Of Medium and Message
Recently, I have been enjoying listening to the new creations from my boy Catch Wreck – his newest stuff is a big break from what he’s been doing, mostly as a response to some of the challenges of making music about real stuff without sounding preachy. We’ve been talking about it a lot lately and I think in many ways, we have parallel problems as artists – namely, how do you make your craft, something you love and enjoy, do or address something important without doing a disservice to either the medium or the idea you want to convey through it.
In my own work, I have been struggling with ways of making my prints and pieces be effective as things that can get people to think and act. I find myself making work that honors people from the past, movements that have already happened or illustrating some horrific thing one group of people has done or is doing to another – but I am still in some ways reliant on the viewer to have enough interest and understanding in who these people or situations are in order to convey the proper importance. Like I did a series of portraits – of figures who have been influential in my personal development politically – people who’s actions or ideas have inspired me or changed the way I see the world. But the meaning of what they did, although sometimes caught for a fleeting moment in the representation of a persons body, can never fully be captured by building monuments.
I have started moving away from specific people and have found strength in images of anonymous figures, whose relationships between one another, either fighting or facing off, subduing or submitting carry a lot more power and meaning than any specific conflict or fighter I could reference. But I still have yet to find the balance between all of the elements. On the conceptual end, I have the problems of what am I trying to say, how can I best say it, what voice, so on and so forth – on the technical end, how do I make the work, through my formal choices be not only an effective messenger, but do justice to the importance of the subject matter I want to present.
As I begin to think about my senior thesis project and what I want to spend next semester doing, I guess these are good problems to have. I know what I want to say. I know what I want to get across and how badly I want it to be conveyed and to whom. Now it comes down to the most important and fun part – how.