It’s amazing how quickly an idea can spread though a community or subculture. One particularly aggressive meme that is working it’s way though the Toronto artist community is audio books. Listening to an audio book while working seems to be a rapidly growing trend.
I had always heard of audio books, but I never had the slightest bit of interest in them. In 2005, While talking to Nicholas Di Genova in his studio space in Toronto, he happened to mention that his latest audio book had arrived in the mail. He was a member of some sort of audio book club. Based on his description, it worked like Netflix, only with audio books instead of movies. He paid a monthly fee, and they sent him a book. When he returned it, they sent him the next one on the list. At the time, I was still blaring Nine Inch Nails and Skinny Puppy while working, and the idea of listening to a dry, boring audio book did not seem at all appealing. I was an expressionist painter who worked long hours, and I needed fast and interesting music to keep me going. I couldn’t imagine enjoying listening to someone read a book. But this conversation with Nik successfully planted a seed in the back of my mind. It just needed some time to sprout.
Continue reading How I Started Listening to Audiobooks While Painting
I have noticed that quite often, before getting to the meat of the discussion, authors will start with a few hundred (or thousand) pages of what is called ‘throat-clearing’. This means that they spend a whole lot of time being really boring before getting to the point. But, it seems like a necessary part of making sure that the audience is on the same page as the author when that point is being made, so I’m going to have to do a little bit of that here.
I am a visual artist. My primarily focus is painting, but I also do some photography, video, sound, and new media projects on the side. I also spend a lot of time with other artists; and, surprise surprise, the topic of our discussion is, you guessed it – art.
I have noticed that a lot of artists claim to be very conceptual in their practice, even if that conceptualism doesn’t seem to show in the final work. They can sit down and have endless discussions over the finer points of, well, just about anything.
Then, when asked to present their work, they will reach into their pocket, pull out a card, and proudly show off their highly conceptual art. A quick glance at the image reveals…some brown rectangles. Brown rectangles? With colour choices that look like they were based on the curtains available in this month’s Sears catalog.
The artist will try to explain to me how their art explores some deep concept. This part of their work represents one thing, while another part represents something else. As I look at those brown rectangles, I strain to find the connection between what they are talking about, and what is actually present in their work. More often than not, I just don’t see it. The more this happens, the more I get the impression that those explanations are just thrown together after the fact. Why bother with these post-hoc explanations? Well, We do need something to write about, after all.
“What happened to those concepts while you were in the studio?” I often wonder.
Continue reading Throat Clearing