(image credit: Vishnu Jadia, http://www.iaacblog.com/programs/infinite-continuity-rhizome/)
Musing on Process (2017)
(Written early in the process of this project as a preliminary question)
Why are we so obsessed by the art-‘work’? The so-called ‘final’ manifestation of the artist’s actual work (working towards), the culmination of years of work, of influence, of these numerous rivulets fed from everywhere throughout her life; why does this seem so incredibly overlooked in favour of a single object representing culmination? And this work toward: why must she work toward anything? Why is there little – or no – respect for work for the sake of working? Or work for the sake of being more fulfilled in oneself? Why are we, as experiencers, so enamoured by the notion of the art-object (the art-object being, on the whole, aesthetically regarded for artistic talent, and insight (?))? Why can we not see the art in the Process; why do we not see it?[i]
Someone can practice for years, and learn so much, yet, when it comes to a single bad performance, that practice and learning is undermined entirely. What did I even bother for? I didn’t learn anything! But this feeling is only so when it is weighed against this undesired outcome – because the outcome is apparently all that matters to us, because it is all that matters to everyone else. What is so special about a performance, an art-‘work’?
The exercise in process, which I endeavour to practice, is more human. I am learning from my practice – whether or not the perfect result is achieved from my practice; whether or not any single result is achieved at all! My practice and my process feed into every aspect of my future practice and process, of my future life, creative and otherwise. My process is what I am interested in; it continues, evolving, to influence me, to be me:
A painting that is an act is inseparable from the biography of the artist. The Painting itself is a ‘moment’ in the adulterated mixture of his life […] The new painting has broken down every distinction between art and life.[ii]
The exhibition of my process will show much more than any one final result could do: my process will reveal its subject, as much – perhaps more than – as a ‘finished’ work might; my process will show the range of potential forms my idea could have assumed – from looking at my process one will witness multiple ‘artworks’ for the price of one.
If a painting is an action, the sketch is one action, the painting that follows it another. The second cannot be “better” or more complete than the first. There is just as much significance in their difference as in their similarity.[iii]
There is much material on the idea of process in art. Robert Morris in his essay on Anti-form addresses the notion of process art, the artwork composed of the process of dripping paint.[iv] Steve Reich discusses how he wants ‘to hear the process happening throughout the sounding music’, unfolding and generating the sound as it does so.[v] I want to experience the art in the process, in the preliminary. I want other people to experience, to acknowledge the work, the art, in this process: the art in the process of creating art.
[i] ‘Process’ is capitalised to denote its general, conceptual existence; lower-case ‘process’ indicates specific processes.
[ii] Harold Rosenberg, ‘The American Action Painters’, ARTnews (1952), 22-3, 48-50, p. 23.
[iii] Rosenberg, p.52.
[iv] Robert Morris, Continuous Project Altered Daily: The Writings of Robert Morris (Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1993), pp. 43-50.
[v] Steve Reich, ‘Music as a Gradual Process’, in Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, ed. by Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017), 304-6, p. 304.