativity I need to focus on now, on today.

In my New Year Resolutions 2020 post, I categorised all my goals; personal, health, creative, and work.

So, in review: two goals in my personal category can no longer happen, the health goals haven’t changed, and the creative goals and work goals need to be realigned

In reflection, and being honest with myself, my six personal goals were probably a few too many anyway. As stated, two can no longer happen and one has been removed, so now I have just three to focus on. The health goals haven’t changed, one of them I have maintained throughout this year, but the other has not happened at all, so I need to focus on this. I had five creative goals, one has been ticked off, YES!!!!! One I’m going to let go, which leaves three. The two work goals will still happen, but I need to develop new timelines for them.

Also, in reflection, I simply can’t ignore what is happening around the world. I’m not an island in space, I am connected to my world. I have to be honest; my mood, positivity and energy have changed. I’ve needed more time out, more rest, more down time.

So that’s they lay of the land, now I have to refocus, while giving myself a bit more time.

Years ago, my partner and I bought a property that needed a lot of work. We were both taken with how cute the house was and could see all the potential.  Some of the issues were dealt with straight away, and some were left for, “when we could get to them”… After a few years, everything began to bug me, I started to see all the flaws and it was overwhelming Then after talking with someone I realised that the house hadn’t changed, it was just how I was thinking about it. Seems cliché but that is exactly what happened, I remembered why we had bought it, my attitude changed, and I actually started doing things on the house again.

Refocusing can be tricky. But there is a reason why you do the things you do, a reason why you create in the way that you do.

You love it.

Yes, you get frustrated, you don’t have the time, you feel depleted before you begin, but you still love it. And just settling on that for a while can assist to grow motivation. I try to remember moments that I’m in the flow, times when my creativity takes over, or seeing someone impacting by work I’ve done. That is often enough to get me going again.

But that is not all it is. It can’t just be daydreaming about the good times. It is also the work. Refocusing means recommitting to the work ahead. Making timelines, breaking goals down, writing lists, putting deadlines in the calendar. You know, all the hard stuff.

I’m not going to leave it too long before a reflect again. I think I need to do this more regularly.

Well that’s it from me. Catch you next week xx.

The Mind needs to Create

Have you ever watched children play with Lego? Their minds are open to endless possibilities for what these square and rectangle primary colored blocks could become. It could be a skate-park, a moon-base, a sports stadium… whatever it is, their mind has travelled further than the limitations of those blocks. Their imaginations have filled in gaps, fixed potential failures and pushed the scope of Lego to ‘infinity and beyond’.

When I’m teaching filmmaking to students, most, when they first arrive, want to know how exactly it is done. They want the steps, the process from A to B to Z that will allow them to make film. Somewhere along the way, they have lost the creative playfulness needed to create, and have allowed systematic ways of thinking to take over. Now I’m not saying we don’t need systematic thinking – we absolutely do, but seeing these students believe that there is only ‘one’ standardised way to create film, makes me sad.

If we think of Lego as a tool to stimulate and drive imagination and creativity, why can’t we think this same way of other tools at our disposal. We have classified what we ‘use’ in certain domains. For example, you could be playful with a paintbrush, but maybe not a microphone?? What could you do with a microphone creatively? You probably think you don’t have one at your disposal – but if you have a smart phone, you do. My point is, that some things have become ‘normal’ to think of in a certain way and others are seen very differently, but simply put – both paintbrush and microphone are tools. You can use them as non-creatively and creatively as your imagination allows.

Many of us, through education and the ‘daily grind’, have lost our playfulness we need to be told what to do, or we want to follow a pattern without asking questions about this daily routine. Things become systemised for many reasons. First, we are taught this way, we are taught through processes, we are taught that there needs to be an outcome, we are taught efficiency over creativity. Efficiency can become monetised at a faster rate than creativity. Even in the creative industry processes are systemised. There are so many types of clichés pointing to this type of thinking – like, ‘Don’t get it done well, just get it done’. This constant demand makes most of us use and come up with systems so we can be productive, but that doesn’t mean our productivity is always meaningful.

Just look around us at our world. We produce at a rate that is no longer sustainable, not just for the environment, but for our own well-being. We are caught up in productivity, setting goals, always on the move for the next bigger better thing. We never have enough money, enough clothes, enough…. Whatever. So how do we get back to that playfulness we were open to as children? How do we approach the tools and technology outside a systemised approach? If I mention a specific tool, most people will automatically put that tool into a context – a world that tool lives in. For example, a potter’s wheel – we think of clay, pots, sitting, throwing, moulding with our hands, and so it goes on. The tool is already associated with the context, but the tool could be used for other activities – however, we lock ourselves into what something has to be and what purpose it has. Just as well we don’t ask our children to do this with Lego.

Minna Huotilainen, Mimmu Rankanen, Camilla Groth,  Pirita Seitamaa Hakkarainen and Maarit Makela in; ‘Why our Brains Love Arts and Crafts’, state:

Experimentation with an abundance of materials without the purpose of creating anything useful is an integral part of play, which is essential for brain development in infancy and childhood (Dissanayake, 2009). In addition, it is crucial for the development of skills concerning emotion regulation, empathy and imagination (Rankanen, 2016b, 66–70). In schools and other learning contexts, we believe that arts and crafts should be utilised for visualising difficult learning tasks, for example in mathematics and biology.

I absolutely love the statement ‘without the purpose of creating anything useful’, if only we could become more playful, more experimental, more open to possibilities.

Dr. René Proyer, in his study the Personality and Individual Differences Journal (April 2017), identifies four basic types of adult playfulness:

  • Other-directed playfulness:Playing around with friends, family, and coworkers
  • Light-hearted playfulness:Regarding many aspects of life as a game
  • Intellectual playfulness:Playing with different thoughts and ideas
  • Whimsical playfulness:Interested in strange or unusual aspects of life, noticing small day-to-day occurrences

His research focuses on several aspects of play in the workforce. How ‘play’ can assist with looking at issues from different perspectives for creative-problem solving, lessen anxiety and gain greater observation skills.

I am increasingly hard on myself if I engage in an activity that I label as ‘wasting time.’ Even though I want more creativity and ‘play’ in my life, I come up against an ingrained way of thinking. I constantly battle with the fact that I have to be productive, motivated towards an outcome, working towards a goal. However, I can do these things via creativity. What, at first may look like an unnecessary waste of time – could actually be an activity that stimulates the mind, or strengthens the ability to make decisions. So, while the activity may not specifically point towards a task at hand, it promotes different ways of thinking and could eventually overflow into productivity.

But of course ‘productivity’ is not all there is in life. Creatively relaxing, being able to spend time with family or friends, or even quality time alone. Being able to enjoy ‘life’. That’s the goal, I don’t mean being constantly happy, that is not realistic, but be able to move through life with ease. Creativity can certainly enhance our life, and our connection with the world and those around us.

Last week I wrote my partner’s mother a poem for her birthday (it was in last week’s post), well I gave it to her on Sunday and there was this lovely moment of awareness of my present being my creative time. It was of so much more value to her and me. It wasn’t something I had bought online, or quickly picked up on the way to her place. I had, put in time, thinking just about her and created something to celebrate that. It’s not much – but it’s so meaningful in this very pushy, consumer driven world. I know I’ve just used the word ‘consumer’ and I haven’t used that in the post – however it is connected. Our over productiveness is an outcome of consumerism – they are all connected. I’ll just leave that there for next time.

So step back, think about your time, think about play and creativity and what you can bring to your own life. Love to hear your thoughts on this.