Grey skies and green emeralds.

7 10 2009

It’s been a depressing week. Very grey and I’ve felt very, very stuck with the project. I’ve been told that a conscious effort at productivity through work or exercise is the best way to get over the blues (when you don’t have access to weekend jaunts in Barcelona). I have done neither (and I have never been to Spain). Coming from Toronto, Canada, three straight days of rain has me feeling that the sun has forgotten us and that something apocalyptic is brewing. I know I’m being silly. I spent half a year in Paris and three in Tokyo so I know what it feels to be constantly under an umbrella trying to stay dry… trying to stay warm. But still, I am hoping for a bit sun soon.

It didn’t help that I only went to one seminar this week. I was actually booked for two meetings but as they overlapped I only ended up going to school for the seminar. The seminar was facilitated by artist Sutupa Biswas. I came to the seminar prepared to talk about ‘The Politics of Aesthetics’ (a relatively heavy text by Slavoj Žižek regarding Jacques Rancière’s theories of aesthetics and its inherent connection with history and social dialogue), but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the seminar took on quite a different direction. Instead of finding answers, definitions and theories in the text, we located key questions, common problems and methods of viewing the world and its aesthetics in respect to our creative practice. My notes from the seminar are a mixed bag of my personal thoughts and quotes from Sutupa. They’ve been like creative springboards for me, helping me look at my artistic process through a different lens… keeping things fresh.

Always think of theory in respect to your practice… keep notes at the end of a critical day and relate it to your practice.

This is something that I am proactively trying to do more than ever in this project. The blog has been instrumental both as a physical forum for my thoughts and as a facilitator of ritual reflection and organization in my creative practice.

Failures are a good thing. In order to learn, you must be able to locate where you’ve failed.

Despite my planning, I’m certain things will not work out perfectly in this project. They never do. But it’s good to be reminded that this is all part of the creative process.

Unpick images to understand the means by which they are made… how do you personally respond to an image… What does this image tell us about aesthetics?

Hmmm. I think as artists we naturally go through this process of deconstruction. One must know their subject in order to create, recreate and produce something from it. One must be aware of the world around them in order to have something to say about it. One must understand the context of production in relation to the current society one is living in. But for most, myself included, we do these things instinctually. It is good to be mindful of this thought process though.

What are the things we borrow from to make art? How does life stick to you like velcro and bleed into your creative practice?

Sutupa talked of the serendipitous nature of creativity, a theme I have been hearing about in these last few weeks, but haven’t actually given due thought to it until now. I have been doing a lot of thinking about the visual nature of this MA project but I haven’t actually been writing much of it down. In truth a lot of the creative connections come to me in the early morning hour as I wake or just before I go to bed. Something that has been recurring is the South London Parrot.

In these moments of lucidity, I’ve seen flocks of green and yellow birds (I don’t even know what colour the parrots are but I imagine them brilliant greens and yellows) zig zagging London’s grey cityscape. Their streaks of tropical colour offer contrast to the cloudy trails of the jet planes that they fly alongside them. The planes are small like the birds. Or maybe the birds are big like the planes. Scale is not important. The birds glow as if illuminated by something other than the pale sun on this rainy day. They swarm through wet urban streets leaving a trail of feathers, like snowflake emeralds on the buildings, the pedestrians holding umbrellas, the cars churning noise and black smoke, the buses carrying sardine commuters and the trains… the trains are the veins of a city carrying life to each of her parts. The green gems are like shards of glass that embed themselves into an old grey dinosaur… then I hear Blondie’s “The Tide is High”… the Blondie bit doesn’t quite make sense yet but it may just be my subconscious making me feel guilty for ripping this song off the internet when I was last at Lewisham Library. I’m still not sure how lightly authorities take illegal downloading (it’s almost a non-issue in Canada) but I always worry about that sort of thing when living some place new.

Anyhow, coming home from the seminar I noticed several things. One, it was raining and grey. Two I was on a train. And three, more importantly, I started to notice the emeralds! They stuck to me like Sutupa’s velcro. I noticed the flashing disks of green light that urged commuters to press the ‘open doors’ button at each stop. I noticed the flash of yellow that occurred just before the lights turned green (this does not happen in Toronto, traffic lights simply go from a full stop, red to a full go, green) and thought about those seconds when the red and yellow lights were on. This is a moment and place of transition. Pedestrians and drivers are staying in one place but thinking about going. They are in a place of future movement. There is a mental momentum starting before the physical momentum even begins. In this transition place time is frozen. Time is caught in a loop until it is told it can go again with a green signal. Green like the speck of light on my power cord telling me my computer is charged. Green telling me things are ready to begin again. Recharged. New.