I’m really enjoying sharing bits of my artistic process and, where possible, turning it into an artwork itself.
Today I began thinking about ways of communicating. I starting making a mind map to create a hard copy of what I was thinking. I started listing lots of different types of communication. I began with things like words, pictures, gestures, etc. I also thought about communication mediums, such as the internet, and phones. Which bits of communication do each of those media allow us? The phone, for example, only allows the spoken word. The internet allows for lots of things, like pictures and words, but gestures can only be conveyed via the internet with the use of video.
You can also communicate with absense of truth. This can be done via silence, half truth, or lies. When you tell a lie, or leave out a truth, that is a communication of something in itself.
I thought about art as a medium of communication. In art, you get to decide which sorts of communication you want to use. That’s often a really difficult choice. I thought about separating communication into two, “straightforward communication” and “interesting communication”, with art mostly falling into the latter. It’s difficult though, because straightforward simplicity often works very well in art, but it has to be interesting or beautiful. I thought for a bit about what things I find interesting, in life and in other people’s art. I find it interesting when things are a bit like me, or sound like something I might have said. It’s also interesting when things sound like what I want to be, or what I think I could be. It’s also interesting when something is nothing like me at all. It’s interesting to compare things to yourself. I think and hope that is universal.
So I returned to the question of how an artist can choose what to show, and how to show it. If an artist finds something interesting, should they copy it as accurately as possible, and then show it to others? That’s certainly one way. An artist can also choose just to recreate or show the most interesting parts. Then I reminded myself that the artist might not know which are the truest or most interesting parts of something. The artist is just wondering about the thing, they don’t need to *know* what is true or beautiful about it.
I then thought for a bit about what is more important to me in art; beauty or truth. I confounded myself with this question. I simply can’t put one before the other. I asked myself, ‘does more beauty mean less truth?’ In my art, I like to use different types of layers. Layers interest me because sometimes they hide things, and sometimes they show extra things. Layers make things more fullsome. Layers add questions as well as suggesting answers. Layers are question-filled and that makes me happy.
I reminded myself to be cautious, though. As an artist, I don’t want to create mystery for the sake of it. Rather… let’s ask sensible interesting questions, together. There is beauty in questions, and questions in beauty. The truth is not always my responsibility, but I should never tell nice lies as an approximation of truth.
Next, I decided to try and write a scale. At one end of my paper I wrote “TRUTH” and at the other end, I wrote “BEAUTY”. Near “truth” I wrote, “1+1 =2” as it was the first unquestionable truth I could think of. Then I hovered my pen near “BEAUTY”, trying to think of a completely beautiful lie. I felt confounded again. I wrote down “I can’t think of anything truly beautiful that is a lie”. I looked back at the simple mathematical truth I had written at first, and I realised that of course, there is a lot of beauty in that simple truth. My scale wouldn’t work at all, it was almost like a loop, with truth and beauty occupying a lot of the same space.
In the middle of the paper, I wrote “BALANCE”. I came to some conclusions about the nature of beauty and truth and how an artist should deal with them. I don’t know if my conclusions are necessarily correct. I did write some tips for myself as an artist, the main one being “let’s let go of accuracy a little”. I’ve decided, after all, that artists are in the business of asking questions. There aren’t any wrong questions but I should avoid simple answers to complicated questions. It’s better to leave the question unanswered.