So, inspiration, endless, countless… but currently:
- John Berger – “The arranging of artists in an order of merit seems to me to be an idle game, what matters are the needs that art answers.” ‘The Shape of a Pocket’ (2001) ‘Ways of Seeing’ – book and series (1972), ‘Drawn from life’ film and production notes (1962), ‘Should Every Picture Tell A Story’,(1958) Studying the work of John Berger has developed my ideas about how, and why, art can function within a society and use of the language and practice of ‘art’ in lived life at every level of society outside the “whispering galleries”.
- Susan Sontag – “Only that which narrates can make us understand”
- Jaron Lanier – ‘You Are Not A Gadget’ – Lanier takes a solid and well informed look at the direction of digital culture in the 21st century and argues for the need for humanism as a priority and value as we accelerate in the shaping and shifting of our world. Helping me to get over my digi-prejudices this book has encouraged me to take humanism to the internet rather than hiding from it in all places. This has helped to shape this website also – (and justified my wariness of ‘social media’ as over-defining and unfortunate systems of reductions in humanism)
- Juhani Pallasmaa – ‘The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses’, This book addresses, from a different standpoint, the reduction of humanism. Pallasmaa discusses the dominance of the visual in our culture and the alienation of the other senses.
- Walter Benjamin – ‘The Work of Art In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, ‘Storyteller’. Benjamin has influenced my thinking both directly and indirectly (I have discovered his works to be formative to that of other influences; John Berger). ‘Storyteller’ considers the human need for narration in the age of information. ‘…Mechanical Reproduction’ explores what it is for a work to have an ‘aura’, the roots and the rituals of art and the artistic instinct and the transformations of this process occurring in the modern age.
- Dougald Hine – ‘Tools for Serendipity’ , The Dark Mountain Project, The Temporary School of Thought, The really Free School. Hine is a catalyst and collaborator in a number of innovative projects that involve people and encourage them to share their skills, to communicate effectively and to build, not just positive and exciting events, but positive and exciting culture and communities
- Greyson Perry – ‘The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman’ at the British Museum from 6 October 2011 to 26 February 2012. Perry manages to match his reverence for irreverence astoundingly. Showing respect for creators and creative traditions of all kinds and mixing them up a treat he precariously piles up the layers of convention and of various cultural assumptions and standards.. and then lets them fall like a noiseless house of cards to reveal the strange and familiar shapes beneath the ‘artefacts’, closer to the heart of creation.
- The Museum of Transitory Art (MOTA) supports many examples of transitory art; http://www.motamuseum.com/About/museum-transitory-art Some of the projects (ROBOVOX and Digital Avitar) I am not keen on – I see them as posing as, or attempting to be about community and human communication but actually being agents of alienation. Others however (Jorge Rodriguez Gerada) are fantastic and a Museum of Transitory Art is a compelling idea in a world that sometime appears to be more focused on the preservation of art than of creation.
- Jorge Rodriguez Gerada, my favourite work of his is the Identity Series, enormous portraits, done in charcoal that fades away, of local people on the sides of buildings. His work challenges bill-boards’dominance of the public lived environment, and the relationship between size, representation, fame, anonymity and importance. I wish to challenge these notions in an almost opposite way, creating work that is so based in its intimate relations to a time, place and individuals that it cannot be judged by the traditional criteria of ‘gallery-worthy’ art. Rodriguez work also taps into the use of local visual languages, in this case local faces, which give the art a sense of place, community and accessibility.
- Ben Wilson makes street art out of discarded chewing gum. His miniature paintings both reference and transform the lived environment. His willingness to work in a public space, without secrecy (unlike many other street artists) enables people to engage, relate and feed into his work. Many have made requests for topics, dedications and suggestions for ideas. His work is also maintenance work – he repairs and goes over his paintings but accepts their general destruction.
- Daniel Silvo suggests giving money non-monetary and transitory value by creating origami out of it. This subverts the conversion of art into cash by reversing the influence and therefore the one-way-street of the commercial value system.
- The wall art of the Warli Tribe and the Meena Tribe (amongst others), which exist through a constant replenishment and maintenance by the community, where the environment is a ‘living’ space organically created and recreated by those within it.
- Tibetan mandalas and Navajo sand paintings. These are carefully created and then destroyed, or tipped into running water. The symbol of the cyclical, the transitory and, therefore, the mortal is embedded in the process, joining art to life.
Then there are all the unknown inspirations, people met on buses and street corners, in bars, friends and buskers and strangers…and street poets.
Let me tell you a story. Tonight it is hot, and the people, strolling and sauntering, occasionally rolling or rambling, down the street, catch like threads on street corners as they swing between the bars holding beers or tubas or flannel towels – to wipe off the sweat.
There are four crates set out in a rectangle on the side of the pavement. Typewriters on two of them. “What’s a ‘Poet for Hire’ man?” comes the question…
It’s each to their own, and the man with glasses and the wide brimmed hat has a knack for the poem, writes his thoughts that way, fast and brief as a bird wing on the back beat of flight. But if you take my advice, you’ll talk to the other, the one with bands of ink below each shoulder. Without keys on his carabiner. Tell him your story. It will be easier, more open and more full than you think. And, when you leave, and have returned some minutes later, he will give it back to you, on a thread of receipt paper, in pressed black ink. You may pay him what you feel, he will only suggest.
Tell him your story. I never did, I only watched. And they all walked away, with more than paper in their hands.