This week for college we have been asked to read an article called ‘Creative Accounting: not knowing in talking and making’ by Rebecca Fortnum. The aim is to think about it and talk about it. So I’ve just read it.
This article is essentially about what artists do to make art and how they get to the point of the final piece of work.
This has been on my mind a lot recently because since the start of the year I haven’t felt as if I have ‘made’ much. I feel as if I spent most of my time over the last three months thinking, writing, blogging, musing, doodling, researching, and experimenting. Part of me feels as if I have been dossing, wasting time, skiving and generally not doing enough. But part of me wonders whether this is really the case. Has all this airy fairy thinking been worthwhile? I am supposed to have something to exhibit at Powis Castle in the autumn yet at the moment despite all this thinking I’ve been doing I feel as if I have nothing to show anyone. I have only smelt my oil paints once in all that time.
The article talks about ‘the search for the unknown outcome’ which is the driving force of the creative process and the ‘anxious, yet thrilling, sense of the work bringing something previously unknown to the world’. I’m not sure what I think about this ‘anxious, yet thrilling, sense’. I think I am terrified of it.
Being arty is scary. But that is how it should be as Marina Abramovic would say. Striving to create something on the edge of the unknown should be exhilarating. It is. I don’t want to find that someone else has already been there, done that, worn the proverbial t-shirt but at the time, being in that unknown zone means anxiety is the overarching emotion.
The article quotes Foucault who calls this impulse ‘working at the edge of an unknown thought, slowly building a language in which to think it’. The way he phrases it makes it sound quite attractive. I like the idea of working on the edge of the unknown in his terms. Show me where it is, I’ll be there (do they have coffee there?).
Rebecca Fortnum believes that the studio is the ‘space that invites the unknown’. I’m not sure it is in my case. I don’t really have a studio so my studio is wherever I happen to be at any given time. But I guess that ‘wherever I happen to be’ can ‘invite the unknown’ as well as a studio.
The article then goes on to talk about intuition vs critical thinking. Both of which are very important in my limited experience. I spend a huge amount of time engaged in critical thinking but the power of intuition can be huge. Sometimes I come up with an idea, act on it, and an hour later I have something that could have otherwise taken months to come up with. Other times, I can slog about with an idea for months only to end up binning it (although Marina Abramovic would have me fetch it out of the bin and rename it ‘a good idea’).
Currently, artists are required to articulate their ideas. This is an aspect of being an artist that many find difficult. Can’t you just look at it and decide for yourself what it is about? I find it hard, particularly, to talk about what I am doing while I am doing it. Partly through fear and partly through lacking the words to articulate exactly where my thinking is going because I don’t know where my thinking is going. One of the hardest questions to answer which the tutors at college ask all the times is: what are you going to do with this? I don’t know. I might know at 3am but you might not be there to discuss it with me and nor would you appreciate me phoning you up to do so. So for now, I don’t know, leave me alone to sit on the edge of knowledge with my large Americano!