Starting this blog was a last resort; A suggestion by a friend to “move into the digital age” and to be able to somewhat curb that devastation. But it’s apparent that I haven’t yet bought in to the whole digital archive, as I still hand draw things that could be easily achieved in half the time in Photoshop, and as I still carry at least three separate sketchpads as well as a notebook with me in my bag at all times. So it becomes no surprise that my work has been heavily centered around an object’s physical presence, whether a drawing or sculpture based work.
However, after reevaluating my current sketchbook practice of constructing ampersands to conjure physically what is implied conceptually through their presence, as well input from a few friends and fellow artists, it became evident I needed to reevaluate how my art would be impacted by the deterioration of physical construction and the lack of need of physical presence.
Obviously the current generation my work would be appealing to understands physical construction, as I’m sure they’ve all experienced road delays as a a result. I mean, the season of summer is literally referred to (semi jokingly, semi seriously) as ‘construction season’ in the Chicago area. But does the image of physical construction translate to relationships? That is, as life events shift from letter writing, collecting movie stubs or even Polaroids, etc, towards digital imagery, social media communication, and texting, digital data does become much more emotionally weighty than physical memorabilia (God damnit, Trevor). That is, changing one’s profile picture has become just as much a signifier of a relationship’s end as returning a box of their things. As Trevor pointed out, archives are no longer reliant on physical spatial restrictions. I’ve frequently heard those younger than me and even those slightly older than me refer to the importance of their relationship being evident by their text inbox and Facebook walls/messages. It became evident it has very little to do with how much time you spend in shared physical space, as things like Catfish‘s online & texting relationships become common place and even substitutions for physical interactions and social gatherings/dates. From this, you can conclude that physical presence may mean less than previously held. Now, I’m still not sold on internet relationships established as the norm, but as they become common, it does suggest that it’s headed that way. In fact I’m aware that it is more than possible that my children will be “hanging out” with virtual acquaintances “met” on a social platform like Tumblr via Skype rather than with classmates at the park. Which is quite the contrast to my elementary school experience, in which friendships legitimately ended because families moved to the next town, as we no longer had proximity working in our favor, and definitely no way around that technology wise.
From this it has to be taken into consideration that the object/physical presence itself mattered less than what it signified, and it merely had to exist because there were no other options (IE digital archiving and other technological advances) previously. But as technology increases to allow for the physical object to be dissolved, do physical attributes mean less? Does physical construction/deconstruction become then an outdated metaphor to link to conceptual significance? (And even more so, what the hell happens to those objects? All I can think of is images of abandoned places in Detroit and it makes me sad)
Language, whether it be words, letters or signifiers like ampersands, still needs to be dissected and seen as partial to its context; but if physical attributes shift in importance, what then can be used to address this shift? Does object-hood need a defense? (all I can hear in my head, Abby, is Day-Day and RoRo asking why you chose a certain medium, a certain style, a certain whatever; because it IS relevant to consider) Does the note “Get a flash drive and join us; you’re 20 years old!” scribbled in my sketchbook by a professor a few years back have some serious implications and justification? Sure, “getting with the times” is something you need to concern yourself with to remain relevant, especially if making things accessible to the masses is something that is important to your work (it is to mine), you do need to make some adjustments and accommodations. There’s a reason I moved some work outside of the gallery, and there’s a reason some work calls for physical and/or psychological participation. So maybe I need to reevaluate my object-hood centric language to make sure I’m still speaking theirs.
Torres’ work relied a lot on physical properties, like a clock’s winding down, photographs of cast shadows to imply physical presence, or the ever changing shape of candy piles and paper stacks to discuss deterioration. And I was completely enthralled by their lack of need for specific form, because then conceptually, they could never really be destroyed. But what if they don’t even need to exist physically at all? (Abby, now all I’m thinking of is Jonathan’s questioning of us at DIG if we even needed to physically produce art to be considered artists and I’m not sure if I should have regrets that my answer was a sincere yes to a philosophy major). (In Torres’s case, the physical decay of the object replicated the physical decay of life so it made sense; but in my case, I’m looking to replicate the conceptual significance of an ampersand, in which physical replication may not be applicable)
Over-thinking, as always.
I’m gonna need a new notebook for this.
Side note, how is texting still not considered a word, internet spell-check?