Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Artist Statement: Rough Draft

Through the use of language and abstract geometry, my practice deals with the concepts of the rhizome, and the multiplicity. Whether it be through how we reconstruct and interpret the meaning of words or how our minds parse light into information and from there create depth; the importance of relationships is one that cannot be pushed aside. The global world that has been forming since the renaissance has been based around the exchange of information, understanding, and material goods. These three elements, which I highlight and utilize, showcase the complexity of contemporary society and the world around it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A couple new pieces

Untitled as of now, but here are some quick cell phone pictures of a couple new works. I'm really happy with how the triangular piece came out, especially since all the measurements were done by hand, instead of building a 3D model (my computer is having issues, and won't recognize any mouse that I try and use)

(the last two images are of the same drawing, different angles)
I am lucky enough to have people pass information to me when they find it pertinent, and today I had the pleasure of watching a documentary about paperfolding put out by PBS, called Between the Folds. I believe Gillian gave it to me because it reminded her somewhat of the geometric shapes that I recently have been creating... especially now that I have started working three dimensionally with them.

The video, which I highly reccomend to anyone with a remote interest in art, artistic process, science, or math (the narrator is a bit dramatic for me, but she means well), goes through the world of paperfolding and origami, taking small five minute segments to showcase top figures in the field, or people who are utilizing some special new technique. Innovators. It's a fascinating look at what many consider a simple field. How complex can a single square of paper get?

For some people, that square turns into a gnome playing a violin, his withered beard and puckered face hidden beneath a droopy hat as he nimbly jumps in oversized boots. Others, create dynamic tops, that pull the paper back to its center so fast that it spins. Some will use it to create monoliths, or alligators.... with folds numbering in the thousands. It's a field of endless possibilities, and incredible application (one young leading mind, who won a macarthur fellowship no less, is utilizing paperfolding to pioneer ideas of synthesizing protective proteins).

It's fascinating, and I'm thinking more about what I have been doing. My drawings have so far, been on cut paper (I've attempted to do folded, but was not getting the results I wanted), and my interest within relational thinking, as well as the parts to a whole is not squandered on folding paper. I plan on looking into this more, and possibly starting drawings that use connected origami that is drawn on...

Also, either today or tomorrow I will post a couple new drawings!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Not a big post.... but some of my writing will come soon... in the meantime

Heres an incredible article by Haruki Murakami.

What were the events demarcating the spirit of the 21st century from that of the 20th? From a global perspective, they were, first of all, the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent rapid end of the Cold War order, and second, the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings on Sept. 11, 2001. The first act of destruction was one filled with bright hopes, while the one that followed it was an overwhelming tragedy. The widespread conviction in the first case that “the world will be better than ever” was totally shattered by the disaster of 9/11.

These two acts of destruction, which played out on either side of the millennial turning point with such vastly different momentum in each case, appear to have combined into a single pair that greatly transformed our mentality.

Over the past 30 years, I have written fiction in various forms ranging from short stories to full-length novels. The story has always been one of the most fundamental human concepts. While each story is unique, it functions for the most part as something that can be shared and exchanged with others. That is one of the things that gives a story its meaning. Stories change form freely as they inhale the air of each new age. In principle a medium of cultural transmission, stories are highly variable when it comes to the mode of presentation they employ. Like skilled fashion designers, we novelists clothe stories, as they change shape from day to day, in words suited to their figures.

Viewed from such a professional perspective, it would seem that the interface between us and the stories we encounter underwent a greater change than ever before at some point when the world crossed (or began to cross) the millennial threshold. Whether this was a change for the good or a less welcome change, I am in no position to judge. About all I can say is that we can probably never go back to where we started.

Speaking for myself, one of the reasons I feel this so strongly is the fact that the fiction I write is itself undergoing a perceptible transformation. The stories inside me are steadily changing form as they inhale the new atmosphere. I can clearly feel the movement happening inside my body. Also happening at the same time, I can see, is a substantial change in the way readers are receiving the fiction I write.

There has been an especially noteworthy change in the posture of European and American readers. Until now, my novels could be seen in 20th-century terms, that is, to be entering their minds through such doorways as “post-modernism” or “magic realism” or “Orientalism”; but from around the time that people welcomed the new century, they gradually began to remove the framework of such “isms” and accept the worlds of my stories more nearly as-is. I had a strong sense of this shift whenever I visited Europe and America. It seemed to me that people were accepting my stories in toto — stories that are chaotic in many cases, missing logicality at times, and in which the composition of reality has been rearranged. Rather than analyzing the chaos within my stories, they seem to have begun conceiving a new interest in the very task of how best to take them in.

By contrast, general readers in Asian countries never had any need for the doorway of literary theory when they read my fiction. Most Asian people who took it upon themselves to read my works apparently accepted the stories I wrote as relatively “natural” from the outset. First came the acceptance, and then (if necessary) came the analysis. In most cases in the West, however, with some variation, the logical parsing came before the acceptance. Such differences between East and West, however, appear to be fading with the passing years as each influences the other.

If I were to pin a label on the process through which the world has passed in recent years, it would be “realignment.” A major political and economic realignment started after the end of the Cold War. Little need be said about the realignment in the area of information technology, with its astounding, global-scale dismantling and establishment of systems. In the swirling midst of such processes, obviously, it would be impossible for literature alone to take a pass on such a realignment and avoid systemic change.

An acute difficulty brought about by such a comprehensive process of realignment is the loss — if only temporarily — of coordinate axes with which to form standards of evaluation. Such axes were there until now, functioning as reliable bases on which to measure the value of things. They sat at the head of the table as the paterfamilias of values, deciding what conformed and what did not. Now we wake up to find that not only the head of the household but the table itself has vanished. All around us, it appears, things have been — or are being — swallowed up by chaos.

When I hear the word “chaos,” I automatically picture the scenes of 9/11 — those shocking images that were shown a million times on television: The two jumbo jets plunging into the glass walls of the Twin Towers, the towers themselves crumbling without a trace, scenes that would continue to be unbelievable after a million and one viewings. The plot that succeeded with miraculous perfection — a perfection that reached a level of near surreality. If I may say so without fear of being misunderstood, the scenes even appeared to be something made with computer graphics for a Hollywood doomsday film.

We often wonder what it would have been like if 9/11had never happened — or at least if that plan had not succeeded so perfectly. Then the world would have been very different from what it is now. America might have had a different president (a major possibility), and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars might never have happened (an even greater possibility).

Let’s call the world we actually have now Reality A and the world that we might have had if 9/11 had never happened Reality B. Then we can’t help but notice that the world of Reality B appears to be realer and more rational than the world of Reality A. To put itin different terms, we are living a world that has an even lower level of reality than the unreal world. What can we possibly call this if not “chaos”?

What kind of meaning can fiction have in an age like this? What kind of purpose can it serve? In an age when reality is insufficiently real, how much reality can a fictional story possess?

Surely, this is the problem that we novelists now face, the question that we have been given. The moment our minds crossed the threshold of the new century, we also crossed the threshold of reality once and for all. We had no choice but to make the crossing, finally, and, as we do so, our stories are being forced to change their structures. The novels and stories we write will surely become increasingly different in character and feel from those that have come before, just as 20th-century fiction is sharply and clearly differentiated from 19th-century fiction.

The proper goal of a story is not to judge what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil. More important is for us to determine whether, inside us, the variable elements and the traditional elements are moving forward in harmony with each other, to determine whether individual stories and the communal stories inside us are joined at the root.

In other words, the role of a story is to maintain the soundness of the spiritual bridge that has been constructed between the past and the future. New guidelines and morals emerge quite naturally from such an undertaking. For that to happen, we must first breathe deeply of the air of reality, the air of things-as-they-are, and we must stare unsparingly and without prejudice at the way stories are changing inside us. We must coin new words in tune with the breath of that change.

In that sense, at the same time that fiction (story) is presently undergoing a severe test, it possesses an unprecedented opportunity. Of course fiction has always been assigned responsibility and questions to deal with in every age, but surely the responsibility and questions are especially great now. Story has a function that it alone can perform, and that is to “turn everything into a story.” To transform the things and events around us into the metaphor of the story form and to suggest the true nature of the situation in the dynamism of that substitution: that is story’s most important function.

In my latest novel, 1Q84, I depict not George Orwell’s near future but the opposite— the near past — of 1984. What if there were a diffe- rent 1984, not the original 1984 we know, but another, transformed 1984? And what if we were suddenly thrown into such a world? There would be, of course, a groping toward a new reality.

In the gap between Reality A and Reality B, in the inversion of realities, how far could we preserve our given values, and, at the same time, to what kind of new morals could we go on to give birth? This is one of the themes of the work. I spent three years writing this story, during which time I passed its hypothetical world through myself as a simulation. The chaos is still there — in full measure.

But after a good deal of trial and error, I have a strong sense that I am finally getting it in story terms. Perhaps the solution begins from softly accepting chaos not as something that “should not be there,” to be rejected fundamentally in principle, but as something that “is there in actual fact.”

I may be too optimistic. But as a teller of stories, as a hopefully humble pilot of the mind and spirit, I cannot help but feel this way — that the world, too, after a good deal of trial and error, will surely grasp a new confidence that it is getting it, that the world will undoubtedly discover some clues that suggest a solution because, finally, both the world and story have already crossed the threshold of many centuries and passed many milestones to survive to the present day.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Reading, Writing, and the Power of Language.

This past Friday, I had the distinct pleasure or receiving some old books of mine from a friend, who had been borrowing them for over a year (possibly over two). In this stack, were the first three Sandman Graphic Novels, Preludes and Nocturnes, The Dolls House, and Dream Country.
For those of you unfamiliar to Sandman, it is an incredible story written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by a number of talented artists. The title Character, Sandman, is something like a God of Dreams, except he is not bound by the belief system that gods are, and he oversees the realm of dreams for everyone. I won't explain anything else, but I will say this. Within the many pages of the ten books that comprise this saga, is what I believe to be some of the best storytelling I've ever read.

The story, as well as it's method of being told is chilling to the bone, heart-warming, and above all, holds Truth. I don't mean to say that he depicts events that actually happened, or that he has seen the future and tells what it holds. I mean, that in these volumes he has shown a distinct and utterly impressive comprehension of the world that we inhabit, and has been able to weave a tale to share that wealth. I've read these books many times, often in times of inner turmoil, and every time, I not only learn something new about myself and the world, but I am instilled with hope, inspiration, and wonder. These are powerful things.

To elaborate some on the above statements, I'd like to discuss the role of fiction, and subsequently, that of storytelling. There are many things that storytelling does, but they all can eventually be categorized under two labels: entertainment, and teaching. Entertainment insomuch as it can bring a smile to a person's lips (or a shiver to their spine), and teaching in that we can learn from other's mistakes and triumphs. Why then, does fiction exist? Both entertainment and learning can be utilized in nonfiction. We can take enjoyment from hearing about our predecessors coming of age stories, and reading about the Crusades can teach us many things, if one is willing to learn. So what does fiction do, that non fiction doesn't? Fiction can be shaped and formed, which gives us power as to what each story means. We can choose how someone is entertained, and what (to a degree) they might learn. We can make them empathize more with a certain character, to truly understand them, or we can turn someone into an evil enigma, mysterious, and filled with pain. These small tools are only available to someone who writes fiction. Whether it is embellishing a real character, or creating their own, the power of fiction is strong.

Traditionally, stories have been used as a means of passing knowledge and wisdom on to younger generations. Inside, they are filled with moral codes, political structures, and facts. We are taught how to act, how to think, and through these methods, a User's Guide to Living. Oftentimes, they are used to explain the unexplainable. Why the sky is so blue, or where sunrises come from... these unexplainable phenomena were explained. But now, so much of the waking world has been explained, and awe is something difficult to come by. Good fiction, examines the world, and showcases that awe. It examines and explains how humans are formed, our decision making processes, how we die, how we dream...

And this is what makes Sandman so incredible.

Monday, November 8, 2010

3 Dimensions over 4 Planes

My new piece that I submitted to the SPACES Benefit Auction ended up selling... although I am not sure who purchased it as of right now! I'm hoping the mystery will soon be vanquished. I was quite excited about the sale, mainly due to this being a new piece that will be informing and spearheading a new body of work, and it's always nice to have reassurance in what you are doing, especially of that kind. Money does talk, you know.

As Promised, I'm posting an image of the piece, entitled 3 Dimensions over 4 Planes. It's a 10"x10"x1" drawing mounted on gator board. Graphite on cut paper.

As a first finished piece with a dimensional surface, I was quite happy as to how it turned out. Oddly enough, the most difficult part was the planning. So far all of my tests had been done without a set size or plan, and so I could fold and arrange the sides how I wanted. However, for this one I wanted to meet the 10x10 guidelines, and felt that the challenge of doing it in this manner would be good for future instances. I ended up building the surface in a 3d modeling program first, so I could get exact measurements on the virtual versions to translate to the real one. It helped with the precision, and turned out wonderfully.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

SPACES: Benefit and Auction.... new work in it!

A bit last minute I know, but if you can, you should take a stroll out to the annual SPACES benefit and action this evening, Saturday November 6th. Not only should it be a fun and enjoyable time, but there will be a large array of work by local artists. It does cost money, but seems to be shaping up for excellence.

As a shameless plug, it is also a good chance to see a new piece of mine, one that I'm pretty happy with as well. I made it in a 24 hour period when I learned I could submit something to the show, and it was an excellent oppurtunity to try something new that will become a focal point of my abstraction drawings. I'll post it on here later on in the week.