Literature Notes #007

The time has come. I am ripe to write the first edition of my personal artist statement.

An artist statement provides a general overview of an artist’s work, the personality behind it as well as keys to understanding the art and what to look out for in it. As one changes over a lifetime, the artist statement is destined to change, too, so it’s a living document.

But I must spend a note or two preparing the arrival of mine.

For this note-

My notes as a reader on:

My artist influence Wassily Kandinsky

A great example for a strong artist statement is Wassily Kandinsky, who wasn’t content with just giving you a list. He wrote the great essay „Concerning the Spiritual in Art“, laying down how he kept trying to translate music and the progression of time onto canvas. Art cannot do that…or can it? Knowing this, you are looking at his works with different eyes and maybe even with a different intent. The artworks aren’t just visually pleasing anymore, you will look at them and wonder what sounds he tried to catch and how much of a song or symphony you are seeing there, translated, compressed, spoken out on a 2D plane. And you must not forget, you see it interpreted through him and how he is. Can you read the music and hear it in your head? Would you dare to try?

Also, do you see that Kandinsky’s statement is both grandiose but still simple to understand? Drawing music hard! So I guess if the statement is too complex, it is fake again, and you lose yourself. Also note that Kandinsky didn’t pour all of himself into it. The mission he gave his art surely took up a good chunk of his life and later years, yet we don’t hear about who Kandinksy is and how he is. The art and what it does is the focus of the statement, not him as a person. We can deduct some from what he is doing, yet he does not insist that he is his art and that there are no private spaces left for the private person Kandinsky as well as spaces that are only the work, not the artist.

Literature Notes #006

My notes as a reader on:

Rereading books

As I’ve said in the literature note before, good ideas can find you from everywhere (and vice versa).

I’m a subscriber of the Daily Stoic newsletter. Mind my stance from last note, nothing is ever flawless. Yet, practising thinking in a stoic way reliably calms me down, every single time. And that in turn helps me to solve problems. So it is understandable that I appreciate this school of thought and want to have it in my life.

I was especially lucky with one of the recent e-mails I got:„No man ever reads the same book twice“. It dealt with the experience of reading and rereading the greatest books you meet in your life. You read a book, it changes your perspective on life for the better, you therefore make different decisions, act differently and you and your life change. Or you just drift off and live life, make new experiences. Then you come back later and rediscover the book, but find more or a different meaning in it or even find that by now you completely misremembered it’s content and have to reread everything. This happens to me all the time. And the Daily Stoic wants you to keep going back to your personal lifechanging books and keep rereading them. That’s a notion worth following. I wasn’t ever considering I could be changing and then learning different things from the same sources as a different reader. But it makes a lot of sense. I wonder what hidden treasures await me amongst the books I already have.

Literature Notes #005

My notes as a reader on:

Matthew B. Crawford – The World Beyond Your Head – Chapter 4

I must preface this with my general stance on philosophy and self-help books. You can find good ideas anywhere, just be aware everything is flawed. No book will ever take the burden of initially then repeatedly taking action, making corrections and overall living and learning from mistakes from you. No book will be the perfect guide for anybody. But who knows what you will discover for yourself from the book before you so give it a go!

I can’t tell whether Crawford’s book is moving me as much as it does because it resonates with me so well or because my defenses are weakened from morning sessions of reading Schumann’s book on writing. Today, starting and not yet finishing chapter 4, was a particularly fruitful reading session for me. I love reading about human perception as all my crafts depend on it. What arrived in my head today, not necessarily what was on the pages, is this:

As much as we would like to escape our body, nature, the material world itself, the limitations of our mind and imagination even, we are still anchored to this reality. We at least originate in it and are built for it. A consequence of this is that we have a taste for reality; we relate to it on a level that is deeper than we might like to admit. Art that captures it moves us. In our most primitive form we are a moving body and no matter how domesticated, our brain thinks like one. For example, we have the easiest time imagining our own body as the center for any measure of distance. Things are left or right or in the front or behind us.

For me as an artist this is thrilling news. My options how to show a world or any space really are melting. The most natural thing that there is is an ego perspective, we see like this every day. Next to it comes a „natural“ eye level and angles. What is a camera? What is a camera in essence if not an ego perspective view of something or someone looking onto a scene? I was looking at and constructing all my pictures wrong. This also seems like a huge help when visualizing things, starting out with oneself as the center of a imaginary place. I’m afraid I will need some time to cope with what I learned today and test the thesis thoroughly.

Literature Notes #004

My notes as a reader on:

Schumann(ed.) – „Grundlagen und Techniken der Schreibkunst“ – chapter on poetry

I am by far not done digesting, practising and reading up more on the previous chapters of this fantastic book. Yet I must keep reading, as the act of getting to know the craft of writing alone has opened so many new doors for me already.

I was a bit hesitant about the chapter on poetry. It seems so alien to anything that’s in my typical media diet. I have read and admired poetry before, school made me and in latest years I just came to appreciate the beauty of it just for itself, but that was it. Enjoying it from a distance. When I read about how to make, not just analyze, poetry from Schumann’s perspective today, the result was different than anything I had expected. Everything laid out reminded me of a programming language. Everything makes sense, but you will need some time and quite some practise to really memorize and understand the language ruleset you are given and the effects it will cause. I did not expect language to have such a mathematical level. Your recipient is a human being, not a machine, so you have more room for willful ambiguity and vagueness. But if you want to go to the extreme, you can break language down to the very noises you make and what you can say within a breath, utilizing language to it’s fullest like probably no other form of literature can.

I can see why it is absolutely worth it practising poetry, even if you have no aspirations to ever become a poet. I want to get to know both German and English that intimate, and possibly other languages later if I get to get to know them to a sensible level. We are using language every day utilizing only a fraction of what language can do. Imagine all the fun to be had just by knowing more about it!

Literature Notes #003

My notes as a reader on:

Works tied to their time

(a continuation from the last note)

I am starting to understand that I cannot escape being tied to a time, my time, as a reader but also as a writer. Not all readers from all cultures will understand my works, neither today nor in the future, even if I tried doing everything as bland, non-committing to a time and specific culture and easy to digest as possible. This is not an excuse to invent my own language that only I can understand as the other extreme though. As with many things in life there is a beautiful individual balance to be found in between. It is one of those questions a writer answers for their own work in the stage of preparation, and there is no universal answer for all works. I wonder where I fall on the spectrum as a creator and I guess I will find out over time and honig the craft.