Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The artistic imperative

A friend of mine, who happens to be a professional photographer, asked me an interesting question today. Rather than paraphrase, here is what he wrote:

btw - why does this seem pointless??

I must be losing it.
what is the point in sharing photos with people you do not know?

grrrrr...pissy mood due to lack of jobs, money and prospects.....other than that, top o' the marnin tih yeh.
Now my friend asks a very fair question. Why do I feel the need to display my writing and photography in a public forum? My friend, a true professional and teacher of the art, can shoot circles around me. Amateurs like me are dumbing down every craft, take a look at spelling and syntax on the Huntington Post or your local newspaper.  The democratization of the digital arena has allowed art departments to cut back on their photographic budgets, preferring to lift everything out of the public domain.  Know it all writers like me can be quoted for pennies or worse, free and so the real honest to god writers are left waiting tables for bread.

Nevertheless, art, regardless of its relative merit, must be shared and artists can't create in a vacuum. Artists, musicians, poets, writers, all have to create because they have to create. Whether its a paying gig or free for all mankind to ponder. Ask Thiebaud or Vermeer or Van Gogh or Kerouac or any other artist sufficiently brilliant to make their mark on this world. It certainly wasn't the pay for Vermeer and his dutch buddy.

I was cleaning out a spare bedroom and found a whole bunch of shots that I took when I went to Africa over 20 years ago. Type R and Cibachrome. Some of the best work I have ever done. But stuck in a closet where no one sees them, I guess they cease to exist.

I try to find the base instinct for my own narcissistic need to be read and appreciated and I once more go back to Plato's third basic urge, thymos, the need for recognition. We neurotics need an awful lot of affirmation. I guess it starts when we first leave our artistic marks on the shithouse walls.

I replied to my pal that I had always been one that, like my redtail hawk friends, needs to constantly feather his nest. From a young age, I was adorning my lair with colors and imagery. A friend who has renounced the material asked me why I was so into "stuff". Well, stuff is what I do. Drain my aesthetic tank and there ain't much left, frankly. The drive to isolate the compositionally sublime is a powerful current in my archetype. Keeps us folks running around.

And the ability to share what little artistry and talents I have allows me to vent and hopefully keeps me from blowing my brains out. Although that is a tried and true literary cliche as well. 


Anonymous said...

Your talents are endless... photography, writing, playing the guitar. Keep sharing! RE

Anonymous said...

you've hit the nail on the head, the neurotic need to be recognized and affirmed; better to be ignored and scorned.