Materials

The idea of materials is something that comes up in art related thinking quite a bit.  Traditionally these have been thought of in conjunction with making some sort of eventual artwork per se that gets most likely exhibited somehow on a wall or pedestal in a gallery, museum or home.  New movements in social practice are changing that paradigm to where art is seen as something that happens between people as a social interaction for example through activism of some sort.  The conception that I am currently working with takes that notion deeper and further by saying that everything we make and do, on our own and among each other is artwork already and that it is through a daily practice of mindfulness and expression that we can help to consciously be a part of that artwork.  Intentionality plays a key role in this regard.  

So this idea of materials used to be that paint, marble, even pixel, found materials and so forth were used in the employment of a concise or disparate manner to formulate that type of phenomenon that Danto and Carroll have talked about that dealt with embodied meaning and purpose respectively.  As art becomes all that we say, do, feel, think and make in life the concept of materials gets widened and at the same time brought into more specificity.  All of material reality in this way, throughout the day, is the so-called material of the artist now.  Remember that it is my conception that everyone is an artist and also that everything we do is art.  The shirt we put on in the morning is a part of our art, the resultant artwork.  The breakfast that we cook.  The mode of transport we choose.  And on and on into the day.  

Social media in this way replaces the old convention of an exhibition in a gallery or museum or even on a wall in the home.  Classically, physical photographs are not even shared as much now that digital platforms have become so prevalent (a revolution in regard the dispersal of art should very well be taking place).  Of course, a documentation of sort of the people’s everyday activities and occurrences skyrocketed as social media platforms took hold.  The change here is a somewhat subtle one but extremely impactful.  It is that all of these shares by folks of what they are doing throughout the day can be seen as a paradigm replacing the old one of exhibition such that sharing through the internet and also in person becomes the means by which the dispersal of lived experience and the materiality associated with it get brought into the consciousness of one another.  In effect, social media has already replaced the brick and mortar exhibition as such similar to how paper newspapers are going out of business in exchange for the digital domain.  

Sharing our quotidian experience becomes then a way to meditate on the qualities of everyday life such that we can learn from one another how to best live our lives.  Some of it might seem blasé some of the time but the truth of it is such a picture into the world is mind-glowingly informative and transformative.  Such immediate and globally pervasive modes of communication naturally lend themselves to a new era of art sharing.  And with the element of engagement that comes with social platforms we see a means through technology where we may interact socially at a more and more dynamic capacity.  We no longer have to be in the same physical space such as a gallery or museum as another person in order to talk with them or carry on a conversation about art being shared.  Online platforms allow one to carry that conversation on at one’s own convenience.  

This is why I continue to promote meditation and conversation as key modes of art being the craft of life.  Granted I realize that art can be a many splendid things, but my point here is that it is not about comparing materials and modalities of the conventions and traditions of art including painting, sculpture and even new media such as video, sound, robotics and so on but rather opening the mind to the idea or notion that these instances are only examples of a much wider-ranging continuum or spectrum that includes all lived experience and engagements with material reality.  Essentially art is more than art, more than the conventions and practices we have come to associate with it.  Art is everything, everywhere, every-when, always.  This is the conception I wish to share with you.  It has been said before in different ways but it bares repeating and refining as it is in the very stuff of life, the conception and aspirations of our very lives.

The Human Soul Alights

Hi all!  I hope you are having a great day.  I just want to chime in here briefly and talk a bit about what this site aims to do and what you can expect.  If you know me or my work (and one is essentially the other) you know that things change all the time.  At one time I could be doing original music with vocals and guitar.  At another, I could be doing conceptual art for a gallery.  At yet other times, I do strictly writing including articles, blog posts, and books.  It is all a part of my creative spirit and in that sense, I guess you could say it is a part of my brand.

I am all about being natural in my approach to creative projects which includes this website.  Doing so many different creative projects lead me to consider all of life as an artful craft as you may have seen me mention on this site and other spots as well.  Currently, I am pursuing this notion, that art is the craft of life, the strongest.  That means that I am doing more things in my own life, changing unsatisfactory habits to totally fulfilling habits, optimizing behaviors and cultivating tastes.  I also then write about that transformation as a kind of log for the experiments in my own life.  I share those on the blog right now primarily.  

I hope to share in this transformation with you by starting a conversation in the comments section on the blog.  I may gravitate back to music or conventional art but for now, writing is taking precedence.  I love all three and really the spectrum of creativity is infinite.  These are just three common instances for me.  

I am doing this for myself and you the reader.  The blog is a place to go more in-depth with some of the ideas that are raised in considering contemporary art these days.  Also, spirituality, self-help, and meditation are common themes addressed.  

I write for anyone who is curious, for anyone who wants to know themselves better, who enjoys thinking deeply about spirituality, art, and the human mind.  For now, I will be adding high-quality photos that convey the life practices that I am undertaking to bring the craft of my life artfully to existence.  I encourage you to do the same and share what you find in the comments on the blog.  I would like to eventually get a forum set up for everyone here on the site where people can talk to one another about art, spirituality, the human mind and much, much more.  

I have a lot more to say, but that is all for now.  Please, take a good chance and comment on one of the writings in these pages.  Every good-hearted action that we take radiates out in good ways across each other’s souls.  Art can heal.  Art can illuminate.  Art can unite. 

Duchamp, Warhol, Danto, Carroll, Keppel

I want to do a brief review of Arthur Danto’s work as it has influenced my theory that art is the craft of life.  I recently watched a nicely produced, simple video of Noel Carroll talking about Danto’s work.  And essentially he covered the basics.  He talked about how Danto’s conception of the end of art or the historical end of art was exemplified and marked by the work Brillo Box by Andy Warhol.  Exhibited in 1964, Brillo Box the artwork was visually identical to the commercial product by the same name.  Danto’s assertion was that the account of Vasari that posited art as mimesis or representation had come to an end with Warhol’s Brillo Box given that it was identical to its counterpart.  He thought in a sense there was nowhere else for that progression to go.  

Danto described art after that time as post-historical art which was marked by a sense of pluralism.  Danto did not mean to say that art would no longer be made just that it would no longer be a part of this progression that had been going on for hundreds of years.  Danto, who coined the term art world that is used so prevalently today, also had a very specific formulation of what all art shared.  He said that art was an embodied meaning, that all art had a meaning of some kind.  Carroll states in the video how this conception of art left out versions of art such as classical, instrumental music that did not have a meaning.  Carroll also stated that he developed his own conception of how all art has a purpose instead of a meaning as a way of distinguishing himself from Danto and to build on his work.  

My contention is that as art passed through that ending portal, the other side dispersed itself into more than just the plurality that we find in what mostly amounts to exhibitions under the guise of the art world.  There was, in addition, a grand and vast re-divestment of energies back into the everyday life of people as art.  This, I contend, was foretold by the trends in art of the 20th century that started with Marcel Duchamp’s readymade and evolved over that century with movements that deemphasized an art object per se and brought art into the everydayness of life and living.  John Cage, Allen Kaprow, Marina Abramovic and Rirkrit Tiravanija among many many others contributed to this migration which ultimately went from inside galleries and museums to the outside everyday lives of people.  

This is what has lead me to the idea that art is the craft of life.  I had a conversation with my aunt about art and at some point during that conversation she said that she thought everyone was an artist.  In truly listening to her, which is key to my thought’s development, I had a conception that in so much as everyone is an artist that meant that everything that we do as well could be looked at as art.  I was not fully aware at the time of Joseph Beuys but I later became acquainted with his similar message and idea of social sculpture.  

My art is the craft of life theme is one that asks that we consider everyone an artist and also that every person as a work of art.  By extension all of creation is a work of art.  Therefore in coordination with a kind of divine intelligence or what my aunt describes as creation we come to co-create our lives and it is that co-creation that is the art of our day, I propose.  Personhood become the product.  We make ourselves, we character build we inspire and support others as we dive deeper and deeper into what makes us, us, on an individual level and a collective level.  The two models I propose that help us to enact this theory are meditation on the individual level and conversation on the social or transpersonal level.  I also propose that deeds are potentially the key artistic act left in life and that when dynamically employed as a part of a diverse and robust life we come to know ourselves, each other and all creation as a kind of artwork, a nexus of being that in its DNA is art.

Mundane and the Miraculous Together

When considering the everyday in art we have to remember that what constitutes the everyday as such is not merely the banal or mundane in recurrent activities and physical things associated with those behaviors but the very mindset, the state and the employment of thought as they relate what one is actually doing.  It is the frame of mind that guides us into an inquiry of not only what the everyday consists of but also how we may go about engaging with it in more and more meaningful ways.  

In some sense, one could say that the everyday is often associated with a state of mind that is rather lackadaisical.  It is, in that manner of thinking, precisely those moments when our attention has become habitual.  But what if we were to think of the everyday anew.  What if the everyday was not simply the banal and mundane but also the miraculous and wonderful?  And what if it was our attention and attitude that we could intentionally take up in order to engage more fully with aspects of life that all too easily get taken for granted.  

This is precisely where the art is the craft of life mentality comes to life.  We find such things as posture, daily, habitual movements, eating and sleeping patterns and media consumption to name a few, become opportunities to reinvigorate our life experience rather than dulling or even nullifying it in taking to what it is life calls upon us to do.  Andy Puddicombe, the founder of Headspace, talks about this and how the practice of meditation can help us to awaken to these daily activities through becoming more aware and present.  The everyday in this way transforms as we illuminate it more fully with our consciousness of it.  

What I have been saying is let’s add a further level or lens to it, one that is also deeper in our psyche and that is the quality of creativity or artistic nature to this process of connecting more fully with life itself.  That is why I have been looking at this notion of art as the craft of life.  It is not only an adaptation of meditational exercise for the mind, soul and body as well but also a kind of valuation of the nature of life as something innately and essentially artful.  

This has been leading me to develop guided meditations of my own that puts an emphasis on this idea of artistic creation within the meditation and thus everyday life.  This is similar as I have learned to what Josephy Beuys, an artist active in the 1970’s, had to say about an idea called social sculpture and also who said that everyone is an artist.  By this he did not mean that everyone could paint but that rather very similar to what I have been formulating, everything one does in daily life is art.  That has been my understanding.

As I have stated before, and I continually work out versions and variations of this philosophy to get to as clear and fundamental formulation as possible, the idea of meditation is a model for the individual to become more primed for art to be the craft of their life.  Along with that, conversation is a model for how to engage more fully in a social way to stoke one another’s fires and raise the common intellect.  Dialogical Art which speaks of the use of dialogue in practice is one example of a term that speaks to this notion.

Other variations may emerge as studies go further.  These are fundamentals though.  It seems pretty simple at first, the meditation and conversation that is, however these two practices are immensely robust and diverse and bring forth an infinite variety of knowledge and discovery in their practice.  They are practices that can be strengthened over time as well which just amplifies in positive ways that combination of mundane and miraculous in everyday life.

Current Thoughts May 2018

As I stated in my last post, I need to read some more on Joseph Beuys or not.  I mean I do want to and plan to do just that, particularly his social sculpture idea.  But there is a point as well where I have been developing this notion away from his thought.  It might have been inspired by his work as I said through my aunt but in the meantime, I have really begun to value and the idea that all people are artists and that all activities in life are expressions of art.  

So the question is what do I do now?  I could just drop it all but that does not seem the way to go for me.  I do believe that there is a spiritual potential to art.  I see it in my own life.  Art helps me think about life.  It helps give me a context for life.  I know that some folks may say well you are an artist that’s why you think that everyone is an artist.  And I get that.  But I honestly think there is creative genius in all of us and that from the mundane to the miraculous what we do in life is art. 

It took awhile for art and life in the Western canon to meet each other but I just continue to get that sense in so many artists over the past hundred years.  Of course, new technologies come out as I have stated in other writings.  There are things like drones now, the internet, virtual reality, robotics, artificial intelligence, apps and the list goes on and on.  And of course, there are ways to pick those tools up, those mediums and make some work that still is intended to be shown in a gallery or museum.  I just feel that there is a purpose to evolving or developing through (meaning past or beyond) the idea of an exhibition.  This idea of art being the craft of life was one reason for that but also as I have stated the idea of exchange over exhibition is what after all art world members have been espousing.  Participation has been touted.  I guess I just see a whole lot of untrod ground in that regard and it just makes so much sense to explore that.  

I have to read more Beuys and others I am sure to get a sense of what has been done and what the ramifications of it were.  But in all my reading, and I read quite a lot really, few if any have been saying actual life practice, the everyday away from galleries and museums is art.  Sometimes I just think we as people are so used to the exhibition paradigm that we begin at the very core to think there is no other way, that whatever we choose to do, whatever mediums we pick, that we must eventually exhibit our art.  When in truth we could have it unfold in a mutually engaging way as a part of our life flow.  

That seems to be key.  The idea of meditation throughout the entire day, influencing what we do and say and think to get a better sense of ourselves, to have ourselves more present in all that we do.  Meditation is a communing with ourselves in large part also with life’s nature.  Even if what I have been saying is what Joseph Beuys was saying in the 1970’s, forty or fifty years ago that does not mean that it is not still valid and valuable and even relevant.  Wow, I do see how that could be an argument for painting and sculpture.

It’s tough you know, you want to progress.  You want to take things further.  

There is a lot more to think about.  I have just been wanting more experimental works of art and more than that ways of thinking about the whole endeavor of art (not only to see those but to be a part of their conception and undertaking).  It is hard to keep up with the current events of the art world let alone the world itself but I do think it is a valuable effort.  Perhaps I need to lighten up about how current a practice needs to be in order to be something that can add to the conversation.  I mean we all have obligations and things that pop up that deter us from always getting completely up-to-date.  And honestly, it is probably not healthy to pursue newness just for newness’s sake.  There has to be an underlying inspiration to grow as an individual and as a society.  I think that is important.  

I still think that we can change the way we do things by exchanging, participating and engaging more instead of exhibiting which means that galleries and museums if they are to continue to be relevant, would need to begin to function much differently.  Or maybe just new types of organizations could pop up that put an emphasis on exchange.  I do have to say that it was very cool to see that term dialogical art and how that related to my conception of conversation as a model for where art could be headed.  

I really feel like I need to get talking with folks about these ideas.  I am getting a ton out of watching a project called The Art of the MOOC that is addressing many current themes in art and that is incredible.  I wish there was more of that going on in my community.  Maybe it is and I just do not know about it but I am looking for more of a dialogue where everyone is talking together like in a roundtable about where contemporary art is now and where it is heading.  I think that should be done, among artists, certainly not just arts professional such as administrators and so forth.  I have tried to make art meet-ups in the past and had very low turn out.  I just see it as being so essential, a dialogue, a conversation where we can talk with one another about where art is at for us and for each other and the world at large.  You know at no time does one have to feel like they have to operate in the midsts of current ideas and practices.  We are free to do what we want. 

Beuys

I just learned in more depth of the work of Joseph Beuys and I see now a profound sense of kinship with him.  I have to say I have not seen much of his work in person or documentation of it and so forth.  I have not seen many videos of him either.  Currently, I am reading the dissertation of a student at CUNY (circa 2017) who had Claire Bishop on her committee.  And she is talking a bit about Beuys. 

A little bit of internet surfacing also produced that Beuys’ concept of social structure is very similar to what I have been talking about.  That is what it seems so far.  From what I read it had an emphasis on the spiritual and how social engagement through art can change the world.  Sounds amazing.  

I know that the story about how he was cared for after his plane crash is made up but it seems to me from what I have read about him that he was trying to do good.  Apparently an artist made fun of him for these beliefs.  That strikes me as very small.  I think art does have the power to change the world.  It can change us!  For the better.

Beuys also stated, as I have read now more, that everyone is an artist and how all actions in life can be considered as art.  That is what I have been saying with the idea that art is the craft of life.  I think I need to do more reading about Beuys and his ideas and also how the ideas were put into action.  I know he was involved with the green party in Germany and was concerned about the environment.  

Before I read this, I actually started thinking to myself, you know if I find that someone has already said what I am saying, how will I feel?  And what I came up with right before finding more information on Beuys I said to myself, well, it is sort of like meeting another yoga teacher.  You are both just sort of practitioners of the spirit.  And anyone can do yoga just like art.  In the dissertation that I am reading the author speaks how Beuys did not mean that everyone could paint and sculpt for example but more like in line with what I have been saying, that all life practices can be considered art.  

As I reflect on the past year or so, it seems that I did actually give my aunt an arcticle about Beuys because I was trying to describe some of the diversity that his project with the live coyote conveyed.  I think she may have read that and then related back to me how everyone is an artist.  That is just a theory I have.  It’s interesting if so.  The truth is I feel ever more connected to art history and just the world in reading this.  I see what is called Social Practice in a new light and also Relational Aesthetics.  I love this stuff actually.  It is different from a painting and sculpture and so forth.  I also learned of a new-to-me term called Dialogical Art which I guess is about dialogue and that falls in line with what I have been saying about conversation as an art form.

I always wonder, as an artist when you are coming up with ideas, if your work is in fact more about ideas than materials, then should you research the idea.  Sometimes I think yes and sometimes I think no.  If you do, it’s fine but you can’t possibly know all of art history or even contemporary art.  Try as anyone may there are always going to be gaps.  I guess it can be about coming to terms with that sometimes.  

This blog IS MY ART PRACTICE RIGHT NOW.  It is my studio and exhibition site.  I just want to revolutionize so much and open up curiosity and wonder.  I also find that being aware and active in some ways with the cultural, political and social landscape is also a good factor of coming to life. 

It is all about being engaged in life.  I just still think there is so much possibility to treating everyone as an artist and ourselves as art.  I have actually wrote a book on that topic called The Art Flame.  I am currently looking for a publisher for that work.  It shares a lot with what Beuys said.  I still think it is an important message.  And again I am not thoroughly informed about Beuys and his life.  I need to learn some more.  But this is just based on what I know so far.  

I have to say that this area to write in is more about doing work.  It is not about making the perfect blog post.