Tuesday, February 19, 2008

PATTERNS IN ALTERNATIVE ART COMMUNITIES

Let's see, howzabout we commence with a spoonish history of art in six lines?

You spend years making mistakes, false starts, following bright stars that blaze and then implode. You rise with every excitement and fall with every disappointment.. your heart breaks and then it is reborn. Surely it must even out, you say.. and it does, because over time, you realize that you are in fact the sum of all that. You respond to what moves you, you learn to practice what sustains you, and eventually you evolve a rather specific personal ritual-coded appreciation for what you consider beautiful - and with that vision tucked tightly into your cells, you go forth and paint the roses your own favorite shade of blood.

So, post-historical, what is it that keeps you going - especially when no one seems to be giving you the high sign and the road ahead is looking long and lonely. Where do you put your focus?

To the pattern, I say - to the finest and most intelligent pattern which you can raise from the blended chaos of your thoughts and those that lie embedded in the collective conscious of the time.

In my experience, I cannot escape the "impulse" - the impulse towards extracting patterns. It's what pulls us to archetype and to ritual, and what keeps drawing us back to the wellspring of the body and to those patterns of expression by which we "embody" our thoughts.

To see those patterns, we must hold multiple points in focus long enough for such patterns to emerge - like some kind of flickering 6-D image. There's a kind of "sacral" geometry to it.. to those ideas which we feel so physically, that they literally alter both our chemistry and our sense of balance. They provoke and offer us insights into where evolution has brought us - here inside this god machine physical body/bio-circus space bubble.

I am drawn to do this kind of pattern-making as a collaborative process - one to be engaged in with fashion designers, burlesque and belly dancers, circus performers, jazzy improvising musicians, beatboxers and deejays, puppeteers, unconventional ritualists and street poets, video mixers and arty visual finger pointers of all kinds. To my mind, together we reinvent the vocabulary of what is possible. Together, we become an ever more expansive paint box filled with beautiful and active agents, who each drawing from their own paint box of patterns, reveal evermore beautiful reflections of the collective death and re-birth experience.

Puzzles and maps reveal how things fit together. Art and culture forms through juxtapositions of points and places. When the relationships are dynamic, you take notice. You maintain focus long enough - your practice of patterning, becomes a pattern in itself. In this way, the range of your pattern-making expands, and so begins to appear with both greater frequency and urgency. This is the dubious gift that gives you extra aromatic insight when it is time to turn your attention back to the outside world. Through such a back and forth process, we train ourselves to reframe our experience in increasingly personal ways.

I saw an Alexander Calder show some years ago at SFMOMA. A real holy-moly experience that was.. every single piece balanced like an acrobat defying gravity.. shapes flush with color that opens on memories that glow with pure thought - like a great e.e. cummings line that teeters on the edge of expression - so very close to not being spoken, that once it does burst forth, it does so shockingly - like a newborn frog.

Makers of alternative cultures must draw soul and sustenance from inspiration wherever they find it and from whomever is willing to throw down alongside them in the name of truth and beauty. We must find the connective threads between unlikely instances - between what you cook and what I sew, between what he sings and what she hammers.

If you see it, you own it. That's the rule. What you see is yours by virtue of the fact that you made the connection, you found the hidden joint and you squeaked the hinge, and now it moves and so do all the tendons and ligaments connected to it. This is how new culture forms, and how with a WHOLE lot of focus, some section of that emergent web of influence and action might learn to speak in a more unified voice, and so better ask for what it needs to sustain itself, and even to one day possibly - oh, god-forbid, "professionalize" its radical ass. Not an easy thing to do when starting with only an empty bowl and little bits of silence, light and breath - not easy, but still VERY possible!

We are all but babies, and yet so evolved.. so fortunate really to live where nothing is certain, and all is such fuel for revelation.

The tourists take the turn-off... they can't survive the thin air of growing older and still feeling amateur - and that's the way it should be. A calling - a reason for being, is not something you EVER want to fake. For those who hear it though, the echo of your own footsteps may be reward enough.

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