The Starting & The Finishing

Every day, I start all over again. I don’t have the text to work with, and I don’t have a clear picture of what I’ll be making. I spend anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours looking for the source text I will use. The words must have a story, and they have to be taken in whole. I adopt the words and make them my own. The very moment I choose the words, I don’t look back. I don’t have the time. I begin to think about what I will make. I know I have to finish by midnight.

I go into the studio. I repeat the words over & over to myself. I write them down. With over a week of images to look back on, I refer to the entire set frequently. I re-read those source texts, I re-read the titles. I look into the pieces. What are they saying? I find connections between each of them. I ask myself- why is that there, or this here? I see repeated components in the visual work, and I turn the ideas over in my head, lining them up against the selected source text for the day, seeing what locks in. Which of these visual elements is relevant to these words? I remind myself of the original context of the words. Who said them, and to whom? I’m looking for clarity in an image, one that says “Go, now!!!” so I can push (shove) myself in that direction, so I can make that piece I’m starting to see in my head.  I start mostly from scratch, but a few times I’ve re-worked discarded panels after covering them in a layer of paint.  I start working.

The questioning, the answering, the listening– I have to continue these even as I work a piece. I have to look for the essential components of the words, and I have to make the image. I have to keep the image in line with the words. I have to keep moving. Moving in the right direction. If the conversation with the piece shows me that I have gone off course, I have to be willing to say: No. Back track. Start over. Now. Regardless of how far along I am, I have to know when to retreat, to change direction. I can’t come back tomorrow. Whatever happens with the words must happen today. What were the words again? Am I listening? 

Then there’s the finishing. I can see it coming. Sometimes the finish is just at the horizon, and it’s that tricky hazy mirage thing that eludes me. Other times it’s like I’m working, then I look up, and there it is. Whether it comes up slowly or suddenly, the act of finishing is like walking at a steady pace, straight off a cliff, closing my eyes & saying Done!— every night. I have to forcibly quiet the fear. I let go. It is what it is. I catch my breath. Tomorrow, begin again.

-mrk

The “I Will Find” project statement is here.

The “I Will Find” artwork is:

  • with title/size/medium/source text here
  • or in side-by-side gallery view here.

The Images & The Words

These are the images that keep circling back. Although I find new source text every day, there are images & lines that have been with me for a while, and they seem to have found their match in these words. Stones. Dark corners. Empty movement. Captured, covered & carved spaces. I can feel the weight of the stones in the palm of my hand, the pit of my stomach, and the heart of my heart. Things rest in corners, or hide in them. Some things never land, just move round and round. There is weight, there is movement, there are flares, then there’s absence.

These are the images that hold the words of what I’ve found online. I’ve chosen fleeting words, origins unknown, connections made over the internet: useful, meaningful, temporary, now gone. I’ve lifted out the words that have life & a story of their own, even if they tell only half. I’ve found the sarcastic but genuine expression of sadness. The offer of help that was turned down. A patient moment in a heated debate. A brief connection over grief, one that won’t be made again. An assurance that everything would be fine from one anonymous person to another. Most of these exchanges were between people who don’t know each other in real life, or who aren’t even in fixed online communities. The good nature of these comments really did stand out among the volume of one-sided conversations and platitudes. Still, even in the best of exchanges, here I am looking at the space that’s missing between one person and another.

Nineteen days to go (incl. today) of sourcing text from online exchanges. Nineteen days more of finishing new work every day based on those found words. Nine artworks posted, nineteen to go.

-mrk

The “I Will Find” project statement is here.

The “I Will Find” artwork is:

  • with title/size/medium/source text here
  • or in side-by-side gallery view here.

 

The Source Text: Week One

2/1: “I don’t think you read my comment, or you are responding to someone else.”
2/2: “My tiny blackened heart breaks.”
2/3: “Ha! Good point.”
2/4: “Do you need my help?”
2/5: “Yeah I understand, some has faded for me, but a lot is still there”
2/6: “First off, everything is going to be fine.”
2/7: “Good luck with this.”

Each morning since February 1st, I’ve combed through a broad sampling of online commentary looking for kindness. I’ve done a lot of reading. People have a lot of things to say, and they go to great lengths to find the places to say them. I recently read an article about a German study that referred to Facebook envy, and it said one in three people feel worse after visiting the site. And then I read the comment section. (The original post on Reuters has closed its comments, so I’ve linked to Huffington Post.) If you scroll through, you’ll find people spending time composing & posting comments to an article, so that they can ridicule people who compose & post updates on Facebook.

When I scrolled through my personal social media newsfeeds, I’d see people interacting supportively with people they knew. However, with the adage that it’s easy to be kind to people who are kind to you, I turned my attention to finding kindness in the controversial conversations & political picture memes that populate my online experience. In social media, I tried to dig up the semi-anonymous interactions of real-name people who don’t know each other. In newsgroup comment sections, anonymity was the norm. Each was mixed with lists of singular opinions, churning words, and soapboxes. Talking to no one, talking to everyone. Anonymous dialogue started with one post would burst into back & forth fact throwing. Serial commenters, trolls, and lengthy windbags were interspersed with innocuous notemakers. The one-to-one connection was rare. These weren’t discussions after all. How did people interact with people they disagreed with? When they finally interacted, kindness was hard to find. Would there be a place for understanding in forums where people felt compelled to hold their ground? While kindness does not equal conceding a point, kindness is a necessary part of the dialogue between two distinct positions. The easiest interactions to find where those that pushed individuals further into their own original tribe of thinking. I asked myself: what does kindness look like anyway? The virtues of kindness seem to be the quietest of them all. It’s the thing that calmly places one person next to another, soothing jagged edges and connecting disparate voices. I wondered if I would recognize it when I saw it. Would kindness be simple or would it be a grand gesture? Sometimes kindness ended up being the act of looking outside oneself, and it was a demonstration that one was listening, that the other was heard. I started to look for the small sentence that said one person really paused & saw another individual. Each time I found kindness, it was a small gem of relief from the discord of so many loud voices.

-mrk

The “I Will Find” project statement is here.

The “I Will Find” artwork is:

  • with title/size/medium/source text here
  • or in side-by-side gallery view here.